Cities are vital to your civilization's success. They allow you to build units, buildings and wonders. They allow you to gain wealth and research new technologies. They allow you to dominate terrain. Given this importance cities are fairly complex entities, and a good deal of your time will be spent on their maintenance and management. You cannot win without powerful, well-situated cities.
Cities are built by Settler units. If the Settler is in a place where a city can be built (see next), the "build city" action will appear in the Settler's order box. Simply click on "build city" and the Settler will disappear, to be replaced by the new city. At this time you will also be given the opportunity to name the city. You can still rename a city afterwards, however.
The first city of your civilization functions as its Capital, and is designated as such by the Palace. Building the Palace in another city will cause it to replace your existing Capital, and if your Capital is captured, the Palace will be automatically rebuilt in one of your remaining cities.
Where to Build Cities?
A city's ultimate success or failure will depend greatly upon where it is constructed. Determining the best site is complex, and must take into account the availability of food, production, commerce and resources, your transportation network, and the proximity to friendly cities as well as to potential enemies. Though cities are usually sited to expand one's borders and to take the best advantage of local resources, a city may also be built for purely geopolitical reasons - to obstruct another civilization's expansion, for instance.
Where You Can't Build Cities
Cities cannot be constructed within two spaces of another city. Cities cannot be constructed in impassable spaces. Cities cannot be built in another civilization's territory.
Tips for Finding Good City Sites
Consider building cities in the following locations:
- On or near resources.
- On or near rivers.
- On coastlines, especially on the mouths of rivers or near aquatic (water) resources, which allows construction of naval units.
- Near a variety of terrain types, including hills and grassland.
- About 4 to 5 spaces away from your existing cities. (This allows each city to access all spaces within their "city radius" (see below) with little or no overlap.)
- Astride chokepoints. (It's often extremely useful to build cities to block other civs' expansion.)
You can capture barbarian cities or cities belonging to civilizations that you are at war with. To do so you must enter the city with a military unit; this usually involves destroying the enemy units defending the city first. When you capture an enemy city you have the option of destroying the city or installing a new governor. If the city has a population size of 1 or no culture, you will automatically destroy the city. If you choose to destroy the city, it and everything it contains is done away with. If you choose to install a new governor, the captured city will usually go through several turns of resistance before joining your civilization. If the city is attacked by the original owner, resistance boosts the attacking unit's chance of retaking the city.
Cities are defended from capture by the units inside them. Some units (see archers) get a defensive bonus (see combat) when defending inside cities; this makes them particularly good choices for garrisons.
Finally, a city with a high cultural value will give a defensive bonus to the units defending the city.
The City Screen
To get to a city's city screen, double-click on the city on the main map. You can also hold down the Shift key and click the city to select it. The city screen contains a number of important elements to aid you in managing the city. (See the city screen diagram in the manual for more information on the city screen's layout.)
The unit list displays all of the units that currently occupy the city. You can activate a unit by clicking on its icon in this list.
City Production Display
The city production display tells you what is currently being produced in the city and the number of turns until completion.
City Build Menu
The city build menu contains all of the military units and buildings that can be constructed. You can change a city's current production by clicking on an item in the list. Buildings that appear greyed out have been unlocked but can not currently be built. Mouse over the grey building button to get popup help about why it can not be built.
City Management Menu
The city management menu has a variety of functions. It allows you to "hurry" city production (if you have the appropriate civics). It allows you to "automate" your city's production (see the manual for details). It allows you to tell your city to emphasize food, production, commerce, research, the creation of Great People, or force the governor to avoid growth.
The culture display shows you how many culture points your city is generating. It also tells you what your city's current cultural "rank" is. The ranks are poor, fledgling, developing, refined, influential, and legendary.
City Building Roster
The city building roster displays what buildings you have constructed in your city. The roster also displays how much culture, happiness, gold, production, and other assets the buildings provide. View the popup help for information on the special abilities the building performs.
City Cultural Defense Bonus
This displays the cultural defense bonus your units get from the city.
This displays the nationality breakdown of the city: what percentage of the population is your nationality, and what percentage is other nationalities. Cities with high foreign nationalities are more likely to revolt and "flip" to that nationality, and they suffer greater war weariness unhappiness if you go to war against that nationality.
This displays the city's current maintenance cost to your civilization.
This tells you what religions are present in the city, and what percentage of the population worships each.
The following two bars are also located on the city bar that appears on the main map.
This shows you how much food your civilization currently has in storage, and how long until the city's population expands.
This shows you how much production your civilization currently has in storage, and how long until the city's population expands.
Health and Happiness Displays
Trade Income List
This displays any cities that this city is regularly trading with, and the income the city is getting from that trade.
This shows you if any of your population has been assigned to be a specialist and how many specialist slots are still open.
The resource box displays what resources your city has access to - including local, national, and trade-based resources.
The City Map
In the center of the city screen is the "city map." It displays your city in the center and the "city radius" - the area around your city that your city's population can work. (See below for more details on the city radius.) The map shows which of the squares are currently being worked - these are indicated by circles around the square.
If given no particular orders, a city will assign its populace to work squares that provide it a balanced supply of commerce, food and production. You can change the city's priorities by clicking on entries in the City Management Menu (see above). Clicking a circled city square stops the population from working the square and places them in the Specialist Display as a citizen. If a citizen is available you can then click on any square in the city radius to start working it.
As described above, the "city radius" represents the area around the city that the city's population can "work." When first created, a city radius consists of the city's square and the eight adjacent squares. When a city's culture grows enough to expand the city's borders, the city's radius will expand as well. The radius expands one space in each direction, except the direct diagonal spaces, resulting in a "fat cross" shaped radius. (See the manual for a diagram.)
Foreign Borders and City Radii
A nearby civilization's borders may extend into the squares that would normally be part of the city's radius. Spaces under foreign control cannot be worked and they are not part of a city radius.
We Love the King Day!
Cities of size 8 and higher which have no unhappy citizens and no food loss to health can enter "We Love the King Day" from time to time. The effect is that the city pays no maintenance for one turn.
Each civilization has a list of city names that will be assigned to their cities in the order they are founded, as detailed in these articles (though players have the option to manually change their cities' names). If a civ founds a city after every name on its city list has been used, it will repeat the list with the world "New" being added before the city's name; for example, if playing as America, the first city after the initial list has been exhausted is called "New Washington".