I'm in a game where Catherine's empire has grown to enormous proportions and started to attack city-states. When she attacked Dublin, which I was befriended with and which I depended on for food at the time, Dublin "requested my assistance." This was a good opportunity to declare war, which I was already preparing for. So I wiped out Catherine's units in and around Dublin. I have not received any thanks for it though, on the contrary, I was accused of trespassing in Dublin and the friendship ended rather soon.

I also remember supporting a city-state with unit gifts in a different game, which had zero effect as well.

What should I do to aid city-states in a war against other civilizations? Do I have to wipe out the entire opposing empire before my help is acknowledged?

4 Answers 4


I accomplished this once. Some things I remember:

  • I had to weaken/kill off some particular number of units, 5 maybe?
  • I think I had to do that fairly close to the city state.
  • Once I did, they were my allies for a LONG time after. The relations boost was substantial.

You might have missed something else entirely. I know in the case of barbarian missions you must be the one to finally KILL the units, weakening them in any amount is simply ignored. Maybe that applies here?

On another note, gifting units provides only a minor boost in relations, nothing compared to fulfilling any request or any gift of gold. You should not bother unless you really don't want the unit you are gifting. (I let military city-states spawn units for me always, and simply give them right back if I don't need them.)

  • So, if there are four strong enemy units ganging up on a city-state and it looks like they'll take it, it's not really worth it for me to intervene and I should wait for a fifth? That seems kinda broken… :-/ Thanks for the answer though. :)
    – deceze
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 0:18
  • @deceze I think that really depends on whether you want the city-state to survive, and whether you're ready to be at war or not. I faced the same problem, but: I was ready to go to war, and I wanted the city-state to live, so I killed the ones that were there, and the enemy civ sent along more units soon after, "helping" me finish the request. Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 0:24
  • @deceze At worst, you've saved the city-state but not completed the request. If the city-state were conquered you wouldn't have completed the request either, but at least with the city-state still around, you have the chance of allying some other way in the future. Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 0:27
  • Sure, I agree that if I like having the city-state around, it's surely worth it to save them. I meant concerning the quest. :) I still think that defeating four strong units for a city-state should be rewarded somehow, not punished with "trespassing." :-(
    – deceze
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 0:37
  • 1
    @deceze @willful - the other option if you want the City State to live and you're prepared for war is to let them be captured, then liberate them. Not only will they be your ally, but you also get their vote for the UN if your game happens to go down that route.
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 12:11

If you want the City State to live, and you're prepared for war, you could let them be captured, and then charge in and liberate them.

Not only will they then be your ally, but you also get their vote for the UN - in case your game happens to go down that route.

Of course this is a bit risky, you have to be ready to take out the enemies units, capture the city back from then and then you have to defend the City State from any counter attack (because it allies with you, it will then be at war if the enemy).

And this assumes the enemy will capture the City State, if they fail and make peace with the City State then you will have missed your opportunity to gain any influence...

  • One thing I don't like about this is that after you liberate them, they remain in perpetual war against their former occupier; that means they are likely to be conquered again, with you losing the bonuses you gained from liberating them the first time.
    – Oak
    Commented Oct 10, 2010 at 8:43
  • @Oak, are you sure they get stuck in war forever? They'll declare war on the enemy straight away because they're your ally and you're at war, but when you make could also make peace; I think it normally forms part of the negotiations with the enemy, doesn't it? This isn't a tactic I really use often, but jumped to mind as another possibility in this scenario, but I've liberated cities before and was fairly sure I didn't have to defend them for the rest of time...
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 10, 2010 at 9:08
  • When you try to force the civilization into making peace with that specific city-state, the option is grayed out and if you hover over it it says something like "this city state is in a permanent war with this civilization".
    – Oak
    Commented Oct 10, 2010 at 9:13
  • @Oak Potentially the opponent you liberated the city from had perma-war with the city state for another reasons? I'm pretty sure that when I've liberated City States before they've been able to make peace with the Civ that had held them.
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 10, 2010 at 16:55
  • 1
    @Oak - rather than just speculate away, I've asked another question to see if we can get a more accurate answer for the causes of perma-war.
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 10, 2010 at 17:42

Whenever a city-state requests my assistance against a civilization, what I need to do is to kill X combat units of that civilization. It doesn't have to be close to the city-state at all. Damaging enemy units does not have any effect at all - only destroying them.

I have done this many times, and I'm pretty sure that is the requirement. I don't know the reason for discrepancy between what you report and what I just described - maybe you just damaged the units, but Dublin is the one who landed the killing blow.

One important thing - make sure that the city state is actively asking for you to destroy enemy units. Click on them to see what they are asking. Even if they are in a war with some other civilization, they don't always have that "quest" active.

Barbarian units work differently; I think the requirement there is to destroy barbarian units (again, destroy; damaging them does nothing) within the city-state's borders.

  • I can't speak for when they make a request about killing barbarians, but I believe I have gotten influence from killing barbarians as they approach a city-state. I believe this was either when the city-state had no active requests with me, or when they were asking me to kill a barb encampment? This whole question is going to make me do serious research :( Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 15:19
  • They did ask me for help against Catherine specifically, as she was attacking them. I (yes, I) defeated three or four of her units within Dublin's borders. I then proceeded to puppet half of Russia, killing many more units in the process. So something doesn't add up here...
    – deceze
    Commented Oct 10, 2010 at 0:23
  • @deceze indeed! I have to confess that if you are right then I must be wrong. It's just that I played an entire game in the theme of "protect the city-states from civilizations" (I was Alexander)... I'll be sure to pay careful attention next time I take on this quest to verify one way or another.
    – Oak
    Commented Oct 10, 2010 at 8:42

Gifting units to a city-state is a horrible way to garner influence with them, as most units only give about 4 influence. (so 1-2 turns worth of postive malus)

Often when citystates are attacked, they'll offer a quest to destroy units within their territory -- you see this often with barbarians -- where whenever you destroy a unit within their cultural influence, you get a nice lump sum of reputation (though if you aren't at least friendly, you'll still be trespassing after you kill the enemy unit)

Something to consider: When you slaughtered Catherine's units, where were they located -- neutral / catherine's teritory, or that of the city state? In any case but the latter, you may as well have been at war with a fourth party; City-States are obnoxiously oblivious about this. If it didn't happen within their territory, they didn't see it. Period.*

*Applies only to "kill X units of civ Y" quests. They learn just fine when you disperse a barbarian encampment or conquer a rival city-state.

  • I "slaughtered" her units right on the city's doorsteps, but apparently not enough of them. I just happened upon the same situation again, and read the message a little more carefully: It says "if you kill at least 5 enemy units, the city-sate will be very thankful". So, there was the problem.
    – deceze
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 5:39

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