How can I go to war without getting everyone else displeased in Civilization V?

I’ve had this happen a few times, where going to war caused some nations call me “dishonorable” and some others not being affected by my decision to go to war. I can’t find a pattern as sometimes there are nations that were affected despite having shown favor to me or even if we shared the common enemy. Is there a pattern here to keep every other civ friendly when I go to war?


Good question. I’ve been playing on Prince level and I would like to suggest some principles that may help you to go to war without getting everyone else displeased. As you know, going to war can be very beneficial but also: Hostile/Guarded Civilizations are next to impossible to trade with.

You may be able to go to war without diplomatic penalty by signing a Defensive Pact with a friend, and then paying the leader that you want to go to war with, to Declare War on your friend. However the very act of Declaring Friendship nearly always results in getting just about everyone else displeased, precisely what we are trying to avoid.

You can Declare War freely if you pay everyone else to declare war on him/her first.

Declaring war, on an map filled with islands, at the beginning of the game as soon as make first contact with other Civilizations is OK. Nobody will accuse you of warmongering, like they do later.

However, the big problem is this: you go to war, you demolish them, you don’t commit genocide (because that will get you accused of warmongering by everybody). Instead you leave them a little runt of a village on some lonely tundra. You even sign a peace treaty whereby they give you a couple thousand gold and Furs. Everything seems fine. Is everything fine? No! First they will Denounce you. Then they will go around making Declarations of Friendship with as many other Civs as they can. Then the other Civs will start Denouncing you. In the end most other Civs are Hostile/Guarded.

To get around this, I’ve been trying to sow the seeds of discord, e.g. I declared war on America and Suleiman as soon as I met them at the beginning of the game. It took ages for me to beat Suleiman and in that time America had made Friends with India, Arabia and Siam. So I paid India, Arabia and Siam to Declare war on America. They only stayed at war for a relatively short time, but I it seemed to sour relationships enough, to stop America poisoning everyone against me.

You can also steal Workers from your enemy and march them over to Barbarian camps whereby they will be captured. Then when your enemy begs for peace, and you accept, immediately sack the Barbarian camp, and return the worker. This will create the green “You freed their captured citizens!” pacifier which often is enough to prevent them Denouncing you.

It is also worth noting that your enemy can only Denounce you (and thereby turn everyone against you) once you have made peace with them.

(I also played one game where I sacked a City-State and Siam Denounced me as a warmonger, but then reloaded the auto-save and sacked the City State again + also paid Siam a stack of gold. And then they didn’t Denounce me.)

So not only is it possible to declare war on Civs without diplomatic problems you can also commit genocide with impunity, through the Wonderful Use of Genocidal Proxies!
e.g. after capturing all but 1 city from your enemy, pay a nearby Civ to declare war on your enemy, (perhaps also gift them 1 or 2 Longswordsmen), then hammer the last city of your enemy yourself with your navy until their green city defence bar is at zero. Then wait…eventually……
the last city will be captured, (and everyone will dislike/denounce your mercenary Civilization for doing the dirty deed).

In general, paying other Civs to Declare War, will sometimes convert Neutral Civs to Friendly status (in fact it seems it may also sometimes make your enemy Friendly after he/she sues for peace)

My 10 point plan for keeping everyone Friendly is as follows:

  1. Never Declare War, (instead annoy your enemy until he/she Declares War)
  2. Refuse Peace, (until you have had your way with them – because it will be hard to go back to War)
  3. Don’t Commit Genocide, (don’t kill their last city or murder City States)
  4. Never Declare Friendship (their enemies won’t like it + your “friend” will demand gifts + usually if you refuse then he/she will Denounce you)
  5. Never Denounce leaders (even if you want to go to War, his/her friends won’t like your Denunciation)
  6. Respect others space (don’t build cities near them or buy/steal land from anyone unless you are trying to annoy them into Declaring War. Culture bombing civs is not ok, culture bombing City States is OK, even if they are allied with a Civ)
  7. Be a little wary of peace treaties that give you 20 new puppet cities as it may occasionally bring a Denounciation through the “They believe we are building new cities too aggressively!” trigger.

NB this plan doesn’t work all the time – it does help but the game is geared towards war, like walking on egg shells. However since following this plan + paying other civilization to Declare War on my enemies, I have had all 11 other Civilizations on Friendly status (currently I have all Civs Friendly with 2 completely destroyed by proxies and the other 1 Guarded on a little one hex island, but not Denouncing me).

Generally, it rather helps to understand the reasons behind the disposition of each Civilization:
If you click the Diplomacy button at the top-right of the screen, it will show a list of any other Civilizations that you have met. By each of these is their current disposition towards you: Neutral, Friendly, Hostile, Guarded and Afraid (btw the last of these is rare, only appearing if you get the white “They fear your might” trigger).

By hovering the mouse over the disposition of each civilization, you should get some reasons for their current disposition, (the following lists are probably incomplete):

Pacifiers/reasons for friendship (green):

  • “You freed their captured citizens!”
  • “We have made a public Declaration of Friendship!”
  • “We have Denounced the same leaders!”
  • “They desire friendly relations with our empire.”
  • “We have made Declarations of Friendship with the same leaders!”

Triggers/reasons for hostility (red):

  • “They asked you to stop attacking a City-State friendly to them, and you ignored them!”
  • “They asked you to stop buying land near them, and you ignored them!”
  • “They believe you are a warmongering menace to the world!”
  • “They believe we are building new cities too aggressively!”
  • “They believe you are trying to win the game in a similar manner to them, and they don’t like it!”
  • “They covert lands that you currently own!”
  • “They have denounced us!”
  • “They suspect we might be a threat to them.”
  • “We have denounced them!”
  • “We made a Declarations of Friendship and then declared war on them!” (sic)
  • “We made a Declarations of Friendship and then denounced them!” (sic)
  • “You are at war!”
  • “You are competing for the favor of the same City-State!”
  • “You built wonders that they coverted!”
  • “You demanded that they not settle near your lands!”
  • “You have attacked City-States under their protection!”
  • “You have Denounced a leader they made a Declaration of Friendship with!”
  • “You have declared war on leaders you’ve made Declarations of Friendship with!”
  • “You have Denounced leaders you’ve made Declarations of Friendship with!”
  • “You have gone to war in the past!”
  • “You have made a Declaration of Friendship with one of their enemies!”
  • “You made a promise to join in a cooperative war against another empire, and then broke it!”
  • “You made a promise to move your troops from their borders, and then broke it!”
  • “You made a promise to stop expanding near them, and then broke it!”
  • “You made a trade demand of them!”
  • “You refused a request made by this player after making a Declaration of Friendship!”
  • “You refused to move your troops away from their borders when they asked!”
  • “You stole their territory with a Great Artist!”
  • “Your friends found reason to Denounce you!”

So it seems like there’s 5 times as many ways to provoke hostilites with a leader as there are ways to make friends with him or her. Gifts usually don’t seem to count for much. However, (as i said before), if you publicly Declare your Friendship, then the Civilization that you are “Friends” with, will demand the odd gift, and if you don’t agree then they will probably Denounce you, leading to “Your friends found reason to Denounce you” affecting all Civilizations. To be honest, I am beginning to wonder: Are Declarations of Friendship worth it?

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