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I understand that happiness affects growth? Does it matter to what degree my population is happy? Am I ok as long as I have one happy face, or is there a relative effect?

Also in Civipedia it says:

...a very unhappy population will also affect the fighting qualities of your armies as well.

How and when does it have an effect?

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Upvoted purely for the title. –  harbichidian Aug 3 '12 at 14:13
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1 Answer 1

up vote 36 down vote accepted

Here is a list of all the effects from happiness level that I could find. To answer your specific question, most of the effects care only if your civilization is happy or unhappy, by one :) or :(. (I believe zero :) is fine.) But there are three effects that care about the amount your civilization is happy or unhappy:

  • VERY unhappy occurs when you hit -10 happiness. (Thank you @Oak)
  • Golden Age points accumulate (or deplete) equal to the amount your civilization is happy (or unhappy)
  • Piety->Mandate of Heaven uses your exact excess happyness to calculate how much culture you get.

Full list of effects:

Happy

  • Growth: Cities grow normally.
  • Golden Ages: If you have excess happiness, each turn it accumulates into Golden Age points, and when you have enough, your civilization enters a Golden Age. After the golden age the process starts again, although I believe you need more Golden Age points for each subsequent Golden Age.

Unhappy

  • Growth: Cities grow at 1/4 speed when your population is unhappy.
  • Golden Ages: The amout your civilization is unhappy is subtracted from the Golden Age points.

VERY unhappy

  • Growth: Cities do not grow.
  • Units: Settlers may not be trained.
  • Production: Cities generate -50% production.
  • Unit are less effective in combat. They get -33% combat strength.

VERY VERY unhappy (-20 or lower)

  • Rebels will spawn in your border and attack your city

Social Policies

  • Piety->Mandate of Heaven allows you to add 50% of your excess happiness to your culture each turn.
  • Rationalism->Sovereignty boosts science +15% when your empire is happy.
  • There are numerous social policies that affect the happiness level, but these are the ones that get effect from the happiness level.

Sources:

  • General info: mousing over the happiness listing on the top bar, left side, during various happy states.
  • Golden age info: mousing over the golden age display on the top bar, left side, during various happy states.
  • Combat info: Comparing happy (normal) combat strength to VERY unhappy combat strength, by mousing over an enemy unit. The VERY unhappy combat modifier is clearly listed in the calculations.
  • Production info: mousing over a city's production listing in the top left when VERY unhappy.
  • Social Policy info: The social policy screen, accessible by clicking on the culture listing on the top bar, left side.
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Outstanding answer –  Dan Oct 2 '10 at 18:46
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"Cities grow at 1/4 speed" means borders(culture), population, production, faith, great persons, all of these? –  JohnM Jan 9 '13 at 11:51
    
Just population. The rest is unaffected. –  Paul Marshall May 23 '13 at 21:14
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