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Note: The Rising Tide expansion has massive changes to Covert Ops. Read about them here.

"Success is the result of cornering the market on secrecy."
- Suzanne Marjorie Fielding, Transplanetary Management, Methods, and Resources

Covert Agents[]

Covert Agents are necessary to perform covert operations. Agents have three levels:

  • Recruit
  • Agent
  • Special Agent

On difficulties up to Mercury, only a single successful operation is required for a Covert Agent to reach the next level (even one as simple and risk-free as Establish Network). It takes ? operations for a Covert Agent to level up on higher difficulties.

Some quantities depend on agent level and are denoted by Recruit/Agent/Secret Agent.

Covert Agents can be gained by the following:

  • The Spy Agency enables Covert Operation and starts with 3 Covert Agents.
  • The Information Warfare Virtue grants 1 Covert Agent.
  • Reaching 8 Tier 2 Virtues grants 1 Covert Agent.
  • The covert operations quest chain grants 1 Covert Agent, as well as Culper Lodge in a player's capital which turns all agents into the rank of Special Agent.
  • The Feedsite Hub, Command Center, and CEL Cradle building quests have options to grant 1 Covert Agent each.

To perform operations in a city, a Covert Agent must first travel there.

If a Covert Agent is killed during an operation, they will be replaced by a recruit after 5 turns.


Each city has an Intrigue value ranging from 0 to 100. Every 20 points represents an Intrigue Level, which determines which operations may be performed in that city. Successful operations in a city increase Intrigue. Intrigue can be decreased by the following:

  • Covert Agents assigned to their own civilization's cities will perform counter-intelligence operations, reducing Intrigue by 1/2/4 points per turn.
  • The Human Hive wonder makes the City in which it was built immune to covert operations of any kind.
  • The Surveillance Web building reduces a City's maximum intrigue level by 2 (to a modified max of 3 rather than 5). This effectively renders that city invulnerable to the worst potentials of enemy covert operations, those requiring Intrigue levels 4 and 5 to execute.
  • (other)

As stated in the in-game Civilopedia, a rule of thumb is that operations requiring 3 Intrigue or less to execute are those which benefit the executor without harming the target (see operation descriptions below; despite wording, "Siphon Energy" and "Steal Science/Technology" operations do not cause the target Civ to actually lose either resource, and "Recruit Defectors" actually creates a new unit rather than reallocating an existing one), while those of Intrigue level 4 and 5 comprise those designed to actively harm the target's cities and infrastructure.



Each operation takes a base number of turns depending on the type. Agents take one turn less to complete operations, and Secret Agents two turns less.

Several bonuses can reduce the number of turns required to complete operations, up to a hard limit of -80%.

The easiest way to reach this cap is:

  • Corporate Espionage (ARC's unique trait) Rank 2 (40%)
  • Subtle (Political trait) Rank 1 (15%)
  • Soul Discerner Training (Artifact mixing reward) (25%)


An operation can be either successful or unsuccessful (difficulty), and the agent may be unidentified, identified, or killed (risk) during the operation.


Difficulty is measured in percent chance for an operation to fail, and is computed as follows:

  • Each operation type has a base difficulty rating.
  • Each rank of the attacking agent reduces the difficulty by 5%.
  • If a defending agent is present, the difficulty is increased by 5%, plus 5% for each rank of the defending agent.
  • If Operations Reconnaissance is selected as the National Security Project, each agent at HQ reduces difficulty by 1%.
  • Difficulty cannot go below 10% nor above 90%.


Risk is measured in percent chance for an agent performing the operation to be discovered, and is computed as follows:

  • The base risk is equal to the base difficulty rating of the operation.
  • Each rank of the attacking agent reduces risk by 7%.
  • Each rank of a defending agent (if any) increases risk by 10%.
  • If Operations Support is selected as the National Security Project, each agent at HQ reduces risk by 1%.
  • Other agents in the city increase risk by ?%.
  • Risk cannot go below 10% nor above 90%.

If a player fails one of the following will happen:

  • The attacking agent will be identified and killed.
  • The attacking agent will be identified but escape(leaves the city and has to be reassigned there or elsewhere).
  • The attacking agent will be detected but not identified.

Even if an agent succeeds in a mission, they can still be detected.

List of operations[]

Operation Minimum Intrigue level (total) Time (turns) Min Time (turns) Difficulty Intrigue generated Effect
Establish Network (CivBE).png
Establish Network
0 (0) 5 1 10% 10 Gain information on city (e.g. yields), shows past operations on city, determine if any counter agents are active there
Siphon Energy (CivBE).png
Siphon Energy Energy
0 (0) 25 5 35% 15 Gain Energy.
Steal Science (CivBE).png
Steal Science Science
1 (20) 20 4 35% 15 Gain Science.
Steal Technology (CivBE).png
Steal Technology
2 (40) 20 4 50% 20 Gain a technology.
Recruit Defectors (CivBE).png
Recruit Defectors
3 (60) 20 4 50% 20 Gain 1/2/3 military units buildable by the faction sending the spy
Hack Satellites (CivBE).png
Hack Satellites
4 (80) 15 3 60% 15 De-orbit all satellites within 5 tiles of the city
Coup D'etat (CivBE).png
Coup D'état
5 (100) 20 4 60% 50 Gain control of the city
Call Worm Strike (CivBE).png
Call Worm Strike (Harmony 11)
4 (80) 15 3 70% 100 Spawn 3 Siege Worms near the city
Deploy Dirty Bomb (CivBE).png
Deploy Dirty Bomb (Purity 11)
4 (80) 15 3 70% 100 Reduce the city's population by half
Sabotage (CivBE).png
Sabotage (Supremacy 11)
4 (80) 15 3 70% 100 Pillage all improvements within 3 tiles from the city
Deliver Dossier (CivBE).png
Deliver Dossier (quest)
0 (0) 5 1 0% 10 Quest objective
Extract Operative (CivBE).png
Extract Operative (quest)
0 (0) 5 1 0% 10 Quest objective


Siphon Energy Energy[]

The amount gained is 5/10/15 Energy plus 1/2/3 Energy per turn since the beginning of the game.

Despite the name of the operation, the defender does not lose any Energy.

Steal Science Science[]

The amount gained is 15%/20%/25% of the attacker's current research, or 1/2/2.5 turns of the attacker's Science if nothing is being researched. Unconfirmed: The first case may be buggy causing the second case to always fire.

Despite the name of the operation, the defender does not lose any Science.

Steal Technology[]

The chance for a technology to be selected is weighted as follows:

  • The base weight is equal to the technology's cost.
  • If the technology would take more turns to research than the operation, then the weight is halved. Otherwise it is doubled.
  • If the defending player has a dominant Affinity and the tech has the same Affinity, the weight is multiplied by 1.5.

Note that the defending player does not have to have researched the tech for the attacker to gain it (?)

Worm Strike

  • If the target city is aquatic, krakens are spawned instead of worms
  • If the target city is coastal, the spawned worms can spawn in the water. worms spawned in water will appear as an embarked unit with no affinities, and will be unable to move (leashing the worm and using an aquatic city to move it onto land works however)

National Security Project[]

Any Covert Agents not assigned to a city will be at Headquarters. Players may choose a single National Security Project which these Covert Agents will contribute to:

  • Homeland Security : +1% city strength and +1% city hit points for each Agent at Headquarters.
  • Research and Development : +1% Production for Wonders for each Agent at Headquarters.[1]
  • Propaganda : +2% Health for each Agent at Headquarters.
  • Operations Support : Lowers the risk to Covert Agents doing Operations for each Agent at Headquarters.
  • Operations Reconnaissance: Increases the chances of Operation success for each Agent at Headquarters.


After catching and killing an enemy agent in a cities (requires an active Counter-Intelligence operation with agent present in that cities), players can contact that faction, and ask them not to do covert operations in their cities again. Sometimes they will agree.

Conversely, should an agent be identified during an operation in a foreign city, whether killed or not, that faction (if AI) will always initiate a dialogue addressing the incident during their next turn. Depending on the relationship between the player's civilization and that faction, the result can be as benign as the offending player promising not to dispatch agents there again and them accepting (Friendly or Neutral at the time of discovery), to an angry demand to stop followed shortly by a formal global Condemnation of the offending player's Civ (Neutral or Guarded), to an outright declaration of war (Guarded or Hostile).

In Rising Tide, things are done totally different, nothing listed above in this section happening. A player's respect level will drop if a covert agent is caught. Surprisingly depending on the personality traits an AI opponent chooses, an AI player's respect levels may increase if the human player performs more covert operations



Sid Meier's Civilization Beyond Earth - Livestream 4 Covert Ops

Pete Murray and Beyond Earth co-lead designer Will Miller explore the new Covert Ops system.

Rising Tide[]

Players receive one extra agent from completion of the REACTIVE quest, when they get the Culper Lodge. Despite what it says, players can complete a covert operation one level less than it says they need, and players will complete the quest. This may only be for the ARC.

Players get new agents the same as before, with the maximum of nine. Chungsu who starts with one extra so it can get a maximum of 10.

  • Mixing artifacts can give the Soul Discerner Training reward (+25% Covert Operation Speed).
  • Various agreements and traits give players bonuses as well.

Personality Traits and Tradeable Agreements[]

See Personality traits (CivBE)

Personality Traits

  • Corporate Espionage (ARC's unique trait) - Covert Operations complete (30%/40%/50%) faster and require 1 less intrigue level to attempt
  • Jeog-ui Naebu (Chungsu's unique trait) - Start with (1/1/2) free Covert Agent. Each successful Covert Operation in a foreign City rewards (10/15/30) Science Science per Agent rank
  • Vigilant (Domestic) - Intrigue rises (10%/20%/30%) more slowly in all Cities
  • Subtle (Political) - Spy Covert Agents finish operations (15%/20%/25%) more quickly and (20%/25%/30%) less likely to die in an operation
  • Suspicious (Military) - Spy Covert Agents require (1/1/1)* fewer successful operations to rank up

AI players with these traits will respect they player more if they engage in more covert operations.

Tradeable Agreements

  • Surveillance State - Less Intrigue in the player's Capital (CivBE).png Capital
  • Agency Cooperation - Longer sight range for Spy Covert Agents in foreign Cities
  • Field Recruitment - Spy Covert Agents are recruited at a higher rank than normal
  • Wet Teams - Spy Covert Agents are less likely to die in operations

Black Market[]

In Rising Tide, players can assign an agent to trade Diplomatic Capital Diplomatic Capital for Strategic Resources. An agent's rank increases the number of resources one can gain and decreases the cost they pay for these resources.


  1. Does not apply to the Move City function as of the October 2015 patch
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