Espionage: Diplomats, CS Coups, and Stealing Technology

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The Espionage Overview Screen allows you to manage your Spies

Spies were introduced to Civilization V in the Gods and Kings Expansion but are also included if you only own Brave New World. This feature allows us to start using Spies once any Civ reaches the Renaissance Era. The best way to use Spies depends on your gameplay goals and current situation. If you"re behind in Research, you can position a couple of Spies in enemy Capitals and other Cities to Steal Technology. While it will be of little use if you are the tech leader, in high difficulty games it can help you catch up in the Tech race to eventually pass the AI. You may also put them in your own Capital to defend against others stealing your own Tech, and potentially kill enemy Spies. Spies may also be positioned in Capitals to function as a Diplomat. Using Spies as Diplomats, along with staging Coups in City-States are directly helpful toward a Diplomatic Victory. This Guide will teach the mechanics of all these uses of the Spy and help you learn to use this tool effectively in pursuing victory.

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Recruiting Spies & Killed in ActionThe first Spy is gained when any Civ reaches the Renaissance Era. Each player in the game then gets an additional Spy when their Civ moves up an era, allowing for a maximum of five Spies, six with National Intelligence Agency. England starts with +1 Spy, so can have a total of seven Spies. Providing a Spy when a Civ enters the Renaissance Era gives all Civs equal footing, then allows individual Civs to increase their usage of Espionage as they advance in Tech. This means if you go two Eras ahead of another Civ, you will have two more Spies than they do. That is handy when you"re the leader, as your Cities are the best targets for other Civs to Steal Tech.

Spies that are Killed in Action will be lost, but a new Spy will be recruited to replace them within 3-5 Turns. The main risk is losing a high-rank Spy that could be stealing Tech for you. When you successfully Steal Technology from a Civ and level up your Spy, it"s often wise to move on if they"ve noticed you stealing the Tech. There are Diplomatic Penalties to continue doing so, along with the fact that the Civ is more likely to send their own Spy to their Capital to attempt to Kill your Spy.

Spy Actions: Espionage OverviewFrom the Espionage Overview screen, you may direct your Spies. They may be moved at any time. A Spy sent to a new location will first need to travel there (1 turn), then Establish Surveillance (1-3 Turns) or Make Introductions if a Diplomat (5 Turns). From there, they will proceed to either Gather Intelligence (if stealing Tech), Rig Elections (with a CS), or Schmooze (if a Diplomat). Any of these options will grant you sight around the target City once the Spy is set up. This may provide you valuable information. You are also able to view City Screens of other Civs (not CS) when you have a Spy in place. This can show you what that City is building, its outputs, and how they are allocating their Specialists.

Spy Levels and the National Intelligence Agency WonderSpies may level up, which makes them better at everything they do, but only level when they either Steal Tech from another Civ or Kill an enemy Spy. Coups and Rigged Elections do not count. Successfully completing either of these levels them each time they finish the job, up to a maximum of two additional ranks. Spies are named Recruit, Agent, and Special Agent. Building the National Intelligence Agency will level all existing and future Spies by one level and give one additional Spy slot. This National Wonder requires Radio Tech and a Police Station in all Cities. Police Stations require Constabulary to be constructed.

Tourism Influence & SpyingWhile having a low level of Tourism Influence (Familiar/Exotic) does nothing, achieving Popular status with a Civ will allow your Spies to act as though they are 1 Rank higher when attempting Coups in City-State Allies of that Civ. At Influential, your Spies Establish Surveillance in just 1 Turn and act at 1 Level higher when Stealing Tech from that Civ. At Dominant, the same bonuses apply only at 2 levels higher.

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Share Intrigue appears on the Civ Discuss Screen after a SpyLearns of another Civ"s Military intentions.

Sharing Intrigue and IntelligenceFrom time to time when working in another Civilization, your Spy may pick up valuable information about another Civ"s plans. If they intend to harm another, you can warn the other Civ through the Discuss menu when talking to the target Civ. You may only Share Intrigue when you get a notification with a specific Civ"s name, and only with that Civ. This will give you a valuable Diplomacy Boost with that Civ, which will gradually degrade over the next 30 turns but may lead to better things like Declarations of Friendship if you also trade with them. You will also gather valuable intelligence, such as if a Civ is building a Wonder, and if they are amassing Military Units for a sneak attack on another Civ. The higher the level of the Spy, the more likely they are to provide specific information about the target.

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Stealing Technology with a Spy

Stealing TechnologyThe primary use of Spies is to Steal Technology from other Civs. A Spy placed in any secondary City will automatically attempt to steal tech, but when you choose the Capital you must select "Spy" to be able to do this. When looking at the Espionage Overview Screen, you can see the Potential meter - a 0-5 Star rating displaying how easy it will be to Steal Tech there. Sometimes this is unknown. If you want a good target, look to the Demographics Screen and see who the Tech leader is. Buildings such as the Constabulary, Police Station, or Wonders like the Great Firewall will affect the Potential meter. Cities with a low Population tend to have a low potential - the lower the Potential is, the longer it will take to Steal Technologies. Potential is based on the other City"s Scientific Output relative to the Techs available to Research. A City with high population will present an easy target if you are behind in Tech, so long as another Spy is not working counterintelligence there. When no techs are available to steal, it will tell you that you"ve "Totally Eclipsed them in Research". Move on to another Civ if that occurs.

Spy Steal Rate is directly related to the amount of Scientific Output a City has, related to the costs of Tech that Civ has available to research. Thus, big Cities of Civs with a high Science output will be the best targets. This is why the turns to steal a tech vary so wildly. If you see 40+ Turns to Steal, you are likely targeting a small City in a wide Civ whose Science is evenly distributed around its Cities. Small Cities of Wide Empires make the worst targets, even if that Civ is technologicaly superior. Move on to another City with a higher Population and greater Scientific Potential, else move to another Civ entirely. As a user on reddit.com/r/Civ pointed out to me, we can use this both offensively and defensively. When you have only cheap techs to research that can be completed quickly, your Cities will be very high potential targets because you"re able to research those techs in just a few turns. Bring your Spies home to help with Counterintelligence in your biggest City. When another Civ has just moved up in Era, they"ve likely knocked out their most expensive tech and have some lower-cost ones available to research. You can use that as the opportunity to move on them and hopefully catch them with some low-cost tech, which can be stolen at times in just a few turns.

Just to present an in-game example, you are in the Atomic Era, thus Tech costs are high. You have nuked a City. That City will now have awful Population and Scientific output. Even if that Civ were ahead of you, the Spy would have a hard time stealing Tech. You may see something like 200 Turns to Gather Intelligence. Another example is if you"ve ignored a lot of the bottom half of the Tech tree, containing lots of Military Tech. This happens in a lot of games when you beeline for Research Labs or something like that. Almost any AI Civ would be easier to steal from, as they will likely know relatively low-cost Techs that you have not Researched. That would make it a great target to get Techs like Dynamite and Fertilizer. You will find the rate much faster in that case, more like 10-15 Turns, or even better if your Spy is high Rank. For "average" Tech Steals, they will take about 15 Turns. Sometimes a bit longer.

As Spies Steal Tech, they"ll go up in level, which can counter anti-Spy Buildings or simply speed up the rate they steal. The first level they gain makes the speed they steal Tech 25% faster, up to 50% faster for Rank 2. The Constabulary and Police Station effectively cancel these additional levels out, while The Great Firewall will act like four Police Stations in one. Autocracy"s Industrial Espionage Tenet will give a Spy +100% to Steal rate, which effectively cancels out the Great Firewall or can let him Steal Tech 150% faster than normal when at rank 3.

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A Spy"s Sight Radius. You are also able to view the other Civ"s City Screen.

Spies as DiplomatsSpies may be placed as Diplomats if you have an Embassy in the other Civ"s Capital. This will allow you to Trade for Votes in the World Congress, while giving you the ability to see Intrigue that can be shared, and giving you a view of the other Civ"s City Screen. Know that it takes about 6 Turns for a Diplomat to get set up, so it"s of no use if the Vote is 3 Turns away. Diplomats become an important part of Diplomatic Victory once you have researched Globalization. This makes Spies as Diplomats grant +1 Delegate in the World Congress, which can be used to help achieve a Diplomacy Win.

The Underground Sect Reformation Belief does work, just not as we might expect. If there is not already a Follower in the City, it doesn"t seem to do anything - else the lone Spy"s Pressure was not high enough to convert a Citizen with another dominant Religion around. Use this in tandem with your own Trade Routes and Religious Pressure and you"ll find it"s working as intended, though it will never show you exactly how much Pressure. It will not allow you to convert whole areas, but with strategic placement of trade routes and missionaries, you can convert edge Cities, move spies/routes and gradually move to make your Religion dominant in a Region. This could be truly helpful toward making yours the one and only Religion in the World.

CounterintelligenceTo counter enemy Spies, simply place a Spy in one of your own Cities from the top-right portion of the Espionage Overview Screen. Cities with the highest potential will be targets for enemy Spies. If your Spy catches a Spy on the turn it steals, it will be killed. You may even have the option to forgive the other Civ for spying, which provides a light Diplomacy boost. Your Spy will go up a level, thus other Spies have a reduced chance at stealing Tech in the future. Building Police Stations and Constabularies will only slow the rate of Spying in the Cities that have built them, not make it more likely they are caught. If you are the Tech leader, using your Spies for Counterintelligence can help level them up, allowing you to perform Coups and getting better Intrigue as Diplomats.

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Staging Coups with Spies will give you an instant CS Alliance

Staging Coups with Spies and Rigging Elections in City-StatesSpies get two actions when placed in a City-State, first is Rigging Elections, which happens automatically. Elections are held in City-States every 15 Turns from the beginning of the game. Planting a Spy in a City-State will allow that Spy, based on Level, to attempt to Rig Elections there. When successful, this results in a gain of 20 Influence for you, and a loss of 5 for all other Civs. When no other Civ has Influence with them, there is a greater chance of success. With multiple Spies competing in the same City-State, only one can win. At times, your Spy will fail to rig the election. These "election shenanigans" will result in a loss of influence, but the chance is small even with a Rank 1 Spy. Spy Level does not affect the amount of Influence gained, only the chance of success. Therefore, planting a Spy in a CS is primarily a means of maintaining that Alliance without spending Gold. It is not a means of fully taking over an Alliance. If you have the Patronage opener and shared Religion with the CS, it would gradually result in a gain of Influence, but only over the course of several Elections.

The best use of Spies in CSs is to plant them in a certain type of CS where you"d like to maintain an Alliance. That could be one between you and a Warmonger, to help against attack, or to maintain relations with a particular type of CS that you are Allying with - Religious, Maritime, or Cultural... whatever, depending on your needs.

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Coups can be staged when another Civ has an Alliance with the CS. When this situation presents itself, the Coup button will be clickable on the Espionage Overview Screen once a Spy has established surveillance there. You may hover over the button to see the percentage chance of success. You can instantly steal the Alliance on that very turn if successful. If not, your Spy will be killed. Success rate depends on the difference in Influence between your Civ and the Allied Civ, along with the Spy"s level. This can be handy if a Civ is about to win World Leader, or you"ve got a high level Spy with a good chance of success - 70% or more. You will take their previous level of Influence, while they will lose 20 because of the Coup.

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