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Religion (Civ5)

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Religion is a feature reintroduced in the Civilization V: Gods & Kings expansion pack. Just as in the real world, Religion consists of a series of Beliefs, which define the religion's ideas and goals. In the game environment this is represented through a system of bonuses, which have a diverse set of possible effects. A well-crafted Religion may considerably enhance your civilization's abilities, although it doesn't lead to a separate victory. Unlike other aspects of the game, it is definitely possible to win a game without even creating a Pantheon. However, considering the power of Religion, it is highly advisable you attempt to create one.

Religion is dependent on the 20xfaith5 Faith resource. For more information on it, visit the Faith article.

There are eleven named religions to choose from (thirteen in Brave New World). These religions, however, are no more than the icons that represent them - it doesn't matter which one you pick because you have to customize it at your own will. You can even change the name, if you like.

The Path to ReligionEdit

Religion doesn't exist at the start of a game (unlike Culture and Science, which start developing immediately after settling the Capital5 Capital). It has to be created first, and then formed by selecting Beliefs for it.

Beliefs are the practical effects of religions and pantheons, selected when they are founded or enhanced. Each belief is unique and may only be selected by one religion/pantheon in the game - thus each religion/pantheon is distinct from all others and has no overlapping effects.

Founding a PantheonEdit

Pantheons are simple, proto-religious Beliefs, centered on Gods which are related to many natural phenomena. When enough 20xfaith5 Faith has been accumulated, it may be spent to found a pantheon. A pantheon allows for one pantheon belief to be chosen. Each successive pantheon founded in the world costs more 20xfaith5 Faith (+5 per Pantheon) to found.

Pantheon Beliefs are chosen from a common pool for all civilizations, which means that, once chosen by someone, a Pantheon isn't available anymore to the others. So, when founding a Pantheon, speed is important for you to be able to choose from a wider pool of Beliefs. The best thing about pantheons is that they have many bonuses based on terrain, allowing you to use your starting terrain to your advantage in the early game. Additionally, pantheons such as Desert Folklore can effectively give you a free religion by allowing you to produce abundant 20xfaith5 Faith from terrain without the need to build Shrines or Temples.

Pantheons may not be founded anymore once any religion in the world has been enhanced (unless there are less pantheons than the maximum number of religions, in which case they still can). Whereas in most games all available civilizations are able to found a Pantheon, it is theoretically possible for this not to happen if one civilization progresses too fast towards a full religion while the others dally.

Founding a ReligionEdit

After you have founded a pantheon, a Great Prophet will eventually appear (through further 20xfaith5 Faith accumulation, or from completing Wonders). He has the special ability to "Found a Religion" - use it to create your own! Note the Prophet must be in one of your cities to activate this ability, and doing so will consume him.

The founding of a religion consists of the following steps:

  • Selecting an icon and a name for your religion. You may choose among the contemporary religious symbols available and the real-world name related to it, or you can type a new name of your own.
  • Selecting one Founder belief.
  • Selecting one Follower belief.

These two new Beliefs are then added to your Pantheon belief for the formation of your new Religion (for a detailed description of Beliefs and their effects, look below). The city where the Prophet was used to found a Religion turns into the Holy City for that Religion. Most of its citizens immediately convert to it, mesmerized by the speech of your Great Prophet, but some citizens resist and remain pagans. Nevertheless, this Religion becomes the Majority religion in this city.

Note that if you are playing as Byzantium you can also choose a fourth, Bonus belief when founding a religion. This one can come from either the Pantheon, the Founder, Follower or Enhancer pool, which turns the bonus very powerful this early in the game!

Once you have founded a Religion, every subsequent Great Prophet born in your civilization is considered to belong to the Religion you founded (even if most of your cities follow a different Religion), and will be born in its Holy City (as long as you have control of it). From this point and on, the Great Prophet has the ability to Spread Religion, or Enhance Religion.

Enhancing a ReligionEdit

Later on, when you acquire another Great Prophet, you can use him to Enhance the religion, allowing you to choose a second Follower belief and an Enhancer belief (chosen from a separate Enhancer pool). Note that enhancing a religion also consumes the Prophet; also note that if he has spent even one of his four uses of Spread Religion, you cannot use him to enhance your religion anymore! Again, the Prophet needs to be in a city (any city belonging to you) to Enhance the Religion.

In Brave New World, if you adopt the Reformation policy in the Piety tree, you can choose one additional Reformation belief, for a total of 6 Beliefs per Religion (7 if you play as Byzantium). The Reformation Belief, however, is chosen from its own pool of powerful special bonuses (see below). It can be added as soon as you Found a religion, before you Enhance it.

Only a limited number of religions can be founded in the world, determined by the starting number of civilizations - the maximum is equal to half the number of civilizations, plus one.

Spreading a ReligionEdit

The Religious BattleEdit

The in-game use of religion manifests itself only after converting the citizens of cities (yours and all others) to it. Most Beliefs' effects only work on city level, so you will only benefit from them if your (and other) cities convert to your religion. In short, the more cities world-wide follow your religion, the better for you! In practice, founding a religion doesn't do much good if you can't manage to spread it around. All sorts of religious effects depend on the number of cities and citizens following it.

When more than 50% of the citizens of a city convert to a certain religion, it is declared the majority religion of this city, and the icon of the religion will appear right next to the city name in its tab. From now on, the owner of the religion will receive all religious bonuses applied on the city-level (which are most of the bonuses), and this city will start exerting religious pressure. Moreover, units and buildings related to this religion can now be purchased in this city, while any terrain bonuses from its Pantheon belief will be applied to nearby terrain.

Thus, spreading religions becomes another mini-game inside the civilization. You (and your adversaries) may use religion offensively to weaken the enemy, or simply to boost your own empire's stats. Religions are usually great sources of 20xHappiness5 Happiness, 20xCulture5 Culture, 20xGold5 Gold, and even 20xfaith5 Faith. Other leaders will try to spread their own religions when they can, and will do so more aggressively if they are hostile toward you. They may refrain from converting your cities if they are friendly, or at least neutral. They will always try to convert City-States, however - regardless of whether those are your allies, or not. Diplomatic incidents may also occur due to overzealous spreading of a religion, so be wary! On the other hand, the benefits are usually worth the trouble.

Religious PressureEdit

If a city has a majority religion (at least half of the city population are its followers), the city starts exerting religious pressure for the respective religion on all other cities within 10 tiles, regardless of their civilization affiliation. This pressure results in conversion of citizens in those cities. Note that if the target city already has a majority religion, it needs at least two cities from another religion to start the conversion process. By default, the amount of religious pressure each city exerts is 6. Pressure from various cities adds together for increased effect. The greater the pressure, the faster citizens in that city convert to the new religion.

If there is more than one religion competing for influence in a given city, the one with greater pressure gains the upper hand, and will eventually convert the city. However, there will always be some followers of the competing religion in that city.

In Brave New World, trade routes also spread the Religion of their source city to the target city, regardless of the distance! The effect lasts as long as the Trade Route is active. Use this as a way to reach cities out of the normal reach of automatic spread.

Religious UnitsEdit

The other way of spreading a religion is by using a special civilian unit, the Missionary. Great Prophets also have an ability to spread religion, which is much more effective - it removes any influence from other religions, just like using an Inquisitor - but be aware that once spread religion a single time, they can't be used to enhance a religion or create a Holy Site! Both Missionaries and Prophets have a maximum number of times they can "Spread Religion" (2 for Missionaries, 4 for Prophets), after which they will be removed from play.

You may move these units to target cities, and when they're in, or right next to them, they may use their special ability "Spread Religion" to immediately convert some citizens to their religion. Generally, it's easier to convert Pagan cities (those that have no majority religion yet). Note that the presence of an Inquisitor in the city greatly diminishes the effect of this type of conversion.

Both Missionaries and Prophets can move through territory you have no access to - that is, they can move through another civilization's territory without an Open Borders treaty. Missionaries, however, will suffer losses from attrition if they end their turn there (as they are considered unwelcome), losing 25% of their maximum conversion power per turn, and disappearing once their power drops to 0. Prophets aren't affected by this - their faith is apparently too strong.

Other Gameplay Effects of ReligionEdit

Other than receiving all these nice bonuses from Beliefs, Religion has some other gameplay effects:

  • When a City-State shares your Religion, your Influence (Civ5) Influence with it diminishes 25% slower.
  • BNW-only Sharing Religion with another nation nets you a 25% bonus to 20xTourism5 Tourism (more with certain Social Policies).
  • BNW-only You can designate a Religion to be the official World Religion via the World Congress, by successfully passing the respective resolution. Once enacted, this religion spreads 25% faster than others (conversion is 25% faster, albeit still in the same distance), its Holy City receives a 50% 20xTourism5 Tourism bonus, and all nations following this religion will receive two additional congress delegates.

You have to be aware that other nations are pretty protective of their religions. If they have founded one, and you try to convert their cities using Missionaries and Prophets, they will object diplomatically. Disregarding this objection may cause a diplomatic incident. You can also ask another player to stop preaching in your cities, if you want.

ReligionsEdit

There are thirteen religions to choose from, and they are:

Originally, when Religion was reintroduced in Gods & Kings, there were eleven religions, including Christianity. Due to the large number of Christian civilizations, however, Brave New World split Christianity into three religions based on its three major contemporary sects: Catholicism (which reuses the icon of the original Christian religion), Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism (two sects of Christianity which originally appeared in the Gods & Kings scenario Into the Renaissance).

BeliefsEdit

Religious Beliefs are split into four categories: Pantheons, Founder Beliefs, Follower Beliefs, and Enhancer Beliefs. In Brave New World, a new category, Reformation Beliefs, is added.

You can have up to five beliefs in the Religion you found once it has enhanced. Please note that there is also an additional Bonus Belief, exclusive to Byzantium, increasing the number of beliefs to six. These beliefs do not include the Reformation Belief.

Also note that once a belief is chosen, it's impossible to change it, and it also becomes unique to that Religion. You can only choose any of the beliefs that no other civs have.

PantheonsEdit

Pantheons provide basic bonuses for cities, usually based on terrain or resources. You may found a Pantheon when you accumulate a sufficient amount of Faith. 

Note that if a bonus applies to a particular resource (Gold, Wine, etc.), the bonus will work regardless of whether the resource is improved or not. On the other hand, bonuses applying to particular improvements (Plantation, Pasture, etc.) will work as long as the improvement is not pillaged.

Name Benefit
Ancestor Worship +1 20xCulture5 Culture from Shrines
Dance of the Aurora +1 20xfaith5 Faith from Tundra tiles without Forest (Resource tiles on Tundra without Forest also qualify)
Desert Folklore +1 20xfaith5 Faith from Desert tiles (All types, including Flood Plains and Oasis, as well as Resource tiles on desert)
Earth Mother BNW-only +1 20xfaith5 Faith for each Copper, Iron, and Salt resource
Faith Healers +30 HP healed per turn if adjacent to a friendly city
Fertility Rites 10% faster 20xFood5 Growth rates
God of Craftsmen +1 20xProduction5 Production in cities with 20xPopulation5 Population of 3+
God of the Open Sky +1 20xCulture5 Culture from Pastures
God of the Sea +1 20xProduction5 Production from Fishing Boats
God of War Gain 20xfaith5 Faith if you win a battle within 4 tiles from your city
Goddess of Festivals +1 20xCulture5 Culture and +1 20xfaith5 Faith for each Wine and Incense
Goddess of Love +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness from cities with 20xPopulation5 Population of 6+
Goddess of Protection +30% increase in city 20xRangedStrength5 Ranged Combat Strength
Goddess of the Hunt +1 20xFood5 Food from Camps
God-King BNW-only Palace provides +1 20xCulture5 Culture, 20xfaith5 Faith, 20xGold5 Gold, 20xProduction5 Production, and 20xScience5 Science
Messenger of the Gods +2 20xScience5 Science in cities with a City Connection
Monument to the Gods +15% 20xProduction5 Production for Ancient/Classical Wonders
One with Nature +4 20xfaith5 Faith from Natural Wonders
Oral Tradition +1 20xCulture5 Culture from Plantations
Religious Idols +1 20xCulture5 Culture and +1 20xfaith5 Faith for each Gold and Silver
Religious Settlements 15% faster border growth
Sacred Path +1 20xCulture5 Culture from Jungle tiles (Resource tiles in a Jungle also qualify)
Sacred Waters +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness from cities on rivers
Stone Circles +2 20xfaith5 Faith from Quarries
Sun God BNW-only +1 20xFood5 Food for each Bananas, Citrus, and Wheat resource
Tear of the Gods BNW-only +2 20xfaith5 Faith for each Gems and Pearls resource

Founder BeliefsEdit

These beliefs provide basic bonuses for the founding empire of the Religion. You may choose one of these beliefs when founding a Religion.

Name Beliefs
Ceremonial Burial +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every City following this religion
BNW-only +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every 2 Cities following this religion
Church Property +2 20xGold5 Gold for each City following this religion
Initiation Rites +100 20xGold5 Gold when each City first converts to this religion
Interfaith Dialogue Gain 20xScience5 Science when a Missionary spreads this religion to cities of other religions
Papal Primacy +15 to Influence (Civ5) Influence resting point with City-States following this religion
Peace Loving +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every 8 followers of this religion in non-enemy foreign cities
Pilgrimage +2 20xfaith5 Faith for each foreign City following this religion
Tithe +1 20xGold5 Gold for every 4 followers of this religion
World Church +1 20xCulture5 Culture for every 5 followers of this religion in other civilizations

The "Interfaith Dialogue" belief works every time the action 'Spread Religion' is performed, but only if the target city has majority religion other than yours. The amount of 20xScience5 gained increases with the Eras.

Follower BeliefsEdit

These beliefs provide bonuses for cities following this Religion. You can choose one of these beliefs when founding a Religion, but when the Religion enhances, you may choose another.

Name Beliefs
Asceticism Shrines provide +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness in cities with 3 followers
Cathedrals Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase Cathedrals
Choral Music Temples provide +2 20xCulture5 Culture in cities with 5 followers
Divine Inspiration Each World Wonder provides +2 20xfaith5 Faith in city
Feed the World Shrines and Temples provide +1 20xFood5 Food each in city
Guruship +2 20xProduction5 Production if city has a Specialist
Holy Warriors Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase pre-Industrial land units
Liturgical Drama Amphitheaters provide +1 20xfaith5 Faith in cities with 3 followers
Monasteries Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase Monasteries
Mosques Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase Mosques
Pagodas Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase Pagodas
Peace Gardens Gardens provide +2 20xHappiness5 Happiness in city
Religious Art Hermitage provides +8 20xCulture5 Culture in city
BNW-only Hermitage provides +5 20xCulture5 Culture and +5 20xTourism5 Tourism
Religious Center Temples provide +2 20xHappiness5 Happiness in cities with 5 followers
Religious Community +1% 20xProduction5 Production for each follower (Max +15%)
Swords into Plowshares 15% faster 20xFood5 Growth rate for city if not at war

Enhancer BeliefsEdit

These beliefs provide additional bonuses that may help you in spreading your Religion. You may choose one of these beliefs only when the Religion enhances.

Name Beliefs
Defender of the Faith +20% 20xStrength5 Combat Strength near friendly cities that follow this religion
Holy Order Missionaries and Inquisitors cost 30% less 20xfaith5 Faith
Itinerant Preachers Religion spreads to cities 30% further away
Just War +20% 20xStrength5 Combat Strength near enemy cities that follow this religion
Messiah Prophets 25% stronger and earned with 25% less 20xfaith5 Faith
Missionary Zeal Missionary conversion strength +25%
Religious Texts Religion spreads 34% faster (68% with Printing Press)
BNW-only Religion spreads 25% faster (50% with Printing Press)
Religious Unity Religion spreads to friendly City-States at double rate
Reliquary Gain 50 20xfaith5 Faith each time a Great Person is expended

Reformation BeliefsEdit

Introduced in Brave New World, these beliefs provide powerful, game-changing bonuses. You can choose one of these beliefs after adopting the Reformation policy in the Piety tree.

Name Beliefs
Charitable Missions Influence boosts from 20xGold5 Gold gifts to City-States are increased by 30%
Evangelism Missionaries' Spread Religion action erodes existing pressure from other religions
Heathen Conversion Missionaries convert adjacent Barbarian units to this civilization
Jesuit Education May build Universities, Public Schools, and Research Labs with 20xfaith5 Faith
Religious Fervor Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase Industrial (and later) land units
Sacred Sites All buildings purchased with 20xfaith5 Faith provide 2 20xTourism5 Tourism each
To the Glory of God Use 20xfaith5 Faith to purchase any type of GreatPeople5 Great Person starting in Industrial Era
Underground Sect Your spies exert religious pressure on the cities they occupy
Unity of the Prophets Inquisitors and Prophets reduce this religion's presence by half (instead of eliminating it)

The Reformation Trait "Heathen Conversion" is similar to how Monks, Priests, and Imams work in the Age of Empires series; the Missionaries in these games do not spread Religion, but convert enemy units to your side.

The Reformation Trait "Underground Sect" requires at least one follower in the city or another source of religious pressure in order for it to work. It then exerts a hidden amount of religious pressure equivalent to 5 cities (+30 religious pressure on Standard speed). This exerted pressure is not modified by the "Religious Texts" and "Religious Unity" Enhancer Beliefs or the Arabian unique ability.

StrategyEdit

It is very advisable, although not essential, to make your own religion and spread it as quickly as possible. Religion can serve as a great booster to your chosen victory path, if you tailor it well.

There's a limited number of Religions that can be founded. If you delay too long in the beginning of the game, you will never be able to found a Religion. To prevent this, research Pottery and build a Shrine in your capital. This should be one of the very first buildings you build in your capital, maybe right after the Monument. Also, you may probably want to build the Stonehenge for massive Faith boost. This will allow you to at least found a Pantheon, although that won't do you much good when other religions convert your cities. So, try to build couple of more Shrines in your first cities to ensure that you'll produce enough Faith to get a Great Prophet in time. Once you found a religion, you can take your time to enhance it.

Successful Religion depends on the combination of Beliefs you choose. There are plenty to choose from, and they're calculated well to help any imaginable game strategy. You can make a strong culture-boosting Religion, or you can earn gold through Religion, or you can even improve your military! You can help defend your civilization from invaders, if you're playing defensively, or you can spread your Religion to neighbor enemy cities, and then gain a combat bonus when you go to conquer them! Think VERY carefully before choosing Beliefs and try to combine their effects to suit your playstyle, chosen civilization and victory path. Of course, the earlier you found and enhance your Religion, the more Beliefs you'll be able to choose from. So, if you plan to use a Religion, think about it from the very beginning.

Adopting the Piety social policy tree is mandatory if you decide to rely heavily on Religion. In Brave New World, Piety is available right from the start (Ancient Era), both helping you to create a Religion faster, and to improve its effects, including by choosing a special Reformation Belief.

You can choose whether to purchase a Missionary right after the first Prophet, or to gather more faith for a second one and enhance the Religion. In the first case, you'll jump-start the spreading of your religion, in the second - you'll get a little more choice for Enhancement Beliefs. Also, you could try building the Hagia Sophia for a free Prophet, and spend Faith on Missionaries to spread your religion faster. The Great Mosque of Djenne is also a great idea, because it gives you Missionaries with ability to spread religion three times instead of two! Make sure you train most of, if not all your Missionaries in this city, though.

After the Industrial Era, the price of Missionaries and Inquisitors usually grows too much for them to be of practical use. You should then concentrate on spending your Faith on Great People, including Prophets (whose Faith price grows in the above-mentioned progression, regardless of the Era you're in). Religion spreading at this point should've gained a critical mass, so you don't have to worry too much about it. Alternatively, you could use Trade Routes to further spread your religion.

BNW-only Valid only in the Brave New World expansion pack.

Civilization V

Lists

BuildingsCivsImprovementsPromotionsResourcesSocial PoliciesTechnologiesTerrainUnitsWonders

Eras

AncientClassicalMedievalRenaissanceIndustrialModernFuture† • Atomic‡ • Information

Concepts

City-StateCultureFoodGoldGreat PeopleHappinessProductionReligionScienceTourism

Guides etc.

AchievementsMathematicsModdingMajor Patches

† Only in vanilla Civ5
‡ Only in Gods & Kings and Brave New World

Start a Discussion Discussions about Religion (Civ5)

  • What happens if a Holy city changes hands?

    12 messages
    • What I do now is use them to scout areas otherwise unaccessable (no open borders), and for dirty tricks like converting other player's holy cities.
    • You can identify the religion of any of your religious units with the mouse-over tool tip while it is selected.  This applies to missionar...
  • Converted Barbarians Can't Embark

    2 messages
    • I just got Heathen Conversion for my Celtic Tengriism, and when my Great Prophet got captured out of nowhere by a Barbarian Archer, my nea...
    • Barbarian units don't have the ability to embark, and newly acquired units don't gain that ability (even after you've researched Optics) un...

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