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Religion is a new mechanic introduced in the Gods and Kings expansion. It provides some small but useful benefits to your civs, as well as open up many new strategic choices. While having a religion is not required to achieve any victory condition, a well-made religion can certainly help you reach any of them faster. A religion is composed of multiple layers: a pantheon belief, a founder belief, two follower beliefs and one enhancer belief.

There is a limit to how many religions can be founded, which is one more than half of the default number of civilizations on a set map size. For instance, on a Standard sized map you can only have a maximum of 5 religions, even if you increase the number of civilizations in play over the default 8. Each belief can also be chosen only once, so if you want to have the widest range of beliefs you should found and enhance your religion quickly.

Of course, you don't necessary need to found a religion to win. In fact, it might sometimes be more beneficial to simply follow a religion founded by another civilization. Focusing on improving your religion means you must neglect the development of another aspect. For example, the turns spent to build a Shrine for faith-generation could have been used to build culture-generating Monuments. On the other hand, some situations might require you to found your religion and enhance it early, such as when playing the Byzantiums, as their Unique Ability only provide a benefit if they are a founder of a religion. Whether or not you wish to found a religion depends a lot on your current situation.


Faith is a new unit of currency similar to production, science, culture and gold. Faith is required for many aspects of religion, from founding one to spreading and defending it. Faith cannot normally be yielded from tiles, they can only come from certain buildings, wonders (natural or man-made), ancient ruins or city-states. It is needed to found a pantheon, found a religion, enhance a religion and buy religious units and buildings.


Unlike technologies and social policies, your empire doesn't instantly get the benefits of your religion as soon as you found it, only the holy city from which you've founded your religion will obtain said benefits. However, your cities do exert religious pressure on nearby cities, whether your own or your neighbour's. By default, each city exerts 6 pressure in a range of 10 tiles around them. Once the pressure in a nearby city reaches a certain level, you will gain followers of your religion in that city. The Holy City, where you founded your religion, also exerts a certain amount of pressure to its own citizens, to keep your religion as the majority religion of that city.

Pressure is a purely passive way of spreading a religion. For players who wish to spread their religion more actively, they'll need the help of certain religious units, detailed below.

Religious Units[edit]

There are three types of religious units, each dedicated to spreading and defending your religion:

  • Great Prophets: Great Prophets are a type of Great Person and is one of the key steps to founding a religion. Before the Industrial Era, Great Prophets randomly span after certain faith thresholds are reached, starting at 200 faith for your first Great Prophet, but you can freely buy Great Prophets post-Industrial Era using accumulated faith. They can create a Holy Site tile improvement which will make that tile yield 6 faith when worked, found a religion if you can still do so and enhance a religion if you've founded your religion beforehand. They can also spread your religion four times to other cities, as well as pass through the borders of other civilizations without permission. However, they have only 2 mp and are affected by terrain movement penalties.
  • Missionaries: Missionaries are units dedicated to spreading your religion. They have only two conversion spreads compared to the Great Prophet, but are much faster, having 4 mp to the GP's 2. Missionaries must have an Open Borders Agreement to safely move across another civ's borders. If they end a turn in foreign territory without the agreement, they will suffer attrition, which will make them lose conversion strength and outright kill them if it drops to 0. Attrition cannot be reverted, so you must take care not to leave a Missionary inside another civilization's border after a turn ends.
  • Inquisitors: Inquisitors are the opposite of Missionaries, in that they reduce the influence of other religions and protect yours. An Inquisitor within your borders will deter other Great Prophets and Missionaries from trying to convert your citizens. Inquisitors can also purge other religions from one of your cities. Finally, they can also extinguish the Holy City status from a captured enemy Holy City, so that even if the city reconverts to its former religion, it won't have the internal pressure of a Holy City.

Pantheon Beliefs[edit]

A Pantheon is a bit like a pre-religion that you can found simply by accumulating a certain amount of faith. It provides decent boosts to Faith, Gold, Culture, Science, Production or other aspects of your civilization, usually based on the tiles your citizens are working. On Standard pace, 10 faith is required to found the first pantheon, with every pantheon after that costing incrementally increasing amount of faith. Each belief can only be chosen by one pantheon, and you can no longer found a pantheon once a religion is enhanced and there are enough pantheons in the world to be developed into religions.

  • Ancestor Worship: +1 Culture for every Shrine you have built.
  • Dance of the Aurora: +1 Faith from Tundra tiles without a Forest.
  • Desert Folklore: +1 Faith from Desert tiles.
  • Faith Healers: +30 hp healed each turn when adjacent to a friendly city.
  • Fertility Rites: +10% growth.
  • God of Craftsmen: +1 Production in cities with over 3 citizens.
  • God of the Open Sky: +1 Faith from Pastures
  • God of the Sea: +1 Production from Fishing Boats
  • God of War: Gain faith equal to half the combat strength of your enemy when you kill an enemy unit within 4 tiles of your city.
  • Goddess of Festivals: +1 Culture and +1 Faith for each source of Wine and Incense.
  • Goddess of Love: +1 Happiness from cities with more than 6 citizens.
  • Goddess of Protection: +30% increase in city's Ranged Combat Strength.
  • Goddess of the Hunt: +1 Food from Camps.
  • Messenger of the Gods: +2 Science in cities with a Trade Route.
  • Monument to the Gods: +15% Production of Ancient or Classical Era wonders.
  • One With Nature: +4 Faith from Natural Wonders.
  • Oral Tradition: +1 Culture from Plantations.
  • Religious Idols: +1 Culture and +1 Faith for each source of Gold and Silver.
  • Religious Settlements: +15% faster border growth.
  • Sacred Path: +1 Culture from Jungle tiles.
  • Sacred Waters: +1 Happiness from cities on rivers.
  • Stone Circles: +2 Faith from Quarries.

Founder Beliefs[edit]

Founder beliefs are beliefs that only benefits the founder of that religion. Founder beliefs are lost temporarily if the Holy City of a religion is captured, and eliminating the civ that founded the religion means the founder belief will benefit noone for the rest of the game. Founder beliefs typically grant bonuses based on how well the religion has spread, giving the founder a good incentive to do so. Like Pantheons, each founder belief can only be chosen by one religion, so it's a good idea to found yours early if you want to get the best range of choices available.

  • Ceremonial Burial: +1 global Happiness for each city following this religion.
  • Church Property: +2 Gold for every city following this religion.
  • Initiation Rites: +100 Gold from each city that first converts to this religion.
  • Interfaith Dialogue: Gain 10 Science for every follower of another religion when Great Prophets and Missionaries spread your religion to a city with a different majority religion.
  • Papal Primacy: +15 Influence resting point for City-States following this religion.
  • Peace Loving: +1 global Happiness for every 5 citizens following this religion in a foreign city that isn't at war with you.
  • Pilgrimage: +2 Faith for each foreign city following this religion.
  • Tithe: +1 Gold for every 4 followers of this religion.
  • World Church: +1 Culture for every 5 followers of this religion in a foreign city.

Follower Beliefs[edit]

Follower Beliefs are beliefs that benefit any civilization that has a city that has a majority of followers of that religion. Unlike every other belief, your religion can have up to two Follower Beliefs, one when you first found the religion and a second one when you enhance it. Follower Beliefs provide broader benefits, and you should judge which kind of benefits you would like when selecting these beliefs, or when merely choosing a religion for your civ to follow. Like other beliefs, each Follower Beliefs can only be chosen by one religion, so founding and enhancing your religion quickly.

  • Asceticism: Shrines provide +1 Happiness in cities with at least 3 followers.
  • Cathedrals: Lets you buy Cathedrals using Faith, buildings that grant +1 Faith, +3 Culture, +1 Happiness and an Artist Specialist slot.
  • Choral Music: Temples provide +2 Culture in cities with at least 5 followers.
  • Divine Inspiration: Each World Wonder provides +2 Faith in the city that built it.
  • Feed the World: Shrines and Temples provide +1 Food in each city.
  • Guruship: +2 Production if city has a Specialist.
  • Holy Warriors: Lets you buy pre-Industrial land units with Faith.
  • Liturgical Drama: Amphitheaters provide +1 Faith in cities with at least 3 followers.
  • Monasteries: Lets you buy Monasteries using Faith, buildings that grant +2 Faith, +2 Culture and has an increased yield with Wine or Incense resources.
  • Mosques: Lets you buy Mosques using Faith, buildings that grant +3 Faith, +2 Culture and +1 Happiness.
  • Pagodas: Lets you buy Pagodas using Faith, buildings that grant +2 Faith, +2 Culture and +2 Happiness.
  • Peace Gardens: Gardens provide +2 Happiness in cities.
  • Religious Art: Hermitage provides +8 Culture to city.
  • Religious Center: Temples provide +2 Happiness in cities with at least 5 followers.
  • Religious Community: +1% Production for each follower, up to a maximum of 15%.
  • Swords into Plowshares: 15% faster growth rate when city is not at war.

Enhancer Beliefs[edit]

Enhancer Beliefs mostly provide benefits to the religion itself, such as helping it spread more effectively. Enhancer Beliefs can only be obtained after enhancing your religion. Like other beliefs, each Enhancer Belief can only be chosen by one religion, so getting that second Great Prophet early is vital to ensure you have the best range of beliefs to choose from.

  • Defender of the Faith: +20% Combat Strength when fighting near friendly cities that follow this religion.
  • Holy Order: Missionaries and Inquisitors cost 30% less Faith.
  • Itinerant Preachers: Religious pressure extended from 10 tiles to 13 tiles.
  • Just War: +20% Combat Strength when near enemy cities following this religion.
  • Messiah: Great Prophets have 25% stronger conversion strengh and cost 25% less Faith.
  • Missionary Zeal: Missionary conversion strength increased by 25%.
  • Religious Texts: Religious pressure increased by 34%, up to 68% after having researched Printing Press.
  • Religious Unity: Religion spreads to city-states at double the normal rate.
  • Reliquary: Gain 50 Faith each time a Great Person is expended.