Optimal distances between cities?

coldcell

Chieftain
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
13
In the sticky beginner tips, it says "build fewer, quality cities. But how far away are the cities? Sometimes I build them too far, and sometimes while initially they look far, but eventually their borders overlap each other.

So, how many tiles between each city to maximize that tip?
 
Distance doesn't matter all that much as long at the cities fat crosses don't overlap. What is more important is that you make sure your first couple of cities are in really good locations (high food and or production tiles). They'll start producing culture and grow out their borders and fill up your territory.
 
Spread out your inner cities a bit, Especially plan for 1 or two cities besides cap that can use most of its squares and will eventually really produce. But don't be afraid of overlap either.

I've placed cities with only a square space between them or 4 squares between em. It just depends. Just don't let good squares go to waste unless they are desert. (coast squares and their special resources are especially challenging to not let go to waste, but worth it sometimes)

Remember, if cities are 3 squares away then you can move a 1 move unit between them in a single turn, Useful for defensive fighting. Also overlapping squares means you can build up squares for several cities at once (when building settlers and workers)

Also its better for cities to be a bit closer if they are positioned kitty corner from one another.

Ok general rules of thumb, don't worry about 4 spacing much, hospitals are a long ways away from ancient. Even then you can just irrigate stuff and use specialists. You only "need" 1 or 2 or maybe 3 cities with all its squares (cap plus other cities not too far from cap, one of which should have your forbidden palace)

Not counting city square, 3 spacing left and right, top and bottom, 2 spacing when kitty corner.

But don't get too hung up on that. Place according to terrain. (trying to get fresh water and placing border cities near hostile nations on hills etc) Try not to let good squares like shield grassland go to waste.(where no cities cover them) remember you can compensate for cities being extra close on one side if you you give them extra space on the other side (like a city could have another city 1 or 2 squares from it on the left, just space city on right a bit further away)

Remember, bonus resources that produce commerce go through to the city on top of it. But shield and food bonuses are mostly lost. Which is why you dont want to place cities if you can help it on shield grass, or cows, or game or other such. but maybe on desert square if the alternative is a grass square or something. If the alternative is flood plain its a tough choice since then you get river bonus.(namely 12 without structure) Cities on top of gold just makes sense though.

Cities further away that start suffering real corruption should start to be even closer. Only time I might make these farther away from one another is if im trying to quickly expand to a resource before another nation can.(you can just put a city there but then its isolated)
 
If I have a choice, should I build my city ONTOP of a river, or just next to it? I read somewhere that to build hydro power plant, the city has to be next to a river.

Secondly, sometimes the game recommend you a good city placement. ie at the start of the game, your settler highlights a good land with blue circle. Is this accurate? Since I'm a noob, should I rely on these blue circles of recommendations when I expand my city?
 
Don't worry about the spacing at all, it's not important. What's important is getting special resources within the city borders that you can work early
 
Secondly, sometimes the game recommend you a good city placement. ie at the start of the game, your settler highlights a good land with blue circle. Is this accurate? Since I'm a noob, should I rely on these blue circles of recommendations when I expand my city?

Don't pay a lot of attention too that, the AI isn't great at picking city sites. With the BetterAI mod it has improved though, so the tips for you and the other civs' city placements should be better in BTS.

What might be a good idea for you is to check some of the games publicly discussed here, like the ALC series, as the question of city placement comes up frequently there, and you'll find lots of good opinions and ideas there (with dotmaps ;) ). Which area of land / which resource to claim first, what to sacrifice to gain another advantage (things like fresh water, coastal access, access to powerful resources, etc.) Also, read up on city specialization in the War Academy so you'll know what places to look for for specific city types you're going to build. Sooner or later you'll be limited in the numer of cities you can afford, so it's good to make sure early you will have at least one each of a great production and a great commerce city, for example.
 
The answer to "how far apart should my cities be?" is "however far apart they should be". I know, that's not very helpful......

People get way too hung up on not overlapping the fat cross or "wasting" a strip of tiles inbetween cities. Your city shoudl go wherever it needs to go to give you the benefit you're looking for. This is almost always dependant on having food/special resources to work, but not always.

A little crap city almost completely overlapped can grow a bunch of cottages for your capital while the capital is working production tiles. A canal-city in the middle of a big fractal continent is a good idea even if there's nothing to work but ocean.

So, I guess my advice is this: don't worry about where the city is being placed. Determine what your goals for your next city are, determine the best available location to meet those goals, and move your settler there!
 
The answer to "how far apart should my cities be?" is "however far apart they should be". I know, that's not very helpful......

People get way too hung up on not overlapping the fat cross or "wasting" a strip of tiles inbetween cities. Your city shoudl go wherever it needs to go to give you the benefit you're looking for. This is almost always dependant on having food/special resources to work, but not always.

A little crap city almost completely overlapped can grow a bunch of cottages for your capital while the capital is working production tiles. A canal-city in the middle of a big fractal continent is a good idea even if there's nothing to work but ocean.

So, I guess my advice is this: don't worry about where the city is being placed. Determine what your goals for your next city are, determine the best available location to meet those goals, and move your settler there!

Well said, this is my philosophy towards number and size of cities too :). I favour cramming a few extra cities into the spaces between my main cities. In the middle game (say 1000 AD) rather than have a few mediocre cities all with perfect fat crosses and a lot of wasted weak tiles (like plains or coastal) you can have more cities (perhaps twice as many) with quite a few overlapping fat crosses and all the wasted tiles able to be worked. The second case will be a much more powerful empire with a larger pop. It will have much higher maintenance costs for its many cities, and a larger civic cost (due to bigger pop) but the larger pop will also reduce the costs of the much larger army. Those higher costs will easily be offset by the fact that many more tiles are being worked, many cities will be at the happiness cap (determined by resources and technologies unless you run HR) or the health cap. There will be many more worked cottages and the main cities will be better developed.

To run this sort of set up you need to have a clear idea of which cities are your primary cities, which will work the best tiles and grow to maximum size, and which cities are secondary cities that take the left over tiles at the end of the game. The primary cities build a lot of the infrastructure boosting science and gold multipliers and raising their happiness cap and they work mines or use Slavery to whip stuff in without worrying too much about working cottages. The secondary cities don't build much infrastructure just granary, forge and courthouse and they take over working the cottages of the primary city when it is whipping pop away and regrowing fast. The spare hammers from the secondary cities can build catapults or missionaries and they are ideal places to draft extra riflemen leaving the main cities intact.

This is a more powerful approach, than the simpler non-overlapping approach but it does take a lot more planning and micromanagement (swapping tiles between cities can get tedious with a big empire). If you like to play at a higher level then this is one way to increase tech rate and army size considerably.
 
I like to build my starting cities as close to the capital as possible without overlap. Some overlap though is better than having a crappier city. The idea is to get as many special resources (including floodplains, but watch health) into the fat cross as possible. Also, surplus food is very important.

Try and limit your expansion until you have currency and code of laws.
 
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