Civics can be seen as the collection of customs, traditions, and laws that allow you to personalize your Empireby creating a unique society.
A Civics is made up of two things: a question asked in response to the problem or situation that triggered its appearance, and a pair of possible choices that can be made in response to the question being asked.
You can choose either option, but the different paths will affect your Empire in various areas (diplomacy, religion, the economy, the military, etc.). Civics can even unlock new game mechanics! In addition to these effects, all Civics affect the Ideology of your Empire and so add or remove passive bonuses. Your ideology also affects how other Empires perceive you.
To make such an important ethical decision on behalf of your Empire, your rule will need to be considered legitimate by your people: you must spend Influence to enact a Civics option, and the cost of doing so will increase based on the number of Civics you currently have enacted. Enacted Civics can also be revoked, but this likewise costs Influence: your Empire cannot turn on a dime without a significant amount of political will.
Civics are available via a Narrative Event, but do not appear until you’ve encountered a situation in the game where having a choice for them would make sense. For instance you won’t be asked to decide how your Empire treats Independent People until you’ve encountered one of their cities. The appearance of Civics can depend on a slew of factors, including choices made for previous Civics.
It’s possible, since not every playthrough will involve encountering every triggering context, that you’ll reach the end of the game without unlocking every last Civics choice. This is normal: next time you play you’ll probably make different choices and see different civics.
When a Civic is unlocked, you don't have to make an immediate decision. The Civics remain available and are displayed in a separate screen, called (unsurprisingly) the Civics Screen. This is accessible via a shortcut located on the triggered Narrative Event or via the Society Screen. You can go there and make your choice at your leisure.
On the Civics Screen the Civics are organized into different categories: Religious, Military, Economic, Cultural, Governmental, Social and Judicial.
Revolutions occur when your empire remains Mutinous for too long. During a Revolution the effects of your chosen Civics and Ideologies no longer apply, as your people reject your rule, and the economy of Cities is badly affected. However the cost of enacting and revoking Civics is greatly reduced as people demand changes be made, any changes, to resolve the situation.
If one of your Cities has one or more Territories under the Influence of another Empire, you may be forced to change Civics. It is possible to refuse this request, but the City’s Stability will be drastically reduced for a few turns if you do so.
Ideologies represent the political, economic, and social orientation of an Empire.
These Ideologies are represented along four axes: Economy, Geopolitics, Government, and Society.
Each axis has two extremes: Economy - Collectivism and Individualism; Geopolitics - Homeland and World; Government - Freedom and Authority; Society - Tradition and Progress.
The Ideology axes appear when the first Narrative Event or the first Civic is triggered, and as the game progresses you can move your Empire's ideological sliders along these axes from the center where you begin. You have the choice of being an extremist or more moderate as you choose.
Depending on the Ideology of an Empire, bonuses are applied to its economy. The closer to an extreme you get, the more specialized the economic bonuses are. However, the power of the bonuses is the same regardless of where you are on the axis.
The Ideological Proximity between two Empires is visible in the Diplomacy Screen. To calculate the Ideological Proximity between two Empires, we compare relative positions on the Ideological axes. The more similarities there are, the closer the Empires are.
You cannot directly choose the ideological convictions of your Empire. Instead, it is the decisions made during Narrative Events and your Civics choices that determine what kind of Empire you are.