1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

[GUIDE] New guide to happiness

Discussion in 'Strategy Section' started by tu_79, Oct 9, 2019 at 3:47 PM.

  1. tu_79

    tu_79 Warlord

    Feb 11, 2016
    Malaga (Spain)
    Updated for October 2019


    It is a resource that limits how fast and how big any civilization can grow and expand. Its intent is twofold: keeping the number of controlled cities manageable and preventing excessively rapid pace for some strategies.
    Unhappiness might be noticeable for players that are too successful or too unsuccessful, which may hurt the economy of the civilization. Big efforts have been made so that happiness adapts well to any play style, giving the players both information and agency on how to deal with unhappiness before it cripples the game.


    Empire-wide happiness information can be found in the top bar. It shows both the total happiness and the total unhappiness produced in the civilization. :c5citizen: Approval rating is just :c5happy: empire-wide happiness divided by :c5unhappy: empire-wide unhappiness, expressed in percentage, and can't be greater than 100%. There are four levels of approval: Happy (100%), Unhappy (75-99%) (reduced growth and science), Unrest (50-74%) (combat penalty, rebels may appear) and Revolt (<50%) (cities may secede).

    Happiness top bar.jpg


    Empire-wide values are the sum of all the happiness/unhappiness generated by cities and by empire-wide sources, such as:
    - Difficulty level
    - Natural wonder discoveries
    - Luxuries (and some monopolies)
    - Policies
    - Beliefs
    - City-state rewards
    - Great Musician concerts
    These empire-wide happiness points are distributed among the controlled cities, in order of acquisition. For example, in the picture above, difficulty level grants 7 points of empire-wide happiness. All of them go to the capital which is the only city I have for the moment. Once a second city is founded, 4 points will go the the capital and 3 to the other city. It's like decking cards.


    In the city view screen, we can see both the happiness and the unhappiness generated in the city. City happiness includes empire-wide sources, but can never be greater than the city size. As you can see in this picture, currently the capital is generating 1 happiness although the empire-wide happiness is 7, just because there is only 1 citizen in the capital.

    City happiness.jpg

    As long as happiness is bigger than unhappiness, the city grows normally. However, every point that the city is producing more unhappiness than happiness, it slows down growth and increases the cost of military units.
    Buildings grant happiness to the cities, sometimes directly like the Circus Maximus (+2 :c5happy:), most of the time by a buff from some policy like Refinement (Artistry) that grants +1 :c5happy: to each guild and to every 3 :greatwork:great works in the city.


    Unlike city happiness, city unhappiness is not limited to city size. The main source of local unhappiness is NEEDS, which will get discussed later. Other sources of unhappiness are:
    - Isolation, for lacking a connection with the capital by road, lighthouses or trade routes. Increases with city size.
    - Urbanization, for working on specialists. One specialist, one unhappiness.
    - Starvation, for lacking food to maintain population.
    - Religious divisions, for having people in the city not following the city official religion. The more infidels, the worse.
    - War weariness, for staying in a bleedy war for too long.
    - Pillaging, for having pillaged/ruined improvements in sight.
    - Ideology, for not following the ideology of an influential civilization.
    If the net happiness may change upon city growth, the tooltip will estimate the change.


    Citizens in Vox Populi are jealous. They want to gain per capita at least as much as the median citizen in the world. They think, 'If the common folk around the world is earning 5 gold each one, why not me?'.
    The needs are:
    - Distress. Comes from the averaged sum of food and production :c5food:&:c5production:.
    - Poverty. Comes from gold :c5gold:.
    - Illiteracy. Comes from science :c5science:.
    - Boredom. Comes from culture :c5culture:.

    This need target is modified by several things:
    - Empire size: A bigger empire is inefficient at distributing yields, so of course citizens will be more demanding in a bigger empire.
    - City size: A bigger city creates opportunities for the outclassed, so the needs are lowered the bigger the city. However, it is usually not enough to overcome the diminishing returns of a bigger population, since the best tiles are being worked first, and yields from buildings have to be distributed among more people.
    - Capital: Because people expect more from living in the capital of the empire.
    - Technology: If the empire is very advanced, people will expect more too.
    - Buildings and wonders: There are buildings that reduce the expectations like the walls, which decrease all four needs by 5%, and buildings that directly remove sources of unhappiness like the barracks, which removes 1 distress in the city.
    - Public works: This project gives 1 :c5happy: happiness and reduces the needs in the city by 5% (empire), and 15% (local). Can be constructed repeatedly, but the cost increases each time.

    In the city view screen, the unhappiness tooltip also shows how much each need is fulfilled in the city and how many yields it needs for satisfying current population.
    IMPORTANT. The worldwide median values are reconsidered every time the city grows, meaning that when the city does not grow, the base needs do not change (modifiers do, though).


    Annexed cities with a courthouse behave exactly the same as any other controlled city. Annexed cities without the courthouse have all of their citizens unhappy.


    Puppets generate 1 unhappiness for every 2 citizens, but don't take empire-wide happiness. They will contribute with a fraction of their science and culture without increasing tech and culture costs, but the civilization has to pay full building maintenance.


    - Your empire does not need to be happy in order to win. Most likely, the opposite is true.
    - Unhappy cities are not important as long as your empire is not in unrest or below. They just will grow slowlier.
    - Unhappiness cannot be removed from cities completely, just make up for it with more happiness.
    - More people in a city is usually better, but working below average tiles will hurt happiness.
    - If you have founded a bad city that is revolting and wants to secede, you might be better allowing it to go. It will just turn into a city state you can work with. Annexed cities will be returned to the founder.
    - War weariness is easy to avoid. Just stop fighting and make peace when you can.
    - A new controlled city is only worthy if it can make up for the whole unhappines it is going to cause in every other city. As the game progresses, you will be able to control more cities proficiently. Use puppets as much as you can until then. I would advice not to take new cities while under 100% approval unless you know what you are doing.
    - Public works should not be needed in a peaceful game.
    - Trade for luxuries. Most civs will trade them if you offer the right price.
    - Explore the world. Natural wonders and city states are a good source of happiness.
    - Fight at sea. Great admirals can be expended for two unspawn luxuries.
    - Manage great people and specialists, they are good sources of rare science and culture. GPTI are always over the average tile improvement, so they help with meeting needs.


    Sometimes is better to stop growth for a while, basic needs will stay freezed and the city will have time to develop so the new citizen will not feel bad. The right way to slow growth is to work just enough food tiles to keep your city stagnant. Specialists help controlling growth too since they consume more food. However, this is not failsafe, sometimes your cities gain instant food and will grow anyways. If you want to be sure not to grow, just check the 'Avoid Growth' button in the city view screen (under the city size). The tooltip will inform you when it is safe to grow again, or you might do it anyways once your approval rate is high.

    Usually the best origin city is the capital, but setting all the trade routes to depart from the capital will not help much in the other cities. Try to have at least one caravan dedicated to boosting villages so the cities working on those villages get extra yields. And send some trade routes from cities that need more yields to be happy. Internal routes help with distress, external routes towards major civs help with poverty, and external routes towards allied city states help with illiteracy and boredom.

    Look into each city state view. Some of them will share a luxury not available to major civs upon CS alliance. Getting access to some unique luxuries may cascade into some other bonuses from quests.
    Once you can build diplomatic buildings, it might be a good idea to send diplomats to every city state, just seeking friendship (allying too many city states will get you into trouble). The benefits are multiple. Other than the direct yields CS will provide, trade routes towards them will be more profitable, plus the diplomatic buildings give some yields upon CS friendship and alliances.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019 at 2:05 AM
  2. swapoer

    swapoer Chieftain

    Dec 6, 2007
    What is the definition of empire size? The number of cities or number of people?

    It feel weird to have more unhappiness than the size of your city.
  3. tu_79

    tu_79 Warlord

    Feb 11, 2016
    Malaga (Spain)
    Empire size is the number of cities in your empire. City size is the number of people in the city.

    Unhappiness is not the number of unhappy people in the city, but a value that expresses how difficult it is to rule this city. Happiness is limited to the size of the city to prevent player miscalculation from the benefits of empire level sources, but not because these citizens are actually happy. It is rather that people in the city who receive something from the empire generate content in the city. Content reduces the effect of unhappiness.
    swapoer likes this.
  4. swapoer

    swapoer Chieftain

    Dec 6, 2007
    Can you elaborate this miscalculation?
  5. tu_79

    tu_79 Warlord

    Feb 11, 2016
    Malaga (Spain)
    Suppose you have access to 12 luxuries. You gain 48 happiness from it. Then you are declared war and lose half of it in a single turn. You were confident that your happiness was ok because you were seeing 60 happiness in your empire, so you tried your unhappiness up to 60 too. After the declaration you lose 24 happiness. In the old system, that was a sudden drop of 24 happiness (-20 happiness was the limit where bad things started to happen). It only get worse the bigger your empire population. So happiness swings in the late game were brutal.
    What this system does is limiting how much happiness you are able to gain, so players are forced to not let unhappiness grow much bigger than city size. By controlling your unhappiness earlier, you are preventing such unexpected drops to destroy your happiness. Once your cities become big, chances are that your infrastructure is fixed.
    swapoer likes this.

Share This Page