I am currently in a six nation game and I am surrounded by three smaller civs some of which are weak and some are quite strong. I would like to conquer the land which one of them holds, but want them to make the first move and declare war. If I declare war my reputation is damaged with the other two and the will also declare war. I don't think I have the strength to defend against all three.

Therefore I wanted to know is there a strategy to get another civ to attack me?

Thanks for your answer

4 Answers 4


The AI tends not to declare war, unless some combination of the following is true:

  • You're close to winning (most of the spaceship built, etc)
  • They have a significant military advantage (there's some locality to this, ie, if you shift your military away from the border with a powerful neighbor, they are more inclined to attack you, even though your overall military might is unchanged)
  • You have poor relations with them (you denied requests for assistance, broke agreements, were aggressive towards city-states, etc)
  • You have something that they want (ie, there's no more land and yours is convenient)

You don't need all of these for a declaration of war, however. You'll also note that being at war (whether you started it or not) is likely to increase the likelihood of more war against you. Your units are moving and concentrating away from your other neighbors, you're taking more land and are closer to victory, etc.

Therefore, there's not a lot of reliable ways to get your weaker neighbors to attack you, which won't also cause your stronger neighbors to also want to attack you.

My advice in this situation would be to find another civ who is not on good terms with one of the weaker civs, and make a deal with them to mutually declare war. Even better, find one that is not geographically close to the civ you wish to conquer, so that there's little to no risk that they'll take any cities you intend to capture. This ties up the "ally" civ, introduces some new political variables into the mix, and gives you a chance to conquer.

Another option is to build enough units that you can defend against the other civilizations' attacks, should they decide to come after you. Usually a couple of siege units and some infantry units per city is enough to repel an invasion from a neighboring civ. Then, just declare war, puff up your chest, and say something imposing and catchphrase-worthy. (ie, "Come at me, monsieur!" or "They can take our swordsmen... but they'll never... take... our CATAPULTS!")

  • 1 catapult > 2 squads of swordmen (for capturing city) Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 0:37
  • In the end, the the thing which one of them tipped over the edge was me getting closer to victory. Unfortunately the others 2 joined in a few turns later. This however gave me a few turns to prepare for their war declaration.
    – Freeze
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 14:06

Some tips for having another civilization declare war on you:

  • Militaristic civilizations don't need much encouraging, especially if their military score is higher than yours (they lack tactics, so you can defeat them with a substantially reduced force). Unfortunately, a strong AI will wait until you declare war with a weaker neighbor, then backstab you.
  • Land disputes are an easy way to escalate tensions with your neighbors, especially if your borders cut off a crucial path or you plant a city on their border, taking resources that they covet. If your borders touch theirs, a Great Artist or Great General can be used to steal land, which will definately escalate tensions towards war.
  • With the Gods and Kings expansion, you can earn a lot of ire by sending religious units into their territory. Espionage can also be used to escalate tensions, and will inform you when a watched civilization is planning a sneak attack.
  • Finally, if you have an ally civilization, you might be able to bribe a war between the two AI civilizations, then come to the assistance of your ally. In some cases, you can come to the defense of city-states that you have pledged to protect. If peace is negotiated and you haven't taken any of their cities, the AI might not even have any negative feelings towards you.

Be careful. Even when your opponent is the one who declares the war, you still get warmonger penalties for capturing his cities! If you completely want to avoid this, you need to get his cities as part of the peace deal, not by actively conquering.

One of the latest patches has added information about the severity of the warmonger penalty to the tooltip when hovering an enemy city. Some targets (e.g. city states) cause a larger penalty than others.


You can make a defensive pact with one weaker civ and put the stronger one to attack it and the leader will autodeclare war to you , but don't use flat gold .

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