Civ7 should get rid of any and all warmongering relations penalties


Oct 23, 2013
Perhaps my most hated feature of both civ5 and civ6 is warmongering penalties. You conquer some random civ nobody cares about and everyone is neutral about, in the ancient age, and the world hates you for it. For ages. Even better, you defend yourself from foreign agression, enemy (whom nobody cares about) just stubbornly refuses to peace out (or it's obvious he'll threaten you again even if you peace him out), you pre emptively take him out, the world hates you for your it.

This is enormously frustrating from gameplay perspective, one of the most infuriating and game ruining things in both games, but I especially hate it because it is one of those deceptively smart, realistic ideas, that always get defenders no matter how frustrating and nonsensical they are, because supposedly they are how history works. Well, it isn't. I am absolutely convinced that warmongering relations penalties as they work in civ5-6 are completely unrealistic and this is not how history of foreign relations works at all. It is a frustrating gameplay mechanic which has absolutely no basis in reality before 20th century, and even then mainly among democracies. It comes from the horrible mistake one can do regarding history, namely using modern day moral constructs and ideologies such as modern day millenial liberal pacifism and assuming they are some sort of universal constant, just one of culturally universal human approaches to stuff.

For almost the entire human history nobody gave a damn if countries conquered each other as long as
1) They didn't encroach on our vital geopolitical interests
2) They didn't attack our really beloved buddies, brethren etc
3) They didn't became a threat to our immediate surroundings

Using civ5-6 logic: Achaemenid Empire, Alexander the Great, Maurya, Chinese dynasties, Roman Empire, Islamic Caliphates, Mongols, Timurids, British Empire etc should have faced global moral outrage, almost everybody should have hated them, refused to deal with them etc. This has never happened. This hasn't even happened with Napoleon and Hitler. All those empires and conquerors had a ton of allies, a ton of faraway third state actors that didn't care, a ton of admirers who respected their might etc. They have only faced hatred from countries that felt threatened by them, or whose very specific emotional triggers were activated (ruining our religion, attacking our traditional allies, breaching our taboos etc).

The moral outrage of civ5 - 6, where every historical leader is a universal millenial woke liberal pacifist who hates war for purely moral reasons is simply not present in the history of geopolitics of empires, and in the history of morality in general. In Christian Europe there were in theory some rules against attacking fellow Christians, but most of the time everybody disregarded them anyway, and there were barely any vestigial theories of international law regarding dealing with 'pagans' at all. Revolutionary and Napoleonic France faced coalitions because they destabilized status quo and endangered other monarchies, not because of love for pacifism; they also had a lot of supporters and allies (for example Polish people adored Napoleon), while the way it works in civ5-6 is universal moral outrage. This is simply nonsense. What does matter most 90% of time is realpolitik of what is in our political interest, and remaining 10% is other historical moral values, mainly religious and loyalty stuff, but definitely not some universal pacifism which is a modern day liberal philosophical construct which shouldn't be applied before the modern era. And said modern era featured two world wars and like 150 other wars.

So, here is my suggestion. Let's remove all warmongering penalties, the very concept itself, in the sense of 'moral outrage at the very fact someone conquers someone, no matters whom and where, because war is bad'. Countries which should hate 'warmongers' should be precisely those that feel threatened by them, which are their direct neighbours, which have conflicting interests, which are rivals - and this should be done using entirely different diplomatic subsystems, not blanket 'war is bad the world hates you'. The rest of the world should largely not care at all, just like in real history and even real modern world. In fact, some countries should admire grand conquests and congratulate for them, if we are going to be realistic.

"But Krajzen, what about curbing snowballing, what about balance?"
1) The present system already sucks and doesn't work in this regard at all, it is just enormously frustrating and immersion breaking, all those countries that denounce you from across the globe are just annoying and ruining the mood, they were never capable of stopping snowballing anyway. So we don't lose much, and we don't lose anything if instead there are coalitions but only of neighbors who feel threatened, who are the only ones actually capable of invading the player anyway. We don't gain anything in balance from the hatred of emppires 5000km away because you conquered somebody they never cared about.
2) The real soul of snowballing is the development system and lack of internal stability mechanics, which make large empires perfectly stable and countries behing incapable of catching up and reaching major players. The only real way to deal with snowballing is by designing fundamental mechanics in those areas - civ6 has already proved that you can slap however many shallow 'anti snowball mechanics' on top of the game as you want (hello golden ages and emergencies), they don't change anything if this very core is not designed around dynamism, instability and catching up.

In my perfect 4X game you can do pro gamer Alexander the Great move and create very big empire very fast, and most of the world doesn't hate you just for that, but the real challenge is actually keeping it together and managing to benefit from it, and that factor curbs snowballing.
Mar 11, 2012
north of Steilacoom, WA
What makes the 'warmonger' penalties most destructive is that if you wage a war For Any Reason early in the game, you spend most of the game getting back to being able to get the benefits (trade, diplomacy) from playing a peaceful game again.
IF you are playing to 'win' the game, that means once you have waged war, you might as well keep on waging it because virtually all the damage is already done and from an in-game victory standpoint, it's not worth it to try and overcome the ridiculous weight of disapproval thrust on you. This makes most games into a simple Military Conquest game whether that's what you want to play or not, and makes a mockery of all the other victory conditions or playing styles.


Diplomatic Attaché to Londo Mollari
May 14, 2016
Babylon 5
The most egregious part is when everyone hates you for a war they didn't know you fought. I recall a game of Civ5 where, quite abnormally for my usually pacifist playstyle, I conquered every civ on my continent long before I met another civilization; the rest of the world hated me for warmongering from the moment I met them. Fun fact: the Spanish didn't hate the Inca for conquering the Chimor or the Aztec for their wars against the Purepechas. They found plenty of other reasons to hate them. :shifty:


Feb 11, 2013
The most egregious part is when everyone hates you for a war they didn't know you fought. I recall a game of Civ5 where, quite abnormally for my usually pacifist playstyle, I conquered every civ on my continent long before I met another civilization; the rest of the world hated me for warmongering from the moment I met them. Fun fact: the Spanish didn't hate the Inca for conquering the Chimor or the Aztec for their wars against the Purepechas. They found plenty of other reasons to hate them. :shifty:

I hate that they consider me warmonger for a war that happened millennia ago.


Having grievances decay much more rapidly, and scaling grievances gained by how close to the victim you are physically and how positive your relationship with them is (emotionally) would go a long way.
Exactly. It's not the bad of a system from both a game-play perspective (since domination is so much easier than the other victory conditions. But it also does have some historical basis at least in terms of a country attacking an ally or a trading partner or a country close to them. It should make the uncomfortable so I disagree with Krajzen though I do think the system needs to be rethought and changed.
Dec 28, 2020
The funny thing about Civ VI's warmongering penalties is that they would be a completely broken, oppressive system if the AI could wage competent offensive wars.

If the AI were more willing to start wars and more capable at fighting them, then the player would be dooming themselves if they declared a single war. Since every civ you've met will instantly want to kill you, you'll have to go from fighting one war to fighting off enemies from all angles. And since this hypothetical warring AI is good at fighting, you likely won't survive being ganged up on.

But, because we have the version of Civ VI that we do, grievances and other warmongering penalties are useless and present none of their intended challenge to the player. It's kind of sad when the greatest penalty for warmongering is not endangering yourself by angering other civs, but instead the loss of a couple Amenities.


20% accurate as usual, Morty
Apr 5, 2013
I agree with OP. There are two angles to AI "diplo" behavior. Setting their tendencies or decisions for "liking or disliking" is on the one hand an attempt to give the computer player a sound strategy for the multiplayer environment. You expect the player to be rational about gains and losses, and to come to have an opinion of how another player is going to act. And in some versions of rational decision theory anyway, there's room for punishing something that hurt you as a kind of deterrence-after-the-fact. Like prison.

But there's also the part of AI behavior which is the system simulating the other civilization, and here we continually yearn for the "player" (the 'side' I would say) to face obstacles and incentives which have to do with nation-to-nation relations. The idea of war support, religious sympathy, and other things which get brought up, some of them having been done before, some not so, some just not successfully. Here, at least, I do like to hope that such systems and more of them are put into future iterations, and also that an anachronistic morality as Krajzen says is *not* part of that.

In both morality and rationality, those other civs are not going to care you conquered another people, not until later. But they will care you attacked them... for a while, until expectation says there's still more to gain by forgetting about it. This is also a corollary of just making the AI want to win - because taking down some disliked player is only something you do with mutually assured destruction game-throwing. And throwing your game is the most unsporting thing you can do, third to deciding which of two other players wins, second to throwing your game by ruining someone else's. Kingmaking is a problem in game design itself, but I think you could hope to solve the other issue at the design level too.

In short, remove anachronistic morality simulations from systems that determine what a Civilization is motivated to do. But expand on making the diplo algorithm have more human intelligence (the same way we want war tactics to have more intelligence).

edit: In case I could clarify in one way a post that some people have liked: The idea is that the second set of systems apply to all players, Human or Simulated. The first set of systems is an ingredient of making the Computer Player a player, able to play the game.
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