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The “Happiness Cap”

February 16, 2010 Leave a comment

General thoughts

City happiness is an important factor of civ – whatever the settings are, you´ll always have to deal with keeping your cities happy. In teamer games that are restricted to one era, you will either run Hereditary Rule, basically giving you unlimited happiness at least till you move out for an attack or additionally use the culture slider. This text is not about how to most effectively avoid (too much) unhappiness especially when slaving, but about the concept of the happiness cap (aka “happy cap”).

The happy cap defines the maximum population your cities can reach before becoming unhappy.

Of course you can define a happy cap when running Hereditary Rule and/or using the culture slider – the interesting part though is the happy cap without those two. In teamer games you don´t necessarily want to grow your cities to bigger sizes and additionally running 10% or 20% culture doesn´t hurt you as much as in a long solo game like Ironman or ffa, where you will want Representation or Universal Suffrage eventually and where sacrificing research in order to increase the culture slider for happiness is not an option if you´re planning on doing well in the game.

The concept of the happy cap is most important in Ironman/ffa. There you basically have three phases:

  1. before Monarchy for Hereditary Rule
  2. from Monarchy on
  3. when switching from Hereditary Rule to Universal Suffrage (or Representation)

When planning how to plant your land, you need to be aware of how big you will be able to let your cities be when switching away from Hereditary Rule – this is where knowing the happy cap of your empire is key. It´s very difficult to win an Ironman or ffa with 5-7 opponents when not being able to leave Hereditary Rule. The lack of Universal Suffrage or Representation and the additional upkeep and production of police units hurts too much.

Let´s get into defining the happy cap and analyzing possible strategies resulting from it. Remember, a city with one unit in it has as a basis a happy cap of 5, a capital 6. That´s 4 (5 in cap) without the unit and one more with it – the unit having nothing to do with Hereditary Rule. A happy cap of 5 means the city can support population 5 without any citizens becoming unhappy (negative effects on happiness like Slavery taken aside).
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