Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

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Happiness in Civilization V (G&K)
By thecrazyscotsman
Happiness is an essential element of Civ V gameplay, and understanding how to keep your empire happy will prevent you from losing growth potential, productivity loss, combat strength loss, and having armies of barbarians spawn within your borders.
Introduction and Basic Principles

NOTE: This guide does not include Brave New World and I haven't had time to update it. Many of the concepts are still helpful though.

In Civilization V, happiness is a global state which impacts your ability to found new cities and your cities’ ability to gain new citizens. It should be treated as a resource that allows you to expand your population and borders when you have a surplus, and can entirely stop your growth when you have negative happiness.

The four happiness states your empire can have are:

Happy -- 0+ happiness -- no modifier.

Unhappy -- 1-9 unhappiness -- excess food reduced by 75%, positive growth modifiers suspended.

Very Unhappy -- 10-19 unhappiness -- all city growth ceases, settlers cannot be built or used, production decreased by 50%, unit combat strength reduced by 33%.

Revolt -- 20+ unhappiness -- all the effects of Very Unhappy, plus groups of barbarians regularly spawn in your borders.

Obviously, having high unhappiness can essentially shut down your entire civilization.

When you first start a game, you have an initial supply of happiness which changes based on your difficulty level:
  • Settler: +15
  • Chieftain and Warlord: +12
  • Prince and above: +9
This initial supply is reduced from the very moment you found your first city.

There are 2 things that consume happiness: cities and citizens. Nothing else. Conquered cities consume more happiness until you’ve built a courthouse.
  • Cities: 3
  • Citizens: 1
  • Occupied city: 5 (without courthouse)
  • Citizens in occupied cities: 1.34 (without courthouse)
There are modifiers based on difficulty level and map size. Large and huge maps have an 80% and 60% per city modifier, respectively. Settler, Chieftain, and Warlord difficulty levels provide a 40%, 60%, and 75% modifier for cities AND citizens, respectively.

Notes: specialists have their own category in the UI happiness breakdown. They are simply citizens which are working a building slot rather than a terrain slot, and cost the same amount of unhappiness. Also, modifiers are multiplicative.

  • Prince difficulty, standard map, 1 city, 1 population: 9 - 3 - 1 = 5 happiness
  • Chieftain difficulty, large map, 3 cities, 6 population: 12 - (3*0.8*0.6) - (6*0.6) = 12 - 1.44 - 3.6 = 6.96, rounded up to 7 happiness
Important Concepts
There are two important concepts that need to be understood before continuing with this guide:

1. There are two basic types of empires: tall and wide. Tall empires consist of few cities with a very high population, while wide empires generally have many cities with low populations.

2. There is a difference between local and global happiness. Buildings (and a few other things) provide only local happiness, which means that the unhappiness produced by each individual city is modified by any local happiness before being added to your global happiness rating. If a city produces more local happiness from buildings than it has population, no additional happiness is added to your global rating.

  • Size 6 city, Circus, Colosseum, Cathedral, and no modifiers:
    3 + 6 = 9 total .
    2 (Circus) + 2 (Colosseum) + 1 (Cathedral) = 5 local .
    The city adds 4 to the global happiness rating.
  • Size 4 city, Circus, Colosseum, Theatre, Stadium, and no modifiers:
    3 + 4 = 7 total .
    2 (Circus) + 2 (Colosseum) + 3 (Theatre) + 4 (Stadium) = 11 potential local . However, since the city only has 4 population, only 4 actual local is produced.

    The city therefore adds 3 to the global happiness rating.
Natural Happiness
There are many different happiness producers. The easiest to get are naturally occurring producers, of which there are 3 types:

1. Natural Wonders - You can increase your permanent happiness by small amounts simply by exploring the map and discovering Natural Wonders. Each one you discover provides you a +1 permanent happiness boost. Additionally, certain ones provide larger boosts if you are able to claim them within your borders:
  • Old Faithful: +3
  • The Fountain of Youth: +10
  • Sri Pada: +2
  • Mt. Kailash: +2
Not all Natural Wonders will be available on every map as they are randomized.

2. Luxuries - One of the easiest ways to gain happiness is through improving luxury resources or trading for them. Luxuries provide +4 global for each unique resource (you gain no benefit from duplicates), and there are 22 unique luxury resources.

Notes: on Settler and Chieftain difficulties you receive +5 per luxury, and all luxuries won’t be present on smaller maps.
  • Citrus
  • Copper
  • Cotton
  • Crab
  • Dye
  • Gems
  • Gold
  • Furs
  • Incense
  • Ivory
  • Jewelry (from ally mercantile city-states only)
  • Marble
  • Pearls
  • Porcelain (from ally mercantile city-states only)
  • Salt
  • Silk
  • Silver
  • Spices
  • Sugar
  • Truffles
  • Whales
  • Wine
3. City states - Mercantile city states provide +3 global if you are allies. They also provide unique luxuries (porcelain and jewelry) that are only available through allying with them (NOTE: conquered city-states DO NOT provide unique luxuries).
Religion and Culture
Probably the next two ways you will begin gaining happiness are through your social policies and religious beliefs. These can have very powerful global effects at little or no cost to you.

Social Policies
Every policy tree has at least one happiness bonus, but which one you choose will be determined by the type of empire you have. Generally, bonuses that apply on a per city basis are better for wide empires, while bonuses that apply to the capital, high population cities, or specialists are better for tall empires.

Tradition branch - Monarchy: +1 and -1 for every 2 citizens in the Capital.

Tradition branch - Aristocracy: +15% when building Wonders and +1 for every 10 Citizens in a City.

Liberty branch - Meritocracy: +1 for each city you own connected to the Capital and -5% from citizens in non-occupied cities.

Honor branch - Military Caste: Each city with a garrison increases empire by 1 and by 2.

Piety branch* - Mandate of Heaven: 50% of excess added each turn to the amount of culture that may be spent on social policies.

Patronage branch - Cultural Diplomacy: Quantity of resources gifted by city-states increased by 100%. from gifted luxuries increased by 50%.

Order branch** - Adoption Bonus: Adopting Order provides 1 per city.

Autocracy branch** - Police State: +3 local city from every Courthouse. Build Courthouses in half the usual time. The effectiveness of enemy spies is reduced by 25%. Your counterspies have a 25% increased chance of catching enemy spies.

Freedom branch** - Democracy: Specialists in cities produce half the normal amount of .
Rationalism branch* - Humanism: +1 local city from every University, Observatory and Public School.

Commerce branch - Protectionism: +1 from every luxury resource.

* Piety and Rationalism cannot be active at the same time.
** Only one of Order, Autocracy, or Freedom can be active - they are all mutually exclusive.


Whether or not you're able to found a religion early enough to choose the optimal beliefs is largely based on difficulty level (on King and higher the AI start with Pottery and will always found religions before you), but if you do and choose to focus on happiness, there are several options which can significantly shape your strategy for the rest of the game.

Remember, you will eventually have 1 Pantheon belief, 1 Founder belief, and 2 Follower beliefs (and 1 Enhancer belief, but none of those effect happiness). The Byzantines get one Bonus belief, which can be chosen from any of the categories.

Pantheon belief - Goddess of Love: +1 from cities with population of 6+

Pantheon belief - Sacred Waters: +1 from cities on rivers.
Founder belief - Ceremonial Burial: +1 for each city following Religion.

Founder belief - Peace Loving: +1 for every 5 followers of this religion in non-enemy foreign cities.
Follower belief - Asceticism: Shrines provide +1 in Cities with 3 followers.

Follower belief - Cathedrals: Use Faith to purchase Cathedrals (+1 , +3 , +1 , Artist Specialist slot)

Follower belief - Mosques: Use Faith to purchase Mosques (+3 , +2 , +1 )
Follower belief - Pagodas: Use Faith to purchase Pagodas (+2 , +2 , +2 )
Follower belief - Peace Gardens: Gardens provide +2 in city.

Follower belief - Religious Center: Temples provide +2 in cities with 5 followers.

Notes: Each belief can only be taken once during the game by any religion - if one of your competitors beats you to a key belief, it will no longer be available. Founder beliefs provide global happiness, while Pantheon and Follower beliefs provide local happiness.
Buildings and Wonders
The final two happiness producers are buildings and wonders.

Buildings are the most expensive happiness producers, and there aren't that many of them. Even with every single happiness building, a city will begin draining your global happiness at about size 13 (with no modifiers), and maintenance costs will be a steady strain on your budget unless you can consistently keep a large surplus.

Tall empires (few cities, high populations) will have to build happiness buildings in order to maximize population, but wide empires (many cities, low populations) will want to try and build as few happiness buildings as possible - just enough to minimize the drain of a size 4 or under city (although most of that should be minimized through per city bonuses from previous sections).

Stone Works: +1 , city must have an improved marble or stone, and must not be founded on a plain.

Circus: +2 , no maintenance, city must have an improved ivory or horse.

Colosseum: +2
Burial Tomb: +2 , Egyptian unique building, no maintenance.

Ceilidh Hall: +3 , Celtic unique building.

Satrap's Court: +2 , Persian unique building, no maintenance.

Theatre: +3 , city must have Colosseum.

Stadium: +4 , city must have Theatre.

Cathedral*: +1 , no maintenance.

Mosque*: +1 , no maintenance.

Pagoda*: +2 , no maintenance.

* Religious buildings only accessible through the requisite belief choice. See the previous section for more details.


There are several advantages to happiness-producing wonders: they have no upkeep costs, can have global effects, have powerful added bonuses, and gives you a permanent advantage over your opponents.

The downsides are that they take a very long time to build and if you're behind scientifically, you will probably miss out on most of them. However, if you have the chance to build one, absolutely take it - and if you save up any Great Engineers until you're building a wonder, you can negate both of the downsides.

Chichen Itza: +4 , +1 , 50% longer Golden Ages.

Taj Mahal: +4 , +1 , starts a Golden Age.

The Forbidden Palace: -10% from citizens (not specialists) in non-occupied cities, +1 .
Notre Dame: +10 , +4 .
Eiffel Tower: +5 , +1 , +1 for every 2 social policies you have.

Neuschwanstein: +2 , +4 , +6 , plus an additional +1 +2 and +3 in every city with a Castle, must be built in a city with a mountain within 2 hexes.

CN Tower: +1 and +1 per city, free Broadcast Tower in every city.

Circus Maximus: +5 , National Wonder - requires every non-puppeted city to have a Colosseum.

Tall empires tend to benefit most from wonders that provide straight happiness boosts (Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower), while wide empires will want to focus on per city bonuses (exceptionally good ones are Neuschwanstein and the CN Tower).
Civilization Traits
There are 3 civilizations with traits that can directly impact happiness.

India - Population Growth: 50% from citizens, and 200% from cities.

India's trait directly impacts the possible empires you can create, making it very difficult to build a wide empire and much easier to build a tall empire.

Netherlands - Dutch East India Company: Retains 50% of the benefits from a luxury resource if your last copy of it is traded away.

This comes into its own only if you trade your resources alot. The more you trade your luxuries, the greater benefit you will receive.

Byzantium - Patriarchate of Constantinople: Choose one more belief than normal when you found a religion.

This gives Byzantium the option to snag an extra happiness booster immediately upon founding a religion.
Helpful Links
Civfanatics War Academy[] - A growing source of guides, tips, and strategies.

Civfanatics Info Center[] - A collection of basic information and helpful links.

Online Civilopedia[] - A way to access the Civilopedia when not in-game.

My other Civ V guides:
12/28/2012 - version 1.3
--> Added a Helpful Links section to provide further resources.

12/27/2012 - version 1.2
--> Added a missing policy.
--> Added some more clarifying details.
--> Moved explanations of tall vs. wide empires and local happiness to the Introduction and Basic Principles section.

12/20/2012 - version 1.1
--> Updated Buildings and Wonders section to include an explanation of local vs. global happiness.

12/20/2012 - version 1.0
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bier Jul 26, 2013 @ 6:03am 
Very nice guide. I'm new and just started playing Civ 5 without G&K but this is still helpful.
Thanks a lot!
Zigzagzigal Jun 12, 2013 @ 1:15pm 
Great guide. Very clear and straightforward. Just one thing I'd like to mention - Spain's UA doubles Natural Wonder discovery happiness as well as the happiness from wonders that give it within cultural borders, I noticed it was missing from the guide.
dave_combine Jun 1, 2013 @ 4:18pm 
I have like 5 wonders, and discovered 3 natural ones, and until I built the Notre Dame my happiness wouldn't increase. Also, I had two cities with a happiness of 22 early game, and I decided to build one more thinking it would be OK, and my happiness went from 22 to 13.
thecrazyscotsman  [author] Jun 1, 2013 @ 8:01am 
Dave, if you have very few cities, you can struggle a bit with happiness because your cities cannot produce more happiness from buildings etc than you have population. I would recommend building some wonders and really trying to get as many luxuries as possible to counteract the unhappiness you get. Keep in mind that cities will eventually always produce net unhappiness, because there's only so many happiness buildings you can get.
dave_combine May 28, 2013 @ 10:18am 
Just a quick question, but whenever I produce a settler and make just ONE city, then from that point on, my unhappiness just keeps on increasing because of population. I can never seem to get this unhappiness away. I dont have G&Ks pack. Any suggestions on how to fix this?
Wildcat Feb 10, 2013 @ 6:58pm 
Above you have the following:
Chieftain difficulty, large map, 3 cities, 6 population: 12 - (3*0.8*0.6) - (6*0.6) =

Shouldn't this read:
Chieftain difficulty, large map, 3 cities, 6 population: 12 - (3*3*0.8*0.6) - (6*0.6) =
Kauffdog Feb 9, 2013 @ 5:56am 
He deserves to be paid for this. Well done.
bagelw0w Jan 27, 2013 @ 8:59am 
Point*. My mistake.
bagelw0w Jan 27, 2013 @ 8:58am 
Nicely done, though happiness does modify something: the amount of golden age points you'll get per turn. For instance, one happiness will get you one golden age points per turn, 5 will get you 5, etc.
thecrazyscotsman  [author] Jan 24, 2013 @ 10:13am 
Thank you, maestro :)