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City specialization vs hybrid cities ?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by poky123, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. poky123

    poky123 Chieftain

    Mar 17, 2009
    Hey all,

    I've always been a casual civ player, not really focusing on much of anything when playing. Then a few days back, I came across some LP civ 4 videos by "Themelnteam" and was amazed by how he managed to win on emperor difficulty while making it look like it was on settler. That really got me interested (I have trouble playing on noble) and more "involved"- as a result I finally made an account ^^. While watching the videos, I picked up some stuff like city specialization. Now, being a casual player I usually just make a bunch of hybrid cities (cottages on grassland near rivers, farms on grassland, cottages on semi-grasslands, etc) and the game ends up well for me.

    So my question is why city specialization? a bunch of hybrid cities end up being great once you set it up.

    Also, I tried a game on noble using city specialization, and it didn't work out too well. Date was around 1500 AD with this Chinese and the Ottomans at the top of the score board. I was ranked third with Napoleon real close. I had about 7 cities (London, which was a hammer city - had about 4 hills, York - Food city farming scientists, and Nottingham, which was my capital commerce/science city). I was the most advanced civ being a 2-3 techs ahead of the AI, but when it came to military power, I was at the bottom of the list- I was literally on the floor. Anyway I don't want to get into too much detail; should have taken a screen shot, but I quit the game knowing that I lost.

    London had a few wonders, including stone henge, pyramids, and great library (don't remember if there were more)

    Anyway by the time I got set up with my commerce/science city (running bureaucracy) , it was producing around 130 beakers / 30 coins a turn. Bah...I really don't know what I need to know. =/

    Thank You all for taking the time to reading this wall of text. I appreciate it
  2. mechaerik

    mechaerik Tuturuu!

    Oct 28, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Several things:
    First: Welcome to the Forums pok123 :beer:

    Second: City Specialization is all about playing the Map. Lots of hills? Production city. Flood plains? Commerce city. Food, lots and lots? Specialist City.

    Third: TMIT is a great player, and he plays very fast.

    Fourth: Your military is your main defense against attack; don't neglect it (just a general tip).

    Most importantly though; City Specialization works best on the higher difficulties, and on the lower ones it is far less neseccary. That does not mean to disregard it however; having a major military pump or two can really save your bacon (mmm... bacon :drool:).
  3. helemaalnicks

    helemaalnicks Warlord

    Mar 13, 2008
    The reason for city specialization is 2fold.

    Most important one:

    National wonders. Since you put Oxford university in only 1 city, you want to boost research to the max in that city. Same for wall street and gold, ironworks/HE for hammers, National epic for food, etc etc.

    Second, if you "neglect" hammers in science city, letting it build mostly infrastructure, to boost its research even further, you still need units, and spies, and missionaries. And with a city that JUST goes for hammers, nothing else, you can skip:

    library, uni, observatory, bank (grocer/market, depending on city size), saving you a ton of hammers there. So this city doesn't need those buildings, and can focus on units, relieving the oxford city from "defensive duties". I can't really explain it much better, but the whole specialization thing doesn't have a lot to do with terrain. Terrain is always at least somewhat suitable for any specialization, except that tundra hills don't do well for commerce, and riverside grass does a bit better for commerce then avg.

    I advice you to read this thread:


    and look at the pics closely. I'm not sure whether poster won this game or not, but his city specialization would make any person who's obsessed with organization drool.

    I really like the concept of "ports". Often these can be on rather bad terrain, working 4-5 tundratiles with farms/workshops (depending on the foodexcess how many workshops, how many farms), and just pumping boats. This city doesn't even need a friggin barracks :D. You just build boats/drydock at some point, and then more boats. It pays for itself working a few coastal/ocean tiles, and is just pumping units for fun.

    Take the city specialization in the thread with a pinch of salt, hes really obsessive in this game :). I mean, usually, your bureacracycapital is the best place for either oxford or ironworks (depending on which victory you're pursueing, what your capital is like, etc.). And you also want to try to have a bit more commerce cities, since he has 2 or 3 or so (incl capital), and that's not a lot. But the thread is about teaching pple specialization, and it does a fine job there.

    Hope i helped.
  4. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Nov 14, 2007
    The beautiful thing about civ4 is that many different approaches are viable - the 'how' is more important than the 'what'.

    Heavy specialisation makes your national wondes more powerful and saves you some hammers building unneeded infrastructure (or at least lets you postpone such until you have nothing better to do). This makes an approach like 'dedicated hammer cities, cottage cities for gold, scientist cities for science' competitive despite fairly unimpressive yields per tile.

    An alternative is to say 'sod specialisation, I'm going to break something'. Towns with all the civics are very strong and can be built on a great variety of tiles. Dedicated to gold and rushbuy, they actually count among the best 'production' improvements as well for non-projects/wonders.

    Something that combines aspects of both would be a 'maximum food' approach where you have little specialisation in terms of improvements (farms and windmills) but use them differently. You could strive to run mostly engineers (or Angkor Wat priests) in your general cities, scientists in your cities with academies, merchants in your Wall Street city, spies in a specialised espionage city with Scotland Yard and whip heavily in your proudction cities.


    In practice, I tend to only specialise my national wonder cities... rest will be generic and optimise the hell out of one aspect of the game.
  5. pfo

    pfo Warlord

    Jan 31, 2008
    City specialization can make it easier to keep track of what to build where. A military production city only needs a barracks, eventually it could use a military academy, a settled GG, possibly a courthouse, a forge, etc.... But you know you won't be building a library, a market, a grocer, etc... in those cities. All it's going to do is crank out units.

    Similarly, you might have a city with lots of grassland but low production. That could be your commerce city, cottage it up and slow build the market, the grocer, the bank, etc....

    I often do hybrids too, it is tricky to totally devote a city to a specific task (at least in my experience) but I find that having a hybrid production / commerce city requires too many buildings and distracts it away from building units (if it was supposed to do that).

    Specialized cities benefit from certain wonders. A city that has tons of food could really use the globe theatre, it could make a sick GP farm. A city with lots of forests is great for the national park, perhaps it's a tundra city with access to some deer and fish and all forests around it.
  6. UWHabs

    UWHabs Deity

    Oct 10, 2008
    It can help. You have to know where, and be careful not to be too strict about it (ie. you can build a bank in your science city, and units in your GP farm).

    Mainly, it means you don't have to prioritize. City going to build units? Then build units to defend your empire, and don't worry so much about that library to give +25% science on the 4 commerce the city gets.

    Sometimes it's hard picking what to make a city. Some games don't lend to specialization. But if you're careful, you can make it work. They key is that all cities need food. Never forget that.
  7. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

    Jan 26, 2008
    I'm glad to be helpful/draw new members to the community...welcome to the forums :). Hopefully you like it here! About 14 months ago I was a new settler player, the community has helped me a lot :p.

    The main benefit of specialization within the context of an individual city is that you can set it to its max potential in that aspect very quickly relative to a hybrid city. How your empire looks as a whole is much more varied...player preference, traits, and the land you can settle all impact choices of what you do empire-wide.

    If you're behind in military, consider more hammer cities or using those to build more units :lol:. The whip and draft can be alternative methods of raising forces, as can $$$ buy if you're really cottage heavy and can set up the gold multipliers (and it becomes really strong with kremlin, as does mass whipping).

    One thing you'll also find on this forum is that there are some really scary good players :lol:. I'm kind of in the 2nd tier as an immortal player, we have a handful or two that regularly win deity. You see them more in the strategy & tips and succession games subforums.

    Well, if you want to jump right in in terms of involvement, head over to strategy and tips and check out the noble's club, LHC (including the game you just watched! You can play that map and it's actually an easy map relative to normal), and monarch student games.

    Edit: It's true that some form of city specialization is more crucial on higher difficulties, but it will make play stronger on ANY difficulty!
  8. DaveMurray

    DaveMurray Warlord

    Feb 25, 2009
    City specialization will make your game stronger but don't worry if the terrain isn't completely suited to either commerce or production. Sometimes hybrid cities can be nice, especially if you need to pump out a lot of units because Shaka just showed up at your doorstep with a 30 unit stack at 500AD.
  9. ranger101

    ranger101 Chieftain

    Dec 14, 2006
    Even with City Specialization, you will find certain buildings in all cities. Granary, monument (unless Creative), Forge and Courthouse. Science/Gold cities will need at least a forge as they will be constructing buildings. Production cities might need happiness buildings and they will certainly need health buildings with all the factories and coal spewing toxins into the air.

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