Need Advice on Improving Land Around Cities

Phoenix Master

Jun 1, 2019
1.) Sometimes when I would build improvements around cities the pictures for it would be there but the actual improvements would not be when I moved the cursor over the tiles. Why is this?
2.) Can someone give me some general advice on how to improve the land around cities? I am playing as China and my cities are okay, but they're not great. I noticed some of the other civs' cities have larger populations. Basically, I want to know what improvements to build on certain tiles and when to do this.
3.) Finally, I am confused at the citizen allocation system in Civ 5. In Civ 4, I could click on a worked tile in the city screen and the citizen would no longer work that tile. I could have him work a different tile or turn him into a specialist. When I click on a worked tile in the city screen in Civ 5, the citizen remains there. Can someone please explain to me how the citizen allocation system works in Civ 5?


Apr 7, 2012
Q 1 -- Not sure what you mean by this. I've never seen anything like this.

Q 2 -- What level are you playing? On higher levels the AI has advantages and you would expect them to have larger cities, particularly if they go Tradition. You could try this guide: What to build and when is impossible to say. Part of the skill of the game is making decisions like this. It is a balancing act. If you need growth, then you need to improve food resources and build farms. If your production is low, you need to build mines, lumber mills (if you have not chopped the forests) and so forth. On the coast you may need to build lighthouses in your cities and build workboats. The whole point of the game is decision-making, based on an appraisal of the situation at that moment and what you think you will need to do in the coming moves. Generally speaking, the "safe" option is to go Tradition, try to get three cities founded by around T50, research Philosophy so that you can build the National College by about T85, perhaps build a fourth city after National College, and have an army of at least six archers/composite bows for defence by that time. But a lot will depend on the neighbours. If you have the Huns or the Zulus for your neighbours, you will need an army asap, because they *will* attack you. Maybe try watching a few videos to see how others play.

Q 3 -- if you click on a citizen it will lock them on that tile. If you click again it unlocks them. Clicking on a blank tile will move an unlocked citizen to that tile. Clicking on a specialist slot will move an unlocked citizen to that slot.


Aug 5, 2012
Rural Vermont
Q1: This can happen if construction of the improvement was interrupted before it was completed (i.e., moved the worker to something else before he finished). The graphic for a partially completed improvement is deceptively similar to that for the completed improvement. (Thankfully, that is not the case for pillaged improvements, which show smoke rising).

Q2: Agree with the advice above, with the general observation that population growth is tied almost exclusively to excess food, assuming sufficient happiness. If you want population to grow, make sure your cities are not unhappy, that you improve and lock down citizens (Q3) to work food tiles, and that you prioritize acquiring additional food and "growth" sources (e.g., maritime city-states, Tradition's Landed Elite social policy, etc.). But keep in mind that will all go to waste if your cities are unhappy (the growth malus is severe).
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