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City Placement

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by Ginger_Ale, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. Ginger_Ale

    Ginger_Ale Lurker Retired Moderator

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    City Placement

    Disclaimer: This was created for Conquests. If you are a mac player like AlanH, sorry, no vanilla/PTW/RCP stuff here.

    City placement is one of the most important aspects of the game, as well as one of the parts of the game that isn't the same for every game. While military is usually the same for most people, like building up a stack of swordsmen, or waiting for cavalry to take over the world, you have to be able to adapt to the terrain for city placement. It varies from difficulty level, map size, and victory condition!
    Hopefully this guide will help you use your cities to your advantage. Enjoy. :)

    I. Placement Patterns
    Before we can even discuss the pros and cons of each regular placement pattern, lets go over the following terms.
    C = city, x = tile in between cities

    Optimal City Placement (OCP):
    Usually CxxxxC.
    Each city's goal is to not overlap, and use the full 21 tiles.
    You need a hospital to grow past size 12 and use all tiles.

    Loose Placement:
    Usually CxxxC.
    Cities try to gain around 14-16 tiles. Some overlap is fine.
    You don't need a hospital, but it helps if you want to use all 14-16 tiles and get the benefits of metropolises (more unit support, etc).

    Tight Placement:
    Usually CxxC.
    Cities gain around 6 tiles. Overlap is very common.
    No hospital needed.

    Infinite City Sprawl:
    CxCxC.
    Cities gain 4 tiles. Overlap is rampant. Cities will usually not grow past size 6 .

    II. What Type to Use and When
    Each settlement pattern has it's benefits and disadvantages. You should select city sites carefully, and weigh in other factors about your game as well.

    First, some general information:
    * The less water there is, the more land there is. That means there is more room for cities, so you might be able to get away with a sligthly looser build, and vice versa.
    * The newer the age of the world (ie; 3 billion compared to 5 billion), the more hills and mountains there will be. This might throw your planning off a bit, so don't forget to set up fishing villages (cities on the coast with little food besides water (ie; all mountains or hills) that build a harbor and library / markets to rake in the gold from the sea).
    * When possible, try settling next to rivers/fresh water (free aqueduct), or on the coast, rather than 1 tile away, as then you'll never be able to build a harbor for increased food.
    * If you settle on food bonuses, you lose the food bonus. However, you don't loose the shield / commerce bonus of tiles (except for the Despotism penalty), so it's not too bad to settle on those, it's just that they can't be improved.

    Now let's look at the pros and cons of each terrain type.

    OCP:
    Pros:
    * In the late game, you'll have cities using all 21 tiles, making them huge productive powerhouses.
    * They'll give you a nice amount of territory.

    Cons:
    * You'll need some sort of culture to connect all your cities via territory.
    * Workers have to improve more tiles to get from city to city (since a city can act as a road. For example, if you have road, nothing, road, and you put a city in the nothing tile, it'll act as a road connecting the two, rather than having a worker make a road).
    * You will only get to use 50% of the tiles for 50% of the game, and 100% of the tiles for 50% of the game, so it averages out to 75% - so you end up wasting 25% of the tile's throughout the game.
    * You won't have as many cities to produce units, commerce, shields, etc, in the early game.

    When to use:
    * Lower levels, when you can afford to have big city spacing. You can out expand the AI, and have more cities in OCP style than they have in their style. Also, you'll have less corruption the lower the level, so you won't be as penalized.
    * Lots of land. If you have preferably 60% water and 40% land selected for your game, and you don't have any immediate AI threats, OCP will gain you lots of territory.

    Loose Placement:
    Pros:
    * Can have good production levels with hospitals, but hospitals aren't necessary.
    * Will use most of the tiles before hospitals.
    * Won't need lots of culture to connect cities via territory.

    Cons:
    * It takes more than 1 turn to get from city to city with roads and a 1 move unit.
    * Won't get in as many cities as tighter placement, so you lose out on benefits of having more cities in a tighter pattern like more unit support (in Republic in C3C, each new town saves 2 gpt, and also gets in at least 1 uncorrupted commerce).

    When to use:
    * This is good any time on lower levels when you can out expand the AI, or on higher levels if no AIs start near you.
    * If you expect to get to Sanitation for hospitals (ie; a Space Race or Diplomatic victory, or a non-early Domination / Conquest), this works out well.

    Tight Placement:
    Pros:
    * 3 tile separation allows to go from one city to another via roads.
    * No culture needed to connect cities.
    * More cities = more units, for military-type victories.
    * No hospitals needed.

    Cons:
    * Cities won't grow past size 12.
    * Each city only gets around 9 tiles.
    * Hard for the late game in terms of food, commerce, and production (wait, that's everything. :lol:) due to the cramped conditions. Most games using this style won't last that late, though.

    When to use:
    * Lots of war games, or always war (AW). Since you can get from one city to another in one turn with roads, defending your cities is easy. Notice in the screenshots section how each city uses CxxC placement can get a unit from its city to at least 2 others in only one turn.
    * Higher levels, where you need cities before there's no land left. If AIs start near you, and you are going for early warring, tight placement really helps.

    ICS:
    Pros:
    * High unit support, lots of cities.
    * Lots of population, no wasted tiles.

    Cons:
    * LOTS of corruption.
    * You'll hit the OCN quickly, relating to the corruption issue again.
    * Cities won't get past size 6 or 7, usually (each city gets 6 tiles).
    * Production is rare.

    When to use:
    * Rarely. Only in nation-wide cultural games should it even cross your mind - beyond the first half of the ancient age, it really doesn't have much use.

    III. Screenshots and Examples
    I generated a random map in the editor, took a blank screenshot, and then proceded to do a dotmap using each of the style. I'm not the best dotmapper, and I only used MS Paint, but I hope this emphasizes the pros and cons of each style.

    Blank Map:


    OCP:


    Loose Placement:


    Tight Placement:


    ICS:


    Additional Links:
    Bamspeedy on OCP
    Daviddesj on Ring City Placement (does NOT work for Conquests)

    This concludes my article. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them, and similarly, if you have any comments, I'd be glad to hear them. Happy civving. :king:
     
  2. Gogf

    Gogf Indescribable

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    Great article GA! Should help a lot of people!
     
  3. Gyathaar

    Gyathaar Warlock Retired Moderator GOTM Staff

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    Each city only gains 4 squares (including city square).. not 6.. thou it may get more than 4 in some cases due to terrain preventing you from settling in strict pattern
     
  4. Ginger_Ale

    Ginger_Ale Lurker Retired Moderator

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    Thanks Gyathaar for pointing that out. I was thinking of tight placement that gains 6 tiles, ICS only gains 4.
     
  5. AlanH

    AlanH Mac addict, php monkey Moderator Hall of Fame Staff Supporter GOTM Staff

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    Very useful article, Ginger Ale. :goodjob: A couple of comments:

    Your dot map for tight city placement isn't really very tight. I would have more cities at genuine walking distances of 3 than you have, but as a vanilla-only player my thinking is heavily influenced by RCP .....

    I note that Ring City Placement (RCP strategies) only get a footnote in your article. Of course, RCP is only relevant for vanilla and PtW - legacy stuff to most of you ;), but it has a significant effect on lowering corruption, due to the way distance from the Capital is used to calculate it in these versions. Cities placed at equal "corruption distance" from the capital all get the same, low distance corruption factor.

    RCP can be applied to any of the density options you describe, and it has the effect of shifting the city placement decisions from pure resource, coast and fresh water optimisation to a geometric pattern of "rings". It would change your dot maps significantly.

    Another factor that PtW/vanilla players have to think about is their Forbidden Palace strategy. Establishing a second core of low corruption cities is usually a key to rapid growth and fast or high scoring games. Do you build a FP in a low corruption town near the Capital and move the Palace later? Or do you leave your Palace core intact and build the FP somewhere else?
     
  6. Ginger_Ale

    Ginger_Ale Lurker Retired Moderator

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    Yes, I did rather intentionally leave out RCP and FP notes - sorry Mac and Vanilla players, I was just creating this article with Conquests in mind. ;)

    But if you want to add a RCP section ... be my guest!
     
  7. AlanH

    AlanH Mac addict, php monkey Moderator Hall of Fame Staff Supporter GOTM Staff

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    Nah! The definitive thread on the subject of RCP has been produced, started by its discoverer, DaviddesJ, and is referenced in your excellent article. I just thought there should be a more prominent reference to it, as your thread title doesn't indicate that it's Conquests-only :D
     
  8. sorky

    sorky Chieftain

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    Good synthese ginger ale :à)
    I just want to add my humble way to settle. Actually it's just a mix of OCP and ICS. I've called it the Circle Towns (copyright Bobby McFerrin ;) )



    I plan to settle like OCP, and then plant temporal cities between them, usually closest to capital but here I've tried at same distance. You have 12 cities at 5-6 tiles from capital. Yellow crosses are temporal cities, only for workers/settlers or units (barrack or granary, or both). It's a mix of warmonger/builder, 6 cities ala warmonger and 6 ala builder.

    When hospital are available, I starve progressivly temporal cities to prevent them to brake the growth, then disband them if I need the tile. Sometimes I disband sooner to have a better rank position for second core.
    It's a good opening when you are quickly surrounded, imho :)
     
  9. Ginger_Ale

    Ginger_Ale Lurker Retired Moderator

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    Yes, I've heard and suggested of using CxCxC placement to people and then disbanding the middle city for CxxxC - it's still too cramped for me in the Ancient Age, but it seems it's far enough from the capital that it'll get enough land, because it's not strict ICS, it's just some cities at 2-tiles from each other.

    Agreed. When you are surrounded and don't have much land, a tight build to get as many cities as possible is the best idea.
     
  10. animalmother

    animalmother Chieftain

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    thanks a heap for the info it helped me alot
     
  11. Rambuchan

    Rambuchan The Funky President

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    This is quality information and very well expressed.
     
  12. SJ Frank

    SJ Frank Spamalot Co-court

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    I think it’s just as important that players don’t get caught up in settling on a grid. The spacing between cities is a just a general philosophy, the actually location of each city should be determined by other factors.

    Immediate benefit – access to “good” tiles without having to build culture
    Long term benefit – have a good balance of food and shields
    Resources – Iron, horse, luxury, as well as places where future resources may pop up
    Access to fresh water – save time and shields on an aqueduct
    Not wasting tiles – settling in a pattern that allows every tile to be accessible by a city
    Military posture – settling spots that benefit future planed and unplanned military campaigns.
    Irrigation access – sometimes settling on a particular hill tile allows irrigation to be bought to dry tiles.

    Those are what I can think of, in order of importance. Please feel free to add to the list, or rearrange the importance :)
     
  13. gskyes

    gskyes Chieftain

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    I wanted to add that another advantage of ICS is for the already hopelessly corrupt far reaches of your empire. Irrigate like mad there and use specialists for taxes or science. If each city gets 4 tiles, they can support up to a pop of 8 if they were irrigated and railroaded grassland. With 4 citizens on the land, that makes 4 citizens as specialists. Towns surrounded by hills or the coast might as well just stay size 1 with that citizen as a taxman or scientist. The effect from having many of these cities in a small area can be huge.
     
  14. GorfTheWanderer

    GorfTheWanderer Disgruntled Civ IV Player

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    Yes I would have to agree.... when I have close neighbors and you need to expand quickly I usually place my first cities around capital with the CxCxC and after the first sprawl around the capital I go with the CxxC.... That gives me more worker/setler pumps and allows for 4-6 BIG cities for later in the game when I disband the middle cities surrounding the capital.... it helps me a lot....

    Just my $0.02
     
  15. Lullaby

    Lullaby peaceful builder

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    There is an easy way to use OCP in the late game without having 40% of the tiles not worked before hospitals.

    Simply build a few cities in between and disband them later. These cities should be kept small, shouldn't get many improvements if any at all, produce mainly military, esp. artillery units, and workers.
     
  16. JonnyT_

    JonnyT_ Chieftain

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    I have found this image helpful for OCP:
    (note that the "rings" it refers to in the legend have nothing to do with ring city placement)



    Hope this helps people - I know it really helps me start out making my cities when it can be hard to visualize exactly where each new city will go. I find it a lot easier to use than a screenshot from the game where the grid is not always clearly delineated, and cities may break the pattern due to terrain. The coloration of the city radii also helps to make it clear that the pattern is actually made up of alternating rows of cities. And, of course, the counting is also handy.
     
  17. GorfTheWanderer

    GorfTheWanderer Disgruntled Civ IV Player

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    This type of city placement may work for you on the lower levels but I have found that it is extreemely hard to beat the AIs on Regent-Diety levels using this style of OCP... In harder levels I use CxxC everwhere except my corrupt outer cities.... if I am going for peace I use CxCxC and disband the middle city after my main cities get to size 7+ this helps with warrior/worker production and still gives your core the ability to become huge and productive later on in the game.
     
  18. WackenOpenAir

    WackenOpenAir Chieftain

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    I would like to add a few things:

    You talk about not using 50% of the tiles 50% of the game somewhere.
    That of course depends on ones game length in the first place and is only true for games who go to the very end of the tech tree.
    In most games, the waste of tiles is much higher than what you state.

    Paterns are not the right way to place your cities in reality. Of course, choose the best spots for your cities and make the city distance you choose to be an average.

    OCS is not really only usefull in 100k culture games. It is very strong to use in any game where you capture a lot of ground that is corrupt and a game long enough to benefit from it. Make wealth and have as many specialists as possible in all your 300 cities and you will probably have over 1000 commerce per turn from them in total. Multiple thousands if you are agricultural and irrigate + railroad everything.
    This is however a very cumbersome thing to do....

    The city placement that I use and recommend is a placement where i choose the best spots for my cities with an average distance between CxxxC and CxxC so that they each have 11 or 12 tiles to use.
     
  19. GorfTheWanderer

    GorfTheWanderer Disgruntled Civ IV Player

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    I agree... however in harder difficulties with lots of AIs I will hac ICS around my capital to help produce warriors and then once I get Iron I mass upgrade and expand my borders/disband the middle cities (that I don't build anything but a barracks in)...
    If my AI opponents are a distance off I play with the same city spacing... works well all the way to Emperor for me...
     
  20. Gato Loco

    Gato Loco Open to Interpretation

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    I haven't seen any mention of happiness. Remember that a tight build leads to lots more benefit from luxuries (the reason that OCP-building AIs value luxuries so little). On Emperor or higher, 4 luxuries means that you can get to size 5 without happiness trouble, size 7 with a market. A size 12 city will have to come up with 5-7 happiness from MP or the lux slider. Since you'd be getting ~28 or so trade (pre-corruption) under republic, 20% luxuries usually suffices during peace. A size 21 OCP city would need 14 or 15 from the slider out of ~45, or 30% luxuries. Just one tick on the slider, but over an entire game this could pile up, expecially since setting the slider at 30% sets it at 30% for every city, even those that don't need it. And of course if you ever get WW, the difference will become more obvious. So unless you have no luxuries or so many that happiness is never a problem, the smaller cities will probably save you some money even considering the cost of building improvements in all of them. More generally, I'd aggree with Wacken that in most situations, ~12 tiles per city is optimal.
     

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