Social Policies

Social Policies

Social policies represent the way you choose to govern your people. Will you be an authoritarian ruler, sacrificing a little freedom for discipline and increased productivity?

Will you organize your civilization to have a strong military, or will you concentrate your efforts on expanding culture and borders? 

Do you want to set up your civ as a monarchy or democracy?

There are 10 different branches to choose from, each headlining a specific
aspect of government.

Social policies have concrete effects for gameplay. Some increase your cities’ production, while others generate more wealth, and still others help create a more effective military.

There are no right or wrong policy choices in the game, and one policy may be better for a given circumstance than other, or better suit your personal playing style. Try them out and see.

Policies are arranged into 10 separate branches, each of which (once adopted) unlock a tree of five different policies. Unlocking these individual policies will give you the benefits described, and can even lead to a Cultural Victory.

Acquiring Social Policies

You can choose to adopt and unlock a social policy once you have gained enough culture points, based upon the difficulty level of your game. For example, on the Settler difficulty level, the first policy unlocks at 15 culture points and on Prince, it unlocks with 25 culture points, with subsequent levels costing a little bit more. 

During play, the cost of each Policy increases with the more you adopt. To see how much culture you currently have and when the next policy becomes available, hover your mouse over the Culture icon on the Status Bar. 

Once you have enough culture, a notification will alert you on your turn. Click on the Social Policies icon in the top right corner (located next to your advisors) to bring up the Social Policies Pane. If you don’t wish to select a Policy that turn, you may right-click the notification to dismiss it. (The game will not remind you again though, so this can be risky.) 

Here you can choose to adopt a new branch or unlock a new policy within an unlocked branch. To view all the available policies (and not just the ones you’ve unlocked), click on the Advanced View toggle at the bottom of the pane.

When you have acquired the requisite amount of culture, click on the “Adopt” button to open up the chosen branch for exploration – you must first spend points to adopt the branch before unlocking any of the individual policies. 

Each branch adoption will give you some benefit immediately, with the individual policies within each providing more bonuses of the same nature.
Some branches (like Autocracy and Freedom) may not be unlocked and active at the same time, and many branches only become available once a later era has been reached.

Social Policy Branches

There are 10 different policy branches to explore, each describing a different mode of government. Each branch provides an immediate bonus when
adopted, and each individual policy provides another like bonus once unlocked.


Tradition is a branch best chosen by small empires, as many of the policies within directly improve the Capital City. Adopting Tradition will immediately
provide a bonus of +2 Food per turn generated in the Capital. Tradition is available at the start of the game.


Liberty is well-suited for civs who wish to rapidly expand their influence over others: the speed of production of all Settlers in the civ is increased by 50%. Liberty is available at the start of the game, and may not be active at the same time as Autocracy.


Choosing the policy of Honor improves the effectiveness of a civ’s armies and militaries.  Upon adoption, this policy will grant all units a 25% combat bonus against Barbarians, and a handy notification will be provided each time a new Barbarian Encampment spawns inside revealed territory. Honor is also available at the start of the game.


Piety increases the Happiness and Culture of the adopting civ, immediately granting a bonus to the civ’s Happiness total by 2 points. Piety becomes available once the Classical Erais reached, and it may not be active at the same time as Rationalism. For players looking to achieve a Cultural Victory, this is a nice place to start, as the branch provides boosts to culture
and even free policies.


Patronage is a useful policy for those wanting to enhance their friendship status with citystates. Upon adoption, Influence with City-States degrades 50% slower than normal. Patronage becomes available upon entering the Medieval Era.


Commerce provides bonuses to naval-minded civs, as well as those focused on producing large quantities of Gold. This branch boost Gold output in the Capital City by 25%. Commerce also unlocks upon entering the Medieval Era.


The branch of Rationalism improves the civ’s ability to use and generate Science, becoming available upon entering the Renaissance Era. Adopting this branch immediately causes the civ to enter a 5-turn Golden Age. Rationalism may not be active at the same time as Piety.


Freedom provides bonuses for Culture and Specialist production. With this branch, specialist populations in cities will produce only half the amount of Unhappiness that they normally would. Freedom becomes available upon entering the Renaissance Era, and cannot be active
at the same time as Autocracy.


Players interested in creating massive, sprawling civs should turn to Order, as the strength of the empire is determined by the total number of cities it contains. Order will increase the production rate of all buildings by 25%, and becomes available for exploration upon entering the Industrial Era.


This branch is well suited for those wishing nothing more than to crush their foes under the weight of their iron-plated boots. It is ideal for players who seek a Domination Victory.  Autocracy reduces the Unit Maintenance fee by 33%, allowing the civ to field an even larger army at the same cost. This policy unlocks upon entering the Industrial Era, and cannot be active
at the same time as Liberty or Freedom.