Sunday, April 21, 2013

Civ V Unhappiness

I recently started playing Civ V again after not playing in an awfully long time. I quickly found myself with a very unhappy empire and didn't really have a good plan to get out of it. I feel like I probably didn't know how to deal with it well back when the game first came out and I have absolutely no idea now. So, I decided to look up what was going on...

First off, unhappiness. Every city you make gives you 3 unhappiness right off the hop. On top of that every citizen in any city is worth 1 unhappiness. So from a strict unhappiness standpoint having fewer cities is better. This is probably where I most went wrong, as I had 4 small cities that couldn't grow because I was unhappy. I could have fit those many people into just 1 or 2 cities and been happy. Conquered cities are worse for unhappiness. Apparently if you play on bigger maps the unhappiness per city number gets reduced, and the same if you play on easier difficulties. This game was on a randomly sized map, but if playing on a huge map makes my people happier I think my next game will be on the biggest map I can find!

Next, happiness. A big source of happiness, and one I got unlucky on, is luxury goods. Each different one is worth 4 happiness. Now, when you consider that a new city is worth 3 unhappiness and a luxury good is worth 4 happiness it seems like a reasonable idea to build a new city to pick up a new luxury good. I did this recently in my game, by building a desert city by some gold. The desert city isn't great, but my civ is a little happier as a result.

You can also get happiness by building happy buildings (colosseum, theatre, etc...) but it turns out you can't just stand a ton of them in little cities to get really happy. Each city can contribute only one happy face from these buildings per base unhappy face from population in that city. This makes me sad, but I guess it means as long as you can build some buildings in a reasonable time the first 12 or so people in the city are 'free'.

You get 9 happiness right off the hop for playing on a decent difficulty rating. You get more free happiness on easier settings.

Every natural wonder you find is worth 1 happiness. I stopped exploring in my game, so I only found 2 natural wonders. I bet there's a lot more out there that I could find if I bothered looking for them. Probably not going to happen this game, but it's definitely something I need to keep in mind in the future. Having a scout or two just wandering around makes sense.

There are a few wonders you can build worth happiness. I got beat to them in this game because I stalled out on science (turns out when your cities refuse to grow it becomes hard to get science).

There are a bunch of social policies which can give you happiness. There are some that make your other buildings give happiness (for defenses, or libraries, etc...) and apparently this happiness is above and beyond the happiness from the normal happy buildings, which means a small city filled to the brim with these can actually net you happy faces even after accounting for the extra 3 unhappiness per city.

The India civ has a unique ability which halves unhappiness from citizens while doubling unhappiness from cities. So every city is an extra 3 unhappiness tacked on, but each citizen in those cities saves you half an unhappiness. So once a new city hits size 6 it's break even, and every guy above 6 is golden. I think my next game might feature India...

I don't feel like I have a good handle on how to deal with happiness yet, but at least now I understand what I'm dealing with. My tech plan in this game was really random, and I think I didn't get to a point where I could even build a happiness building until it was far too late. I was stuck building a city wall for one happy face thanks to a mediocre social policy. Really I think I needed to not expand out to 4 cities until I got the tech to build colosseums. Live and learn!


John Corrado said...

A few suggestions on happiness:

* Social policies really are one of the best ways to get happiness; I don't believe the happiness from them is limited in the way that happiness-producing buildings are. You really have two choices: go for Tradition, where a later policy will halve unhappiness from your capital, and then you focus on growing your capital huge; or go for Liberty, where a later policy will give you 1 happiness for each city connected to your capital (which usually means 1 happiness per city). This means that Honor tends to be a bad tree to start down, and I usually only do it when knowing where barbarians is vital to my play (i.e., I'm Songhai, Germany, or the Aztecs) - at the end, you might actually get more happiness out of it, but you have to build a lot of defensive buildings to be worth it.

* Religion can also help - Goddess of Love gives +1 happiness for each city over 6 people. More importantly, if you found a religion, as your bonus you can grab a bunch of happiness improvements - adding Happiness to existing buildings, or getting to build (with Faith) brand new buildings that bring happiness.

* Don't forget that you can trade luxury goods with the AI; it's usually a lump 10 - 12 gpt for that, which usually isn't worth it, but you can usually trade extra luxuries at a 1:1 ratio.

* Other early luxury buildings: the Stone Works, which can only be built in cities near stone, but also increase production; the Circus, which can only be built in cities near horses, but cost no maintenance.

You're right that managing happiness tends to be a bear for most of the game, and happiness problems tend to be the biggest limiter on early growth. You've hit on one major strategy, which is to make sure each new city is next to one or more new luxuries.

Also, I might be paranoid, but I think there's another reason not to build four cities right away: I think there's a hidden mechanic where the first player, AI or human, to hit 4 cities gets a massive diplo hit from everyone else. I've noticed that in the Classic era out of nowhere someone gets dogpiled by denunciations, and when I've been the target, it's always when I've recently built a 4th city and no one else has made one. I know there was such a mechanic in MOO2; maybe I'm extrapolating too much.

Nick Page said...

Interesting stuff, thanks!

My current game is Germany, and honor seemed like it would work with their passive ability. But then I got stuck on an island with no barbarians around for a while and it took me too long to figure out how to embark.

I don't think I have religion in my game. Is it part of an expansion of some kind?