How To Get More Spies in Civ 5 (Complete Guide)

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You can get a max of 6-7 spies in Civ 5. Here’s the progression of how to max out your spies:

  1. All civilizations (civs) get their first spy simultaneously. This happens after any civ reaches the Renaissance Era. England gets an extra one here from their civ ability.
  2. Every era after that adds another spy to your roster. This time, you must actually progress through the eras on your own. That’s four more spies from the remaining four eras:
    • Industrial Era
    • Modern Era
    • Atomic Era
    • Information Era
  3. You get an extra spy by building the National Intelligence Agency project. This becomes available after researching the “Radio” tech and building police stations in all of your cities.

Spy Assignments

To give your spies an assignment, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the Espionage Overview by pressing its button at the top-right of the screen.

Espionage Overview Button / Civ 5
Espionage Overview Button

Step 2: Press the “Move” button next to the agent that you want reassigned.

Move Button on the Left Side of the Espionage Overview / Civ 5
Move Button on the Left Side of the Espionage Overview

Step 3: Select a city where you want to send your agent.

List of Cities on the Right Side of the Espionage Overview / Civ 5
List of Cities on the Right Side of the Espionage Overview

Spy Missions

Your spy’s assigned location determines their mission:

Mission Target Actions / Results
Counter-intelligence One of your own cities Your spy passively adds a +33% chance of capturing enemy spies in their assigned city.
Establish surveillance A city-state or another civ’s city After 5 turns, you can open up the target’s City Management Screen.
Become diplomats Another civ’s capital The spy will become your ambassador to their assigned civ.

You’ll also have expanded options with that civ during World Congress sessions.

Steal technology Another civ’s city You can steal tech from another civ if they have one that:

  1. You haven’t gotten yet
  2. You’re able to currently research

The number of turns this takes depends on:

  1. The target city’s science output
  2. The level of counter-intelligence present
  3. Your spy’s level

Note: There’s a high chance of your spy getting discovered, especially on the turn they successfully steal a tech.

Rig elections Non-aligned city-states Every 12 turns, your spy will increase your influence with the target while decreasing that of other civs’.
Stage coup-d’etat City-states allied with another civ Your spy will attempt to replace the reigning regime with one that’s friendly to you. This results in the city-state becoming your ally.
Press to Attempt a Coup / Civ 5
Press to Attempt a Coup

Spy Promotions

Spies come in three skill levels:

  1. Recruit
  2. Agent
  3. Secret Agent

Higher levels increase their success chance and speed in completing missions.

They gain a level if they’re successful in these tasks:

  1. Stealing tech
  2. Countering enemy spies

Tip: Catching enemy spies is a much faster way of leveling up your spies than stealing tech. It’s also much safer, since your spies can’t be killed while doing counter-intelligence.



Spies have a chance of getting “Killed in Action”.

This only happens in either of these cases:

  1. Getting caught stealing tech from another civ, or
  2. Unsuccessfully staging a coup-d’etat in a city-state

If one dies, they’ll automatically be replaced by a new recruit around 5 turns or less.



Spy-related tenets are available at the first level of all three ideologies:

Ideology Tenet Effect
Order Double Agents Double effectiveness of counter-intelligence against spies trying to steal your tech
Freedom Covert Action Double the chance of successfully rigging city-state elections
Autocracy Industrial Espionage Double the speed of stealing tech
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Louie Nelson Zafico

As a frustrated otter who dreams of getting published, Louie instead wastes his life cuddling his cats. He spent his childhood playing Suikoden, grew up with Total War, and matured (somewhat) with EU4. He hopes to someday find a geopolitical JRPG with the 4X systems of a Paradox game.