Civ 5 Best Pantheons and Worst Pantheons

Civ 5 Best Pantheons
Which religion will you choose for your civilization

What does Civ V have in common with George Michael? When it comes to both you gotta have faith. Choosing a pantheon can be easy if you have the right start, with an obvious abundance of specific tiles or resources.

But if you don’t have such a bountiful start, choosing a pantheon can be much harder. A lot of the options can look great on the surface but in reality, their effect on the game is minimal at best. In this article, we’ll be sorting the divine from the complete waste of faith, as I tell you the top and bottom five pantheons in Civilization V.

Five Worst Civ V Pantheons

5. Fertility Rites

I have picked this pantheon many times and it has never made much difference

Fertility Rites is at number five not because it is the worst pantheon in the game, but because it lied to me and it has probably lied to you to. Did you think this pantheon gave you 10% extra food? Well guess again because its actual effect is far more trivial.

Why Fertility Rites is mediocre

  • The description for this pantheon is very misleading. A lot of player will choose this pantheon, especially when going tradition, in order to maximise their population growth.
  • However, this pantheon only adds 10% to your surplus food, rather than your total food.
  • In the early game, your surplus food is likely to be very low so this pantheon rarely makes much difference until later on, when your population is already pretty high. Overall, this pantheon is not as useful as it sounds.

Pantheon Details

  • Fertility Rites grants an extra ten percent to your surplus food.
  • Each citizen eats 2 food, so with 10 food and 4 population your surplus is 2 food and your bonus from fertility rites equals 0.2 apples. Enough to get you kicked out the Garden of Eden, not enough to make this pantheon worth choosing.

4. Goddess of Love

If there's one thing worse than barbarians, its rebels. 

When I first started playing Civilization V, my empires where permanently unhappy. I had bad habits from Civ 4, so I tried to settle as many cities as I could, blissfully unaware that every city I built, and every citizen that lived in them,  was contributing to my empires permanent state of anarchy. Bottom line is, happiness is a very hard to control when your new to the game. As such, a pantheon that increases your happiness looks great, but if discontent is already a problem in your empire, it won’t make much difference.

Why is Goddess of Love Mediocre?

  • This pantheon offers a marginal boost to happiness in cites over a certain population.
  • Sadly, to get to this requisite population you will lose happiness for each citizen meaning you will probably lose more than you will gain.
  • Goddess of love is only number four because I could see it being useful for a tradition build, but there are definitely better pantheons to pick if they are available.

Pantheon Details

  • Goddess of love grants +1 happiness in cities with a population of 6.
  • The benefit from this is negligible and will probably not help a player struggling with an unhappy empire

3. Ancestor Worship.

Shrines are useful in the eraly game, sadly this pantheon isn't

It’s a good rule of thumb when choosing a pantheon to pick a faith based one, if you have the right tiles. This will get you a religion much faster, bringing more bonuses with it. If you want to choose a different pantheon though, Ancestor Worship is not the one to pick. The time and production spent on building shrines will far outweigh any of the potential benefits this pantheon offers.

Why is Ancestor Worship Mediocre?

  • This pantheon requires you to build a shrine in every city for maximum effect.
  • In the early game this will slow down your production and cost you one gold maintenance per shrine, all for a very trivial culture bonus.
  • The culture offered by this pantheon is insignificant, even in the early game, and won’t help you get new social policies any faster than the AIs.

Pantheon details

  • Ancestor Worship gives you plus one culture per shrine.
  • Even with four cities and a shrine in each this only amounts to 4 culture. This reward is negligible given the gold and production you will spend building and maintaining the shrines.

2. God of War

How ironic that the pantheon called God of War requires you to be on the defensive

Another deceptive pantheon, warmongers may be tempted by this choice thinking it will be a good way to get faith from their wars. In reality, the conditions for this pantheon to work are so narrow that it will require you to put your own capital at risk to make any use of it.

Why is God of War mediocre?

  • To get a religion from this pantheon you will need to be getting invaded by an enemy army on a regular basis. If that sounds like a counter-productive way to build an empire, that’s because it is.
  • I have had some success from this pantheon by turning on raging barbarians and killing any  that get to my capital.
  • The problem with this is you will lose more than you gain, as the barbarians will pillage your improvements and may even capture your workers if you aren’t careful.

Pantheon Details

  • God of War grants faith for every enemy killed within four tiles of your capital.
  • The range on this pantheon makes it very hard to utilise as wounded units tend to run away.
  • The faith bonus is quite small. To get a religion from this pantheon, you will have to kill a lot of enemies opening your civilization up to getting pillaged and possibly even destroyed.

1. Goddess of Protection.

The game over screen was the most appropriate picture I could find for this pantheon

In the worst spot we have a pantheon that offers no faith, no culture, no gold, science, food or even extra production. The only reason I can see for picking Goddess of Protection, is if you’re about to lose the game in the ancient era and need to make a last ditch attempt at defending yourself. Strangely enough this pantheon is normally the first one chosen by the AI, so thankfully it’s often someone else’s problem.

Why Goddess of Protection is terrible.

  • This pantheon offers no bonuses to any of the game’s main variables. It won’t help you start a religion, nor to get extra social policies. It will literally not help you progress through the game at all.
  • What it does offer is a marginal boost to city defence. So it can help you not die as quickly, but it won’t help you progress through the game at all.

Pantheon Details

  • Goddess of Protection grants a 30% increase to city ranged combat strength.
  • This allows your cities to fire at units three tiles away rather than just two.
  • The only time this could come in handy, is against highly aggressive AIs or raging barbarians. Either way, it is better to learn how to protect your empire properly through garrisons and armies.

Five Best Civilization V Pantheons.

5. Desert Folklore

A bountiful Russian desert

The faith-based pantheons are the most situational, but also some of the most useful for starting your own religion. Desert Folklore applies to any desert tile within your borders and used right it can be one of the fastest ways of gathering faith in the early game.  

Why Desert Folklore is Awesome.

  • Unlike Dance of the Aurora, which only affects un-forested tundra tiles, this pantheon works on every desert tile within your borders.
  • In the right circumstances this can yield a lot of faith very fast. If your civilization is mostly desert, you could easily be the first to found a religion using this Pantheon.
  • Combined with Petra, this pantheon can turn barren desert into a bountiful holy land.

Pantheon details

  • Desert Folklore grants +1 faith on every desert tile within your borders.
  • If you are surrounded by desert this pantheon will promise an ever-increasing yield of faith as your cities grow.
  • Choosing this pantheon will ensure you get a religion quickly and you may even have enough excess faith to purchase units with.

4. Messenger of the Gods

Workers building a road between two cities

This pantheon doesn’t look that impressive. It requires city connections, which are expensive to establish and it’s rare that you will have many due to Civ V’s preference for less cities, higher population. However, if your cities are close enough or numerous enough, this pantheon can give you a strong science boost as the start of the game. Science is essential for any victory type any so any extra beakers you can get are a huge help.

Why Messenger of the Gods is Awesome?

  • This pantheon provides a minor boost in science. While not significant in the mid game, it can make a big difference in the ancient or classical era.
  • For a liberty build this pantheon can be very strong, as you will have more cities and extra science per city connection.
  • But even with just four cities, the bonus science can help keep you get ahead of other civilizations in the tech tree.

Pantheon Details

  • Messenger of the Gods grants +2 science per city connection.
  • This pantheon works best for players planning on building a lot of cities. If picked up early enough it can even help players with only four cities.
  • Messenger of the Gods combines well with the Iroquois and Carthage, both of which can establish city connections with relative ease.

3. God King

A healthy capital is a healthy empire

Sometimes you won’t have the perfect land or resources for any of the pantheons. God King is a solid, all-round pantheon that can significantly buff your capital provided you get it early enough.

Why God King is Awesome

  • Unlike other pantheons that give a boost in one thing, God King gives your capital a small bonus in everything.
  • In the early game, the extra production from this pantheon will speed up important buildings like libraries, barracks and wonders.
  • While this pantheon is useless later on, it can give a significant advantage in the early game if you aren’t optimally placed for any other pantheons.

Pantheon Details

  • God King gives you +1 culture, faith, gold, production, and science in your capital.
  • Early in the game, the extra production is useful for getting workers, military units and additional settlers.
  • The extra science will also help you get a head start in the tech tree. 

2. God of the Open Sky

Pastures are great tiles to work, and culture for each one can help you get early social policies much faster. 

Horses, sheep, and cattle are top tier resources, as they provide both food and production when improved and worked. If you have a lot of them, then this pantheon makes them even better. Provided you don’t convert to a different religion, this bonus will last throughout the whole game,  increasing the rate at which you get new social policies.

Why God of the Open Sky is Awesome.

  • Pastures are very strong tiles, providing production and food, as such they are often worked by citizens
  • The extra culture from this pantheon makes a big difference in the early and mid-game, getting you more social policies to fill out your respective trees much faster.
  • Combined with a stable, this pantheon makes your pastures both a cultural asset and the powerhouses of your cities.

Pantheon Details

  • This pantheon adds + 1 culture to all pastures.
  • This cultural boost is very useful in the early game and even beyond, provided you have enough pastures.
  • Culture becomes very useful in the renaissance era, when points can be put into rationalism, for boosting a civ’s science output.

1. Earth Mother

The Aztecs are ready to assault anyone who crosses their path

Before I go on, it should be stressed that the best pantheon will greatly depend on your playstyle and your starting location. Faith based pantheons are normally better, because they help you found your religion faster, which has its own benefits. Earth mother is my strongest pantheon because, if you get the necessary resources, it can equal a lot of faith and collateral production due to the tiles it affects.

Why Earth Mother is the Best

  • This pantheon affects copper, salt, and iron tiles. You are guaranteed at least one source of iron, so if you have a few of the other two then it is worth getting this pantheon.
  • These tiles are great for money and production, salt can even yield a fair amount of food, so making these tiles better is a real advantage.
  • With enough of these resources, this is one of the few pantheons that can compete with Desert Folklore in terms of faith output.
  • This pantheon works on un-upgraded tiles, meaning you can reap it’s benefits before you have finished improving your lands. 

Pantheon Details

  • Earth Mother grants +1 faith for every copper, salt and iron resource.
  • This pantheon is most worthwhile if you have an abundance of copper or salt in your lands, as you are normally guaranteed at least one source of iron.
  • This pantheon will help you to get a religion quickly meaning you can reap its benefits until the end of the game.

So, there you have it the top and bottom five pantheons in Civilization V. It is important to remember that all these pantheons are highly situational so go with whatever suits your needs best. There’s no pointing picking Dance of the Aurora if you aren’t near any tundra tiles. Used correctly, pantheons can offer you significant advantage in the early game. Just make sure the AI gets Goddess of Protection, they’ll need it when you decide to pillage their lands.

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