Religion is a surprisingly important and powerful aspect of the game that will help you keep your families happy, and perhaps a rival AI Nation or two, if you can get them to convert to the religion you found and adopt for yourself.
Guide to Religion
The first thing to be said on the topicis that every religion founded in the game is a blank slate. They all start off providing the same basic bonuses for building religious buildings.
To start with, every religion provides a -1 discontent modifier in every city that has your state religion in it, once you adopt a state religion, and the ability to build Monasteries, Temples and Cathedrals (along with your Holy Site), with appropriate tech. Additionally, each religion a city you control has will gain +2 culture per turn.
Every religion has a Holy Site, which you’ll be able to build in your Holy City, once your culture elevates to Developing or Strong (depending on the religion you found). Your Holy Site provides a hefty +20% bonus to the cultural output of that city, and give you +2 VP’s, which makes it like a minor, Nation-specific wonder.
The key techs where religion is concerned are as follows:
- Metaphysics – allows you to convert others to your religion once you adopt one.
- Monasticism – allows you to build monasteries with your Disciple units (trained in cities that have your religion in them). Also unlocks Monotheism and Polytheism laws.
- Doctrine – allows you to build Templesand run either Tolerance or Orthodoxy.
- Vaulting – allows youto build Cathedrals.
- Martial Code – unlocks the laws Pilgrimage and Holy War.
There are two types of religion in the game. Pagan Religions, which every nation can found, and World Religions.
Pagan religions are available early in the game. They don’t spread on their own, and you don’t get Disciples like you do when you found a World Religion.
You spread them by building Shrines (available at Divination, so very early on), and every Shrine you build grants a +2 relationship bonus with the head of your Pagan religion.
The Pagan Holy City is the first one you build a Shrine in.
Note, however, that you cannot adopt Paganism as your State Religion until Divine Rule, so closer to the mid-game.
World Religions work a bit differently. There are only four of them in the game. These are:
The simplest way to found a religion is to play a Nation that has access to the Clerics family and found their Family Seat.
If you aren’t playing with one of those Nations, however, you can still found a religionof your own. Here’s how:
- You must have at least 12 citizens.
- Judaism must already have been founded, and exist in at least 2 cities, globally.
- And you must have the tech, “Metaphysics.”Christianity has a 15% chance per year of spreading to new cities.
- You must have the tech “Labor Force.”
- And you must have 2 Rancher specialists.
Judaism has a 10% chance per year of spreading to new cities.
- Zoroastrianism must exist in at least 2 cities, globally.
- Christianity must exist, in at least 2 cities, globally.
- You must have the tech “Monasticism.
”Manichaeism has a 15% chance per year of spreading to new cities.
- You must have 2 Acolytes.
Zoroastrianism has a 10% chance per year of spreading to new cities.
Note that sometimes you can get lucky and found areligion via event. It’s not something you can rely on, but when one of your cities moves from Developing to Strong culture, that is one possible cultural event, assuming that there are still unfounded religions in the game.
Religious buildings are surprisingly powerful, and each one you build provides a relationship bonus with the religion in question (monasteries and temples providing a +2 relationship bonus, and cathedrals providing a +4 bonus).
In addition to that, Monasteries provide +2 science (-2 wood upkeep per turn), while Temples provide +3 culture and half an order (-2 stone upkeep per turn), and Cathedrals provide a 40% culture boost to the city they’re built in, add +5 legitimacy, and enables the Bishop specialist.
Note that you are limited to no more than 2 Cathedrals per family.
Once you found a religion, you can train a Disciple unit in cities that have your religion. Doing so allows you to build religious buildings (assuming you have the appropriate tech), spread your religion to new cities (this action consumes the Disciple) or improve your religion.
There are three “layers” to the religious cake. If you have a Disciple, and you’ve adopted the religion as your State Religion, you can spend Civicsto add “Theologies” to your religion. Each Theology has different bonuses and enhances your religion in different ways. Here are the various options available:
Legalism: +5% chance of religious spread per year. Each city’s maintenance costs decrease by -10%. Monasteries provide +2 Civics per turn.
Mythology: +5% chance of religious spread each year. Shrines in each city gain +2 culture. Monasteries gain +4culture per turn.
Veneration: +5% chance of religious spread each year. -5% chance of rebels in each city. Monasteries give +20 gold.
Dualism: Each city that has this religion gets +1 science per year, and temples reduce unhappiness by -1.
Gnosticism: +5% religious spread chance per year. Each city with this religion gains +2 Civics from Archives, and each Temple provides +4 additional culture when you train an Elder Priest in it.
Revelation: +25% spread chance per year, and gives you + 0.5 orders for each temple you build.
Enlightenment: +5% chance of religious spread eachyear. -1 discontentfrom Elder Monks. Cathedrals grant +1 growth per citizen.
Redemption: +5% chance of religious spread each year. All cities see their mines, quarries and lumber mills increase output by 20%. Output from Cathedrals, Harbors and Hamletsincrease by 20%.
Ultimately, Religion is used for two things: Keeping your Vassal Families happy and controlling Discontent. You can structure your religion in such a way (see the Theologies, above) that it gives you extra culture for Pagan Shrines, which makes it work well; with the Polytheism and Divine Rule laws — Polytheism lets you build all 4 of your Pagan Shrines in every city you own, and Divine Rule gives you -1 Discontent per Shrine, per city, while Mythology adds +2 culture to each Shrine you build, so if you plan the matter carefully, you can create tremendous synergy between your Pagan religion and your official State Religion.
Plus, let’s say for a moment that you founded Zoroastrianism and all three of your families have adopted it. In that case, whatever your relationship with the head of Zoroastrianism is, all of your families get that number asan bonus (or penalty, if the head of the religion doesn’t like you) to their family relationship score.
So if you are at +100 with the head of your religion, then you get a +100 bonus to your relationship with each family that has adopted that religion.
If you use an “Influence” mission to improve your relationship with the head of the religion by +40, then each family relationship score will also increase by +40 (again, assuming they’ve adopted that religion), which is tremendously efficient.
In addition to that, while it’s true that every city with “your” religion in it gets a-1 Discontent bonus, there’s more you can do with that. If your religionis happy with you, each city with your religion in it gets an additional -1 Discontent bonus. If it’s “pleased” that increases by another -1, and if you run the “Tolerance” law, you get a net -1 Discontent for every other religion in that city. All of that naturally stacks with all the other “-1 to Discontent” bonuses you can collect, and the cumulative impact can be huge.
Final Note on Religions
Inevitably, you are going to reach a point where you’ve got idle Disciples laying around on the map. If you park a Disciple of a given religion on a building that matches his faith, you can pick up some extra resources as follows:
- Idle Disciple on a Monastery = 1 extra beaker of science per year.
- Idle Disciple on a Temple = -1discontent per year.
- Idle Disciple on a Cathedral = +1 order per year.
Don’t be shy about building Shrinesand adopting a World Religion. With the law “Tolerance,” and a commitment to building Shrines and taking event options that keep both your Pagan and World religious leaders happy, you should be able to reap the benefits of both with minimal difficulty.
Whichever religious path you take, know that it will take time and effort to make religion really work for you, but it is well worth the effort.
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