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Optimal City Placement

Beard Rinker

Warlord
Joined
Jan 7, 2002
Messages
180
Location
Victoria BC, Canada
In the optimal city layout, all terrain squares are used and each city has only 2 overlapping tiles with other cities. Each city effectively has use of 20 tiles and no terrain squares are wasted.

When establishing the optimal pattern, there are three placements in any direction for the second city. Once the second city is placed the pattern is established and this dictates the placement of the other cities.

The placements are:
a) Five tiles adjacent.
b) Three tiles diagonal then 1 tile diagonal left or right.
c) Three tiles diagonal then 1 tile adjacent left or right.

To continue the pattern, cities placed left or right of the second city must be done as follows:
- Use the 2 placements not used when placing cities on the left or right of city 2.
- If placement a is used then placement b and c must hook away from the second city. For example: City 2 is 5 tiles ne of city 1 using placement a. City 3 is 3 tiles north, 1 tile west (away). City 4 is 3 tiles east, 1 tile se (away). Alternately, city 3 is 3 tiles n, 1 tile nw. City 4 is 3 tiles east, 1 tile s.
- If placement b or c are used then the right and left placement must use a specific pattern. Use placement a in the opposite side of the hook on city 2's placement. Use the other placement on the other side hooking towards city 2. For example: City 2 was place using placement 2 and is 3 tiles north, 1 tile w. City 3 would then be on city 2's right and placed 5 tiles ne of city 1. City 4 would use placement c and be 3 tiles e, 1 tile ne of city 1.

To continue the pattern from the second city in the same direction the exact same placement pattern must be used. For example: City 2 is placed using placement b and is 3 tiles south, 1 tile west. Continuing south from city 2 the next city must be 3 tiles south one tile west. Alternately, it could be 5 tiles se but that's not as south.

The attached image shows a hypothetical optimal city placement pattern.
Legend:
Green – City
Pink – Area in use by city
Red – Overlap between 2 cities
 

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Yes, that's the one. Hard to describe, isn't it.

Dang ocean and mountains prevent me from getting the layout just so sometimes, not to mention rival civs.
 
Cool! I'll have to try this sometime. I had been trying to figure out the best placement and had come across this one.

What I had been doing lately was placing them 3 squares away on the diagonal. This makes 1 empty tile in between each 4 cities and up to 4 overlapping tiles with other cities. This made expansion quicker (3 moves instead of 4), quicker to defend, move units around and allowed for slightly more cities to be built. This helps the early game more, but may be a little more of a hinderance after hospitals (but I usually have the game put away by then). Due to mountains :mad: and coasts, I ended up placing some of them like you have it.
 
Actually, my city placement is different. I thought we had a similar pattern because I didn't look closely.

This is the first time I ever tried to attach an image, but it should work. If it does, the aqua square is the capital. The green squares are the sites of the core ring, the blue are the outer ring cities. Note that there's a fair amount of overlap but cities lose only a single tile each, other than the capital.

Note further that this idea is a stolen one, but I can't remember who I got it from.

The main benefit is mainly a savings on corruption as the outer ring cities are less than ten tiles from the capital. It also makes placement a no brainer. There's a bit of flexibility in the placement of cities that aren't "in line" with the capital, but it's just a choice between 2 tiles, if you catch my meaning.
 

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I have no thought through strategy for placing cites or a predetermined pattern to follow. I plan each city individually, making a compromise between "good spots" and minimizing loss of terrain. I also try to squeeze in as many cities as possible, because each city means more production. This means that my cities normally overlap a fair bit.

I have found that overlaping is not much of a problem, since it takes effect only late in the game. Lots of cities is better.
 
Ironikinit

Good one. I hadn't thought this city placement through with respect to the capital but that makes perfect sense. If you include the forbidden palace, it could be set up in a similar pattern and share a couple of the outside cities.

In reality however, I have never placed more than a couple of cities in a fixed pattern. Darned moutains and coastline always get in the way.

In my next game, I'll try using this pattern with one addition: temporary pop-rush cities 2 tiles north, and south of the capital. These cities will be disbanded once I use a form of government that doesn't allow pop-rushing leaving the pattern in tact.
 
My optimal is very different from those posted. I build the first two cities very close to the capital, one square away on the diagonal, or two away on the straight. This density provides tremendous early production and research leverage.

Terrain, resources and luxuries are much more important factors than spacing for determining optimal placement of early cities. After the first two production cities are in place, the next priorities are iron, horses and luxuries. Spacing is a factor, but a minor one.

I play on Emperor difficulty, standard size map. A player can get by on a lower difficulty and a larger map with some of the suggested patterns, but it is a hard road to follow on Regent difficulty and above.
 
I play on Emperor difficulty, standard size map. A player can get by on a lower difficulty and a larger map with some of the suggested patterns, but it is a hard road to follow on Regent difficulty and above.

On a huge map, it seems to me, you would be giving up too much territory to build your first two cities this close. That is why I put them 3 tiles away on the diagonal (straight north, south, east or west). I kick butt with this on Regent, I'll see how I do on Monarch on my next game. I never play on maps smaller than huge, so your strategy probably works great on those maps. If I see any resources, yes I'll tend to build towards them first, but I still follow the same pattern. If you build a city, just for claiming Iron, then what if that resource dissapears? I just claim as much land as possible, because sooner or later resources are more likely to appear in your territory if you have a larger territory.

This is what works for me based on my playing style (I don't use pop-rush, except for on improvements in high-corrupt cities).
 
Originally posted by Ironikinit
Actually, my city placement is different. I thought we had a similar pattern because I didn't look closely.

This is the first time I ever tried to attach an image, but it should work. If it does, the aqua square is the capital. The green squares are the sites of the core ring, the blue are the outer ring cities. Note that there's a fair amount of overlap but cities lose only a single tile each, other than the capital.

Note further that this idea is a stolen one, but I can't remember who I got it from.

The main benefit is mainly a savings on corruption as the outer ring cities are less than ten tiles from the capital. It also makes placement a no brainer. There's a bit of flexibility in the placement of cities that aren't "in line" with the capital, but it's just a choice between 2 tiles, if you catch my meaning.

That's exactly how I place my cities. I've done it in Civ2, but not Civ3.. yet... Though, it is hard when you don't have a lot of open space..
 
Well, obviously I can't get it just so, but that's the ideal. Usually even if mountains or the ocean doesn't get in the way, an AI civ will.

However, cities can be relocated, and even pretty late in the game I'm willing to move them around. It works, no matter what level I'm playing on, although I don't play deity. Emperor is bad enough.

As B. Rinker pointed out, it's kickass to have two sets of double rings, one for your capital and one for your ForbPal. They don't have to intermix, one can be on another continent.

You could even do a third ring, but beyond the double ring I mainly place cities to get resources or leave the AI cities where I took them.

Chieftess, I wish I would've known it when I played Civ 2. I'm going to start trying 5 billion year option and hope to get fewer mountains.

I usually play standard size, monarch, 8 civs, continents, 60% water, other options default.

I also want to try close placement with the pop rush cities. I don't have that down. For a time I thought the idea was to rush settlers, which didn't work out. Duuuuuuuuuuuh.
 
Originally posted by Ironikinit
The main benefit is mainly a savings on corruption as the outer ring cities are less than ten tiles from the capital. It also makes placement a no brainer. There's a bit of flexibility in the placement of cities that aren't "in line" with the capital, but it's just a choice between 2 tiles, if you catch my meaning.

I also use this type a layout. Didn't really take it from anywhere, it just came to me.

It not only helps with corruption but also cultural. Other cities that are close seem to want to join me when I layout my cities this way. It strengthens the cultural influence on other cities (I think it does anyway)
 
Actually, no. The production and research leverage from having two close in cities outweighs the very slight delay in claiming land. You have a lot of time on a huge map. A dense build will catch up and overtake a sparse build in a few dozen turns. One reason is the overlapping tiles. They allow the suburbs to use mines and roads built for the capital to crank out additional units and increase research. Most people that read about the dense build do not like it. Most people that try it, find it to be a powerful way to start the game.

As with almost all questions about the game, the answer depends on the difficulty level and size of map. Large and Huge maps allow more strategies than standard size maps. The reasons are that it takes more time to get an army to the nearest enemy, and AI tech trading is much slower on large maps.

Again, I think a player will have a hard time on Regent and above with four by four spacing on Standard size maps. On a standard map, it often means pop rushing is a must, which defeats the whole purpose of nicely spaced citieis. Again, on large or huge maps or lower difficulties, many more strategies are viable, because the AI can not get an army to your door quickly and their tech trading is slower.

As for iron or horses or whatever, on a standard map, a player has to be ready for war relatively quickly. Rarely do resources deplete before the end of the first age. On a huge map there is more time to plan for the very long term.

Originally posted by Bamspeedy


On a huge map, it seems to me, you would be giving up too much territory to build your first two cities this close. That is why I put them 3 tiles away on the diagonal (straight north, south, east or west). I kick butt with this on Regent, I'll see how I do on Monarch on my next game. I never play on maps smaller than huge, so your strategy probably works great on those maps. If I see any resources, yes I'll tend to build towards them first, but I still follow the same pattern. If you build a city, just for claiming Iron, then what if that resource dissapears? I just claim as much land as possible, because sooner or later resources are more likely to appear in your territory if you have a larger territory.

This is what works for me based on my playing style (I don't use pop-rush, except for on improvements in high-corrupt cities).
 
Interesting thread!

I myself am way too anal to ever place cities with any overlap. This is despite the fact that I fully recognize the advantages of compact city placement. The only exception is when I would leave a huge gaping hole otherwise, in which case I will tolerate at most two squares. I have actually declared war on the AI solely because their cities overlapped mine, in both civ 2 & 3.

If you think that's bad however, you should see my wife play. When conquering an AI civ in civ2, she can take over two size 20 cities, and if they overlap by a single square she chooses one of them, starves it all the way down to size 1 and builds a settler to move it. She always renames the doomed city "Salt", to indicate that she is salting the earth there. :) Needless to say she was thrilled to learn that she could simply raze cities in civ3!!
 
Again, I think a player will have a hard time on Regent and above with four by four spacing on Standard size maps. On a standard map, it often means pop rushing is a must, which defeats the whole purpose of nicely spaced citieis. Again, on large or huge maps or lower difficulties, many more strategies are viable, because the AI can not get an army to your door quickly and their tech trading is slower.

As for iron or horses or whatever, on a standard map, a player has to be ready for war relatively quickly. Rarely do resources deplete before the end of the first age. On a huge map there is more time to plan for the very long term.

True. Maybe that's why I don't like the smaller maps. On the smaller maps, the land available is greatly limited so you must move quickly, and you don't have a whole lot of options of where to settle to choose from.

I used to play on huge pangea maps with 60% water, and yes it takes a long time for your enemy to reach your territory. But the last few weeks I have been playing on huge pangea maps (16 civs) with 80% water and I run into my neighbors rather quickly. It almost feels like I am playing on a standard map or something. Can anyone who has played on both a standard map and a huge pangea map with 80%water confirm this?


My optimal is very different from those posted. I build the first two cities very close to the capital, one square away on the diagonal, or two away on the straight. This density provides tremendous early production and research leverage.

I finally sat down and drew out on graph paper what these cities would look like (how much overlapping, etc). Each suburb (assuming you put one city directly north two tiles, and the other city directly south two tiles for example). Each city would be sharing 7 tiles with the capital, and have 13 other tiles of it's own that it can choose from. This would allow both suburbs to grow up to size 12, if there is enough food of course. This works great if you will pretty much have the game put away before hospitals, like I usually do. And this also helps the problem of the automated worker always improving the capital's land first (I hate micromanaging), because any improvements may help the suburbs and not just the capital.

I guess the whole point of trying to do an 'ideal city placement' is if you really want those huge cities late in the game. I like to figure out a pattern, so that I don't have to spend so much time trying to figure out exactly where to put my cities "Hmmm....should I settle here, or one tile west of it, or two tiles south of here, etc." I have an idea for a new style of city placement I think I'll try on Regent, maybe Monarch (huge map of course :) ), that combines our two strategies.
 
I'm with Commie here as far as city placement goes. IMO, using any kind of rigid grid scheme will give you corruption advantages in the short run, but it can rob you of worthwile cities in the late came. In Civ I there was an AI characteristic called "perfectionist." My personal play style matches that attribute fairly well. I prefer entering the modern age with individually nurtured jewels of cities full of improvements and ready to kick some serious...
When this strategy is executed well, your cities can become miniature civs in their own right. One city can wage a small war while the others pursue different goals. The aggressive AI of Civ III makes this strategy a bit uncomfortable, but it's still something I'd reccomend to the semi-romantic player.
 
When this strategy is executed well, your cities can become miniature civs in their own right. One city can wage a small war while the others pursue different goals. The aggressive AI of Civ III makes this strategy a bit uncomfortable, but it's still something I'd reccomend to the semi-romantic player.

On Chieftain level, sure, I use to play that way all the time. I would have all my cities 5 tiles away, so there was 0 overlapping tiles, and I would build every improvement in every city. This does allow for several very large cities. But I honestly feel, that any cities beyond size 20 is a waste. Specialists aren't all that useful, as they were in Call to Power II. Also, until you get hospitals, each city would only need enough tiles to support 12 citizens, therefore almost half of your land is wasted by not being used. Also, the far spacing, might give you advantages in the late game, by having large cities, but I often don't like going that far into the game (with my strategy, I have the game pretty well in hand before hospitals). With a denser build, you can over-power your neighbors much sooner in the game, and in my last game on Regent I had half of the 16 civs eliminated before getting to the industrial age! If you move up in difficulty levels, condensed building is required if you want a chance (the higher the difficulty, the more dense you need to build).
 
I usually place my cities strategically to prevent the AI from building inside my territory, to do so I follow the coast and build cities in choke points to stop AI from advancing. If you put troops in the only pass the AI can get to your space they won't keep sending stuff over. Another strategy I use is never give them your world/territory map. Hopefully the territory you've claimed has never been explored by the AI and they will not land on your coast if there are no blank squares large enough to support a city. The first few cities I place are usually in the BEST production areas instead of placement. I take advantage of the terrain which I think is more important than squeezing an extra city out.
Unless you are really strapped for room to expand, this works better in my opinion. Sure the corruption are high, but I play the chinese usually and use the coastal corrupted cities to pump out workers like crazy to build improvements and speed growth of the more important ones.
 
Originally posted by Ironikinit
Actually, my city placement is different. I thought we had a similar pattern because I didn't look closely.

Actually, the pattern is identical.:)

It's just that bear rinker's sample runs (cities line up) NE to SW, and Ironikinit runs SE to NW. Just a 'flip' of the same pattern.

I began adopting this pattern a long time ago also. I based it on one of Zachriel's attachments which took advantage of the 1 tile overlap.

I prefer this 4-tile layout on larger maps. The long term benefits of having all cities near the P and FP at full size adds up to alot considering how many corrupted cities are around in the later stages of the game.

OTOH, I don't like to use this pattern on smaller maps, prefering the dense build (suburbia) layout to gain early production.
 
BillChin: Are you counting the square the city is built on? IE moving 2 squares and building on the third tile?

I play on emperor, mostly on huge pangaea maps/16 civs, random civ. I'm finding the dense build absolutely neccessary in 1.17. With tech brokering butchered, i'm waging my own wars now, rather than paying neighboring civs to do my dirty work for me. The early, high production cities are the only way to stay in the game without paying the AI every few turns for your continued existence.

If possible, i'd love to see a semi-late game (industrial on) screenshot of your core cities, how growth was effected, etc. Don't go nuts, i know the forum has a new policy with image sizes and all. Its more curiosity. :)
 
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