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Civilization 5 hints and tips: Diplomacy

Updated on February 21, 2011

Civ 5 Hints and Tips: Diplomacy

One of the most useful features of the Civilization games is the ability to encounter other civilizations and to be able to open diplomatic relations with these nations. As the Civ games have developed, the nuances of diplomacy have changed and over time diplomacy has become far more important.

Civilization 5 has made some changes to Diplomacy, including in my opinion, giving you a far easier way to maintain diplomacy! Here are some of the highlights and some tips:

  • As religion doesn’t form a major part of the game any more, religious beliefs does not help or hinder in Diplomacy. In Civ 4 I was often frustrated when another Civilization demanded I convert to a religion, and then when I didn’t became far harder to deal with – while I understand the idea of religion and how it can change nations, it wasn’t done well in Civ 4 and I was quite happy to see it disappear in Civ 5! So it’s one less thing to worry about.

  •  No more trading technologies – I was a little disappointed not to be able to trade technologies as I often used this as a way of gaining supremacy over other nations by being clever with the technology trading process – however Civ 5 does allow you to have a research agreement, but this isn’t quite the same, and is perhaps more realistic.

  • As the ‘technology’ tree has been reduced and Social Policies have been implemented, a lot of the ‘social policies’ that used to have a direct impact on your relationship have less effect in Civ 5 – this is an improvement to me as I often wondered why my internal social policies would really change my diplomatic relationships. Thus you can move forward with your chosen social path a lot easier knowing it won’t change your diplomatic status.
  • As you begin to explore and create settlements you can influence your diplomatic relationships – quite often an upset leader will ask you not to expand in their direction, or will make a comment about your military units being close to their borders – this is far more realistic, and if used correctly can be a great way to intimidate other leaders.
  • Agreements expire – I’m not sure about this yet, but most agreements expire – I guess this is more realistic - as governments change then there definitely could be changes in diplomacy – however to have an arbitrary expiration date seems to be unrealistic – perhaps in future they can have expirations when government changes, for instance if you move from Monarcy to Democracy.

Diplomatic options:

Gold – same as always – you can give a gift of gold often stopping war or helping diplomatic relationships. I only tend to do this when I’m caught with my ‘pants down’ and have to avoid war!

Gold Per Turn – similar to a gift, but a continued payment every turn – keeps other civs happy. I try not to get into this sort of agreement unless they are paying me – a one-off gift seems to be just as good and can be a lot cheaper!

Open Borders (Requires Writing) – unless I really need to expand outside of my main area I tend not to enter into Open Border agreements – I like to build cities close together so that I can essentially block other civilizations moving to certain areas of the map if possible. Trying to defend an open border is a lot harder too, especially with some of those dastardly civilizations that double-cross you!

Defensive Pact (Requires Chivalry) – again another option I use rarely as I find that many civilizations will break this pact before gaining any real benefit.

Research Agreement (Requires Philosophy) – this is an interesting change to the ‘swapping technology’ and involves both parties investing in research and gaining a random technology after 20 turns. Bear in mind that you could be helping an opponent receive a technology they may not have gotten so quickly.

Pact of Cooperation - this is perhaps one of the useful pacts and generally improves diplomatic relationships with the other civilization.

Trade Cities – I have to be honest that I’ve never used this option – I guess that if you happen to get a city that is totally isolated from your empire then you might swap it with a closer city, thus gaining extended borders and the benefits of being close to the capital.

Other Players - you can make agreements to make war, make peace, have embargo against etc on other civilizations – this is quite a useful tool especially when you are at war with someone and want to try to put additional resource pressure on them.

Pact of Secrecy Against - this is a new option in Civ 5 and essentially helps reduce the diplomatic efforts of a third party – the one you agree the pact with will be less friendly to the third party and in some circumstance will go to war against the third party. I try and get all the other civilizations to have a pact with me against the current leader!

Trade Resources – as in Civ 4 you can trade resources – with Civ 5 this has become far more important as often City-States or your own cities will demand certain resources to make them happier.

Don't settle new Cities – as mentioned above, you now have an option to ask other civilizations to not settle too close to your borders – this often does make them a little more aggressive diplomatically though, so should be used sparingly.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Why is it with Diplomacy that I'm always wrong.

      For an examnple, I'm currently playing as Egypt and top of the ranking but have about the 3rd best army. I'm strong friends with both Russia and Spain with defensive pacts and research agreements but I've had to accept a 'demand' for gold from both - I'm gold rich so didn't mind :). Now if I refuse their demands I get a red mark against myself saying that as Friends I've refused a friend request, but if I try the reverse (and demand a resource myself) I get a red mark against me saying that I demanded a resource - surely as friends Spain and Russia should be given a red mark as she demanded a resource from me in the first instance. I also tried a 1 way trade asking for a single resource(Incense) but of course they were having none of it and instead wanted a very unfair exchange for just a single resource.

      I don't think diplomacy's broke but it does seem always against the player.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Diplomacy is an absolute must if you ever try to achieve a cultural victory on Deity. Just agree with all their demands and keep them as happy as you can. Also having Defensive Pacts with every nation is a huge deterent to somebody going to war with you. I almost lost the game I was playing, America had all but one spaceship part built while i still needed another policy but I thought the notion he ran out of aluminum. The only source available was city states and a Deity Greece is hard to overcome when they build United Nations. I bought out all aluminum States and forced america to declare war on me, the other nations pounded him and our war meant all the Aluminum states were peace blocked to him denying him the win. Managed to complete the Utopia project without any of the other nations declaring war on me.

      The only other problem evident is the AI lag you experience playing a normal game around the 1800's. On Deity this lag begins around 0ad all the way to the end with their rediculous bonuses, they spread like weeds.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i am currently playing arabia ( they can get ahead easily economically & when you have a strong economy,you can mostly cover up on other areas where you might lack,or that's what i thought...& kinda found out i was right ) & france being an ass declared war on me.i hardly had an army.well,i didn't.just one unit per city to guard it & for the happiness bonus.anyways,i rallied whatever i had which was one general & a bunch or horse units,about 5 units in all i guess & tried to my country was on a mainland all by myself.lucky me,yea.& france wanted 2 cities on me overseas which i established for resources & trade purposes.basically economically those were huge.but it was connected to the mainland ( where france is ) by a small strip on single tiles land. ( the other city which was not so lucky went down fast ) but i was able to totally destroy his ENTIRE army with 1 camel archer,my city & a frigate.i bought the camel archer & cannon ( economy pays ) bought walls for my france was busy trying to take the strategic city i used my other frigate & those troops i gathered,left my nation unprotected ( had other choice but i was sure i could pull it off by now ) & sailed to the other mainland to the city i lost & took the time i took that all of france's forces were destroyed by those 3 units & my city.he had numbers but i had technology & terrain advantage over him....point is...he then offered me some gold & about 8 cities & all of his strategic resources & luxury stuff.i said no to the cities coz i don't want an unhappiness spike in my nation.but asked for ALL of his gold plus ALL of his GPT...which was around 250...he said of that was by the time the GPT was over i even had a golden damn powerful military wise & i demanded more gold..he said no..i attacked & took the stuff from his dead cold hands...ha ha ha...point is...if you pull something impressive off like that...( when you have him by the balls ) can demand a lot of a total jerk...

    • SimeyC profile imageAUTHOR

      Simon Cook 

      8 years ago from NJ, USA

      Ace: fair point - I aimed the article at the average player - the majority don't play on Immortal. You are correct it does become important the higher the level - 'broken' is perhaps too strong a word - 'work in progress' is perhaps better!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't know what difficulty level you are all playing on.. But on Immortal, Diplomacy is almost a must. The happiness penalty on that level requires you to either hook up happiness resources or trade for them. Due to the fact that most of these resources are localized around the map, it's almost impossible to have them all within your borders. But you will have a tradable surplus in which you can obtain much needed resouces from others civs.

      All your actions affect the other civs and remamber they have plans too.

      I have recovered from hotile to become friendly with civs, joining them in war and/or denouncing the dame leaders will help a lot.

      The Diplomacy aspect of this game could be expanded, but it is not "broken".

    • humanoid profile image


      9 years ago from Earth (I think)

      Now don't be mad - I get the point of all the Civilization games - but cannot stay awake for ONE of them unless something is burning :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have found that using diplomacy in the early game is about as useful as diplomacy gets. I use it long enough to build up a bit of strength, expand enough and stabalize my empire. I have not yet had a game where diplomacy lasted past the BC period. Once you have had a friend denounce you, diplomacy is over. I have never been able to recover from it and as a result I have given up on diplomacy. I'm usually strong enough and advanced enough that I can hold my own defensively by then. I don't use city-states as anything more than a training ground for my troops. It's a quick way of increasing their rank, and if I need the help there are always other city-states. Diplomacy needs a major overhaul, but the rest of the game is incredible.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Henry - I would have been in total agreement with you until the other day when I was taking several of Russia's cities. They offered a peace agreement which included all of their gold, some resources...and 2 of their cities! Although I still have not been able to successfully demand such a large sacrifice.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I think it depends of the personnality of the leaders.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Henry i agree whit you completely, i were friends whit all but 1 civ then i went to war on a state and now every one hates's bull crap!!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Diplomacy is way too broken, whenever you are kicking some major ass, and the other civ is down to 2 or maybe 3 cities, and you demand a resource, or gold, or open borders in exchange of peace, they will always say no. Also even if you are a LOT bigger, have miltary all over the place and they don't have anything they wont give you stuff. I was just playing a game, where the current top civ was about to destroy another civ, and i tried to get them to cooperate with me against the top civ, just to get such help denied. Diplomacy is WAY to weak, and mostly pointless.

    • profile image

      9 years ago

      not sure that you should worry about open borders.... I tried to use it, "in reverse" - i.e. I made an "open borders" treaty and surrounded a city with my troops, then I declared war (thinking that i'm all set up to take that city in one strike). I found out that the game pushed my troops outside his borders, effectively nixing my strategy

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The agreements such as open borders and research seem to have the most weight in Civ 5. The gold payments , I believe - must be paid on default gold level or higher. I have been trying to pay below that and got pole-axed. Nothing quite like having to fight every civilization on the planet for 210 turns. I am curious about two dynamics. First, if you ally yourself to an adjacent city state, does it add to your diplomacy score with that civ? Second, if you set up 'pacts of secrecy' and other such agreements - does it change things?

      I have noticed after taking a lot of land, the civs get progressively more angry one after another and there doesn't seem to be any way to stop them.

    • SimeyC profile imageAUTHOR

      Simon Cook 

      9 years ago from NJ, USA

      You are right that signing an open border treaty does make it easier to deal with other leaders - however I find myself being more protective when I have open borders and thus cannot fully expand when I would like to - so I never sign the agreement - I also find that when I am more powerful that diplomacy is also easier - so I guess it's down to personal preference.

      As you say, you really need to know the leaders you are dealing with - some are more diplomatic and its OK to have open borders with them - I';ll try and add a list of the diplomatic 'side' of each leader and whether an open border agreement is a good idea - thanks for making me think a little bit more 'outside the box'!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      You say you don't have sign open borders treaty, but I was of the impression that signing such a deal made the other party more happy and easier to deal with?

      I've only done a few games in civ5 and still learning. Some civs are by nature more diplomatic and some very unforgiving. The English leader... I forget her name is very unforgiving. I agreed to every deal she made even going to a war with her, but then I declined getting involved in another war she had going on. From then on out, she would do any more deals.


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