Any reasons for having large cities?


Jan 15, 2016
I played Civilizations 3 & 4 a lot and this games teach player to prefer big cities over small ones if possible. Because of overall upkeep increase with rising number of cities, because of some nice world and national wonders increasing city effect on %-basis which you want to maximize by putting them in largest cities. Even vanilla civ5 penalize players for spamming.

And suddenly i found this manner of thought counterproductive for Vox Populi. There are my points:

1) City central tiles and cities itself ( with flat bonuses from buildings, civics, beliefs ) by far most productive tiles civilization have. So more cities more yields. Pros for small cities +

2) Small cities need much less food to pop-grow investing for fully utilize ceratain territory and having some specialists due to foodcost progression of every new pop. Four 30-pop cities simply need few times more food to grow comparing with eight 15-pop cities.
Practically, every time i want to grow big 50+ pop city ( 30+ on tiles and 20+ like specialists ) i reach a point where it is hard for me to legitimize investments needed for another one pop. If you need like 2k food for another one pop that netting you, say, +5 yields and you have around 300-400 turns before game ends this investment practically pointless. Pros for small cities +

3) Moreover it is meaningless to have all this pops in one big city because of lacking of unique sources %-based boosters like wonders ( or even like governors from civ 6 ). No other strategic benefits for having big cities. There are electric plants that require precious strategic resources and that building definitely worth to have in biggest cities. But it is very late and i never take it into consideration when planning strategy. Pros +

4) Many beliefs have population cap for its effects so meaningless to have more population in city than needed. Pros +

5) Also every city is extremely strong stationary unit itself. So more cities covering each other more tough your defence. Pros +

6) Not sure about this, but i dont feel that approval system penalize me for having many cities. Not so much at least. Pros +

7) More cities more specialist slots more versatility in choosing of what yields you want produce now. Pros +

8) Only disadvantage for having many cities i found is more hammers needed to build all needed city infrastructure. But not so much since many buildings ( at least half ) provide some flat effect or/and specialist slot and must build or not to build regardless of how big is city. Cons -


Feb 8, 2020
You do get a tourism penalty against an AI who has less cities than you and they do get a tourism bonus toward you in the same manner, so that's one more con for wide.

"%-based" is replaced with "for every X citizens in the city", which is roughly the same thing. For example the Taj Mahal gives 1 golden age point for every 2 citizens in the city it is built in. So this is still relevant for wonders and for when you lack coal for example. But by then you will usually have settled most of your cities.

But otherwise yes if you like going wide there is no big reason not to.


Baller Magnus
Dec 31, 2005
But otherwise yes if you like going wide there is no big reason not to.
I think the OP is talking about making "big" cities (aka lots of pop) rather than a lot of cities (aka wide).

Ultimately pop does have advantages, in general its good to have more pop than less, and its always good for a city to have 1-2 strong food tiles to get its growth going. That said, I don't think food heavy strats are optimal most of the time, and I never want a city that is all food and no hammers, as that city will languish.


Feb 11, 2008
Early on you need pop for national wonders and of course its good to work more tiles/specialists.
You get the buildings that scale with pop (well/watermill, workshop, factory, public school and more) they dont scale as crazy as in vanilla but still strong.
Pop helps with religion.
More pop = more hammers.

Wide increase policy and tech costs but you also get more monopoly on things.
You get more total production, science and culture even if you will def get science and culture dips in expansion phases.
The difficult part is to keep up with policys and happiness.
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