This is a continuation of a series of guides discussing which cultures are the best in a couple of scenarios. We will only consider the highest difficulty, that is the Humankind difficulty, and playing against the AI. Since the last guide, I have won a Humankind game on the Humankind difficulty 4 or 5 times and I have around 120 hours in the game. Please take a look at the first guide in this series for a description of how the difficulty works on Humankind as well as the two scenarios we will consider: ancient era best culture guide. We’ll start off with a recap of the scenarios, give an overview of the classical era and then discuss the best cultures in each scenario.
Let’s quickly recap what the two scenarios were. The first scenario is where you pick a medium difficulty game setup, such as Pangea with 60% land mass and the recommended number of competitors. The second scenario is where you pick an easy game setup where you are on a continent on your own or enemy empires are far enough away from you.
Let’s dive into the first scenario and discuss the classical era. We will assume you have defeated your first enemy empire and have taken their lands and have harassed the second enemy at least somewhat. We’ll also assume you have left the ancient era with decent populations, such as around 10-20 per city. In the classical era, most of your yields will continue to be derived from your population. You are unlikely to have a lot of problems with your neighbours because you already have a big advantage over them and you have free choice of picking cultures. In the classical era it is good to start building up an economic advantage over the AI, but it is still possible to wage war and take more territory by force. This will result in a game that lasts longer, but might be more enjoyable. Next, we’ll look at each of the cultures and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s now look at the second merchant culture, the Aksumites. The extra money on tiles producing money is nice, but only luxury tiles actually produce money and you are unlikely to have many of those making this bonus quite weak. The Great Obelisk is nice but doesn’t make a big long term difference as it is only going to make marginally more money than the default market quarter. The Shotelai are an ok unit, but again there are much better war cultures in the classical era.
Moving on to the Celts, the extra food per farmer is not great since it isn’t going to make a material difference and the Nemeton is also only marginally better than a farmers quarter. Being able to steal population using influence is good and you are likely to have a lot of influence with more population. The Gaesati is an ok unit, but again won’t make a big difference.
The Mauryans are a good source of influence and can help speed up claiming territory. However, since you were aggressive with your neighbours you are unlikely to need the influence boost since you will already have much more from owning 3 or so cities. The Stupa is ok, but is only marginally better than the default research quarter.
Similar to the Mauryans, the Achaemenid Persians are influence focused which is usually not needed with decent populations. The Satraps’ Palace makes less money than a market quarter with only a marginal influence boost. The extra city cap is nice, but you won’t need more than 6 or 7 cities to easily win the game. The Immortals are a nice defensive unit, especially against The Huns which we’ll get to later.
Let’s discuss the Goths and Romans together. Both of them are aggressive with the Goths being militarists and the Romans expansionists. Because you have already weakened your neighbours and have a big advantage, neither of these cultures is necessary. You are also unlikely to need the faith from the Goths since you almost certainly will dominate the religion on your continent after taking out one of your neighbours. The stability from the Triumphal Arch is nice but does not make a big difference.
Now that all the cultures I wouldn’t recommend are out of the way, let’s move on to The Huns. They are one of the most powerful militarist cultures in the game. I have discussed them in much more detail in a guide already: early wars with The Huns and Mongols guide. With The Huns you will easily be able to take out any remaining neighbours on your continent without much of a challenge. However, because your entire empire will be war focussed, you will actually fall behind the AIs on the other continent economically and the game will take longer than if you pick one of the other two strong cultures.
Let’s look at the Carthaginians who are a merchant culture. The cost reduction for buyout costs is nice, but it is hard to earn a lot of money early in the game to actually make use of this trait, especially because you are unlikely to have a good relationship with your neighbours on the Humankind difficulty. However, the Cothon is quite strong, as it is much better than the normal harbor. However, it is dependent on having access to at least 2 or 3 harbor slots in every city to be competitive. The war elephant is nice, but there are much better military cultures in the classical era.
The Greeks are a science focused culture. They provide additional science per researcher in your cities, which is the main way you will earn science in the classical era. The Amphiltheatron provides a nice influence boost whilst also being a good research quarter. I do tend to find that even without the Greeks I will do fine scientifically and usually run out of technologies to research before wanting to move to the next era. The science per researcher will also not be relevant in the long run since most of your science will come from percentage bonuses and research quarters.
Finally, the best culture in the long run in the classical era is Maya. The extra industry per worker is nice and the K’uh Nah is quite good, especially in a city with 4 or 5 attached territories. The makers quarter adjacency bonus is also quite good. The unit is a good defensive unit, especially because it poisons anyone it attacks.
Let’s discuss the second scenario, which is where you essentially setup the game so you don’t have any AIs to compete with by putting every competitor on their own continent. In this case The Huns are not particularly good, but the Greeks and Maya remain the best cultures in the classical era.
In summary, regardless of setup, the Maya will get you through the classical era and boost your economic advantage over the AI. The Greeks are also a good short term boost to science and The Huns are a good way to clean up any neighbours you might still have.