Two things are required to bully a city state: high military power relative to the other main civs, and nearby military power. This begs two questions:

How high do you need to be in military power? top 50 percent of civs? within 25 percent of leading civ? I assume its based on the soldiers demographic.

How close does a unit have to be in order to influence a civ toward giving tribute?

  • You have failed me, arqade. I am disappoint. – Lawton Jul 6 '12 at 17:36
  • I plan on working this out as soon as I have time. Things are a bit hectic right now. Don't give up hope just yet! – Niro Jul 6 '12 at 19:03
  • Good luck. One event makes me believe you have to be in the top 50 percent of soldier demographics, but confirmation + distance of units still needed. – Lawton Jul 6 '12 at 20:56
  • Unfortunately, an authoritative answer is not possible except through maybe tons of trial and error or waiting on 2K Games to deliver better API documentation. The method that governs this, Player:CanMajorBullyGold, is not implemented in LUA (so no public source code) and is not documented by 2K Games. – user3389 Jul 18 '12 at 19:06
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    With the new expansion the various influence factors are visible on the city-state diplomatic screen, so this is pretty much answered in game – Lawton Jul 12 '13 at 15:13

The diplomatic effects of military influence work very much the same way on city-states as they do with other civilizations. You don't necessarily need to be in any "top percentage" in order to bully a city-state, they simply have to feel threatened by you. Just as opposing civs will feel threatened by a warmongering player, city-states will likely give in to your demands easier when they know you have a large army AND you don't hesitate to use it.

Also like other civs, city-states will notice if you start building up units close to their borders. I couldn't tell you an exact distance, but I would assume that as long as they have visibility enough to see the tiles where your units are, it'll increase the likelihood of them giving into your demands.

There really is no understanding the AI in Civilization, this is just what I have picked up throughout my countless lost hours of playing. Hope it helps =)


All throughout my Civ 5 game (as Japan) I've led the boards in everything except approval rating from other nations. I have bullied very few city-states, but even when leading in Military strength by tens-of-thousands of points does not recognize my ability to bully a city-state. I assume you must be close to them to do so (as I had troops literally surrounding one at the time when I demanded tribute) and have a fair amount of troops. I'm sorry if this doesn't help, but I'm just going off of my experiences.

EDIT: I am only on Chieftan difficulty, so I would be safe and assume difficulty has a factor on the resistance to tribute-demanding to city-states. Best of luck!


I was also wondering about this. In one of my late games, I moved a giant robot at the border with a city state and I was able to bully it. So I would assume the most important aspect is the power of your forces at the border with that city state related to the city state army, rather than your total power.

  • Both are required. I have had my entire army adjacent to a city but if the army is relatively small it still doesn't work. – Lawton Jul 21 '12 at 15:20
  • Note that Military city-states are resistant to bullying. I've had my entire (admittedly puny, but still much bigger than the city-state's army) army next to a Military city-state, and it wouldn't give me its lunch money. – PotatoEngineer Aug 22 '12 at 0:14

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