The Beginner’s Guide to the One City Challenge (OCC)

Greencardman

Warlord
Joined
Nov 8, 2005
Messages
114
Updated

Having played the One City Challenge a few times now I’ve realized that its one of the most exciting ways to play Civ IV, so I decided to write a short article to get people interested.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the One City Challenge (or OCC for short) limits the human player to only one city. The computer players can (and do) build as many cities as they want. Sound hard? Well maybe… The good news is the limits on two national wonders per city are lifted, as are the limits on wonders that require a certain number of building as prerequisites (except monasteries for some reason).

Starting The Game
To begin a One City Challenge game you need to go to the custom game menu and check the box marked One City Challenge. Note: while the descriptive text says one city at a time, this is misleading, its one city forever. You can’t switch cities even if you capture a nice one from a rival, and cities that culture flip automatically get razed. So be sure you start in a good place, because that’s the one and only city you’re going to get!

Maps:
Since resources are spread out more on larger maps, they’re naturally harder to play a OCC game on. If you’re feeling brave, go right ahead, but I usually start on a Tiny Pangaea map with 3 Civs. It guarantees you a few good resources on your start.

Victory Conditions:
It will probably be a good idea to change the normal victory conditions. A culture win is impossible for a human player on an OCC game, so I usually uncheck that box (note to Firaxis, might want to change that). Also, I usually uncheck the Time and Diplomatic victories as well, since the AI players can expand, they usually gain more points than the human player with one city can. Update: if you want to play with the Permanent Alliance option on, it allows more variety in an OCC game. Because you are permanently allied with another player, the Cultural victory option becomes available (3 cities with legendary culture) and the Diplomatic and Time victories also become more easily attainable. Its your game, have fun with it.

Civs:
Choose your Civ wisely, because it makes a big difference in this game! As will be mentioned later, health, wonders and great people are key aspects to an OCC game, so I usually pick a Civ with combinations that will help me out in those areas (expansive, philosophical, industrious.) I usually forgo a financial Civ because cottage spamming isn’t really a viable option for this game, you just don’t have the space.

The Early Game
Probably the most important part of the game for an OCC player is the early game, because it determines how many wonders will be built, and how quickly Great People will start accumulating. But before we move into too many aspects of the early game, I’d like to cover the key game elements to winning the OCC game.

Key Game Elements
There are three key areas an OCC player needs to pay attention to in order to become a significant threat to the AI: health, wonders, and great people.

Health: probably the most important aspect to an OCC game, it determines how large your city can grow. In most OCC games, city size is limited only by health (we’ll get into why happiness isn’t a problem later). So be sure you maximize your chances for a healthy city! This means moving next to fresh water (+2 health) if you can, and away from jungles and towards forests. Also, one health resource is probably more important than two or more happiness resources, so if you have a choice, chose the health resources. Of course any resources are good, since you can always trade them away for gold, and sometimes for health resources, but be careful, the AI is stingy! The only exception to this is Flood Plains, they provide enough food to give you some specialists.

Wonders: another very important tool in the OCC arsenal (I’ve always wanted to say that.) Along with their usual benefits, wonders also work at constantly expanding your cultural borders, thereby giving you more territory, and probably more resources. But their most important role is providing the ever important GPP (Great People Points) that keep you ahead of the AI.

Which leads us to great people, that last key element of an OCC game. I use all forms, but generally I find Great Engineers and Great Prophets to be the most important, especially in the early game. Great Scientists are useful for the Academy they give you, and also for discovering techs, while Great Artists keep your borders expanding constantly, allowing you to take over neighboring resources. Occasionally I get a Great Merchant, but since I play on a small map, they’re not too useful, especially in large numbers. Others, however, find them to be incredibly useful, you can read their strategies in later posts.

Starting Location and Resources
Now that we’ve covered some key elements, lets get back to starting our game. To begin with, check out your starting location. Sometimes I keep my settler stationary and explore with my scout to try and find a better area. In an OCC game, its not really what’s in your city radius as what’s just outside of it. Because your culture expands fairly quickly, you generally get access to resources rather fast. But at some point your borders slow down or the AI builds next to you, which means you should start your city with enough resources 6 to 7 squares away in order to ensure early game access to them. Anything outside of that means you’ll have to wait a bit longer for your culture to catch up. So if you have your choice, move closer to health resources and away from happiness ones.

On a related note, I should mention two other resources that are vitally important to the OCC win: marble and stone. Since they increase wonder production, they’re even worth moving away from a health resource to get. Especially if you can get to within 4 or less squares right away. This will allow you to punch a worker out as quickly as possible, by which time your borders will expand enough to envelop the resource, and you can hook it up and start producing wonders.

To end the resource discussion, remember that unless you start on the coast you’ll never be able to produce workboats to get access to sea-based resources (and the health they provide.) Its very frustrating to see your borders expand to the open ocean, and not be able to do anything about it. So if you notice an abundance of water resources, you may want to start on the coast.

Early Game Tech and Production
Since wonders are an important part of an OCC game, I usually beeline for techs that give me wonders. A nice thing about the game is that you don’t have to worry about building any settlers! So while the AI is building theirs, you can be starting your first wonder. Usually I build a warrior until the my city reaches a size two, then I switch to a worker, and then finish the warrior and start my first wonder.

Religion: I generally don’t bother with starting a religion. Usually I let others spread theirs to me so I can switch depending on who I want to please, plus I don’t want to lose turns building the missionaries that make them worth while. Since unhappiness isn’t really a factor in an OCC game (usually,) their only worth is monastaries and gold from shrines. Its up to you if you want to make this part of your game, I think either way can work. Just remember, you only have one city, so you have to justify everything you build!

Ok, so which Techs to research? I usually start with the worker techs, (animal husbandry, agriculture, the wheel, fishing, mining, masonry) since I really want my worker to get out and start hooking up my resources, especially if there’s marble or stone about. Polytheism is also an important tech, because it allows you to build Stonehenge, one of the cheapest wonders. You should also go for Priesthood, to build the Oracle, and Masonry, which allows you to build the Pyramids. After that, you may want to research a few militaristic techs in order to be able to produce something other than Warriors, because barbarians are going to become a problem about this time.

Now, which wonder do you build first? This is actually a hard question. If you build the Pyramids first, your first GP (Great Person) is going to be an engineer, who can rush your second wonder. If you build Stonehenge, it will be a Great Prophet, who provides a substantial gold and hammer boost. I usually chose Stonehenge because it’s the cheapest, and the Great Prophet is amazing. Turn them into a super specialists right away, they provide a production boost and start your treasury going. Then I usually build the Oracle for the free tech, and then the Parthenon, for the GP boost. I’ll try the Pyramids if nobody has gotten to them yet.

The Rest of the Game
This part is rather vague, since I can’t really cover how every game will go. But I will note a few things for you to watch out for.

First, stay current in your military, and keep building units! You may feel safe seeing six units inside your city, but really you’re not! Trust me, you’ll always need more. I usually keep a line of defense along my borders on hills and in forests to keep barbarians and other civ’s out. Pillaging can kill an OCC city, so don’t let the enemy get too close. Also, you need more units than you think. The AI can arrive quickly with a stack that will demolish your city garrison in a heartbeat. Its better to meet them out in the field by playing a defensive game in the forest and on hills. I usually have my worker (I usually only produce one a game) build roads when they have nothing to do. It allows me to get my units out from my city quickly, and attack and withdraw in the same move if need be.

You don’t need to build every wonder! Ok, that sounds funny, but I’ve come close. But some wonders just won’t do anything at all for you, so use that time to build military units instead, or produce research if you can. Stay away from maintenance wonders and buildings, which means Versailles and a courthouse, there’s no need. You can also forgo ones like Notre Dame, the Spiral Minaret and the Sistine Chapel.

So what wonders are important? Probably one of the most important national wonders is the Globe Theater. It eliminates all unhappiness in the city its built in. And hey, you only have one city! If only there was a building like that for health… Since its very important, its often worth it to make a beeline for Theater if you're having problems with happiness. It means you can be at war without worrying about war wariness, and you can also grow as large as you like. It also allows you to trade away your happiness resources for health ones if you can (which is why health resources are more important, once you build the Globe Theater you don’t need the happiness ones anymore.) However, be aware that some happiness resources can provide health in connection with some buildings later in the game, so check which ones you’ve traded, and get them back later if you need to.

Other wonders which do a lot of good are the Great Library, The Hanging Gardens and The Parthenon. I generally stay away from wonders which provide small but valuable bonuses across an empire, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Sistine Chapel, the Eiffel Tower, and the Great Lighthouse. It’s a hard choice because you only have one city, so it may not be worth it. But if you have the time, have a good amount of military units etc., you may want to go for it, because the bonuses are good, even though small.

You may face a problem with happiness in the early/mid game stage. It usually comes at the point at which you’ve exhausted your happiness resources, but haven’t yet been able to build the Globe Theater. A solution to this is researching Monarchy and switching to the Hereditary Rule civic. It gives you +1 happiness per military unit in the city, which means anytime you have an unhappiness problem, just build another unit. Since you always need another unit, this is a good thing. A quick way to get this there is to build the Oracle and use the free tech for Monarchy. Since its usually worth the most beakers, this makes sense anyways, plus you get the added bonus of the civic.

Don’t neglect your health techs: they’re very important, so make time for researching them. This means Pottery, (for granaries) Mathematics, (for Aqueducts, and the Hanging Gardens if you can) and Guilds (for Grocers).

Use your Great Artists for Culture Bombs: it may seem like a lost cause, but its not, you’ll notice your borders moving slowly but surely. Sometimes its even fun, because culture flipped cities automatically raze themselves, so its like watching a blast radiating outwards from your capital in slow motion. Coupled with the culture of your wonders, you can get access to resources three or even 4 squares into your neighbors territory.

Bureaucracy: ahh, the most wonderful of civics. Really, its amazing. Head for Civil Service quickly and pick it up. The +50% boost in production and gold is worth staying with it the rest of the game. Another useful civic is Pacifism, giving you a 100% boost in GP points. I also find Mercantilism to be a somewhat useful tech as well, along with Representation, which provides a nice boost to your science levels.

So there you have it, that’s all I can think of right now. If I have any more I’ll add it later. I hope you enjoy your OCC game.

Greencardman

P.S. Please let me know if you notice any errors, and I’ll correct them.
 

Greencardman

Warlord
Joined
Nov 8, 2005
Messages
114
Thanks guys, I've made those changes. I guess I read the patch info wrong, Mercantilism only gives two specialists to a size 1 city? Still haven't quite figured it out, because even though the patch changed things, the descriptions in the game have stayed the same.
 

AU_Armageddon

Cenobyte
Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
123
Location
Hades
I also find Mercantilism to be a somewhat useful tech as well, (it gives two specialists with the patch, not just one)
I have the patch, and was just playing on Mercantilism and it only gives one specialist still. Maybe you were counting the Statue of Liberty?
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2003
Messages
404
"If you don’t build the Globe Theater before the AI, well then I don’t know what you’ll do. Sorry, you’re screwed. Kidding! But I’ve never had that happen, so I assume you’ll try keep your happiness up with temples and other buildings."


I think globe theater is a national wonder. You always get one of your own. Could be mistaken.
 

werttrew

Professor
Joined
Apr 13, 2004
Messages
111
Good advice, especially on the cottages. I'll incorporate some of this into my own strategies.
 

KrikkitTwo

Immortal
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
12,418
Well the three possible ways to win on OCC are
1. Space (quite reasonable as you have a super city)
2. Conquest (also reasonable but Only if on a Pangea/Land map or you have a coastal start)
3. Diplomatic (Hard as population determines your votes...have to be Real friendly to AIs)

Domination Might be possible if you form Permanent Alliances (is that possible with OCC?)
Culture is impossible (Unless you have a Permanent Ally that has 3 of their OWN Legendary cities..so you really can't herlp them with your own culture)
 

ÆnigmÆffect

Warlord
Joined
Apr 20, 2004
Messages
128
Location
Seattle, WA
Okay, I just did it. Small map, noble, regular opponents (4 others), on a "balanced" map.

I was just goofing around with an old save of this OCC. The first time around, I built cottages (which I still think is very important early game to get some science going). After thinking about it more (and reading various articles on OCC), I went back numerous years to raze my towns/watermills for farms, just to see what it's like. Bam! It was huge. The extra farms totally overame unhealthiness (I was running at like -12 health at some point), and I made it a priority to research health techs this time around. I was generating a lot more GPP, which helped. I see how you can built Modern armor in 1 turn ;)

Anyway, replaying these turns, the AI started some wars with my friends, as well as me. I waited longer to build the UN (since going for more health stuff), so I could afford to go to war. I know from my first time around, the reason that I could NOT get a diplo win was because one of my AI friends became 2nd person running for Diplo win, and thus there's no way I could muster enough votes from everyone else (since some were "enemies").

Anyway, this time around, since I'm going to war, I tried my best to keep my friend slightly behind the other person running for Diplo win. Montezuma had a lead on population along with his friend (about ~180 vs. my ~170 with friends), he ended up as Secretary a couple of times. Nonetheless, I kept pounding on his friend to reduce the number of votes. My friends Caesar and Catherine definitely voted for me everytime (and I still couldn't get Secretary General, so you can imagine how much Montezuma and the Incan dude were ahead in pop).

Luckily, my tech was huge, and eventually me and Julius were making good headway on the Incans. By this time, I was Secretary General, and I kept asking for Diplo win. I'm always just a bit off. The first time: 15 votes off, then 10. Then Caesar finished off the Incans, grabbing one of their towns. Voting: I was 5 away. Soooo close.

I decided to rely on myself, and built more health stuff, and trying to raise my population. I also needed more votes from Catherine (Montezuma did a number on her a while back), so I gifted a total of 7 workers (all of my workers), in hopes of her building more farms.

Monty then declared on me. Thankfully, I had Modern Armor and Stealth Bombers, and he only had Tanks. He brought a ton of guys in my border, but I took all of those units out in a turn. Voting: 3 off. This is a good opportunity to to kill a small town to try to garner the votes (I don't want to kill a big town, since then Julius would be in the running. He and Monty were about 9 pop off).

I took a town without fanfare, then voting: 1 off. 1!!!!!!

I was fairly frantic at this point. I was going to make a couple of workers, but saw that I was only 3 turns off from getting a new pop point, and figured voting would come soon. So I just made some bombers.

Then it came: Voting. *crosses fingers*, and POW! 191 votes of 191 required!!! And, that last pop point came on the same turn, so that was pretty much the deciding factor!

Damn, that took FOREVER.


So, lesson in diplo win with OCC:
1. First off, definitely play friendly with everyone. I was going to try to persuade the Incans, but halfway through, i figured I couldn't count on them.
2. Getting a religion early is important, so that others covert to your religion (and you'd want multiple civs on the same religion. I even tried to get more religion, so that other civs won't found the own and change - Catherine eventually founded Islam, but stuck with my Hinduism).
3. Next, is to assess your competition. With only 1 city, you'll get ~30 votes max. So, it's important to see who are going to vote for you, and maintain their friendship.
4. Keeping the right competition. You don't want civs who would otherwise vote for you to start running for UN themselves. Basically, you want a mutual enemy occupying the 2nd spot.
5. Gain and limit votes: Kill off the weak civs who are not voting for you. Reducing the total votes needed is a big help. Help your friendly civs win wars, and think about just weakening a city so your friends can take the extra pop points. But having a smaller pool helps.

And that's how I did it. Took a LONG time, but finally get the idea on how it IS possible, albeit very hard, but very rewarding.

(Looking back, Monty and Inca weren't on my side earlier on because they were of a different religion early on. Perhaps if I got them on my side earlier, it may have been easier. But I'm sure the AI would've found some reason to start wars, etc., thus having 2 strong allies was as much as I could've asked for.).
 

Pfeffersack

Deity
Joined
May 10, 2003
Messages
3,167
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Germany
Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it really possible to build a Globe Theater in an OCC? If this is possible, then it is a differnt rule to the standard game, where you need 5 Theaters.
 

jdotmi

Chieftain
Joined
Aug 13, 2003
Messages
82
Location
Southeast Michigan, USA
Pfeffersack said:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it really possible to build a Globe Theater in an OCC? If this is possible, then it is a differnt rule to the standard game, where you need 5 Theaters.

One of the first things mentioned in the guide is the "build x of building y to build this Wonder" rule is gone (except for the Monastaries needed for the Religion quasi-superbuilding that isn't made by the Great Prophet) in a OCC.
 

PekkaM

Warlord
Joined
Dec 16, 2001
Messages
113
Location
Helsinki, Finland
Carefully planning your Oracle building at the precise moment that researching Civil Service is quite nice thing to do. Usually when beelining to CS it has research time of some 80+ turns so it's quite a saving.
 

phoulishwan

Warlord
Joined
Nov 1, 2005
Messages
177
OCC sure is different form a normal game. In a good way, I definately enjoyed it (Standard map, 6 civs, Peter of the Ruskies). I was 3 votes away from a Diplo win at one point, I only had 25 votes and nuked the French the turn the vote came up as with 2 medium sized civs not voting for me had me out of range by 20ish votes ;( Being landlocked I couldn't get troops across to their continent to raze their population and win by Diplo. I ended up winning in 2042 Spacerace...on Chieftan! I really thought I was rocking but as things started getting further and further into Industrial Era the larger size civs were catching up fast in the Reasearch Race.

Although, I had gotten a TON of Great People (total > 3950/4200 another due in 2 turns before end of game). Most of them got settled as super specialists to boost production, with my civic choices Moscow was at 74 base production and cranking out 222 hammers a turn! 507 beakers at 100% research! 1212 Culture at 0%! All while pumping out 246 gold into my vaults per turn, only had one shrine I just wanted my main religion spreading as I couldn't afford to devote much time pumping out Missionaries. Ended up with 184,433 Culture.

Lessons learned don't get land locked...find the coast and settle on it, so you can send units across the oceans, or you lose many choices on controlling the game, I spent a ton of turns trying to get my best friend Hattie to do some damage to the French and 2nd place UN goon Cyrus even though he was friendly to me. In the hopes to boost my votes by reassigning or stiffling their populations :) I gave her soo many free techs and cash for upgrading units but still with 5 Infantryman in her cities she let Napoleon pillage her countryside with Knights...instead of going on the offensive and hitting him hard with superior units. So be friendly to all the AI's if you're going for a diplo win especially if you are land locked! I was friendly with 4 out of 5 and it wasn't enough! I guess if I'd built up 2-3 more nukes I could have just barely snuck in a Diplo win by reducing Napoleon's population just that little bit extra to give me those 3 extra points I needed.

Even on Chieftain this is a tough fun game...of course the beginning was easy and I got all 7 religions which significantly improved my start, I can't imagine doing an OCC above Noble...I'm going to try another one at Noble but I have a feeling I'm not going to do very well.

Thanks for all the oringinal tips they came in very useful. GPP is what this an OCC seems to be all about, at least in Civ4. I was pretty much stuck at 24-25 population with no more food to support a larger population. I could have reassinged some tiles to food but you really need high the high production too. Definately worth trying to get Great Merchants for the bonus food they provide as super specialists imo.
 

fung3

Warlord
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
127
Location
51st. State, UK
This thread has inspired me to try a OCC.
Small map, continents, 5 civs, Noble, English. I have made some gross blunders so far but some things have gone well and a space race victory seems possible rather than likely. Managed to grab The Great Pyramids, The Parthenon and the Taj Mahal. Health in the mid game has been a significant problem, too many cottages and not enough farms seems to be the root cause. In future I would go for an expansive rather than financial civ.
Production power is very, very poor but gold has been good and has given me a vital edge in research. The plan for the end game is to get satallites and start building the Apollo Program, whilst under construction I will beeline for computers (free engineer) and the onto robotics (space elevator). The engineer can then finish the very expensive elevator in 1. At that point it becomes an all out race. As soon as I have all the techs for the SS then research will fall to zero, in doing so I hope to accumulate lots of gold to rush SS partswhen needed. It's going to be tough but this has been a cool challenge. It's also a lot less tedious than managing lots of cities. The simplicity of having only one city adds to the fun and increases the challenge.
 

Pfeffersack

Deity
Joined
May 10, 2003
Messages
3,167
Location
Germany
jdotmi said:
One of the first things mentioned in the guide is the "build x of building y to build this Wonder" rule is gone (except for the Monastaries needed for the Religion quasi-superbuilding that isn't made by the Great Prophet) in a OCC.

Another example of "Better read two times before posting that something is missing or incorrect" :blush: Thanks, I have just overlooked it.
 

Greencardman

Warlord
Joined
Nov 8, 2005
Messages
114
Wow, using the Oracle for Civil Service, even I haven't been able to do that. Either you get to Civil Service quickly, or you build the Oracle late. Uusually its the second wonder I build, so its usually reserved for Monarchy.

Great Merchants: not a bad idea for them. I never really get any so I didn't realize they gave food, but that might be a rather useful addition if you're looking to max out on spcialists. Nice catch.
Greencardman

P.S.
I think I have a save somewhere of an OCC victory on Monarch, but I'm not sure, it may have been at an easier setting, but I'll try post it if I can.
 

Khaim

Prince
Joined
Oct 7, 2005
Messages
394
Just pulled a Diplomatic win on noble (not too hard, I know). I was very lucky in that my opponent for the votes was the incan guy. I had been refusing him all game; he demanded that I stop trading with X Y and Z just about every turn it seemed like. At any rate, I finally convinced the other three civs still in the game to vote for me.

I actually got two engineers relatively early, and since I didn't have any wonders left that I really needed I settled them. Maybe that was a bad move, but I'm still not sure. I ran Representation through most of the game (go Pyramids!). One thing I didn't realize until it was too late is how good Environmentalism is. Six health is three specialists, which is far better than the extra trade route of Free Market or the extra one specialist of Mercantalism. On a larger map the trade routes are more useful anyways, so Mercantalism isn't that good. Also, Biology was a huge jump forward; prior to that I couldn't grow any more, but afterwards I kept growing until the end of the game.

I was Ghandi, and both traits were useful. I liked being able to switch into Universal Sufferage to rush something and then switch back without losing two turns.
 

KrikkitTwo

Immortal
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
12,418
Khaim said:
Six health is three specialists,

Actually as a side note, six health is only 2 specialists. For illustration imagine a city of 24 population (sickness)and 18 health (city has 54 food 48 eaten by people 6 by sickness)

with Environmentalism the city now has
24 pop (24 sick, 24 healthy) 48 food eaten out of 54
25 pop (25 sick, 24 healthy) 50 food + 1 sickness eaten out of 54
26 pop (26 sick, 24 healthy) 52 food + 2 sickness eaten out of 54

so the population only went up by 2 (and the city received the maximum possible benefit as it was unhealthy both before and after environmentalism.)

Essentially Environmentalism is like a 'super mercantilism'... it gives you 2 extra specialists instead of one, but
Cons
1. you need happy resources for them
2. it takes time to get them
3. they are high maintenance
Pros
1. You get to keep foreign trade routes
 

fung3

Warlord
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
127
Location
51st. State, UK
Got my ass kicked.

Playing a OCC on a small map on Noble level. I was attempting a Space race victory. I had saved 2 engineers, the 1st to finish the Apollo Progam quickly (this turned out to be impossible), the 2nd to finish the Space Elevator quickly.

Major Problem
I could not build the Space Elevator, I had researched the necessary tech. However it did not appear in my build options at any time. Anyone know how this could be?

Engineer could not hurry Apollo. Why not?

Cannot rush buy any Spacecraft parts. Why not?

Any help appreciated.
 
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