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Very unhappy empire (Civ5)

An example of a very unhappy civilization

20xHappiness5 Happiness is a measure of people's feelings of contentment within an empire. It can also be interpreted as the citizens' "approval" rating of the leader (you). It is counteracted by Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness, people's discontent or disapproval of your rule, which naturally increases as the game progresses. The two stats form a balance, which changes constantly and therefore affects the functioning of a civilization.

It is worth noting that "real" problems, like food shortages or slow cultural growth have no bearing on the level of contentment of the people - more important factors are instead the overcrowding of cities, or such visibly vicious acts like conquering foreign cities and razing them, which have to be countered by the state with the old principle: "Keep people entertained and distract them with shiny baubles to make them forget their problems!"

Levels of HappinessEdit

There are three levels of 20xHappiness5 Happiness: happy, unhappy, and very unhappy.

An empire with 20xHappiness5 Happiness of zero or greater is considered happy. Happy civilizations grow as normal, and each turn's 20xHappiness5 Happiness value is added to the empire's Golden Age counter. We could say that such empires are well governed internally, although that doesn't necessarily mean that they will be successful, or competitive.

A civilization with 20xMalcontent5 Happiness below zero is unhappy. An unhappy empire causes each city's food surplus to be reduced by 75%, drastically reducing population growth. In Brave New World, there are additional effects; see below for more info.

A civilization with Unhappiness (Civ5) Happiness of -10 or lower is very unhappy. A very unhappy empire does not grow at all, suffers a 20xProduction5 Production penalty, receives a nasty combat penalty (-33%) for all its units, and cannot train Settlers.

When Unhappiness (Civ5) Happiness drops to -20, the civilization's cities go into revolt, and rebels start appearing throughout the empire, based on the number of cities. The rebels are similar to Barbarians, but appear in groups. Once a group of rebels spawns, another group will not appear for a while. Again, for the exact effects of Unhappiness in Brave New World, see below.

Happiness SourcesEdit

In order to counteract Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness and continue an empire's growth, 20xHappiness5 Happiness must be increased. There are many ways to do so.

  • Luxury Resources: For every different luxury resource which a civilization has access to (through possessing an improved luxury resource, trading with another civ, or alliance with a CityStateIcon5 city-state with access to the resource), the empire receives +4 Global 20xHappiness5 Happiness.
  • Buildings: The Circus, Colosseum, Theatre, BNW-only Zoo, and Stadium are the main options, but there are also some other choices, such as the Stone Works. These provide Local 20xHappiness5 Happiness.
  • Wonders: Many wonders provide varying amounts of (often Global) 20xHappiness5 Happiness.
  • Social Policies: Almost all Social Policy trees have some way of boosting a civilization's 20xHappiness5 Happiness. Common methods include granting 20xHappiness5 Happiness from certain buildings and reducing the Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness generated by population.
  • Natural Wonders: Discovering each Natural Wonder grants a permanent +1 Global 20xHappiness5 Happiness bonus.
  • GodsKings5 clear Mercantile neutral Mercantile city-states: Each mercantile city-state provides +3 Global 20xHappiness5 Happiness to each civilization with which it is at least Friends.

Global vs Local Happiness Edit

Happiness sources are divided loosely into Local and Global. The main difference is that while Global sources contribute to Happiness unconditionally, Local sources can only contribute up to the Population number of the respective city. This means that if a city has 5 20xPopulation5 Population and sources of local happiness adding up to 8 20xHappiness5 Happiness, the actual amount that will be contributed to your empire's 20xHappiness5 Happiness will be 5, not 8.

The logic behind this distinction is sound: Sources of Local Happiness are the most common entertainment buildings (Circus, Colosseum, etc.), which provide shallow, low-level amusement for the masses. On the other hand, sources of Global Happiness are Luxuries, Social Policies, etc., which all provide deeper, more meaningful reasons for your empire to be happy.

Unhappiness CausesEdit

Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness directly subtracts from 20xHappiness5 Happiness, and increases as a civilization grows. There are several sources of Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness.

  • Number of Cities: Each city in an empire adds Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness as follows:
World size Duel Tiny Small Standard Large Huge
Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness per city +3 +3 +3 +3 +2.4 +1.8
  • 20xPopulation5 Population: A living person is an unhappy person. Each of a civilization's 20xPopulation5 Citizens automatically generates +1 Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness. N.B. This is also true for Engineer (Civ5) Specialists, despite their unhappiness being shown separate to that of the rest of the population.
  • Puppet Cities: Each puppet city in an empire adds the same amount of Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness that a normal city does.
  • Annexed Cities: Each annexed city in an empire produces more Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness than a normal city, as detailed in the table below. This penalty can only be removed by constructing a Courthouse in the city.[1]
World size Duel Tiny Small Standard Large Huge
Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness per annexed city +5 +5 +5 +5 +4 +3
(Penalty compared to normal city) +2 +2 +2 +2 +1.6 +1.2
  • Razing Captured Cities: Razing a city creates the same amount of Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness as annexing a city. This Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness, however, diminishes during the razing process, and disappears entirely once the city is destroyed.
  • Population of Annexed or currently razed Cities: Each citizen in an annexed city, or in a city being razed, generates 1.34 Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness instead of the usual 1.
  • BNW-only Public Opinion: Only possible once you have adopted an Ideology. If another civilization with differing Ideology has stronger cultural influence on your empire than yours, your Public Opinion starts generating Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness.

Brave New WorldEdit

20xHappiness5 Happiness has been reworked in the Brave New World expansion pack, with the introduction of the new Ideology mechanics, including the Public Opinion. This is now a new potential source of Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness: in case its level is not "Content", it now adds directly to Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness, and the exact amount of points added depends either on the number of cities, or the number of population, whichever is greater.

The first thing on Happiness in Brave New World is the effects of an Unhappy empire have been changed - now each point of 20xMalcontent5 Unhappiness below 0 gives a penalty of -2% 20xProduction5 Production and 20xGold5 Gold output (applies directly to the output of each city), as well as -2% Combat Strength for all units. Effect on city growth is the same as before (as if you were adding to your Food Basket only 1/4 of the normal amount you would otherwise add).

At the Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness level of -10 ("Very Unhappy"), population growth stops completely, you can't train Settlers anymore, and rebellions erupt at regular intervals in the form of "Barbarian" units appearing right near a city of yours, using your most up-to-date units based on your technological progress. 20xProduction5 Production, 20xGold5 Gold and Combat Strength continue to lower steadily.

Finally, when your empire's Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness reaches -20, given your Public Opinion is low, some of your cities may start to revolt and change their allegiance to other empires following their Preferred Ideology. The effect is as if the other empire suddenly acquired the city in question. Border cities are most likely to defect, and the civilization they go to is the one with the Preferred Ideology, whose Capital is closest to the city.

Clearly, this presents a grave danger for your empire, while at the same time the new gradual worsening of the situation feels more natural (as opposed to simply having either an "Unhappy" or a "Very Unhappy" stage).


Keeping your empire happy is difficult, but important. The main thing you need to remember is that your empire gets gradually unhappy, as time goes - whether it is from 20xPopulation5 Population growth, or due to more cities being founded or conquered. To counter this, the first thing you need to do in the first stage of the game, is get access to as many luxury resources as you can get hold onto. Later, you'll have to depend more on buildings and Social Policies, especially when Ideology kicks in. Keep in mind, however, that the Local Happiness produced by buildings (which is the most accessible way to raise 20xHappiness5 Happiness) is limited in most cases to +6 per city (+8 or 9 with access to certain resources, which in turn allows construction of more 20xHappiness5 Happiness-boosting buildings), and you will have to procure additional ways to keep your people happy. Try to think ahead of time so as to avoid crisis periods.

Try to keep your empire happy at all times, but don't despair if your empire's 20xHappiness5 Happiness becomes negative for a few turns - it's not the end of the world. Try to negotiate for some more luxuries, or build 20xHappiness5 Happiness-boosting buildings, and think of some long-term strategy to boost your 20xHappiness5 Happiness (such as building up to a particular Social Policy or building a particular Wonder). Or, try to eliminate any extra Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness, for example from Occupied cities.

Acquiring the favor of CityStateIcon5 city-states is a useful strategy: not only do city-states provide all their luxury resources to their ally, but mercantile city-states also provide +3 20xHappiness5 Happiness to each civilization which is at least Friends with them. Cultured city-states can also make useful friends and allies since they aid in the acquisition of Social policies (some of which are key to maintaining a 20xHappiness5 happy civilization).

In Brave New World, you will have to deal with Public Opinion where your civ will be influenced by other civs with higher 20xTourism5 Tourism rates than your own. If you aren't playing a culture civ, you might find your Happiness rates suffering because of this.

One solution is to try to improve your tourism rate slightly to overcome this, but you may also have to adopt some of the 20xHappiness5 Happiness-oriented tenets of your Ideology in order to even out these losses. If it gets absolutely unmanageable, you can adopt the Ideology of the person presently leading in tourism, but this will cost you all of your Ideological Tenets thus far, and so it is not advisable unless you are desperate.

Buildings That Generate Happiness
Era Building Happiness Note
Ancient Circus +2 City must have horses or ivory nearby
Ancient Stone works +1 City must have an improved marble or stone resource nearby, city cannot be on plains
Classical Burial tomb +2 Egyptian unique building
Classical Colosseum +2
Renaissance Satrap's court +2 Persian unique building
Renaissance Ceilidh hall +3 Celtic unique building
Renaissance Theatre +3 Requires Colosseum (unavailable in Brave New World)
Renaissance Zoo +2 Requires Colosseum (Brave New World only)
Modern Stadium +4 (BNW-only +2) Requires Theatre or Zoo
Wonders that cause happiness
Wonder Happiness Requirement
Circus Maximus +5 global Must have a Colosseum in every city
Chichen Itza +4 local Civil Service
Notre Dame +10 global Physics
Forbidden Palace -10% unhappiness in non-occupied cities Banking
Taj Mahal +4 local Architecture
Neuschwanstein +2 local, +1 global from every Castle Railroad
Eiffel Tower +5, +1 per two additional policies adopted (BNW-only +5 Global) Radio
Prora BNW-only +2, +1 per two additional policies adopted (both global) Flight
Social policies that deal with happiness
Policy Tree Era Requirements Effect
Aristocracy Tradition None None +15% 20xProduction5 Production when building Wonders (any Era) and +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every 10 20xPopulation5 Citizens in a City.
Monarchy Tradition None None +1 20xGold5 Gold and -1 Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness for every 2 20xPopulation5 Citizens in the Capital5 Capital.
Meritocracy Liberty None Citizenship +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for each City you own connected to the Capital5 Capital and -5% Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness from 20xPopulation5 Citizens in non-occupied Cities.
Military Caste Honor None Discipline Each City with a garrison increases local city 20xHappiness5 Happiness by 1 and 20xCulture5 Culture by 2.
Professional Army (pre-BNW-only) Honor None Military Caste 20xGold5 Gold cost of upgrading units reduced 33% and +1 20xHappiness5 happiness from every defensive building (Walls, Castle, Arsenal, Military Base)
Cultural Diplomacy Patronage Classical Scholasticism Quantity of Resources gifted by City-States increased by 100%. 20xHappiness5 Happiness from gifted Luxuries increased by 50%.
Protectionism Commerce Medieval Mercantilism +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness from each Luxury Resource
BNW-only +2 20xHappiness5 Happiness from each Luxury Resource
Naval Tradition BNW-only Exploration Medieval None +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for each Harbor, Seaport, or Lighthouse
Humanism (pre-BNW-only) Rationalism Renaissance None +1 20xHappiness5 happiness from every University, Observatory and Public School
Democracy (pre-BNW-only) Freedom Renaissance None -50% unhappiness from specialist population
Police State (pre-BNW-only) Autocracy Industrial Militarism +3 20xHappiness5 happiness from Courthouses, build Courthouses in half the time

Note: Adopting Order generates 1 happiness per city (not in BNW-only).

There are also numerous tenets in each Ideology which boost Happiness, including Universal Healthcare which is available to all three.

Ideological tenets that deal with happiness
Ideological Tenet Ideology Level Effects
Universal Healthcare All 1 +1 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness from each National Wonder.
Capitalism Freedom 1 +1 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness per Mint, Bank and Stock Exchange.
Urbanization Freedom 2 +1 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness per Water Mill, Hospital and Medical Lab.
Universal Suffrage Freedom 2 Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness from Specialists is halved. Golden Ages last 50% longer.
Socialist Realism Order 1 +2 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness from each Monument. Build Monuments in half the usual time.
Young Pioneers Order 1 +1 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness per Workshop, Factory and Solar/Nuclear/Hydro Plant.
Academy of Sciences Order 2 +1 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness per Observatory, Public School and Research Lab.
Fortified Borders Autocracy 1 +1 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness per Castle, Arsenal and Military Base.
Militarism Autocracy 2 +2 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness per Barracks, Armory and Military Academy.
Police State Autocracy 2 +3 20xHappiness5 Local Happiness from each Courthouse. Build Courthouses in half the usual time.
Religious beliefs that deal with happiness
Religious belief Belief type Effects
Goddess of Love Pantheon +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness from cities with Population of 6+
Sacred Waters Pantheon +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness from cities on rivers
Ceremonial Burial Founder +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every City following this religion
BNW-only +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every 2 Cities following this religion
Peace Loving Founder +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every 8 followers of this religion in non-enemy foreign cities
Asceticism Follower Shrines provide +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness in cities with 3 followers
Cathedrals Follower Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase Cathedrals (+1 20xfaith5 Faith, +1 20xCulture5 Culture, +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness, +1 Great Work of Art slot)
Mosques Follower Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase Mosques (+3 20xfaith5 Faith, +2 20xCulture5 Culture, +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness)
Pagodas Follower Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase Pagodas (+2 20xfaith5 Faith, +2 20xCulture5 Culture, +2 20xHappiness5 Happiness)
Peace Gardens Follower Gardens provide +2 20xHappiness5 Happiness
Religious Center Follower Temples provide +2 20xHappiness5 Happiness in cities with 5 followers

Notes Edit

GodsKings5 clear Valid only in the Gods & Kings expansion pack.

BNW-only Valid only in the Brave New World expansion pack.

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