Civilization 5: Best Leaders & Civilizations For Each Victory TypeThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Civ 6 might be the hottest Civilization game at the moment, but I can’t help but love Civ 5.
I don’t know if it’s the game’s art, or if I just found the gameplay so smooth, but this is easily in my top Civ games ever.
And I know that there are many people that still play it to this day, and absolutely love it.
So if you’re firing up another campaign and you’re looking for help on leadership, I’ll be ranking all the best leaders here. So you can make the right choice on your next Civilization V playthrough.
My picks are organized by victory type and civilization, so this should be easy to skim as well.
Best Leaders for Science Victory (Civ V)
Science victories have always been the most fun, because they allow you to research crazy technologies many ages after they existed in the real world.
There’s nothing more hilarious than seeing canons in the second century, at least in my opinion!
Here are my picks for the best leaders for a Science victory, if that’s your kinda thing.
Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar II
Although not as well-rounded as Korea, Babylon has a bunch of small improvements that will help you go for a science victory, and advance in technological discoveries much quicker than other civs.
With Babylon, you can build an academy very early on.
This makes it one of the best civilizations in general (well, for a science victory). They lack a strong military, though. So fair warning.
Korea – Sejong
Korea is arguably the best civilization in the game if you’re looking to get a science victory.
They have a special ability where all Great Person improvements, as well as all specialists, get a +2 bonus to science.
This will allow you to turn a ton of your tiles into science-oriented ones.
You should also look to build science-oriented wonders above anything else, too. You can use the improvements on them to boost the science yield even further!
Best Leaders for Culture Victory (Civ V)
Whether you’d like to sell your soul to the devil and become like Dubai, or follow a more traditional cultural path a la Europe, you’ll want to pick one of these leaders (and/or civs) to start your new game on the cultural side.
Brazil – Pedro II
Brazil will see you getting more tourists than any other.
Mostly thanks to their bonus for doubling all tourists in the region, as well as the unique ability to summon extra Great Persons when a Golden Age arises.
If you want an easy win and you’re going for a cultural victory, you’ll want to give the Brazilians a try. They will not disappoint.
Besides, they do have some rather strong units that will help you defend your territory against any incoming foes, should the chance for war draw close to your touristic borders.
Egypt – Ramesses II
Even though Egypt is seen as a powerful militaristic civilization in the game, it allows for various playthroughs that make it a well-rounded civ as a whole.
Egypt’s ability to create wonders faster than anyone else is probably the main reason why so many people love them. And that’s exactly why I think they’re the best for a cultural victory.
Spam those wonders and win, my son.
Best Leaders for Diplomacy Victory (Civ V)
Honestly, I never found it entertaining to play for a Diplomacy victory.
Why play peacefully when you can nuke the living crap out of your enemies? Virtually, of course.
In any case, these are my favorite leaders for a Diplomacy victory.
Venice – Enrico Dandolo
Added in the Brave New World update, the Venetian civilization is one of the best for a diplomacy victory, thanks to its unique gameplay strategies.
These are far too complex to go into details, but the way the Venetians build up their diplomacy is, alone, a fantastic reason to give them a go when opting for this path.
If you’re interested to learn more there’s actually this guide, well worth a read.
Siam – Ramkhamhaeng
I always found it great to play with city-states as your allies.
And I have to say that there’s no better way to do it than with the Siam.
You’ll be able to increase your Food, Culture, and Faith by becoming friendlier with city-states, which can be done easily thanks to the diplomatic bonuses of the civilization.
City-states will also help you build up a strong military so you can focus on your diplomacy all you want, without forgetting about your armies.
Best Leaders for Domination Victory (Civ V)
Destroy cities, conquer your enemies, and annoy Gandhi to the point where he’ll decide to nuke you and start the most dangerous war in the history of Earth.
But which Civ 5 leaders are best fit for the role?
Poland – Casimir III
If you love cavalry, you’ll want to use Poland.
Not only do they have unique Winged Hussars, but also a unique type of stable that’s way superior to the average one in the game.
Poland is not only one for the best civilizations for a domination victory, but it also stands as the best rounded-up civilization in the game.
You can actually pick Poland and go for any type of victory. That’s how awesome they are.
Zulu – Shaka
The Zulu have a unique unit that makes it one of the coolest civs out there, as well as a powerful military bonus that will have you looking for a domination victory as soon as the game starts.
You’ll be able to make it pretty far into a Civ 5 campaign if you opt for an early rush strategy. But the mid-game is where the Zulu becomes the most powerful here.
Hunnic – Attila
Atilla and the Huns are the most offensive civilization in the game, run by one hell of a leader.
They have siege units available earlier than any other civ, while also having Attila as their Leader, who’s the best conqueror the world has ever seen.
As a Hun, you’ll want to rush your enemies in the early game and take full advantage of your early-game siege and powerful infantry.
Wipe the floors and conquer the world before the game is even halfway done.