There is no question that a huge part of playing Forge of Empires is learning balance. Too much of something, or too little, and you’re typically in trouble. Of all the things to have to balance though, it’s often population -vs – happiness provided (referred to henceforth at times as happies). Ideally you want all your citizens to be enthusiastic, but at bare minimum they need to be happy (or what the game calls content). Drop below happy into angry and well… here come the riots (not really, but it’s not good).

For ease of reading I’ve broken things into chunks. If you don’t need to know a certain thing, scroll on past. 😉

How do I know if my Citizens are Happy?

Somewhere on your screen (top-left for the PC, last checked also top-left for mobile) you should see a face. It’s either grinning (enthusiastic), smiling (happy), or frowning (angry). The quick look will tell you where it’s at in general. Hovering (PC) or clicking (mobile) on it will give you a more detailed report. This detailed report can help you determine how much you need to change to get that enthusiastic marker, or maintain it if you need to add in more population to handle your city’s needs.

Why should I maintain Enthusiastic?

Enthusiastic is important because it gives you additional points for winning battles, and additional coins and supplies when you collect. How much extra you ask? 20% extra, that’s how much. So if your building was going to give you 10,000 supplies, with enthusiastic you’ll now get 12,000 supplies. That’s an extra 2,000 supplies just because your citizens are excited to go to work and pay taxes!

What Happens if my Citizens are Angry?

Let me ask you this, if you’re angry do you perform as well at tasks you don’t want to do? Heck no! The same is true for your citizens. When they become angry you’ll get a negative effect where they only produce half of what they should. That means the 10,000 supplies you thought you were going to get will instead only yield 5,000. Your citizens have realized that you’re over-working and over-taxing them because you haven’t distracted them with enough stuff, and that’s no good.

How does Enthusiastic/Happy/Angry Happen?

A very good question! You need 1 happiness point per citizen in your city. So if you have 10,000 population, then you need 10,000 happies to make sure no one is angry. If you have 9,999 happies then they’re gonna be angry and you’re in trouble. So at bare minimum you need 1 happy to 1 citizen.

Enthusiastic happens when you have 40% or more additional happies to go around. You can easily determine what 40% is by taking your total population and multiplying it by 1.4. So for that 10,000 population, you’d need 14,000 happies to get enthusiastic (10,000×1.4=14,000).

You’ll want to know this as you raise up a population GB, or add houses, so you can determine if you have enough happies to maintain enthusiastic. It’s hard to judge where you’re truly at because of folks who may have polished things, but you’ll get a rough idea anyways.

Here’s how Inno does the math, using this image as our example:
51,230×1.4=71,722 (multiply the demand by 1.4)
71,722+51,952=123,674 (add the above answer to the additional to get the total provided)

So additional happiness means that it’s happiness above and beyond the 40% you need to make your citizens enthusiastic.

Knowing this means we can reverse it, too. We have given out enough happies to provide for 123,674 citizens. If we want to know what our maximum population can be to maintain enthusiastic we simply divide this number by 1.4 (since the opposite of multiplication is division). So 123,674/1.4=88,338, meaning we can have no more than 88,338 citizens or we lose our enthusiasm. To account for the potentially polished items, you might want to leave a buffer of 2% or 3% happiness, just in case. That’d bring us to 86,571 (2%). Now we can look at this and see our demand (which equals our total population) is 51,230 and subtract it from our answer, so 86,571-51,230=35,341 additional citizens we can have (aka population increase) before we’re in trouble.

So to figure out how to go from angry/happy to enthusiastic we:

  1. Multiply the demand for happiness by 1.4. This is how much to reach enthusiastic.
  2. Take the answer from Step 1 and add it to our additional happiness. (if your citizens are angry, there will be a negative number here).
  3. Add in the amount of happiness equal to the answer in Step 2. This answer is how much additional happiness you need to reach enthusiastic. You typically don’t need steps 2 & 3 unless you have angry citizens.

And to figure out how many citizens we can add while remaining enthusiastic we:

  1. Divide the provided happiness by 1.4
  2. Take the answer from Step 1, and multiply it by 0.98 (2%) or 0.97 (3%) to give a buffer.
  3. Subtract the demand for happiness from the answer in Step 2. This is how much additional population you can safely add before losing enthusiastic.

How do I add in Happiness?

Happiness is going to come from five main sources: Roads, Decorations, Cultural Buildings, Event Buildings, and Great Buildings.

Of these buildings, all decorations and cultural buildings can be polished by aid to double their output of happiness for a time; typically 12 hours from time of aiding. This is where that buffer comes in when we’re calculating how much additional population we can add; if things are polished when you look, then your reading will be higher than when they aren’t.

If you’re relying on items being polished to have enough happiness for enthusiastic, it’s highly recommended that you work to make it so this is not necessary. As your city grows you’re going to have more and more things that need aid, you don’t want to be falling short on that and have it affect overall productions and battle score outcomes.

Should you find yourself a bit short, you can quick use a Self-Aid Kit (won through GE, quests, events, etc.) which can be found in your inventory, to polish a happiness building (if that’s an option). Doing this before you collect or go to war will mean that you get the bonus, even if the production buildings had already finished and are ready to be collected when you receive the [self] aid.

Roads are easily forgotten about for happiness, because they can be expensive (depending on how many you have) to keep updated through the eras, and are just vexing to update frequently in general. Still, if you’ve got a happiness problem and your roads haven’t been updated to the highest era they can possibly be, this can be a quick fix; especially if you only need a small amount of happiness. Roads cannot be polished so they won’t suck up aid, and you need them anyways so you might as well get the biggest bang for your buck. The only downside really is that you don’t want a ton of roads hogging up space in your city, and they can be expensive to keep replacing.

Decorations are usually the first thing people go to when they need happiness. They’re capable of being polished, they don’t need a road connection, they build super fast (in seconds), and are usually very small (almost never bigger than a 2×2 or 2×3). The problem is that you need a lot of them to get a decent chunk of happiness, and the more you have, the more aid they can suck up from more important things like SoKs or event buildings that overall give way better stuff than happiness. So the pros are their size and lack of needing a road, but the cons are that they don’t give a lot of happies and the more you have the less aid for stuff that’s more important.

Cultural Buildings are next on the list for things to grab when you need a quick happiness fix. Unlike decorations, they’re not small and they always need a road connection, which can be an issue. However, they too can be polished for that extra boost, and they give way more happiness in one fell-swoop than a decoration does so yay for that! The downside though is that they’re still going to suck up aid, and the happiness provided per square might not stand the test of time. So pros are that they give more happies than a decoration for a single aid, cons are needing the road connection and that they could take an aid away from something that needs it more.

Event Buildings or Special Buildings that you cannot get from your build menu at any time are usually good for happiness, if they provide it. The thing you want to be mindful of are the other bonus(es) the building also gives before planting it. We’ve all gotten a slew of Gate of the Sun God and Face of the Ancient from our weekly GE thanks to ToR, but all they do is provide happiness. Is that worth the space? If you’re desperate, sure, otherwise no. You’ll ideally want to be looking at these buildings for things other than how much happiness they provide, and the happiness will be an added bonus. The FPs, goods, attack bonus, etc. are the real reason you want the building; not the happiness. Unlike decorations or cultural buildings, unless happiness is the only thing these buildings provide, aiding them is something you want because it gives spiffy things (like FPs or goods) instead of just polishing and doubling the happiness. In fact, unless the happiness is the only thing provided (or the only thing that can be affected by aiding), these buildings are motivated instead of polished, which means the happiness doesn’t double. Motivated means you get extra stuff, polished means you get extra happiness. So the pros of these buildings are that you’re (typically) getting really awesome stuff from them aside from happiness and it’s worth the aid, the cons are that you’re not building them for happiness alone and they’re not as easy to get (since you can’t just build a whole bunch on a whim from your build menu).

Great Buildings are likely not the first place one thinks to get happiness from, but are typically a good source for it. Well, some of them are. Most of the GBs that provide happies are worth the space they consume, let alone the goods and FPs. Knowing which GBs are good for planting to get your happiness up is going to depend on your play style, but no one who does any modicum of fighting should ignore Alcatraz. It’s huge, but it’s easy to get fairly early (PE), and is often one you take past level 10. If you don’t do any fighting ever, at all, then perhaps it’s not for you; but you’re probably in the minority (because most will fight GE at some point, even if it’s just the first couple tiers). As far as GBs go, it’s not the happiness you want to look at per-say, it’s the other bonus. So for example: FoD will give you goods (unrefined past ME), Hagia will give FPs, Atomium puts goods in the guild treasury, etc. How does the bonus that isn’t happiness work into your play style, that’s the question you need to ask yourself before planting a GB; that and if it’s something you intend to (and is worth) take past level 10 (so it has longevity and continued use).

To give you an idea about GBs and happiness, here’s a brief overview of all the GBs that give happiness as part of their bonus, and how much you can get if you take them to level 10 -vs- space effectiveness. Keep in mind that the higher the era, the more expensive it’s going to be to plant (goods required, and era of the goods), not to mention level (FP cost).

Great BuildingEraSpace OccupiedHappiness Granted
at Level 10
Happiness per
Square Occupied
Oracle of Delphi

00 - No Age3x3
9 Squares
02 - Iron6x7
42 Squares
Hagia Sophia
03 - EMA7x6
42 Squares
Notre Dame
04 - HMA4x6
24 Squares
Fauenkirche of Dresden
06 - Col5x5
25 Squares
08 - PE10x7
70 Squares
Space Needle
09 - ME6x5
30 Squares
09 - ME7x6
42 Squares
Lotus Temple
11 - CE6x6
36 Squares
Gaea Statue
14 - AF6x4
24 Squares

There is no downside to using a GB for happiness, because if you’re planting it then you need it for other stuff, too. Well, unless of course happiness is the reason you’re planting it, and then you might want to look at other items in your city that are adding in population and see what you can trim out instead.

Just a general reminder though… friends don’t let friends build Colosseum or Notre Dame. By the time you reach the later eras, you should also realize that Space Needle, Lotus Temple, and Gaea Statue aren’t great ideas because their secondary bonus really isn’t worth it. If you build any of those GBs, it’s on you. We all make our choices, and sometimes it’s purely decorative. Just know that the space could be better utilized.

Reducing the Demand for Happiness

If all else fails, and you cannot logically add in happiness to meet demands, then you can look at what you can remove to reduce your overall population. Less citizens means less happies needed, which means an easier time meeting demands. We can use our same formula that we used for knowing how many citizens we could add, to know how many we can have maximum to get enthusiastic.

It’d look like this:

  1. Divide the provided happiness by 1.4
  2. Take the answer from Step 1, and multiply it by 0.98 (2%) or 0.97 (3%) to give a buffer.
  3. Subtract the answer in Step 2 from the demand for happiness. This is how much population you need to remove to get enthusiastic.

Often we add in cool event buildings because we won them and they’re like trophies, but some of them just aren’t worth it. The Lord’s Manor or Ziggurat are good examples of this. These event buildings add a lot of population into your city, and the other returns just aren’t really that great. In the case of The Lord’s Manor it’s a 4×4 that gives 2 FP if motivated, and the Zuggurat is a 3×3 that gives hourly coins. You can safely get rid of these if needed (and similar items to them), either by deletion or storing them, and never look back. If you desperately need bonuses from buildings like these, again, you need to make a game plan to get away from them because they’re tipping your balance in a bad way.

If you have too many citizens in employment to remove some population, look at reducing employment needs. This might mean removing some production buildings, or trying to use ones that require less citizens overall. That way you can remove houses and other things giving you all those citizens, thus getting your happiness under control.

Remember too that reducing the demand for happiness only has to be temporary, if you’re working to plant a GB that is going to take care of it, but you’re just not quite there yet. Similarly for raising that GB up to where it can give enough benefit to rebuild some things you had to remove. So long as you don’t delete something special that you can never get back (event buildings mainly), don’t hesitate to outright sell things. If it’s something special you can never get back once deleted, use a Store Building item on it to save it for later.

How About if I get them Drunk?

Ah yes, the tavern boosts. There are three tavern boosts available to make your citizens enthusiastic without providing it via buildings in your city. The only difference between them is how much they cost, and how long they last. While this can be used in an emergency (perhaps while you plant that GB?), it’s not recommended for long-term use. Just like it’s okay to drink alcohol occasionally -vs- becoming an alcoholic, using the tavern boost sparingly (and hopefully never) should be a goal. It’s very expensive and not sustainable, which is why it’s not really recommended. So yup, you can spend some money at the tavern and distract them with alcohol, but don’t let it become a habit and thus a problem.

Buildings that Reduce Happiness

Some buildings (that you might actually need, even temporarily) will cost you happiness. Just like we don’t like when our environment is being polluted with noise, lung irritants, etc.; neither do the citizens of your city. You won’t typically see this, except for certain event buildings or until you get into the later eras (up around TE and beyond), but some buildings will have a negative, red number for happiness. This means that you lose that much happiness for planting the building. It’s not a one-time deal, either. For each instance of that building, you will lose that much happiness. So if you really need that building, then you better account for the lost happiness.

In Summary…

At the end of the day, you want to remember the following:

  • Enthusiastic ideally, happy at bare minimum.
  • To achieve happy you need to make sure you have at least 1 happiness per 1 citizen.
  • An extra 40% happiness or more means your citizens will be enthusiastic.
  • Angry citizens hurt your production and battle gains.
  • Be mindful of what’s in your city both giving happiness, and using it/taking it away.
  • Updating your roads to the highest possible era might be all you need to do.

No matter how upside-down you might be on happiness, there’s always a way to fix it. It just might take some time and patience to do, depending on how upside-down you are. It might even mean briefly (very briefly) making your citizens angry to plant a pertinent GB to fix the issue. The important thing is that it can be done. 🙂