Ranking the leader weakness (negative) traits


Jul 18, 2014
Inspired by a recent post of my own in the main RI thread, I want to open a discussion here on how you rank the negative traits and their impact on the game.

To recap, as of the current implementation of RI (3.61), the effects of said traits are:
  • Anti-Clerical: +1 :c5unhappy: for each religious temple (for net +/- 0 baseline instead of +1)
  • Arrogant: -20% :espionage:
  • Barbaric: -25% :culture:
  • Cruel: Units need +20% XP per promotion
  • Excessive: -10% :gold:
  • Fanatical: -25% :gp:
  • Foreign: -25% worker work rate, -25% production for workers
  • Idealistic: -5% strength for archer/melee/gunpowder units
  • Isolationist: -25% income to foreign trade routes, -25% production for guild halls, harbors, customs houses
  • Megalomaniac: -20% production for limited buildings, world wonders and projects
  • Poor Commander: -5% strength for recon/(both charge and ranged) mounted/armored units
  • Populist: +25% civic upkeep
  • Schemer: -40% great general :gp: points
  • Revolutionary: -1 relation points to AI players
  • Temperamental: -2 first strike chances for archer/melee/recon/gunpowder units
Now how would you rank these from least impactful ("best" to have as a player) to most impactful ("worst" to have)?

My ranking on first thought would go as follows:
Spoiler Trait Ranking :

  1. Poor Commander: Battles are usually won on an economical/production basis, with right unit choice and stack size beating out minor differences like 5% combat power in almost all cases.
  2. Idealistic: Same as above, but with units you are more likely to use in significant numbers.
  3. Isolationist: The trade route income debuff can be annoying during the time up to Renaissance. But it gets quickly related to insignificant (only affecting a handful of trade routes due to how they are always rounded down, especially once Protectionism comes around.
  4. Anti-Clerical: It is either a net loss of 1 happiness, or has no effect (when running Paganism/Free Religion/Cult of Personality). In the early midgame this 1 happiness can have the highest impact, but it is not a terrible setback. Often, food is a more significant constraint.
  5. Temperamental: Similar to Poor Commander and Idealistic, but the first strikes can really hurt as it reduces the chance of your units to at least do some damage during losing fights, which is a large part of city assaults before the industrial age.
  6. Cruel: Really hurts your ability to develop your individual units, but is still a military rather than economical setback.
  7. Schemer: Generals are very nice, especially for their medic ability early on and the traditions. But if you do any amount of warmongering, you'll get your early generals quick enough. You'll have to be slightly more selective with them, but it is not a terrible problem.
  8. Arrogant: Pretty significant espionage setback throughout much of the game, only really remedied by jails and later espionage buildings. Can cause you to be vulnerable against enemy espionage, while making it a lot harder to get your own espionage info. However, it can still be played around decently well enough.
  9. Revolutionary: Starting out at -1 with all the AIs has a bigger impact than one might think, and will make it pretty hard to get good relations right away. More diplomatic attentiveness required here.
  10. Foreign: Your early improvements are the most important, and getting those slower really sets your initial development back. On the upside, it becomes a non-issue by the middle ages.
  11. Fanatical: Well, it simply hurts. Due to the additive nature of bonuses, schools and universities have a higher impact on leaders of this kind and help remedy the relative disadvantage a lot.
  12. Excessive: Financing an empire is hard in RI, and less money is always nasty. Like fanatical, remedied fairly well by buildings. Unlike populist, takes effect from the start, but has no massive late-game impact.
  13. Barbaric: Very impactful in the early game before several of the +:culture:% art eras come around. Really makes it a lot harder to contest cultural border pressure, and you need to pay additional attention to not have your tiles or cities stolen from you.
  14. Populist: Starts out harmless, but entails massively increased lategame spending if you are a large civilisation.
  15. Megalomaniac: The debuff on national wonders/limited buildings hurts a lot from the start, your very first storyteller huts have significantly lower build times already, and you are also in a much less competitive situation when it comes to contesting world wonders. Negative effect that accompanies you the entire game.

I do not claim to be objectively right about any of these ratings, they are a purely subjective ranking of mine. Let's discuss!
cruel is not too bad trait when in emperor- but very bad trait when in emperor+
in lower difficult, you can win by war of attrition. defense, grind down enemies, push back
but in higher difficult, AI have no upkeep while you are, do not have super soldier strike team mean you will lose the game
Last edited:
Though I have only played for a year, I generally agree that military debuffs are barely noticable( maybe rank 5,6 and 7 but they're managable at their worst). I think foreign is second to Megalomaniac, due to it handicapping the early game, especially that, early barbarians can go hard at raiding improvements( but I guess this isn't much of a problem at smaller maps and lesser difficulties.), and that early game tend to be the hardest part of the game.
I posted detailed thoughts on this over in the main RI thread a while back but in general I think Cruel is probably the worst for the same reason Charismatic is the best positive trait. Promotion-per-experience efficiency impacts the combat effectiveness of your army so much due to stack aid and transport needs, while indirectly affecting your production (you need more units to get the same job done) and your economy (due to scaling maintenance costs).

I agree the direct military debuffs aren't too bad, with the exception of Temperamental which is surprisingly impactful, especially in pre-gunpowder combat. A neighbor with this trait is significantly easier to invade due to archery units losing their strongest asset.

Foreign I don't think is that bad, you can always force the issue by building extra workers. While less efficient, it beats the economic impact of something like Excessive or Populist.

I think Revolutionary is overrated, a -1 hit is not all that important and might easily be offset by a random event or simply acquiescing to a request from time to time. It can be a touch annoying to get early open borders but the AIs are somewhat inconsistent with that as is right now so I don't worry about it at all.
I'd say barbaric is a lot less of a "bad" trait and more of a "suggestion". If you have border trouble, just lean into the barbaric behavior and push it back with some war!
Top Bottom