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Author Topic: SPM'S CIV5 ANALYSIS OF: MANAGING HAPPINESS  (Read 6646 times)

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Offline SirPartyMan

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« on: September 28, 2010, 12:29:47 AM »

Everyone who has played any version of Sid Meier’s CIVILIZATION knows you have to be a very good multi-tasker.  When you are in control of your Civilization you must concurrently manage your:

Population Growth   
Science Output
Units – Military Power
Technology plan
Resource Availability   
Diplomatic Relations   

While the challenge is to keep all these balls in the air at the same time, I think it’s helpful to separate these sometimes conflicting goals and to discuss them separately from a strategic standpoint.

In this, the first of several strategy articles about the major components of the game, I will explore HAPPINESS in depth, in terms of what you should do to have the optimal result and to keep your citizens as happy as possible.


First, you want to always stay “in the green” – having zero or positive happiness.  If you dip into the “red” or negative happiness, your civ is now:

-UNHAPPY, and as a penalty all of your cities’ population growth will be slowed (a 75% reduction in your food supply  - you won’t starve, but it might take 20 turns to grow one pop point), and, if you become

-VERY UNHAPPY, it will affect several more things including the fact your cities will stop growing entirely, you won’t be able to build a settler (ouch!), and your military unit’s effectiveness is diminished with a combat penalty.  You can’t let this happen!

Ideally, try to be +10 positive or greater. This will allow you to annex a captured city and to absorb the -8 happiness hit you will take as a result, with a few to spare.

Another advantage of extra happiness is that excess points are added to a Golden Age bucket – in which you get a very nice long GA as a reward.  And of course if you experience rapid growth you don’t want to slow it down because of unhappiness – always carry a surplus.  Be proactive in monitoring this value. 
Your current situation is available in game on the CIV5 “dashboard” at the top of the screen.  Hover your mouse over the Happiness score to see a complete detailed breakdown of this cumulative score.  Look for the smiley face with a number hopefully in green.  Next to it is a progress indicator of how you're doing towards a Golden Age.  Excess happy points are added every turn to this bucket.  So happy citizens means more frequent golden ages, whose lengths are NOT reduced no matter how many you have, as Great Person triggered GA’s are shortened over time down to a measly 3 turns .   


We will explore the arithmetic of Happiness. I am basing this article on PRINCE LEVEL – with QUICK game speed the most common settings in MP CIV5 in my experience.

At Prince level, you start with  +6  happiness, by default. This will let you grow for awhile without a problem, but watch it, and always try to stay positive. By the time you go to plant your second city, you need to have a plan. 


1)   As you grow your happiness will go down. Each additional population point will subtract 1 from your current happiness.  So when your cap grows to pop 2 your happiness will normally decrease from +6 to +5.

2)   Each additional city will subtract 2 additional from your current happiness.  So let’s say I had a pop 3 capital and was ready with my first settler.  My happiness should be +4 since I’ve grown twice to get to pop 3.  As soon as I plant the 2nd city, my happiness will drop from +4 to +1 (why does it drop 3?  It’s 2 for the city and 1 for the first citizen in that city).   That’s why the manual says: a civ with 2 cities of pop 2 is less happy than a civ with one city pop 4 – it’s 2 points less happy.

3)   Annexed cities will further reduce your happiness.  Figure on -8 per annexed city.  This enters into the decision as to whether to go puppet or not, when you capture a city.  For puppets you will take the -2 hit based on adding the puppet as one of your cities; however, you are not penalized for the puppet's population, as you are with Annexation. You can later reverse this decision and go from puppet to annexed (presumably when you have excess happiness again to support that move).


1)   LUXURY RESOURCES - Build improvements on every Luxury Resource.  For example, discover CALENDAR so you can build plantations on Luxury Resources (*NOT* Bonus resources, be careful) specifically: COTTON, DYES, SPICES, INCENSE, SILK, SUGAR, and WINE.  BANANAS  is one resource you can build a plantation on, but BANANAS are  not a Luxury Resource, they are a Special Resource, and you won’t get happiness credit, although you will get extra food, but no happiness points.   Also you only get credit for the first plantation on a given luxury type.  It doesn’t help you to put a plantation on a 2nd DYES tile unless you plan to trade it.  Each player will only get one +5 Happiness boost per Luxury Resource type. In addition to Plantations, you can also improve Gems, Gold, and Silver with Mines (after researching Mining of course); Pearls and Whales with Fishing Boats (After researching Sailing); Furs, Ivory with camps (after researching trapping), and Marble with Quarry (after researching Masonry).  *ALL* of these count for +5 happiness, once per type.   Consider this when planning a new city location. Since new cities will cost you happiness, you want to make sure you have enough luxury resources to go around.  If your land doesn’t have enough luxury resources, even after exploration, well, read on …

2)   BUILDINGS – some buildings just make people happy.  Here is a list – build them as needed. Here’s an important point, unlike luxury resources, it does help to build as many Theaters as possible for example.  You are not limited to just the benefits of the first of each type.  If you build 5 theaters, that’s 20 happiness points, 4 x 5:

CIRCUSHorseback RidingHorse, Ivory1503+3
THEATERPrinting PressColiseum3005+4
STADIUMMass MediaTheater4506+4
BURIAL TOMBPhilosophybeing Egypt1200+2
SATRAP’S COURTBankingbeing Persia2200+2

Note: The Burial Tomb is Egypt’s TEMPLE, but normally temples don’t affect happiness, only culture, but if your name is Rameses then you receive +2 happy at zero maintenance per turn – a nice advantage. Similarly Satrap’s Court is Persia’s Bank with different benefits including a +2 happiness credit.

3)   DISCOVER NATURAL WONDERS – Your scouts should be exploring not just for enemies and Ancient Ruins, but also Natural  Wonders, like Rock of Gibraltar (note the word Natural, not National.  A National Wonder is like Globe Theater).  Each Natural Wonder you discover is +1 happiness.  It’s not uncommon to find 2 of these in first 20 turns especially with 2 scouts.  That’s +2  Happiness. Every bit counts. By the way some natural wonders are best discovered by boat. Send one or two out to explore and your people will be the happier for it.

4)   ADOPT POLICIES:  Certain social policies can be adopted by Cultured Civs which will enhance your citizen’s happiness.   Here are the policies which directly influence Happiness –  several are available early in the game:

TRADITIONLEGALISM-33% Unhappiness in Capital City
LIBERTYMERITOCRACY+1 Happiness for each city connected to trade network
HONORMILITARY CASTE+1 Happiness  for each city with a garrison
PIETYPIETY+2  Happiness
PIETYORG. RELIGIONAmount of happy to achieve golden age reduced by 25%
PIETYTHEOCRACY-20% Unhappiness produced by non-occupied cities
COMMERCEPROTECTIONISM+1  Happiness for each Luxury Resource
RATIONALISMHUMANISM+1  Happiness for each University
FREEDOMFREEDOM-50% Unhappiness from Specialists
ORDERPLANNED ECONOMY-50% Unhappiness from Number of Cities
AUTOCRACYPOLICE STATE-50% Unhappiness from Occupied Cities

5)   BUILD WORLD WONDERS:   Three World Wonders can give an immediate boost to your Happiness point score.  When considering Wonders, realize that Hanging Gardens, by its nature, adds population to your Civ, so while you get +3 happiness bonus if you have 6 cities, that's +6 population, so considering everything the net effect is -3 Happiness.   They are: 

WORLD WONDERTechCostHappy Points
HANGING GARDENSMathematics200+3
NOTRE DAMEEducation600+5


A)   You should make the Courthouse the first build in an annexed city – to eliminate unhappiness. Make this a priority.

B)    If you find yourself approaching zero and about to go into the red.  STOP GROWING.  There’s a fairly simple way to do this: go into the city window and click on AVOID GROWTH checkbox for each city (to access this you need to click on Citizen Allocation Focus). Of course experienced micromanagers will control each city so that growth is stagnant. Either way you need to stop making a bad situation worse.   Once you’ve dug your way  back to a surplus in happiness you can resume growing some or all of the cities, and consider planting new ones.

C)    Try to have at least +5 happiness before planting a city – because it will quickly suck away those points before you are likely to build anything or improve anything enough to compensate for it. Yes the initial cost is -3 but cities grow.

D)   One way to look at it is zero-based budgeting.  If you time the building of a theater  with the planting of a city and you’re in Meritocracy – that balances things out and keeps you with a positive happiness flow.  Think of the happiness cost of each new city BEFORE You plant it. You can do very well in the first 80 turns or so with 5 cities in most games. 

Best, SPM

« Last Edit: October 01, 2010, 09:01:25 PM by SirPartyMan »

Offline tamijo

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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2010, 12:27:39 PM »
Compleet list of lux resources :
Plantation : Cotton, Dyes, Incence, Silk, Spices, Sugar, Wine
Camp: Furs, Ivory
Mine: Gems, Gold, Silver
Quarry: Marble
Boat : Perls, Whale
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 12:44:02 PM by tamijo »
They talk, and talk and talk and talk, about individual freedom. They see one free individual and it scares the shiiit out of them

Offline SirPartyMan

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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2010, 06:19:13 PM »
Good Catch Tamijo - I have updated the main article accordingly.


Offline SirPartyMan

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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2010, 03:04:01 PM »
A new happiness strategy has emerged after several weeks of play that I wanted to share with everyone.

Normally, it is difficult to plant too many cities early due to happiness concerns; however, here is a clever way around that:

If you beeline to Calendar, so you can build plantation improvement for luxuries, and keep your capital small (pop 2 or 3) it can produce settlers (don't worry about early worker) and plant them right smack dab on top of a luxury resource.  While the new city is -3 happiness you'll immediately get +5 happiness for hooking a new luxury resource (without requiring any worker actions), for a net +2 happiness.

The new city should be kept at pop 1 until later in game when you can afford to expand from a happiness perspective.   You can use the AVOID GROWTH feature for this and/or micromanage the city so that besides the capital city location you are working one 2 hammer tile, hopefully with no food, like a mountain or other high productivity tile.  This way a one pop city can produce 4 hammers per turn, and start putting out spears or similar military units.

At some point, you might allow one of the new cities to grow to pop 2 so it can also produce a settler, in addition to your capital - the extra citizen might be put on a tile that produces gold so you'll have money for purchases/upgrades.

To my thinking this is a borderline exploit, but since it seems the game was intended to work this way - until things are changed in a patch - this seems like a viable way to go. I am not advocating this as a game strategy particularly - I just thought people might want to know about it and understand it.  Also you could mainly go the "normal" build strategy but occasionally plant on top of a luxury for a tactical advantage where it seems appropriate.  This might also be a consideration if you are one of those who plants a bunch of last minute cities near end of game.

« Last Edit: October 13, 2010, 04:42:07 PM by SirPartyMan »

Offline tommynt

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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2010, 03:56:36 PM »
I think I can win games "normal way" aswell.

without either being France (this "strat" works only real well with france - why u think mgt plays only french .. so limited ...) or having Henge - you are limited pretty soon to the "normal" limit of maxsize (well on duel maps there are about 3-4 lux for every1 - nm how u get em - they are limited).

after u r at this limit there isnt much room for more cities - and u maybe wish u d have planted cities at good spots instead of on top of lux
Only France/henge can work around this "limit" by getting all dem happy civics.

The only real benifit of this is that u stay in + happy for pretty long to get a GA

Also I think Firiaxis is gonna fix this some way - not much use to do a strat with no future imo - better learn play the game well
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2010, 03:13:43 AM »
How would they possibly fix the fact that planting a city on a resource gives that resource to you?

At first when I played this game I would look for food, strategic, luxury, river resource like in civ 4. The better strategy in this game is to look for Luxury resource first, then strategic, then river, then food in that priority order. I'm not saying this is either good or bad, it's just the way it is in this version so far. Plant cities for happy faces, not food.