I'm currently trying to move up from Noble to Monarch (and simultaneously trying to cure myself of a bad habit of auto-reloading when things go wrong, but that's another story), and I've come to realize that one of my weaknesses is city specialization. Once a city is fully-grown and I've mined the hills and cottaged the land, I have no trouble knowing what to do with it, but I have a hard time looking at the bare, unimproved land and picturing the fully-grown city in my mind's eye. Should my workers start putting mines on hills and workshops on land to make this city into a production powerhouse later? Or should I put windmills on hills and farms on land and make it a GP farm? Or should I be cottaging up every flat bit of ground I can find, building only just enough farms to support the rest of the tiles? I've read http://www.civfanatics.com/civ4/strategy/cityspecialization.php and found it very useful (especially the +F and +P methods of evaluating the resources in a BFC). But even knowing the technique, I can't seem to apply it. How much surplus food should I look for in a GP farm? How much production should a city's BFC have for me to turn it into a hammer powerhouse? Early city placement is especially tough for me: I can cruise along playing pretty quickly, making decisions about worker use and production queues without getting too bogged down, but my entire game grinds to a halt every time I build a settler. I spend at least ten or fifteen minutes looking at dotmaps, tying to find an optimal city placement, before I send the settler out, only to repeat the process over again with my next settler, second-guessing my earlier decisions! (E.g., if I'd settled that previous guy a couple tiles left, I could have put the gems and the gold mine in the same city without overlap, but now I have to do major overlap to make this commerce city work). How do you decide, when looking at a bare map, where to settle? What rules-of-thumb do you follow in deciding to pick this spot rather than that other spot 1 tile to the NW? What sorts of +food or +production values do you look for when you draw dotmaps? And how do you pick between cottaging every flat area in sight, or farming those areas instead? (And if you do cottage every flat area in sight, how do you decide that this should be a science city with Libraries/Universities/Oxford rather than a money city with Markets/Banks/Wall Street?) (Edit: Deciding where to build an Academy with my early GS is another hard one for me. That should obviously be the same city in which I plan to build Oxford... but I never know, that early in the game, which one I'm going to want to make my science city 200 turns later). Advice from experienced players much appreciated.