I recently finished a game as ARC, who get a 25% boos to covert ops speed and intrigue increase. I deliberately researched directly to Computing, and subsequently produced the Spy Agency because of the bonus. My intent was to covert-ops my way to victory.

What I discovered is that the AIs (at least in this particular game) are exceedingly good at keeping the intrigue level relatively low in all of their cities. In my 320+ turn game, the highest-level covert operation I was able to perform was Recruit Defectors, at intrigue level 3. I never had the chance to Hack Satellites, much less a Coup D'etat. (Note: I never tried to start a new mission with a counter-agent in the city. If I noticed the AI had a defensive spy, I left that city and started elsewhere.)

That said, I know it is certainly possible to get the intrigue that high. I am watching Marbozir play on YouTube, and he was able to Coup a capital. He assigns the spy [1] when the city is at maximum intrigue, and successfully captures it [2] when the mission is completed 18 turns later.

How did he manage to get the intrigue that high in the AI capital? Any tips for boosting intrigue?

[1] Spy assignment

[2] City capture

2 Answers 2


Before you understand the best ways to increase intrigue, you have to understand how intrigue works.

To gain intrigue, you must to preform a covert operation on the city specified to boost it. The harder and riskier the quest, the more intrigue you can earn (for that city).

A city has a minimum intrigue level of 0 and a maximum of 5. The higher level of intrigue the city has, the more difficult missions will be unlocked.

You have 10 possible missions:

1. Establish Network: Very Easy. Gathers various pieces of information about the target city and player, and displays the information in a window adjacent to the city while in covert operations view. The amount and detail of the information increases with the performing agent’s level.

2. Siphon Energy: Easy difficulty. Diverts energy resources from the target city to the player.

3. Steal Science: Easy difficulty. Diverts science resources from the target city to the player.

4. Steal Technology: Moderate difficulty. Steals a technology from the target player. This doesn’t necessarily match a tech that the target player has. One is automatically selected that is an appropriate reward.

5. Hack Satellites: Moderate difficulty. Deorbits a random satellite.

6. Call Worm Strike: Hard difficulty. Draws hostile aliens to the target city. This operation is allowed only by the Harmony Affinity level.

7. Dirty Bomb: Hard difficulty. Decreases the target city’s population substantially. This operation is allowed only by Purity Affinity level.

8. Sabotage: Hard difficulty. Pillages nearby improvements. This operation is allowed only by Supremacy Affinity level.

9. Recruit Defectors: Moderate difficulty. Gives the player a set of random military units at their capital.

10. Coup D’etat: Moderate difficulty. Transfers control of the target city to the performing player.

And now for the tips on boosting a city's intrigue:

Agent Rank. These two words will change how you play covert ops in the game.

So you have your agents, gaining a cities intrique from doing these missons to boost the intrigue of the enemy city, but your agent's are getting a special reputation while doing it. They are boosting their rank, which gives them more of a chance to succeed in the later missons. This is a key advantage, you can basically grind low level missons on city's all over to boost your Agent's rank and it will greatly help your chance of succeeding in a mission.

The higher your Agent's rank, the more likely his covert ops misson will be successful.

Be aware that even with the lower ranked missons, your agent will always have a chance of being killed during the misson. Try playing strategically, and you will be able to do a Coup D'etat in no time.

Source 1

  • Am I reading correctly that causing affinity-specific SNAFU to a city is harder than to just take it over with a Coup D'etat?
    – Philipp
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 13:16
  • In a different game than what I mentioned in my question, I was able to coup an opponent's capital. I think the ability to do so is dependent upon other offensive AI spies being in the same city. This increases the intrigue level multiple times while your own operative is at work, allowing a more advanced operation the next time around. Personally, that's a little too random for my taste, but I suppose it would be pretty OP to be able to coup a sponsor out of the game entirely. Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 6:49
  • The opponents Health also affects intrigue greatly when it is very low.
    – Ingmar
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 18:11

This is a good question because it is, IMO, massively difficult to obtain the option to perform level 5 covert ops e.g. coup d'état.

If your agent goes to 2 foreign cities and establish networks there and he'll be a "Special Agent" (which is the highest wank possible). But it doesn't seem make a lot of difference! Dirty Beach's comment is true - it is overly dependent on what the other AI civs are doing to your target.

As you know, if you establish a network, you can see if your target has a counter-agent, which probably will make it harder to build up intrigue. If your network reveals that your target is building the Surveillance Web or he/she achieves the Human Hive wonder, it may be impossible to get a coup d'tat.

There is a virtue (in the red military tree) that gives you +40% intrigue from performing covert ops. This will probably help.

Since espionage from other civs is so important, I end up just going for Steal Technology or siphon money and whenever one of my agents is free, I click Reassign and have a look for cities that the AI civs have built up to level 3 or above. When I find one at level 4, I:

  1. send a Special Agent over
  2. establish a network (not sure if that makes any difference - it may slow things down too much, it may make the agent less likely to be killed)
  3. at my Spy Headquarters engage the project called Operations Reconnaissance - this increases the chances of success based on how many agents you have at HQ.
  4. pull all my other agents back to the HQ in order to increase the probability of success
  5. Try and Hack Satellites. Although pointless per se, a successful and undetected hack will probably lead to the level 5 options appearing. (You'll also get a little reward and the Culpar Lodge wonder - which isn't that great - it just saves a little time because all your agents are automatically Special Agents.)

I've never tried giving them worms because why attack the city when it's easier to have the city?

IMO, the espionage system isn't entirely bug-free because I'm still detecting covert ops against me in my capital even though I've got the All-Seer sat flying blatantly over the city (which is supposed to give you immunity).

BTW, I'm currently removing my agents whenever it says they have been detected, and sending them to other cities, as it seems to decrease the chances of them getting themselves killed. The idiots.

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