Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

28 ratings
Vice's Civ V guide to: City-States
By Lapinas
(Important Note: This guide assumes that the reader owns all the game-changing expansions, namely BNW and G&K)
One of the most Fundemantal Mechanics in Civ V (best game ever), are City-states. Something, that the previous Civ games lacked.
I shall be the one that will enlighten you with absolutely everything you need to know about these cudly little guys.
What is a City-State
City-states in action (not very)

In Civilization V, along with the Actual Civilizations and Barbarians, there are also City-States.
City-States are one city, small civilizations that are normally neutral, but for civilizations, who ally with them through influence, they provide powerful bonuses.

The amount of City states is (by default) double that of the number of civilizations in a game. For example, a standard-size map has 8 civilizations, which means that you'll have 16 in your game.

City-States, unless allied with a civilization (more on that later), will tend to keep it to themselves. They improve Luxury and Strategic resources within their territory, fight off barbarians and even sometimes wander off their lands to clear barbarian camps.

Once allied with a civilization, they will give ALL their resources to their ally in addition of helping them in any war they participate in, defensive or offensive.

In addition to that, every City-State has a specific type, which determines what special bonus they provide once allied or befriended.
Influence and Quests
While City-states are normally neutral, civilizations can ally with them through a mechanic called ,,Influence''. But how do you get it. There are three primary ways to do it.


To get the former out of the way, You can give City-states Gold in exchange for influence with them. The amount of Influence is determined by how much money you give them (250, 500, or 1000 gold per payment).

The latter is more complicated. City-states occasionaly give quests to either you personally or to any civilization (if one completes it, the others lose it). The quests given heavily depend on the Personality . Completing a quest will always give a Huge boost of Influence, often enough to outright Ally a City-State. The complete list of quests is.

Clear a barbarian camp nearby
Kill barbarians in their territory
Investor (gold gives more influence)
Make a trade route with them
Connect the city to your Capital (via road)
Get a specific G.Person
Build a specific Wonder
Denounce a specific leader
Find a Natural Wonder
Demand Tribute from another City-State.
Find a Specific Civilization
Gather the most faith/culture/technologies (applies to all civs they know)
Guarentee them
Give them units (when they are at war with a civilization)
Help in a war against a civilization
Connect a certain Luxury Resource into your trade network
Conquer another City-state. (vanilla game only)

Finally, the Coup option is available once you get a spy (Renaissance Era forwards). Basically
, your Spy rigs the elections, making an alliance, or (even better) make yourself an ally of a City-state instead of another one. Just keep in mind that Coups can fail and your Involvment will be revealed to other leaders

Keep in mind that you can also lose influence. The most common one is trespassing into their territory without being friends/allies. Another way is rather obvious-attack them, which will lock you at -60 influence until you make peace. The last way to lose influence is to Demand Tribute fromthem. If a City-state is afraid of you (best done by moving many of your soldiers into or next to their borders). Also be warned, that if a City-state is bullied, they will often Revoke quests given to you, so dont overdo it.

There's a total of 4 personalities that City-states have. Their personalities determine what quests they'll give you and even affect how fast you lose/regain influence with them.

Neutral:lose positive Influence Points and regain positive Influence Points at the same rate.Neutral City-States usually mind their own business and may not give you too many quests at a time.

Friendly: lose positive Influence Points at a slower rate and regain positive Influence Points at a faster rate. They will give you quests like building wonders, connecting them to one of your cities by road, or finding another civilization's land.

Irrational: City-States lose positive Influence Points and regain positive Influence Points at a faster rate than normal. They will give you more quests than City-States with other personalities

Hostile: City-States lose positive Influence Points at a faster rate and regain positive Influence Points at a slower rate. They simply don't like other City-States or civilizations.Hostile City-States tend to give you quests to eliminate (conquer) or bully (demand tribute from) another City-State.
City-state Traits
Every City-State has a specific Trait, that determines what bonus they provide when befriended/allied with.

The traits are as follows:

Militaristic: Occasionally grants units to their friend. The rate of units increases when allied with.

Maritime: +1 Food to the capital for friends. +2 food for the capital and +1 to all other cities while allied.

Cultured: Grants Culture (Depends on the Era you're currently in). more while allied.

Religious: Grants Faith (Depends on the Era you're currently in). More while allied

Merchantile: Mercantile city-states provide +2 happiness as friends.. However, grants a special Luxury Resource (Jewelry and Porcelain) which cannot be gained any other way, when allied with.

Special Note: Militaristic City-states specialise in a specific soldier which they'll grant if you are Allies with it (You must have the prerequest techs to get that unit).

Special Note: Finding a Religious City-state also grants faith in addition to gold!

While City-states might apear small and useless, they are EXTREMELY important in inter-civilization politics.

First off. Anyone can declare war on a City-state, but it presents many problems. First of all, attacking, or even worse, conquering a City-state produces HUGE amounts of warmongering (diplomatic penalty with AI civilizations due to war), which means that often times your Reputation will be ruined by taking that one City-state that seemed un-important.

Even more importantly. Civilizations can Guarantee the independence of a City-State. If you do anything with the City-state, even befriend them, it will possibly wreck your relations with that Civilization, so always check for alliances and guarentees when dealing with a City-State.

World Congress
Arguably THE most important use Arisses in the BNW exclusive mechanic: the World Congress.

When a Civilization meets every other Civ in the game AND researches Printing Press, The World Congress is formed (later Replaced by the United Nations), in Which many resolutions can be declined or passed by the (Living) Nations of the World.

Delving even further into Global Politics, when the UN is created, a World Leader Vote becomes available. What happens. Well the world leaders vote for THE world leader (aka Diplomatic victory). If you gather enough votes you win *claps*.

Where do the the City-states come in? Once you get into the Industrial era, you get an additional delegate for Every City-State you're allied with (2 delegates per ally in the UN it's absurd!). So the usual way of winning diplomatically is building up a strong economy and bribing many many city states so you have a huge ammount of votes and vote for yourself and win.
Civilizations with Bonuses for City-States

Obviously, considering how strong City-state potentially can be, there would be a civilization, that takes advantage of them better then others. In other words, these civs have bonuses regarding city-states and often have strategies tailored around them (usually diplomatic). The civs are as follows.

Greece: No influence penalty for trespassing EVER. Influence decays at half rate and recovers at double rate.

Siam: 50% increased Food/Culture/Faith bonuses from city-states

Mongolia: 30% bonus Combat Strength for all units when fighting City-state units or the City itself.

Portugal: Unique improvement can be built in City-state territory to get their Luxury Resources regardless of your standing with them.

Venice: the Merchant of Venice (Unique G.Person). Can Puppet any City-State he sets foot in (in other words goes into their borders), this can be done regardless of your standing with them

Sweden: Gifting a G.Person to a City-state will give 90 Influence(!).

Austria: Can Spend gold to annex or puppet a City-state that has been your ally for 5 turns.

Germany: The Hanse U.Building + 5% Production per City-State Trade route in your Empire

Patronage Social Policy Tree
City-states are apparently SO awesome, they get a whole policy tree dedicated to them: Patronage.The bonuses are as follows:

Opener (the bonus for unlocking the tree).
Adopting Patronage makes your Influence with City-States degrade 25% slower than normal. Unlocks building the Forbidden Palace wonder.

Gifts of Gold to a City-State generate 25% more Influence.

Resting point for Influence level with all City-States is increased by 20.

All City-States which are Allies provide a Science bonus equal to 25% of what they produce for themselves.

Cultural diplomacy
Quantity of Resources gifted by City-States increased by 100%. Happiness from gifted Luxuries increased by 50%.

Merchant confederacy
+2 Gold for trade routes with City-States.

Adopting all policies in the Patronage tree will cause allied City-States to occasionally gift you Great People.
Ideology Bonuses
Not only does the Patronage Policy help you out a bunch, some of the tenets from the Ideologies, available Industrial era forwards:

Level one: Covert Action: Spies have double the chance to successfully rig City-State elections.

Level two: Arsenal of Democracy: +15% Production towards Military Units. Gain 15 Influence from each Military Unit gift to City-States.

Level three: Treaty Organization: Gain 4 more Influence per turn with City-States you have a trade route with.

Level one: United Front: Militaristic City-States gift units twice as often when at war with a common foe.

Level three: Gunboat Diplomacy: Gain 6 more Influence per turn with City-States you could demand tribute from. Military units are 50% more effective at intimidating City-States.

LoL. Communism doesnt approve of City-states. Apparently

Thanks for reading!

I hope you enjoyed this guide and it helped you.

I'm open for suggestions and constructive criticism.
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SolarFlare1234 Apr 20 @ 4:23pm 
Is there any chance there could be a guide made for the City State Diplomacy addon for Community Balance Overhaul (VP)?
Father Of The Gulag Dec 29, 2016 @ 8:27am 
is there a way to annex or raze them?
Haigen Mar 15, 2016 @ 1:39pm 
Sorry if you wrote it and i misread it, but, is there any way to erase warmonger penalties towards city states? After declaring war 2 times to city states their influence will sink at double rate. I have not found anything that could undo this penalty.
Dai_Shon Nov 10, 2014 @ 7:23am 
Good explanations, thank you.
ArrJayBee Nov 2, 2014 @ 11:24am 
Pretty solid, well explained. Thanks :D
khan Nov 2, 2014 @ 7:19am 
Thx u helped me a lot ;D
Vapir Nov 2, 2014 @ 6:25am 
Great guide! :Diplomat:
Franco Oct 30, 2014 @ 9:38am 
Previous games didn't really lack of city states.In civ IV you had vassals instead.Your vassals also voted for you in the diplomatic institutions and fought for you in any war (offensive or defensive) and also gave you every ressource they had if you asked them to do so.
Also that they called it city states is in my opinion totally wrong. "Minor Nations" fit better here.
koomorang Oct 29, 2014 @ 2:25pm 
communism just sees city states as resource hogs, and therefore takes them over. anyways, nice guide
tomasz.magierowski Oct 29, 2014 @ 1:56pm 
But I really like the guide!