Playing Civilization V, Part 8


Other Players

With other players you have a relationship based on their approach to you. They are:

  • Neutral – This is not Friendly nor is it Hostile. Trades you make with them will be fair from their point of view
  • Friendly – They like you, and will accept requests from you more often. Trades will be slightly in your favor from their point of view.
  • Afraid – This only happens if you have a a very substantial advantage in strength, so this is rare. They will readily accept requests from you, and trades will be in your favor
  • Guarded – They are suspicious and defensive, and will be more likely to be unfriendly. Trades will be harder to achieve, and favor them rather than you.
  • Deceptive – They will pretend to be friendly, but they are plotting against you. They may bribe other players to declare war on you. They will not accept requests for help, and trades will be hard to achieve.
  • Hostile – They hate you, and are completely open about it. Trade deals, if you can get them, will be heavily against you.
  • War – This means they have decided to go to war with you. But they need the right conditions, so they may pretend to be Friendly, Neutral, Guarded, or Hostile while they wait for those conditions to mature.

These are not set in stone, as you can modify how the other player feels towards you by your actions. If you have friends in common that will improve your relationship, or if you have enemies in common. Agreeing to their requests will also improve things. But if you cannot agree, just say so. The worst negative modifier is when you agree to do something, and then do the opposite. Saying no is also negative, but not as bad. Finally, remember that negatives will erode over time if they are not reinforced. If you want a very detailed look at the mechanics and details of this, check out


City-States are also important diplomatic partners. We’ll cover all of the benefits in a different section, but here I want to focus on how they enable the Diplomatic Victory. At a certain point the United Nations will be born out of the World Congress, and when this happens a Diplomatic Victory is possible. This will occur when any player reaches the Information Era, or whenever half of the players have reached the Atomic Era. Diplomatic Victory requires that you get the votes of a certain number of delegates to the United Nations. Each player gets delegates based on their population, and there are also some additional delegates you can earn, such as through building the World Wonder Forbidden Palace which gives you two additional delegates. Anyone planning for a Diplomatic Victory should consider building this Wonder as mandatory.

But each City-State gets one delegate, and if you are allied with them their delegate is yours. The mechanics of City-State relationships is that they love gifts, and cash is always the best. So anyone planning a Diplomatic Victory would be well-advised to focus on building a large Treasury. You will know when a World Leader vote is coming up in the United Nations, and can make cash drops on any City-States that are not already allied with you before the vote. But watch out that another player doesn’t do the same thing after you and snipe away some of your allies. Also, you can place your spies in City-States to rig elections, and that is another way to get them to ally with you.

Spies and Espionage

Spies are simply awarded to you whenever any player enters the Renaissance Era. After that you receive another spy each time to advance to another Era. So you can in general have as many as 5 Spies, but if you build the National Intelligence Agency you get one more. This is a National Wonder, and should be a mandatory build if you are going for a Diplomacy victory. And England starts with 1 extra Spy, so if you play as England you could get as many as 7 Spies.

Spies can be used for offense or defense. If you station one of your spies in one of your cities it can operate as a counter-spy, and may thwart or even kill an enemy spy. If you are well ahead in technology, that might be a good use, since other players will be trying to steal your tech. But if you are behind, you might want to use your spies to steal tech from other players. You may be successful in this, but the theft does not go unnoticed, and other player may use one of his spies to counter your operation. If you spy is killed, you will get another one in 3-5 turns, but if your spy was a high-rank spy with promotions, that is a serious loss, so you may want to move that spy elsewhere for a while.


When you assign a spy to the capital of another player you can designate them as a Diplomat. They will take a few turns (depends on game speed, but around 6 turns on normal speeds) to get set up. This is called “Making Introductions”, but the point is that if you need an effective diplomat, don’t wait until the last minute. Diplomats can be useful in several ways. Early on, they allow you to trade votes in the World Congress. And they will bring you intelligence about intrigues, and you can then share that with other players. And it can also give you a view of the other player’s City Screen. Once you have researched Globalization your Diplomats can help with a Diplomatic Victory because each one counts as one additional vote in the United Nations for World Leader.

You can change a spy into a Diplomat and vice versa just by moving the Spy/Diplomat from its current location to another location, which will trigger the ability to change the job assignment. This means that when you first get Spies, and they cannot yet be used to get additional Delegate votes as Diplomats, you can assign them to City-States, where they can help you get alliances. Then as you start to research Globalization, move them to the capitals of other players and turn them into Diplomats. This of course assumes you want to win a Diplomatic victory. If instead you are going for a Science victory and are ahead in Science, it is probably best to station them in your own cities to do counter-intelligence work. If you are ahead in Science, other players will be trying to steal tech from you.

Religious Pressure

If you have researched all of the Piety Social Policy Tree, you will have option to choose a Reformation Belief to add to your religion. One of these, Underground Sect, allows your spies to exert religious pressure against the city they have been sent to. However, this effect is fairly small. If there is not a Follower of your religion in the city, it seems to do nothing. But in combination it can flip cities to your religion. Start by sending in a Missionary to spread your religion, then your spy can add to that. And you should also combine that with a trade route to add additional religious pressure. And by gradually moving your spies, missionaries, and trade routes from city to city, you can make your religion dominant in a region.

Diplomatic Victory

This can be a fun way to win, and I have done it. If you want to get a leg up, start with a Civ that gives you advantages, such as Greece or Venice (although my last diplomatic Victory was achieved with Ethiopia, which is generally regarded as a military/domination Civ. You can win any victory type with any civ, and it can be fun to “play against type”). Greece gets an advantage from relations with City-States, which are key to a Diplomatic Victory because each one gets a vote for World Leader. And Venice is interesting because you cannot build settlers. But you can use cash to puppet City-States, and you can purchase units in puppeted City-States as well. Cash is king in the Venice strategy, and you will want to get as many Trade Routes as possible. The first two should send Food to Venice to help boost your population. Since you will only ever have one city as Venice you will want to max it out. All trade routes after that should focus on cash. Use your cash to purchase or upgrade military units, and employ a defensive strategy. You want enough military to deter any aggression against you, but you should avoid making any hostile moves against others if possible. Remember, this is a strategy for a Diplomatic Victory. If you want to go to war, don’t choose Venice. Instead choose one of the Domination Civs, like the Zulus or the Mongols.

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