A Guide to Civics

The intention of this article is to give hints and tips about when and how to use the different Civics in Civilization 4.

For each civic there is a note on availability, followed by a short description of the effects/costs, diplomatic implications, comments on synergy with other game elements (other civics, leader traits, buildings, game settings, common strategies) and a final summary on the usefulness of the civic.

Any Feedback is highly appreciated and the guide will be updated with comments and strategies people post here (credits will be given here in the first post).My (high) aim is to provide a comprehensive database on the complex subject of civics.

Additional Credits for contributing interesting aspects, strategies and correcting inadequate information:

Some General Thoughts on Civics in Civ4


Note: Roland Johansen has done a great article about civic upkeep.

Civics are divided into 4 upkeep categories: no, low, medium and high.
As a very rough rule of thumb you will pay 0 for zero, x for low, 1,5-2x for medium and 2-3x for high upkeep civics.The exact values depend on your number of cities and your population.

With a growing empire and increasing inflation, civic upkeep can really drain from your treasury.
If you consider which civics to use, always keep the upkeep as an additional factor in mind – if you are unsure which civic is the better one, then the cheaper one is usually the better idea. Perhaps with the exception of Environmentalism, all the high-upkeep civics offer strong advantages. But if go for them, you should check if you can really use them to a certain extent – running Vassalage only pays if you build enough units, while Organized Religion is a waste if you are busy to build up your army.


I haven’t mentioned spiritual as a factor in most of the strategy/synergy sections (with Slavery and Nationalism as exceptions; for why see the civic article) for one reason – it is just plain useful to civics in general. The smooth government transition without anarchy transforms in two advantages: The freedom to change when and as often as necessary.

When just means the independence of things as wars, golden age or wonder races. Without interfering anarchy, there is no need to wait with a revolution. If a better option shows up, switch (to be correct, there is still a restriction regarding minimum time between two revolutions, but that’s only rarely a real problem).

The second benefit is the fact that you don’t have to think about if switching (and eventually switching back again soon) is worth the anarchy. Without the spiritual trait, you have to keep an eye on the number of switches you make in a game – if you accumulate to many anarchy turns over time, it may hurt your progress. Sometimes the anarchy just eats up the small advantage the new civic would give you, especially if the benefits are needed only temporarily (for example, “hurry civics” as Slavery or Universal Suffrage, the “draft civic” Nationalism or Bureaucracy, if you go for a wonder in your capital) – then you will either drop the switch altogether or at least delay it to make a “big revolution” (see below for this strategy for non-spiritual civs).

Spirituals effect also tends to rise in Epic or Marathon games.Not so much by the fact the anarchy period is at minimum 2 turns and can easily scale up to 4 (this is counterbalanced by every turn being “less” valuable), but because unit movement isn’t modified – a “quick” switch to Slavery and Nationalism without Spiritual to stop an enemy attack will need three turns(!) to show an effect; three turns in which moreover everything in your empire stands still.


The organized trait is the second one which has an direct impact on civics.

Organized shifts the balance towards the civics with (higher) maintenance, which are usually the ones with a greater impact and stronger effect….and those suited for a more aggressive and (regarding your empires population) repressive playing style.If you compare a (war-monger) combination of Police State, Vassalage, Caste System, Mercantilism and Theocracy with for example Universal Suffrage, Free Speech, Emancipation, State Property and Free Religion (large empire going for cottages), you will clearly see the different impact of Organized.

To sum up, the effect here can be significant (if you adopt your general “big plan”) to meaningless (if you don’t). That’s also the reason why Organized is usually rated as the weakest trait – however, if at all, that’s only partly true.For the civic effect depending on the playing style yes, but you also get cheaper Lighthouses and more important Courthouses – both directing to faster expansion.Not a bad thing in Civ4.

When to change? (applies mainly for non-spiritual civs)

The question is nearly as difficult as the one dealing with what to change.
As usually there is not a single correct answer. You have to consider different situations and factors.

First of all it is important to distinguish the first, initial change in a civic column from later changes.

In case of the initial change, the straight advice in most of the cases is simply: Change as soon as it possible without. The initial civics do nothing for you except draining low maintenance. Sure, most of the civics you will get first access to in the different columns (Hereditary Rule, Bureaucracy/Vassalage, Slavery/Caste System, Mercantilism and Organized Religion) have a higher upkeep, but the give you some advantage and the real cost for this advantage is lower (because you have to subtract one maintenance level in your calculation – the level you have to pay for the starters anyway!)

Things are more complicated when changing from a “real” civic to another. Again, switching ASAP is usually not a bad idea – simply because getting a better civic sooner is better and because in a growing economy a turn of anarchy becomes more and more expensive, if the game progresses.

However, some circumstances might make a delayed revolution a better idea. It is for example not a good idea to switch during a golden age (however, the mistake would rather triggering the Golden Age before the switch in most cases) or when you need every turn in a wonder race or for building units in a case of emergency (of course with the exception of a switch to something which helps especially in those situations).

Even if no such special situation makes waiting worth, the concept of “big revolutions” can do so.
Instead of switching only one civic in a revolution, you can change up to 5. The anarchy penalty rises too, but not in linear way. You can switch up to 3 civics at one time and will still suffer only one turn anarchy. So you can minimize the turns lost to anarchy if you wait for example a few turns to get another tech which enables a new civic.

And last but not least there may be economic reasons – don’t underestimate the pressure high cost civics can lay on your economy. Especially when having the concept of a big revolution in mind, it might be tempting to make a big change – for example when going to war, switching from low cost “peace” civics to the repressive ones. Make sure you have a healthy economy, a full treasury or a Great Merchant around. Otherwise you might come into trouble soon. Wars are already expensive in Civ4 without the political dimension (more units to support, units must be supplied in enemy lands, enemies eventually pillaging the land, unit upgrades, bribery for allies etc.), so those extra civic costs might lead to strikes or at least a serious drop in your research efforts. A bad move here can be devastating, since you have to wait a few turns to be able to correct it again.

The Government Column

Special notes: The special thing about this column is that you can get access to all civics very early – if you are willing and lucky enough to build “The Pyramids”. The immediate availability of all the civics of course change their relative values, so my rather general advices might fail here.

And there is a second special thing about it…21 out of 26 leaders have their favorite civic inside this column, so your decision here can have an important influence on how getting along with the other leaders…

Hereditary Rule

Prerequisite/availability: Monarchy (classic era)
Effect: +1 happiness per military unit inside a city

Upkeep: Medium
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Alexander, Catherine, Hatshepsut, Huayna Capac, Kublai Khan and Louis XIV.
Synergy/strategies: Organized, Vassalage, Nationalism, Theocracy, OCC, cold or general defensive wars (especially AW) , ressource-scarce maps

Summary: The good old military police and better than ever before. No more upper limit. But it comes now with a hefty price, too. Beside the unit upkeep, the civic itself will cost you a substantial sum to maintain. Nearly every other way to produce happiness will be cheaper, but sometimes there is no other way to stay in the “yellow faces” (mainly because of few religions and/or resources).Then it is the right choice, because avoiding unhappy citizens is a high-priority goal. And unless you own the Pyramids, it is the best what you can get for a long time. Otherwise, try to leave it ASAP…if you get access to a new government civic, check if you really need HR any more. If most of the happiness is lost due overflow, consider switching immediately.Even if you can live with the costs (which indeed tend to become less of a problem, if your cities grow really big), you will at least miss the benefits of Universal Suffrage, as soon as it becomes available.

On the diplomatic table, the civic puts you at good relations (usually a permanent + of 1-3, depending on how long you are in the civic and on how keen the leader is about foreign politics) with 6 other leaders…that’s more than with any other civic!


Prerequisite/availability: Constitution (renaissance era)

Effect: Every specialist (including settled down ‘super-specialists’) yields 3 extra research; the biggest 5 (or 6?…I‘m unsure if this a flat number or something dependent on map size) cities in your empire get 3 extra happiness.
Upkeep: Low
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Bismarck, Cyrus, Caesar, Napoleon, Victoria
Synergy/strategies: Caste System, Mercantilism, Pacifism, Philosophical, Organized, OCC – FCC , smaller maps(?),GP-based strategies.

Summary: Representation is the second available choice in the government column and it can be very useful in different situations. Obviously, if you rely very heavily on specialists (and if you are perhaps running some more pro-specialist-civics) and also if your empire is rather small, because then it is your weapon against unhappiness.
But even without such special circumstances, it is in most cases superior compared to HR. You pay less maintenance and despite you get the happiness usually where you need it most (=in your big cities).And of course your troops are freed again to do what they should – defend and attack.
Even when Universal Suffrage becomes available (a tech later, if you have planned for it), you might be better off with staying in Representation. Unless you have money to burn or you have “cottaged” your land early, Representation will often fit better. You can still switch later if necessary.

Police State

Prerequisite/availability: Fascism (industrial era)
Effect: 25% more hammer output, if building military units; -50% war wariness
Upkeep: High

Diplomatic relations bonus with: Genghis Khan, Isabella, Montezuma, Peter, Qin Shi Huang
Synergy/strategies: Jails, Mount Rushmore, Heroic Epic, Extended and bloody offense warfare (especially AW), Drydocks, Vassalage, Theocracy, Organized, Aggressive

Summary: Well, I don’t think there is much to say about when this civic helps you and when it doesn’t do you anything good. It you are at peace (and plan to stay here), move long – there is just nothing you will find here except a near-to-useless high maintenance civic. If you are attacked, ask your self: Is the production bonus worth to sacrifice other choices? Keep in mind, WW is no longer an issue if you just defend your self! Nationalism will literally cost you much less and might offer a better effect.
What makes it really shine is the second bonus…war wariness can easily force you to end a war, because it gets more and more difficult to maintain a productive economy, when you try to conquer and things start to get rough. PS puts an end to this. Add jails and the Mount Rushmore wonder…and no unhappy people will stop you from dominating the world with your guns. You will also enjoy better relations with other leaders who like to repress their people in the same manner…

Universal Suffrage

Prerequisite/availability: Democracy (renaissance era)
Effect: The Town improvement yields an extra hammer and you are allowed to rush buildings and units with gold.
Upkeep: Medium

Diplomatic relations bonus with: Asoka, Frederick, Gandhi, Roosevelt, Washington
Synergy/strategies: Free Speech, Financial, The Kremlin, Emancipation, Organized, “cottage-strategies”

Summary: If you have planned ahead with building lots of cottages, you are now able to earn your fruits. Now you will not only get tons of money out of them, but also a hammer on the top. On the financial side, you may you the rushing ability to build commerce and science boosters in those cities quickly. You will get the invested money back soon. To make use of the civic to its full extend, be sure to combine it with Free Speech.
The importance of commerce in Civ4 cannot be overstated. It is the thriving factor. It is also one of the main points why the AI is a lot tougher now – they now know how important it is, if you look at the sheer number of cottages they build. That’s why they stay competitive in the tech race until the end of the game…and it also makes the diplomatic aspect even more important here. The leaders who like Universal Suffrage are often among the successful ones, which means you are likely to have powerful friends.

The Legal Column

Special notes: The action in this column starts fairly late; the offered civics cover in a nice way the different needs of offensive/defensive war and early-/late game economy.


Prerequisite/availability: Feudalism (medieval era)
Effect: +2 exp. for new units, extra free unit support (5 flat + 1 for each 10 population points)

Upkeep: High
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Mehmed II. (WLs)
Synergy/strategies: Organized (see also text), Aggressive , Charismatic , Protective , anything else what grants free experience to new units (Barracks, Drydocks, Westpoint, The Pentagon, Theocracy, WLs Military Instructors), Police State, any situation with a need for a lot of new troops

Summary: Depending on your research path, Vassalage will be your first or second legal option. It offers one huge benefit (to be entirely correct there is a second: you get some extra free unit support, but this effect is at best a slight compensation for the maintenance, see end of the paragraph) – every unit you will built starts with two experience points more.

This guarantees the first promotion; under usual circumstances (barracks are in place), you get access to the second. Taking in account how combat in Civ4 works this is without a doubt a very desirable boost. Usually a small edge is enough to decide a combat and am promotion more or less can make this difference easily. It is also an effect you will feel for sure, as everyone – even the most peaceful player – has an need for a decent army – if just to prevent a nasty AI leader from attacking.

The only downside of Vassalage is the high maintenance cost. Nonetheless, if Vassalage is your first and therefore only option, switch (unless you really have to count every peace of gold). Whenever you plan to built up your forces, switch. In some games you will stay in vassalage for longer times or even the rest of the game, in others the next options will become one day the better choice. Just make sure to exploit the benefits of Vassalage as much as you can, while running it – the extra support will cover the unit maintenance partly (for Organized civs, this civic is even more interesting, as for the reduced cost, the free support alone is worth the expenses!) and experienced troops will still help you in future, if you have left Vassalage for a more peaceful agenda.


Prerequisite/availability: Civil Service (medieval era)
Effect: +50% production and commerce in capital

Upkeep: Medium
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Kublai Khan, Peter, Qin Shi Huang
Synergy/strategies: Spiritual, Organized , Organized Religion , general strong capital development/focus(f.e. important national wonders in capital placed, any civil or military production boosters) , small maps/empires, OCC

Summary: To put it in one sentence…it is all about your capital here, which will receive 50% additional production and commerce under this civic.
Bureaucracy is always worth a thought, if it comes as first option in the column (even the worst capital has the Palace commerce bonus and likely some hammer sources). How competitive it stays against the other options, depends on location, and constitution of your capital and of course on the future plans you gave with it, too. If it is your unit-factory (high base hammer output, Heroic Epic, etc.), drowning in cottages, your main wonder construction site or even your only city (OCC), than this civic is for you. What makes Bureaucracy so powerful despite the fact that it affects only one of your cities, is Civ4s need for specialization – one specialized city may take the entire needs of your empire in one field (unit production, wonders, research,…). And if you can improve this performance by 50%, than it is usually worth a civic.

However, Bureaucracy tends to lose steam in later phases of most games. The reasons are quite simple – successful empires tend to expand or growth, which means civics get more expensive. Usually, the civic effects expand in a similar manner. Mercantilism gives you an extra specialist in every city, Hereditary Rule enables MP everywhere. Not so here – your entire empire pays with rising maintenance for a fairly constant reward. Freakenly realistic, if you think about real world bureaucracy and centralization..
The final catch is Free Speech becoming available. Without, Nationhood and Vassalage were the only

alternatives – ones which aren’t too exciting in peacetimes. But usually the need for money and beakers rises in the endgame – and extra income from the cottages is just too important.


Prerequisite/availability: Nationalism (renaissance era)
Effect: Ability to draft up 5 units per turn, +2 happiness from barracks

Upkeep: None
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Bismarck, Churchill
Synergy/strategies: Protective , Aggressive , anything else what grants free experience to new units (Barracks, Drydocks, Westpoint, The Pentagon, Theocracy, WLs Military Instructors), Spiritual, sneak attacks, huge excess happiness and food without sufficient production

Summary: Basically, we have the reincarnation of Civ3s draft button, with happiness boosting barracks as icing on the cake – with no maintenance cost. Nationhood is the kind of civic you don’t need very often and long, but if you need it, then you need it dearly and if possible immediately. Ironically, you will use this war civic most likely, if you have planned to play a peaceful game – there is always one Alex or Monty out there which is interested in your cities and wonders.So, in case a nasty AI surprises you, what does Nationhood for you?

Depending on the map Size, you can draft per turn up to 5 of the most modern defenders available(however, restricted to one per city and turn). The price is unhappiness (+3) and population loss (-1 pop point). The big difference to Civ3 is the training level of your drafted troops – while in Civ3 the recruits had 33%/50% less hit points compared to regular/veteran units (which often doomed them as pure cannon fodder), you get regular troops now – just the starting experience is halved. This means still a promotion from the start if a barrack is in place.

Without a doubt, Nationhood is no real long term option. +2 happiness is not enough to make it interesting in peacetimes and drafting more than one or two units will bring most cities down to anarchy and resulting starvation. You will likely leave Nationhood as soon as the initial ambush forces a repelled -usually for Vassalage-, even if the war continues. Only if the war goes very bad and you are under constant pressure, you might be forced to stay here. It is also the civic of heroic defeats and fighting to the last man…and even if it helps you to survive, you will need a large recovery period after that.

Since Nationhood is a mainly stop-gap against an invasion, it is most useful if you can enact it while the enemy is still approaching your city – so a good recon work tremendously increases the efficiency of this civic. Or pick a spiritual leader – always useful regarding civics, but being able to enact and draft in the same turn is something not to underestimate.

Free Speech

Prerequisite/availability: Liberalism (renaissance era)
Effect: +2 commerce for the town improvement, +100% culture

Upkeep: Low
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Washington
Synergy/strategies: Financial , Universal Suffrage , Emancipation , Printing Press , any “cottagemania”-strategy , culture is needed for victory (together with everything else yielding/boosting culture)

Summary: The second “late” option here. The boni speak for themselves: +2 commerce per town and +100% culture, low maintenance .The power and importance of cottages are well known, so it is easy to imagine how much impact the extra commerce has. Free Speech is the dominant peaceful option. This applies especially, if you are going for a cultural victory. Though there is still a niche for Bureaucracy (if your capital is among the three cities and you are racing for an important wonder), doubled culture is worth 6 cathedrals and all the Prerequisite temples, not to speak of the advantage in tech race.
It offers little direct benefit for the warmongers, but if you are currently not fighting for your life or building up you main attack force, you should consider it despite – maintaining or even upgrading an army is expensive.

The Economic Column

Special notes: It is the column which is enabled latest by far, it contains (IMHO) the weakest and the strongest civic of all and also one of the few with a negative effect.


Prerequisite/availability: Banking (medieval era)
Effect: All foreign trade routes are closed, every city gets a “virtual” specialist (which doesn’t drain one citizen from work)

Upkeep: Medium
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Tokugawa
Synergy/strategies: Representation, Caste System, Organized, Pacifism, Philosophical; AW, warmongering or bad diplomatic relations in general, balanced GP strategies, Parthenon, Sistine Chapel, Statue of Liberty

Summary: Mercantilism will be the first available choice in the economic department, but if planned properly Free Market is only one tech away. So it is kind of different to the other “first” civics, were switching over immediately is usually a no-brainer. Things get even more though to evaluate, when taking in account that Mercantilism has a substantial downside beside the upkeep – you will lose all of your foreign trade routes. Unless special circumstances are in place, I usually do not even think about revolting to Mercantilism, but try to get hands on economics ASAP to use Free Market, which can be shortly described as the complete opposite, if you look at what it does.

But now the more interesting part…when to use Mercantilism? Despite all the negative elements connected to it, in some situations the extra specialist is more useful than an extra foreign trade route:

a) You are in or near an AW situations or your overall diplomatic are just to worse to allow (m)any active OB-treaties. Obviously, this is what it is made for it. The penalty doesn’t hurt you anymore, while Free Market offers you zero compared to a free specialist.

b) You are pursuing an GP-strategy and maybe you have some of the wonders mentioned under “synergies” around. Of course then every specialist helps. However, think twice before giving in to this temptation – Mercantilism is not perfectly suited for this strategy. The most effective way to get a cabinet full of GP is creating a single city, which accumulates as many points as possible. Mercantilism however tends to add few in this case.Most points will be wasted because of the escalating costs of later GPs.
What I described as “balanced”-GP strategy (=distributing the GPP sources between several cities) is less effective from the view of maxing out GP, but often not to avoid (no food-powerhouse, cap of two national wonders per city etc.).In the case, Mercantilism can be indeed a valuable part of the big picture.

c) You have a lot of low-developed cities. Mercantilism’s flat one-specialist-per-city bonus obviously has the biggest value, if a city is small – adding a specialist to a size one city without using the citizen to create it means doubling the number of productive people in the city.If combined with Representation and Caste System, you get at decent boost for research this way, while you are able to use the specialist for what is most important (f.e. getting the first border expansion for a new built or conquered city quick).

Nonetheless (and completely according to real history), Mercantilism is in most games only a temporarily good choice. If not FM means the end for it, then State Property will do this job.

Free Market

Prerequisite/availability: Economy (renaissance era)
Effect: All cities get an additional foreign trade route.
Upkeep: Low

Diplomatic relations bonus with: Mansa Musa
Synergy/strategies: Financial, Bureaucracy, Organized, Harbor + other buildings which give extra routes, many OBs, “big” games (huge maps, many opponents), everything which increases commerce yield in your cities.

Summary:Many of what could be said about FM is already noted in the paragraph above, because FM is to a large extend the complete opposite of Mercantilism…and so, no wonder, the best moments to use it are non-isolationistic strategies. In theory, a few OB-treaties will be enough to receive the extra trade route; however, more trading partners tend to give you more lucrative routes (just because there are more possible destinations to choose from!).Also everything which increases commerce (many cottages, buildings, civics, shrines, settled down specialists,…) in your cities, will fuel the effect of FM, because the game “connects” rich cities with other rich cities and calculates the yield of trade routes this way.

Now, how to rate FM? Without a doubt, it is the most flexible and easy-to-use civic in the column. Even if you don’t care much about synergies, it is difficult to be completely wrong with it. Except complete AW games, it is very unlikely that you end up without a single OB (at least on bigger maps)…and if you just met this condition, you will get a decent reward out of it. Add low upkeep and you will have a nice civic which gives you extra money. Usually, it is the right choice as soon as it shows up – either for the rest of the game or at least until SP gets available.

But despite it is the right choice very often, I wouldn’t call it the most powerful choice. For the reasons, see the next paragraph…

State Property

Prerequisite/availability: Communism (industrial era)
Effect: No more distance maintenance in your cities. Watermills and Workshops yield one more unit of food.

Upkeep: No
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Mao
Synergy/strategies: Watermill and Workshop-spam, Games aimed at domination win, early GP-strategies, warmongering, Universal Suffrage, Vassalage, Theocracy, Aggressive, Expansive

Summary: Any rating is always dependent on the playing style to a large degree, so you might differ, if I rate SP as the most powerful civic of all. And even my rating needs further explanation… ”most powerful” just means that it is probably the civic which might give you the biggest reward – well, if you are able and willing to invest enough to exploit it to its full extend (that’s also the reason, why it isn’t overpowered!). I’m not claiming that it is the only viable choice; in fact in most games you will get more out of FM, just because its effects are easier obtain.

SP offers three pluses:

First of all, it is a zero-cost civic. Normally, I wouldn’t emphasize it in this way. But usually it is either the way that there is a direct drawback for zero upkeep (Pacifism: extra upkeep for military units) or it is just offset by the fact that the positive effects of the civic are restricted or hard to get.

For SP however, you will at least (nearly) always save some money from the second advantage. No distance maintenance in your cities. OK, you will smile and move on in an OCC, but apart from that the effect is somewhere between “nice” over “alone enough to switch to SP” to “saves me from bankrupt”. An empire similar to the former British or Soviet will cost you dearly without SP.

The third thing is probably the most interesting, but also the one which needs most work: Extra food from the watermill and workshop improvement. While it is just the icing on the cake in case of the watermill (it is already a nice choice without SP), it completely turns the tide for the workshops.

A workshop is a niche improvement under normal circumstances. Unless you locally drown in food, the food penalty hits just to hard. Moreover, mines are a big competitor, because they to do the same without taking away arable land and might even grant you a new resource deposit one day.
But under SP, a workshop means simply +3 hammers! Cities with enough hills still do not need them…but all those flatland cities in grassland or near a river can be turned into real factories.
10 citizens can yield 30 base hammers this way… If you are among those who always miss hammers dearly and wish to be back in the Civ3s paradise of mined grassland, then welcome in the realm of State Property! The power of such a factory-wonder is multiplied by the fact you can use it to hit the AI on a weak point – they are famous with everything connected to commerce and research, but they often lack the hammers to build the fancy toys for their army.

The only downside (of which I’m glad it is in!) it the fact that you need a strong worker force to transform your infrastructure this way. And while it perfectly plays together with an early farm/GP-strategy (don’t be shy to replace the farms with workshops – with escalating GP costs, you will usually only sacrifice few GLs from the moment on SP becomes available), it will make you cry to tear down developed cottages. It might still make sense in some cases, but be careful then…if you transform too early, you might fall back in tech because of you depleting income. And with the new combat system, Tank vs. Modern Armour is nothing to search for, even if you have the numerical advantage on your side.


Prerequisite/availability: Medicine (Industrial Era)
Effect: +6 health in every city; also +1 happiness per jungle/forest tile inside the city radius

Upkeep: Medium
Diplomatic relations bonus with: —–
Synergy/strategies: Organized, Expansive, low resource situations, “green strategies” (keeping forests, lumber mills), high unhealthiness through power generation or buildings, wars which disrupt resource trading

Summary: ***REMOVED for overhaul because of the latest patch changes regarding Environmentalism ***

The Religious Column

Special notes: Unlike the civics of the other columns, the ones of the religious section need an additional component to work – religion. In case of the first three, you will only reap the benefits inside a city, if you have a state religion AND if this state religion is present in this city. Free Religion abandons the state religion concept and depends instead on having as many different religions as possible inside a city.
So the usefulness of all the non-default civics depends highly on the religious situation in your empire and the thump rule “everything is better than the default civic” is not entirely true here. The three state-religion civics (can) cause high direct or indirect costs, so Paganism is indeed a real choice, as long as you don’t have established religion in most of your cities.

Organized Religion

Prerequisite/availability: Monotheism (Ancient Era)
Effect: +25% speed, when constructing buildings or wonders; training of missionaries is possible without having a monastery

Upkeep: High
Diplomatic relations bonus with:
Synergy/Strategies: Wonder/cathedral resources(Marble, Stone, Copper), Industrious, forest-chopping for building projects, State Property, Universal Suffrage

Summary: Your first option in the religious column. The general note on religious civics applies especially to OR. Unless you have founded one of the early religions yourself, the chance is quite high that you have no access to religion, when the civic becomes available. In this case, wait with a switch. Even if the absolute sum is not much in those early turns, you will need every piece of gold – and paying for getting zero doesn’t sound like a good idea, well?

If religion has spread to your empire and a state religion is declared, a switch makes usually sense.
+25% hammers for buildings/wonders are a huge boost in the beginning, where you need to get the stuff out as fast as possible. And not to forget the second advantage – missionaries without monasteries. It makes sure that all your new cities can get the production bonus at once and it allows sending out a lot of those guys to your neighbors to bring them in line.
However, if you are involved in serious wars and your cities are busy with pumping units out, OR doesn’t help you. It can be also problematic on higher difficulties, because then the high upkeep might lay a heavy burden on your treasury.

Overall, the usefulness tends to decrease over time. If you weight extra building speed vs. free experience, great people points or extra happiness (that’s in short what the alternatives – described in detail below – offer), all of the latter three are usually more important in the later game. However, the second advantage might open another niche for OR later. In the moment you research Scientific Method, you lose the chance to build new monasteries. If you have build enough of the ones you need, you are lucky. If not, you have a problem, when you are pursuing for example a cultural victory, for which are cathedrals extremely helpful. OR eliminates this problem by allowing cities to build missionaries of all the religions they contain, regardless of the presence of monasteries – so this effectively means you can spread every religion over your entire empire, if you just have one city with this certain religion.


Prerequisite/availability: Theology (Medieval Era)
Effect: +2 EXP for new built units; no spreading of none-state religions

Upkeep: Medium
Diplomatic relations bonus with: Saladin
Synergy/Strategies: Vassalage, Barracks, The Pentagon, Westpoint, Aggressive, Organized, Nationalism, The Heroic Epic, Police State, any war or cold war situation, domination or conquest victories

Summary: Theocracy is Vassalages little sister – the main effect is the same, units start with 2 experience points extra. Like it is true for most war civics, there is not much to say about when you should use them. If you plan to build a lot of units in the near future (for whatever reason), take this. And if you can, take Vassalage too. The synergy between both is one of the strongest among all civics – both improve exactly the same aspect of the game and in case of experience, a cumulative bonus is especially valuable. Yes, you might argue that one of those civics is enough to reap the second promotion immediately (assuming barracks are in place). That’s true and I’m far away from saying they are only worth to be taken together – but you just waste their full potential. Believe me, 6 or 8 exp from the start matters, because your units will likely get the third promotion right after the first fight with 8. Also every new promotion means a kind of instant “medipack” for your unit (wounds are partly healed).It can make the difference between losing or winning a fight in many cases.

Medium upkeep is an absolutely fair charge for what Theocracy does, especially if you compare it with OR or Pacifism. Until Free Religion shows up (which is a great all-round civic), Theocracy is not only the best, but also the cheapest solution in any game which involves decent military action or just a big standing army to prevent it.

The second effect of Theocracy (no natural or missionary-caused spread of minor religions in city with your state religion) is a kind of a double-edged sword. It prevents you from reaping the benefits of having several religions in your cities (more happiness, culture, science).But OTOH, you also prevent that a nasty opponent spreads his own founded religion into your city and gains line of sight and shrine income. How strong the impact of both aspects is depends however on the extend minor religions have already spread in your country (because existing ones aren‘t removed). If nearly all of your cities have already a second or even third religion, Theocracy isn’t a big loss anymore – because spreading religions via missionaries in this situation is very cost-intensive anyway. For preventing the enemy from gaining benefits out of his or her mother religion it is just the other way round – if they haven’t got their feet in your door yet, it is the best time to close it.


Prerequisite/availability: Philosophy (Medieval Era)

Effect: +100% GPP (=Great People Points)
Upkeep: no direct civic upkeep, but 1 Gold per military unit
Diplomatic relations bonus with:
Synergy/Strategies: Philosophical, The Parthenon, The National Epic, Caste System, Representation, Mercantilism, Industrious, any major GP-strategies, cultural victories

Summary: If you are in love with Great People, this civic is for you. Although the doubled amount of GPP does not transform into 100% more great people (the increase is probably rather 20-30 %), the civic pays out if used properly. The real benefit isn’t the pure extra number, but the fact that you will get your GPs earlier – and one of the basic rules of Civilisation is that earlier advantages weight more.
So they question is when to use Pacifism?

If you are running a game heavily leaned towards GP, of course. You might run Pacifism then until the end, but you should still keep in mind that the effect fades the more GPs you have already gotten. Taken to the extreme: At some point, even the 100% increase will not yield to another GP because of the geometrical cost increase.

If GP are just a (minor) part of your strategy, you might consider a quick switch when it becomes available (to rush out some) and eventually later again, when you desperately need another Great Person, while lacking enough base GPP. In any case, try to max out the synergetic potential of Pacifism. Especially the combination with Caste System can do miracles – there is rarely a better way to get a special GP in a short time.

Probably not necessary to point out, but for the sake of completeness…if you don’t have wonders and specialists around which yield GPP, move along – Pacifism has no second benefit, but a hidden cost trap. Don’t be fooled by no upkeep, the extra cost for military units will usually easily turn it into a quasi high-upkeep civic. Yes, in theory all those famous Great People might lead you to a peaceful victory , where you don’t need any weaponry and therefore unit maintenance. But the days of no-unit-games are gone.Civ4s diplomacy system relies on relation modifiers and is quite reliable in this part, but you will need the plain cold steel, too. There is always someone out there who is jealous about your wonders and cities. Pacifistic games are best achieved with cold-war strategies – and that’s nothing to head for under Pacifism from the view of costs. To sum up the options …either build up a very healthy economy or use Pacifism only temporarily.

Free Religion

Prerequisite/availability: Liberalism (Renaissance Era)
Effect: +1 happiness per present religion inside a city; +10% research output; no more state religion and religious diplomacy modifiers
Upkeep: Low
Diplomatic impact: Relation bonus with Elisabeth; religion has no more impact on diplomacy

Synergy/Strategies: Organized, Expansive, Environmentalism, luxury resource shortages, peaceful-planned games and situations with high-tension in diplomacy, non-diplomatic victories (especially space race or cultural)

Summary: Your final choice in the religious column. A powerful tool, coming with low costs and offering a simple solution for unhappiness problems and granting a 10% increase in research on top – all you have to do is spreading as many religions as possible in every corner of the empire. Each present religion yields +1 happiness in your cities, before factoring in additional boni you might get out of built temples. Unless you have no happiness problems, because your are drowning in luxuries or your cities are small, you should seriously consider a switch.

The icing on the cake (the research bonus) is even independent of the number of religions in a city (maybe there must be one religion at all, not sure on this).10% may not sound to drastic, but if you keep in mind how expensive the late game techs have become with v1.52, you will be happy about every extra beaker.It can make the difference in a tight space race.

As usual there is also shadow or at least some more things to consider. First of all, don’t underestimate the difficulty of spreading religions with missionaries. If there is no or only a single religion present in a city, your chance of success is 100% or slightly below. If there is already a second religion, you might fail; three or more is just pure luck. So the gained extra happiness is usually 2 or 3, unless your are willing to invest vast amount of shields for missionaries (which can be sometimes worth nonetheless, when pursuing a cultural victory for example).

A second aspect is the loss of state religion. Beside the fact that the Spiral Minaret loses its effect , it has a serious impact on the diplomatic system in Civ4, which can be a boon or bust, depending on your situation. Free Religion both nullifies positive and negative modifiers caused by having the same or a different state religion. You will have no more problems with Isabella or Saladin hunting you for believing in the wrong faith, but you might experience cooled down relations with your former brothers in faith, too. The chance to get backstabbed and attacked is slower, but also the possibilities for trade or interventions on your side.

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