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: ancient era best culture. We will first discuss the Contemporary Era in terms of what is important and the context and then look at each of the cultures and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s discuss the contemporary era. At this point in the game you have already won and just need to close the deal. You are so far ahead of the AI that you can pick and choose how you want to win the game. Most of the paths involve a lot of science, although will need more, and a decent amount of industry. At this point in the game your science will already be fairly good and you will have all the industry you need to finish the game. Your cities are stable and you can build as many quarters as you want in them without causing stability issues.
First, we’ll discuss the expansionist and militarist cultures, which are the Americans and Soviets. The benefits from extra territories and cities are marginal at best so it is not worth attacking other empires unless you aim to take out every other empire in the game. Even if you are, nuclear bombs, which are available to all cultures, are far more effective than taking cities one at a time where you will run into city cap problems anyway. This means that its not worth picking any of these cultures in the industrial era.
Moving onto builder cultures, which are the Australians, they were really good in the mid game but you now have all the industry you need and the small incremental industry from the Australians won’t help. The 20% extra industry is nice but the Strip mini Complex is situational since you won’t necessarily have a strategic resource in all of your territories. Even if you did, the extra pollution is a drawback and the extra industry is only marginal compared to the industry you already have in your cities.
Let’s discuss the aesthete cultures, which are the Egyptians and Indians. Influence is not a problem at this point in the game, so the Egyptians are quite weak since they mainly provide influence with their trait and special quarter. The minor money bonus from the Indians is not really noticeable compared to what you are earning from trade and the faith on the Ashram is not providing any value since your religion is either already dominant or doesn’t exist any more.
From here on we’ll discuss cultures individually. The Chinese are the merchant culture and are overall quite weak, giving only a small 10% money bonus across your empire and not a particularly good market quarter replacement in the congress which is not much better than the default market quarter, except that it provides a good number of population slots which is nice.
The Brazilians provide a good food bonus through their Lungs of the Planet trait, giving 3 extra food on tiles producing food, but the Agronomy Lab is not particularly good and extra food in the contemporary era is not really worth it since your yields predominately come from quarters and not from population slots.
That leaves 3 cultures that are each quite good. Starting with the least strong of the three, the Swedes provide a very good science bonus on all districts, which boosts your science across your empire by a lot, especially if you have many districts. The Research Institute is quite good, often providing hundreds of science each.
Let’s discuss the Japanese next. They provide both science and industry.The 20% reduction on technology cost is quite good, essentially boosting your science by 20%, and the Robotics Lab provides a lot of science and industry on all your existing research and makers quarter, although you will need to be careful with pollution. The best part of the Japanese is the affinity action which lets you convert all the industry and money in a city into science, which can produce tens of thousands of science in a city with decent industry and money. However, it does mean that you can’t build anything else in that city making special projects tricky to complete to win, for example, with the Mars Colony or by launching nukes at enemy empires.
Hands down the best culture in the contemporary era, if not in the entire game, are the Turks. The public schools will provide you thousands of science each and you can build one of these per territory in your empire. This has pushed me to over 100k science per turn meaning you can win the game within a few turns after entering the contemporary era by researching all the technologies in the game.
In summary, the Turks are one of the best cultures in the game, followed by the Japanese and the Swedes as they provide you with a lot of science, and even industry for some of those cultures, to help you close out the game.