Into the Renaissance Byzantium Strategy (Deity)

Into the Renaissance – Byzantium Strategy (Deity)

The history of the Eastern Roman Empire is as turbulent as the Roman Empire’s before it. Incorporating half of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity Byzantium survived the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and even managed to reclaim parts of the old empire. Being under heavy pressure from Arab dynasties the Byzantine Empire went through periods of decline and recovery and managed to survive for another 1.000 years. Eventually there was no comeback after a long period of decline. The Battle of Manzikert in 1071 allowed the Seljuk Turks to settle Anatolia, but it took another 400 years until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, which marks the end of the Middle Ages (leading Into the Renaissance). More on the latter in the Mehmet the Conqueror Steam Achievement Guide.

There had been more than just one Theodora who were empresses of the Byzantine Empire. You are playing as Theodora, the wife of Emperor Justinian I. She had saved her husbands throne during the Nika riots and together they reformed Constantinople and made it the most prosperous city in the world at that time. Furthermore she expanded women’s rights in many fields of society.

Prologue: Byzantiums Unique Traits & Happiness

Byzantium has relatively weak unique traits. You’ll get an extra spy, which will give you one more free tech somewhat between turn 60 and 80 (because that’s how long it takes to steal a tech in this scenario). Use it wisely – don’t place it in City States, as you’ll never get allied with them anyways. Go for the technology! Also the unique units are not a big competitive advantage:

Cataphract Dromon
Slightly stronger (15:12) than the Horseman and with a lower combat penalty attacking cities (25 instead of 33%) the Cataphract is still not a strong unit. Only 3 movement actuallly already limit you strongly in maneuvering almost balancing out what should be an advantage. The Dromon is a ranged naval unit unlike the Trireme it replaces. Having Byzantium being played by the AI with huge bonuses it’s hard to defeat. With you playing Byzantium and the AI being ahead in tech, even Dromons don’t stand a chance against enemy privateers and frigates.

Update as per after my game: The combination of the strong bond in religious friendship with Russia (constant research agreements) and having 2 spies stealing technology resulted in me finishing the tech tree somewhere around turn 175. So: Cannons early, banks early, Frigates and Privateers early. Bottom line it is quite a nice trait.

Part 1: Establishing your Empire

Playing Into the Renaissance Byzantium is quite hard: All around you there’s rich good land but on this level of difficulty you won’t be fast enough to claim it all. Check out the Into the Renaissance map. You need to get the few good spots to build a good defense and deny Austria and the Turks to settle near your capital.

Civilization 5 Into the Renaissance Byzantium Deity City Positions
Positions for Byzantiums cities

Above is where I founded my cities. Reasoning behind those positions was always to occupy as much land as possible. Keep in mind: Within 3 tiles of your city no other city can be founded. Normally the AI also leaves some extra space. If you can afford it, you should also buy some tiles towards the potential border (e.g from Ohrid or Nicaea). Southeast of Antioch normally the Turks build a city on the Eastern part of the peninsula, leaving plenty of tiles between them and Antioch.

The earlier you can found Nicomedia the better – once you only leave those 3 tiles in Southern Greece uncovered this makes for a very unattractive city position. I didn’t manage that, so this Turkish city occupied quite a big part of Greece.

Also in the Aegean: Definitely place 2 units on the island as shown above. If the Turks found a city there, it’ll be impossible to block the Aegean Sea with your ships.

Chapter 1: Initial Build Order and Social Policies

As Byzantium you have to expand quickly. You can’t afford having battle at your doorstep in Constantinople as you’ll need it to fight off the Turks. Having them pillage your production improvements will be your end. The Social Policy order reflects this balance between expansion, happiness and growing your military might:

  1. Tradition – for more culture in your capital
  2. Liberty
  3. Citizenship – for a free worker and faster improvements
  4. Legalism – (turn 3) for 4 free culture buildings in your first cities
  5. Republic – +production in cities
  6. Collective Rule – (turn 22) for a free settler plus bonus on producing settlers
  7. Honor (complete the right tree first)
  8. Discipline – +15% bonus for melees flanking each other
  9. Military Caste – Happiness and Culture from city garrisons
  10. Professional Army – Happiness from defense structures and decreased upgrade costs
  11. Monarchy – for happiness and gold depending on the population of your capital, because by now you’ll need the happiness
  12. Warrior Code – for an early General +production bonus on melee units
  13. Military Tradition – for +50% XP for all units, which you need early to grow a huge number of veterans.

This is too late for Military Tradition for my taste. But in this game it was more important to get those cities build to shield you from Austria in the West and the Turks in the East. So here’s the build order:

The build order reflects the need for an army big enough to defend against England, but small enough not to drain your economy.

Constantinople Adrianople
(founded turn 24)
(founded turn 34)
(founded turn 49)
1. Stable
2. Workboat
3. Lighthouse
4. Aqueduct
5. National College
6. Circus
7. Settler (Nicaea)
8. Worker (4) 1. Worker (5)
9. Colosseum
10. Worker (6) 2. Stable 1. Worker (7)
11. Settler (Antioch)
12. Worker (7) 3. Circus 2. Stoneworks
13. Barracks 4. Colosseum
14. Composite Bowman 3. Walls
15. Cataphract 2x 5. Market 4. Market 1. Workboat
17. Composite Bowmen 3x 6. Barracks 2. Barracks
20. National Epic 7. Mint 5. Barracks 3. Lighthouse
21. Heroic Epic 8. Walls 6. Cataphract

The big problem with Byzantium for me was the urgent need to build city improvements for happiness, where actually having a bigger army from the start would have been better. I’d prefer this way, since otherwise you’d be surrounded by enemy cities much earlier, but it was a close call not to lose Nicaea to the initial Turkish attack.

Infrastructure and Movements

Have your workers both build roads west for Adrianople (city #2) and southeast for Nicaea (city #3). Also improve Constantinople as quickly as possible.


  1. Civil Service (more food from farms at rivers)
  2. Guilds (I got this turn 48)
  3. Machinery (Crossbowmen in turn 72)
  4. Metal Casting
  5. Theology (90)
  6. Physics (104)
  7. Steel (for Longswordsmen, finished turn 113)
  8. Chivalry (for Knights, finished during a Golden Age turn 123)
  9. Education (finished turn 133)
Civilization 5 Into the Renaissance Byzantium Deity 064 Pointiest Sticks1
The Turks having the 2nd biggest army

Playing as Byzantium you can easily do Research Agreements with Russia, who is both technologically advanced enough to do so and friendly with you due to your common religion.

Beware though that Research Bonuses from Research Agreements in this scenario only work for your current technology. If you’re close to finishing on and the agreement is complete – your boost will only finish the current tech and NO BONUS is taken over to your next research project!

Carefully handling Research Agreements, timing the University of Oxford and using your spies effectively will allow you to reach the Renaissance very early (still last compared to the AI, but earlier than playing any other civ on Deity).

Chapter 2: Stand your ground!

Civilization 5 Into the Renaissance Byzantium Deity 064 Pointiest Sticks2
Me having 10% of Turkeys military might…

Turkey declared war on me in turn 48. The longer you can delay this the better.

Use all your units defensively. Heal melees when they’re still able to defend, withdraw from the front whenever they need more. In this stage of the game, you will need to use some promotions for healing units. Once you have more units overall, use “real” promotions exclusively. At some point I sacrificed units that early on got the heal promotion. Why? Because it’ll be impossible for these units to become highly promoted veterans if their first promotions had been spent on healing, as the XP required for the next level increases.

On the right there’s the “Pointiest Sticks” rating at turn 64 – my military might was actually less than 10% of Turkeys power.

That’s another reason why I excessively had built fortresses. I always use citadels of course, but in this game I fortified the border to Turkey with a dozen normal fortresses, to grant my units another +25% defense bonus.

Part 2: Defend Your Tiny Empire

Chapter 3: The Turks

The first two thirds of the game were solely defensive, given Turkeys rapid expansion and our economy drain due to the quick land grab. Use some of your Cataphracts to capture Settlers in Greece. You must not allow Turkey to surround you, as you’ll only be able to stand against them at one front.

Once Turkey reaches Chivalry, which will be goddamn early, they’ll send scores of Sipahis against you. Kill those as soon as you can, ignoring most other units. With their 5 movement they can move in and out of your area of control and wreak havoc, killing your veteran Crossbowmen easily. The entire army in above picture, all veterans, hasn’t fired a single shot at Turkish cities, as they’ve been fully occupied killing units.

Chapter 4: The Aegean Sea

In turn 127 I had built a Citadel on the Aegean Island(s), this one bigger island you won’t find on Google Maps. In retrospective this should have been on the Eastern tile, but I wanted to culture-block the passage to Greece completely.

This blockade was well able to deny the Aegean to the Turkish fleet even as they started sending Privateers. I lost Dromons, but Dromons and Crossbowmen from land could destroy almost everything they sent. Unfortunately Turkey teamed up with Saladin of the Ayyubids in the 130s. Although I bribed Spain against the Ayyubids, for Spain has a strong fleet in all games, it wasn’t enough.

By the end of the 130s they had not only destroyed almost my entire fleet, but also overran and pillaged my Aegaen Island. Fortunately the AI’s strategies are sometimes not very consistent. While they sent a big fleet to destroy my fleet, they didn’t push on. Maybe due to pressure from Spain, but who knows.

Building one new Dromon in Constantinople almost every turn, I was able to come back and push the invaders out of the Aegean by the mid 140s.

Part 3: Conquering Turkey

Once you catch up in technology, conquering Turkey will be possible. After Education here’s what my research path looked like:

  1. Gunpowder (143)
  2. Compass (146)
  3. Astronomy (154)
  4. stealing Navigation
  5. Chemistry (for Cannons)
  6. Humanism
  7. stealing Banking (turn 167, finishing the Tech tree on Deity earlier than with any other civ in my games)

Chapter 5: Cappadocia

No longer having inferior units than your overwhelmingly productive opponent, you’ll not only be able to defend yourself, but to strike back. The first city to fall was Kayseri (population 13, granting 325 VP):

In turn 156 Russia declared war on Austria! A blessing, since Austria won’t wage war against you, whilst at war with overly powerful AI-Russia.

Following the usual tactics as described detailed in the Into the Renaissance strategy guide, building roads and bombarding from a distance, the next cities to fall were Malatya in turn 163 (population 9, granting 225 VP) and Zonguldak (pop 11, 275 VP) in turn 169:

Antalya fell already quite late in the game, but after that Turkish resistance was broken. Their fleet in the Black Sea got mostly captured by my Privateers and at land my offense gathered speed. There was a time I ran out of supply, having too many units. Oidu was taken in turn 188 (300 VP), liberated and recaptured several times. Turkey suddenly, after centuries of war, wanted peace. I denied it.

Bodrum could not safely be bombed at all. So I mass produced Trebuchets in Nicaea and moved them towards Bodrum 3 per turn. One was destroyed every turn, two could fire. Bodrum fell turn 193 (175 VP), as did Denizli (300 VP).

After capturing these two cities, the peace offer I received was much more generous: They offered four cities! Beware though: As you won’t capture those, they grant no Victory Points! Of course, to keep the Turkish army busy, I bribed the Mongols into war with Turkey.

Chapter 6: Aegean Islands

After upgrading at least some ships with the latest technologies, waging war in the Aegean also shifted from defense to offense. With Astronomy in turn 154, upgrading elite Dromons (extra range) to Galleasses with double the strength, I could capture Izmir, the closest city to my coast, in turn 165 (population 14, 350 VP). Marsin fell soon after in turn 170 (population 18, 450 VP). Izmir I kept. Lacking resources, I razed Marsin and placed a Crossbowman there for no settlers to found a new city.

Following the liberation of the central Mediterranean, I captured two Turkish cities in Italy, keeping one, razing the other as it was too close to Austria.

Chapter 7: War with Austria

Waging war in the late state of the game will become even easier. For more Happiness I usually choose the Order Social Policy tree. With Byzantium having strong culture (mostly thanks to having Mosques and Monasteries in cities) I was even able to adopt Nationalism granting me a 15% attack bonus when fighting in friendly territory. This also applies to cannons attacking enemy cities outside your borders!

Besides that it strengthens your relationship with Russia!

In turn 190 I was able to make peace with the Ayyubids. In the same turn Austria made peace with Russia (after 34 turns), which made it likely for them to attack me. By then I had already decided not to push further on Turkey, so some veterans had already made their way to the Balkans and the Byzantine fleet awaited in the Adriatic Sea.

In only a few turns, the Austrian “offense” was stopped, their front line cities being bombarded and until the end of the game I had captured two of their cities: Both Ragusa (population 20) and Bad Ischl (population 10) fell in turn 199, giving me another 750 VP!

Chapter 8: Winning the Game

With all the aforementioned conquest, the glory of the East Roman Empire, the glory of Byzantium has been restored!!! Most of present Turkey is under Byzantine rule, as is Greece and the Balkans!

Exploration Scoring:

On a side note: In my game France scored 900 VP from Exploration pushing itself quite high on the ladder. The 3rd exploration was done by the Celts giving them 300 VP.

Into the Renaissance Byzantium (Deity) – Conclusion

Civilization 5 Into the Renaissance Byzantium Deity Expansion
Expansion of the Byzantine Empire

By now I have played the Into the Renaissance Scenario with almost all playable civs. As expected the ones in the center of the map are much harder, as you can be attacked from all sides.

Byzantium was good fun, as it also resembles pretty much the historic perspective. If you establish your empire well in the first quarter – your chances for defeating the Turks are quite good.

This game although being a bit monotonous for a long time, takes a nice turn, once you kill more Turkish units than they produce, allowing you to advance and score VP.

And they never ever made it to Constantinople, so who the hell is this Mehmet the Conqueror? πŸ˜€

9 thoughts on “Into the Renaissance Byzantium Strategy (Deity)”

  1. What did you score in the end? I just finished a game as Byzantium.
    Social Policies
    I went lib, for the settler, then commerce for the coastal city production, then I finished commerce for the +2 happiness from luxuries. I brutally kept track of my city populations and happiness, keeping my cities pop to about 3-4 all of them being coastal.
    I completely left Anatolia to the Turks (except a place or two) only expanding west and south. I forward built all of my cities, pushing as far as I could push without them being taken. Around the 75 turn mark I had well over 20 cities built all along Greece, Italy, and every island I could fit a dromon by.
    My city build order was this:
    Colosseum, market, Dromon, my cap only built settlers until I could no longer build cities, every city was 3 tiles apart. (This was all very hard on the happiness so I had to keep up every turn, killing citizens or growing citizens).
    After the first 100 turns of expanding and establishing my empire (also taking any coastal city state, including vatican, burning their pops to about 3) I was able to explode units(dromon) out of my cities (thanks to the +3 production from the commerce tree) I spent most of the game capped on units (you know, the little red exclamation) the was I took cities was bombarding the city with Dromon, and taking them with floating scouts, (for some reason they don’t just die, they do take the city) this became so efficient I spent a lot of turns in -10 happiness(until I was able to properly manage my new cities) I was also constantly at war with everyone, killing units for ex, and then taking hefty(3000gold) pleas from the panicking AI lol. Once I got frigates the game was over. In the last 70 turns I was able completely control the Mediterranean(except for the abbysids, they had a lot of stuff) I even pushed up through Spain and was able to take London just as the last few turns of the game closed out, your strategy was interesting to read, I hope you can enjoy mine as well.
    In the end I scored 13,000 points, although the leaderboards say 23,000, I’m not sure which score is the real score, but I feel pretty good about it, I wish I had a good picture of the map for this. I’ll just had to play it again. Peace

    1. Just checked the bottom screenshots: I scored merely ~8k. Mainly because I focused on land-based warfare. But you’re right: Byzantium is a naval nation and using that would be good.
      Thanks so much for the guide. I took the freedom to slightly edit your comment (formatting only) to make it easier to read for others.

      After playing this scenario as Sweden just now (winning!), I think I won’t give Byzantium another try. πŸ˜‰

      Edit: Okay maybe I will. Capturing London as Byzantium sounds too tempting.

  2. I wonder what’s the point of all those city-states if Austria is just going to buy them all up…

    Pretty good guide though. Unfortunately for me I can’t get myself to officially beat the scenario, by turn 160+ I just start to get annoyed and impatient. I’m winning by then but meh, can’t bring myself to finish it.

    1. Yeah it’s a bit pointless on this level of difficulty. Also by buying them, Austria is in fact weakening itself (since you lose the unique luxury resources). But not much one can do.
      On finishing the scenario I also agree with you: In the late game one turn takes ~15 minutes, just because of the sheer number of units πŸ™

  3. found this blog in 2018 since i was struggling playing as byzantium in this scenario especially. Very nice guide! The biggest problem for me always was that Austria declared war on me as soon as the ottomans did. i could barely hold the first 2 attempts. But then even the netherland joined them. so it just was too much

    1. Hey Noah, reading your comment I got curious again. Check out Chapter 2: I wasn’t aware that in above successful game by turn 64 I hadn’t even met Austria yet! πŸ™‚

    2. Hey Robert,
      yeah i met them verly early since one of my main focusses in the early game is always scouting. Austria expanded pretty agressive towards my empire and since the deity ai notices if your army is to small compared to theirs they declared war on me as soon as the ottomans attacked the second time. The third time the Netherlands also founded a city right next to me. Directly in between Austria and my empire. So i basically had to fight them all at once. Austria and Netherlands always had been firendly towards me but declared war despite all diplomatics. Netherlands just said that they are sorry for backstabbing me but its an unique opportunity for them xd. Also Russia never declared war on Austria because they were struggling fighting back the mongolz. So i was basically the easiest target. Austria seems to be quite powerful in this scenario. They got allied with pretty much any city state and still stayed friendly with all the catholic and christian empires

  4. you can not build stable when start the city, sorry for my bad english

    1. Nevermind your English! It’s really good so far! πŸ™‚
      Just checked: You’re right, most likely before those stables I had built 1 worker. Later in the list it starts with Worker No. 4, so after starting with 1, getting 1 from social policies, Worker No. 3 must come from somewhere…

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