I'm slowly moving up the difficulty chain, I'm currently winning Emperor games, looking to move up to Immortal, then Deity. I have a few questions about ICS, but before I get to them wanted to give an overview of my understanding of ICS basics so that if I have some misconceptions they can be caught there first. ICS (Infinite City Sprawl) is a method for settling large amounts of land successfully. The advantages are that it generates more science than many other strategies, while also denying the competition the use of the land. The disadvantages are less frequent policies, and less frequent golden ages. Effective ICS means you need to cancel out the from both the number of cities and the population of the cities. Each new city generates 4 and each population generates 1 . Initially a good target population for a city seems to be 4. This is because it rounds well with the Library's science boost, and because the trade route will generate enough money to offset the cost of the 3+ road segments to connect the city. Using the citizen management tool, manually adjust the tiles worked so that food production is STAGNATION when a population of 4 is reached. A city of size 4 generates 7 . To offset this unhappiness, we use the following tools: Meritocracy social policy: +1 for connecting the city to the capitol Organized Religion social policy: +1 for each Monument and Temple (net effect +2) Coliseum: +2 This gives +5 happiness. Here's where I get to Question 1: Up until now, this -2 I've offset by luxuries, circuses, monasteries, etc. But these aren't infinite, so should I be doing something else? Build a theater? Or is it just understood that at this point, because I haven't researched tech/policies, my empire will be small enough that these should suffice? So assuming I've reached population 4, and connected the city, I will also have the following buildings (or be working on them): monument, temple, coliseum, library, and then to help offset the maintenance costs, market. So now, we look at the net gold outcome of the city - maintenance costs of the first 4 buildings, 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 5. Market generates +2, so as long as the population is generating 3 more, the city will be a net neutral. Question 2 is: Should I be considering any other building as well, as a "always build"? Once I build all of these buildings, I've been setting the city to generate Science. If I'm running low on gold, sometimes I'll set a few to generate Gold instead. Question 3: Is Science the best thing to set it to at this point? I tend to play for warmonger/domination games. Question 4: Assuming the city I'm currently capturing doesn't have any significant tiles in its extended range, but fits in with my ICS every four tiles pattern, is it better to keep the city, or resettle a new one? After I fill out the Piety branch, I've been going for Police State. By the time I have it, I usually have a significant happiness boost from all my courthouses (+80 my most recent game), however, this is 3 policies I could apply elsewhere if I never built courthouses. Assuming I keep the city, I've been puppeting it until the unrest wears off, and then when I have enough gold to purchase a courthouse, I'll annex the city and purchase a courthouse straight-up. Question 4b: Is this a good strategy? Question 4c Should I ever starve a city down to pop 4, and if so, when? Having read a few other posts about ICS, I've seen that as I research some more techs/policies, I could go past 4 citizens as my target population. Question 5: What buildings/policies are standard for this approach, and can it be universally applied, or only to those cities which will be able to generate enough gold to offset Theaters and Stadiums and such? Question 6: When you're capturing a city, what evaluations do you make to decide whether to limit the city as an ICS city, or to allow it to grow and be a major producer for your civilization? Question 7: Anything else I'm missing here or misunderstanding?