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 won’t discuss the scenarios any more since there is no material difference between them any more. We will first discuss the Early Modern 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 early modern era. At this point in the game you have made most of the choices that will win you the game and it is about cementing your economic advantage to start accelerating your scientific advantage in the industrial era. The AI is unlikely to attack you and is likely to start wanting alliances with you. You will be quite far ahead of the AI so any military units you have will be much more powerful than the AI so special units won’t make a big difference if you want to attack your neighbour. Unless you are planning to conquer the world, war will not yield much benefits because you just need to optimise your existing territories to win the game. The focus for this era will be industrial and scientific.
First, let’s broadly discuss any militarist and expansionist cultures. This covers the Ottomans, Poles and Spanish. Unless you are planning to wipe out all enemy empires, they are not worth picking because you don’t need any more territory at this point.
Moving onto the merchant cultures, both the Venetians and Dutch are weak cultures only providing minor bonuses compared to the money you can make with trade with any culture you pick. The Venetians’ Botteghe Di Artisti particularly weak giving you a very minor bonus on tiles producing money. The Dutch V.O.C. warehouse is nice, but again marginal compared to the money you can get from trade.
Moving on to the aesthete cultures, which are the Edo Japanese and Ming, influence at this point in the game is only really helpful as far as giving you era stars to be able to move to the next era. The important civics can be unlocked using your existing influence yields. The Ming’s Grand Teahouse is nice for the boost to stability enabling the building of at least 1 additional district without a stability impact. The Tera of the Edo Japanese is quite weak as faith is not important any more, since your religion is either gone or already as dominant as it is going to get, and the extra influence is only marginal.
The agrarian culture in the early modern era, the Haudenosaunee, are decent in terms of adding quite a bit of food to your cities through the Land of Plenty trait, but the Three Sisters Plantation is not that good providing only a marginal amount of additional food compared to the default farmers quarter. Agrarian cultures are generally worse because of the limit of 1 population growth per turn and needing to provide jobs to population to get yields.
The Joseon are the scientists of the early modern era. The Hall of Worthiness trait is quite weak due to the limited number of tiles that produce science. The Seowon is a decent research quarter, especially if you have a lot of scientists in your cities, but it pales in comparison to the science you can get from many research quarters with high adjacency bonuses.
Hands down the best culture in the early modern era are the Mughals. The Imperial Magnificence regularly boosts my capital cities to 10k+ science per turn even if I don’t build many makers quarters. The Jama Masjid produces a decent amount of industry, although that pales in comparison to the Imperial Magnificence bonus.
In summary, Mughals are one of the best cultures in the entire game due to the amount of production they add to your capital, assuming you have a good sphere of influence which is likely at this point in the game. The other cultures are much weaker in comparison.