"Civilization 5" Hints and Tips: Social Policies

Updated on July 13, 2020
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Simon is a content writer and has a great deal of knowledge about video games.

Civ 5 Hints and Tips: Social Policies

Civilization 5 has removed many of the government/civic ‘technologies’ from the technology tree and created the new Social Policy system. Essentially, it’s a system that gives you 10 separate trees to invest your culture in and allows you to unlock bonuses. You can ‘mix and match’ the policies you chose thus you are not forced to switch between different types of government, but in effect can create your own.

The system is a little like an ‘achievement’ system with certain trees unlocking as you go. There are some trees that are mutually exclusive though, so you really need to think about which trees are relevant to the game you are playing.

Each tree has a couple of choices to start and as you chose them you get access to the more powerful tree options. The cost for each tree option increases; also as you expand the Social Policy cost will also increase.

Social Policies have no impact on Diplomacy but can change the influence you have with City-States.

Once you have purchased all the options from five trees you unlock a Utopia Project wonder which then will lead to a Cultural Victory once built.

Personally I like the Social Policies—in the past, I found it strange that a society could suddenly change from a Monarchy to a Democracy—the Social Policies allow this to be a gradual change rather than an instant change and make the social aspect of the game far more realistic for me.

You start the game with access to three trees (Tradition, Liberty and Honor).

The Social Policy Trees

Tradition is a great tree for small empires and perhaps most useful in games where the world is small. Adopting tradition gives a +1 Food bonus in your capital, and each policy in the tree is aimed at improving the capital.

  • Aristocracy: +33% wonder production bonus
  • Oligarchy: +33% military unit combat strength (only within empire’s borders) – great for the defensive-minded.
  • Legalism: -33% to unhappiness in capital.
  • Monarchy: -50% cost of purchasing tiles (prerequisite: Oligarchy)
  • Landed Elite: +33% population growth in Capital. (prerequisite: Oligarchy, Aristocracy)

Liberty is great for those who like to expand as quickly as possible and is great for larger maps. Adopting liberty gives you an instant bonus by increasing the production of Settlers by 50%. (Cannot be active with Autocracy)

  • Collective Rule: New Cities start with 50% of the Food needed to gain their second Citizen. (Definitely helps with quick expansion)
  • Citizenship: +25% construction rate of Workers.
  • Meritocracy: +1 Happiness for each city connected to the Capital. (prerequisite: Citizenship)
  • Representation: +1 Culture in all cities (prerequisite: Citizenship) - really helps to open up the Social Policy trees!
  • Republic: +1 Production in every city. (prerequisite: Collective Rule) – great to improve your cities and expand quickly.

Honor boosts the effectiveness of an army and is great for those seeking a military campaign. Adopting Honor gives an instant +25% bonus against Barbarians.

  • Warrior Code: Gives a Great General near the Capital. The great general really adds a lot to the troops that are next to it.
  • Discipline: +15% Combat Strength for adjacent units.
  • Military Caste: Cities with garrison reduce empire unhappiness by 1. (prerequisite: Discipline)
  • Military Tradition: double experience for Military Units. (prerequisite: Warrior Code)
  • Professional Army: cost 50% less to upgrade units. (prerequisite: Military Caste)

Piety keeps an empire happy and helps promote culture. On adoption the happiness of the empire is increased by 2. Cannot be active with Rationalism –unlocks at Classical Era.

  • Organized Religion: Reduces the amount of happiness required for a Golden Age by 25%.
  • Reformation: Starts a 6-turn Golden Age. (prerequisite: Organized Religion)
  • Theocracy: -20% Unhappiness from population in non-captured cities. (prerequisite: Organized Religion)
  • Mandate of Heaven: 50% of excess Happiness added to Culture. (great way to quickly improve culture and open up the Social Policies).
  • Free Religion: 2 Free Social Policies. (prerequisite: Mandate of Heaven, Reformation)

Patronage is great for those players who love City-States and really use their influence with them. Adoption slows the ‘loss’ of influence by 25%. (Unlocks at Medieval Era).

  • Aesthetics: minimum influence with all City-States is 20. This is a great bonus that allows you to neglect some City-States but not lose total influence over them.
  • Philanthropy: Gifts of Gold gain 25% extra Influence.
  • Scholasticism: Research bonus of 33% of their own research granted to you. (prerequisite: Philanthropy)
  • Cultural Diplomacy: Quantity of resources offered by City-States increases 100%; Happiness from gifted luxury resources increased by 50%. (prerequisite: Scholasticism)
  • Educated Elite: Allied City-States gift you Great People. (prerequisite: Aesthetics, Scholasticism)

Commerce is great for naval powers or players that really use gold to help build their empires. Adopting this gives a 25% boost of gold in the capital. (Unlocks at Medieval Era.)

  • Naval Tradition: +1 Movement, +1 sight range for naval combat units.
  • Trade Unions: -20% maintenance for Roads and Railroads.
  • Mercantilism: -25% cost for items in Cities (prerequisite: Trade Unions).
  • Merchant Navy: +3 Production in coastal Cities (prerequisite: Naval Tradition).
  • Protectionism: +1 Happiness from each Luxury Resource (prerequisite: Mercantilism).

Freedom reduces the unhappiness of the specialist population. It cannot be used with Autocracy and unlocks at Renaissance Era.

  • Civil Society: Specialists use half the amount of Food.
  • Constitution: +100% Culture in Cities with a World Wonder.
  • Democracy: +50% Great Person production rate. (prerequisite: Civil Society)
  • Free Speech: Reduces the Culture cost of future social policies by 25%. (prerequisite: Constitution)
  • Universal Suffrage: +33% City Combat Strength.

Rationalism triggers a 5-turn Golden Age and cannot be active with Piety. It unlocks at Renaissance Era.

  • Secularism: +2 Science from all specialists.
  • Free Thought: Adds +2 Science points for a Trading Post (prerequisite: Secularism).
  • Humanism: +1 Happiness from a University. (quite important for technology)
  • Scientific Revolution: 2 free technologies (prerequisite: Free Thought).
  • Sovereignty: +15% Science for happy empires is Happy (prerequisite: Humanism).

Order increase construction rate of buildings by 25% and is unlocked with the Industrial Era.

  • Communism: +5 Production in all Cities.
  • Nationalism: +25% attack bonus in friendly territory.
  • Planned Economy: Unhappiness reduced by 50% in some cities.
  • Socialism: Costs of Buildings reduced by 10%.
  • United Front: Other civilizations' city-state influence decays 33% faster.

Autocracy is great for civilizations that are expanding and require a large military to expand and prosper! It reduces the maintenance cost by 33% - it cannot be active with Freedom or Liberty and is unlocked with the Industrial Era.

  • Militarism: -33% cost for buying units. Essential if you want to build quickly.
  • Police State: -50% Unhappiness in Annexed Cities. (prerequisite: Militarism)
  • Populism: +25% damage from damaged military units – particularly useful in tough battles where you don’t have time to heal.
  • Fascism: Strategic Resources produced by empire increased by 100%. (prerequisite: Populism, Militarism)
  • Total War: 20 turns, +33% bonus for all Military Units (prerequisite: Police State, Fascism)


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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This only describes the Social Polices as they exist on one difficulty setting (Chieftain?). As you move up in difficulty, the bonuses change. For example, on one difficulty, Discipline gives you a 15% bonus for adjacent units, on another, it's only 10%.

    • SimeyC profile imageAUTHOR

      Simon Cook 

      9 years ago from NJ, USA

      Melissa: each category has a small tip - for example: Tradition is a great tree for small empires and perhaps most useful in games where the world is small.

      I'll try and add some more detailed tips, but to be honest, there are so many combinations on social policies that it's a very subjective subject...give me a week or so to come up with more decent tips.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I was really disappointed that there weren't any actual tips or strategies in this hub. What exactly are the "Hints and Tips"?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hmm, except there aren't actually any hints and tips here, just verbatim quotes from in-game.

    • parkersarah8415 profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Thank you for the detailed info in this hub ,SimeyC.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      thx a bunch


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