Certain social policy branches conflict and cannot be taken together (eg, Piety and Rationalism). I usually plan ahead to make sure I don't end up wanting conflicting branches, but the other day I did (almost!) activate one to see what happened.

I was given a warning that doing this would cause anarchy for some turns, at which point I stepped back because I was in the middle of a live game.

So, what happens if you activate a social policy for a branch that conflicts with one that you already have active?

Presumably you lose the policies from the conflicted branch, but is this forever?
Or are they hidden in case you switch back later?
Or maybe you get the policies "refunded" and get to transfer them elsewhere?

4 Answers 4

  • You get some turns of anarchy, which means your science, commerce and culture stagnates and you get a big penalty for production,
  • You lose the policies in the branch you abandoned (no refunds).

Actually I think in some cases it still might be not such a bad idea to do that. Especially if you didn't invest too much in that policy and you are not going for cultural victory anyway. Some early game policies matter much less in the late game. For example you can use a bit of Liberty for early expansion and then abandon it for Autocracy.


The effects of switching policies, in pictures.
In this case I already switched from Piety to Rationalism. I lost all Piety benefits, but the Piety branch and all already unlocked policies are still available. It's possible to switch back to these deactivated policies for the cost of 1 or more turns of anarchy and losing the benefits of the conflicting Rationalism branch. This is possible at any time, you do not need to accumulate Culture to do so.

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The tooltip reads "Inactive because there are other branches active which block its effects. Click here to switch."

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Switching will cost, in this case, 1 turn of anarchy, during which no Production, Science or Gold is produced. I'll also lose the benefits of Rationalism.

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After the switch is complete, all my previously unlocked Piety policies have been restored. Rationalism has become inactive instead.

  • +1 very nice backup to your previous comments, thanks for this.
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 16:51

What I've read from other players is that the conflicting policy tree will be deactivated, but the policies you've unlocked in it will be preserved. You can switch back to it at any time at the cost of anarchy. So the original policies are not lost forever.

  • Hmm, the contradicts Adj's answer above. I think some testing is in order...
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 7:23
  • 1
    I can confirm this. I switched from Piety with two active policies to Rationality. The whole tree grayed out, but the two activated policies stayed activated (visually). The Piety Adopt button sprouted a lock, but was clickable. The mouse-over explained that the tree was locked due to conflicting policies being active, but that I could activate Piety again at the cost of losing Rationality. Note that I haven't tried reactivating Piety yet, but it seems possible.
    – deceze
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 8:11
  • @DMA I wouldn't say that it contradicts Adj's answer, but that the answer needs to be slightly reworded. You lose the benefits of the policies, but you can come back to them later at the cost of losing the benefits of the contradicting policies. There are indeed no refunds, you'll always lose something by switching.
    – deceze
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 8:15
  • @deceze - did the reactivation seem to require unlocking another social policy, or did it appear to be something that could be done ad hoc?
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 8:41
  • @DMA Good question, it seemed ad hoc to me. It's in my current game, so I'll give it a try later...
    – deceze
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 8:48

The worst impact I think is that if you have all the slots unlocked in piety and then deactivate it by switching to rationalism you lose counting that set of piety policies towards a cultural victory. You would need to unlock a sixth to win. That is if you actually get all five policies sets, but two are piety and rationality you have failed to achieve a cultural victory.

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