A city is the basic building block of a civilization. It houses its people, advances its Science, Culture, Faith, and other stats, expands its territory, and produces everything else the civilization has.
Cities are also central to your technological and civic development, and serve as bastions for your armies. You cannot win without powerful, well-situated cities.
Cities in Civilization VI are far different than in previous games. They are now composed of a City Center - the original tile where the city was founded - and additional parts called " Districts", which can be built on nearby tiles. A single city can thus sprawl over a considerable expanse of land, and even water.
- 1 Founding a City
- 2 City Population
- 3 City Production
- 4 Raze A City
- 5 Territorial Expansion
- 6 City Defenses
- 7 Where to Construct Cities
- 8 City trading
- 9 Videos
Founding a City
- A Settler is required to found a new city. Each Settler may found one city and is consumed in the process.
- Cities must be founded on land, on a valid, passable tile. You can found cities on terrain features (all but Oasis), although most of these will be removed on foundation.
- Cities cannot be founded on natural wonder tiles, even if they are passable.
- Cities may be founded on top of resources. The player will gain use of that resource (if it is strategic or luxury) and the resource's bonus yields.
- A city must be at least 4 hexes away from any other City Center (3-hex distance between any two City Centers). However, if there is a body of water in between the two City Centers (if one City Center is on a different landmass), this distance requirement drops to 2 hexes (so that the outermost ring of both cities cannot overlap).
The Settler Lens
- See Lens (Civ6)
Effects of Settling
When the "Found City" ability of the Settler is activated, the City Center of the new city is placed on the tile the Settler previously occupied.
- Upon settling, the six tiles adjacent to the new City Center are claimed by the city's owner. If any of these tiles are already owned by another civilization or city-state, the closest neutral tiles within 3 hexes of the new City Center are claimed instead.
- Any Barbarian Outpost on a claimed tile is destroyed (although any barbarian units within range will remain); any Tribal Village is activated and its benefit received.
- Any removable terrain feature on the tile (Rainforest, Marsh, Woods) will be removed even if you don't have the necessary technology. Note that the feature is removed, not harvested, and you won't receive any lump yields.
- The yield of the tile occupied by the City Center is increased to 2 Food and 1 Production if either was previously lower (before any bonus yields are applied). Plains Hills add an additional point of Production (but Hills on other terrain won't). Note also that any yields previously added to the base terrain by Disasters remain, making the tile more valuable!
- Resources (all types) remain on the tile; their bonus yields continue to apply, if they bring the tile's Food or Production above 2 (or if they are other yield types). Also, strategic and luxury resources are automatically accessed by the new City Center.
- For example, Plains Hills have a native yield of 1 Food and 2 Production. Founding a city on a Plains Hills tile will add 1 Food to the tile, resulting in the City Center having 2 Food and 2 Production.
- In another example, flat Desert has no yield whatsoever; settling a city there, however, will increase that tile's yield to 2 Food, 1 Production. Suppose there is an Incense resource there - it will add an additional 1 Faith to the tile yield, while also 1 count of Incense is added to the empire.
- The initial Population of the new city is 1 by default. (Certain age effects may modify the initial Population.).
- The City Center tile is always worked and does not require any citizen to produce yields.
- The City Center, like other districts, comes with a road. Cities next to rivers will gain bridges across those rivers, which means a unit moving into and out of the City Center does not suffer a river crossing penalty in its movement points. (Attacks over river still suffer the corresponding penalty.) This is valid even before the Classical Era, when Bridges are added to normal Roads.
- Main article: Population (Civ6)
Cities contain the empire's population, represented by the entities known as Citizens. The size of the city (number of its Population) determines the total workforce that can work the land surrounding the city. Additional Specialty districts may only be built once the Population reaches a certain threshold.
- Main article: Food (Civ6)
As in previous games, Food is the engine that fuels Population growth. The balance of food production and consumption by Citizens determines whether, and how fast, the city will grow. However, there are now additional factors determining controlling growth speed, examined in detail below. Still, it is always important to consider the Food resources in nearby terrain when founding a new city - these will allow it to grow fast and become more useful to your empire.
- Main article: Housing (Civ6)
City growth is also controlled by Housing, a new concept in the game which represents the habitation and sanitation infrastructure of the city and puts an upper limit on how many Citizens the city is really able to support. Beyond the initial bonus conferred by the availability of fresh water, Housing usually depends on city development (improvements, districts, and other infrastructure).
- Main article: Amenities (Civ6)
The Amenities situation in the city may also affect growth: having more Amenities than necessary boosts growth, while having less diminishes it. In practice, the main constraints to growth remain Food and Housing unless the Amenities situation becomes so bad that the city enters the Revolt phase; however, growth will be the least of your problems then.
- Main article: Loyalty (Civ6)
In Rise and Fall, Loyalty may also affect growth, and much more severely than Amenities. If the Loyalty score of a city falls below 76, growth will be affected; if below 26 growth will stop completely! Of course, such situations are quite rare in the game, so most of the time Loyalty won't matter at all (unlike Amenities, which are much more fluid).
- Main article: Population (Civ6)
To summarize: the final growth factor of a city's population depends not only on Food (as in previous games), but also on Housing and available Amenities. You can always find a detailed description of all factors affecting population growth in the first City Details screen, along with practical advice on how to accelerate growth. Always aim to ensure plenty of Food surplus, along with continuously increasing Housing, and your city will grow steadily and become more and more useful.
Citizens as a workforce
As in previous games, the Citizens of a city also act as the basic workforce of your empire. They will occupy the tiles around their city, working them and thus granting the city the yields these tiles currently have. If a tile isn't worked by a Citizen, its yield goes to waste, no matter how high it is. In Civilization VI unworked tile improvements have visually different models, so you can tell at a glance which of them are worked and which are not.
Unlike Civilization V, enemy units occupying a tile does not prevent your Citizens from working it. However, they prevent building new buildings or repairing damaged ones (if the tile contains a district), and of course they prevent a Builder from moving on it to repair or improve it.
Note that district tiles cannot be worked initially. However, after you construct certain buildings in specialty districts (Campus, Commercial Hub, etc.), Citizen slots appear there, just as on regular tiles. The difference is that Citizens occupying District tiles are considered Specialists and contribute specialized yields based on the district type, and not related at all to the land yields of the tile (which are, in fact, completely wiped out upon placing a district). For example, Citizens working in a Holy Site contribute Faith, while those working in a Theater Square contribute Culture. Unlike in Civilization V, Specialists do not contribute Great Person points - these are now reserved for the districts themselves. Also, note that a single district may have up to three Specialist slots to which you can assign Citizens, thus boosting the special yields considerably. Wonder tiles cannot be worked.
Using Citizens the right way, by working the right tiles in different stages of the game, might be the most important micro-managing decision you make. Normally, the game engine will assign Citizens to tiles so as to balance out the city yields - ensuring that the city has enough Food to grow while also being productive. But as a ruler you may decide to manually assign Citizens - just call up the Manage Citizens option from the main city panel. You'll see all tiles currently worked by Citizens, along with potential other slots for assignment. Click on an empty slot to assign a Citizen there; clicking on an already full slot will "lock" it, preventing the automatic reassignment of this Citizen and ensuring that this slot will always be worked. From this screen you can also "swap" tiles with nearby cities, if you want this city to work them instead. Alternatively, you may use the checkpoints next to production yields in the city info tab to focus or forsake production of certain types of yields - then the game will automatically reassign Citizens so as to maximize (or minimize) the respective output for this city.
In Civilization VI cities still have a single production queue (that is, they can only do one thing at a time). However, the production is not concentrated in the City Center anymore - many of its districts now act as specialized production centers. For example, after you build an Encampment, all land military units produced in that city will start appearing there, and not in the City Center (unless there is already a unit of the same type in the district). The same is valid for the Harbor and Aerodrome districts, respectively for sea and air units. Note that civilian and support units will always appear in the City Center.
But what's more, in many cases production of certain units in a city becomes possible only if the city has a certain district. This is the case for air units, which require an Aerodrome; and for religious units, which may only be purchased in a Holy Site. Certain special civilian units will also appear in districts - for example, the Archaeologist appears only in a Theater Square with an Archaeological Museum. If the required Districts or Buildings get disabled by the enemy, the city may not be able to produce certain units anymore.
And of course, as mentioned elsewhere, most buildings can only be constructed in certain districts, with some also requiring other buildings - for example, the University requires a Library. Purchasing units and buildings with Gold or Faith also obeys the same restrictions.
Note that you cannot construct buildings in districts which have been Pillaged, or which are currently occupied by an enemy (that is, there is an enemy unit in their tile). Before continuing with the construction, in the first case you will have to first Repair the district, and then any damaged buildings in it; in the second case you will have to wait for the enemy to leave the tile (or remove it yourself).
The Production price of military units is fixed, although they will become obsolete with new technologies, and their more modern versions will have a higher cost. The same is valid for support units. The Production cost of civilian units, however, scales up - for some (Settlers, Builders), it goes up with each unit produced (or purchased) over time; for others (Traders), it goes up with technological development. This means that the same Builder you produce in the beginning of the game will cost much more towards the middle, when you have already had to produce (or Purchase, see below) several of them. Capturing enemy Civilians doesn't count towards this mechanics, though, which makes captives even more useful than before! Also, note that unlike in Civilization V you can now capture Settlers and use them to Found Cities of your own!
As before, the production process may be boosted by harvesting certain Resources on the city's territory. However, this action is now instantaneous and permits you something which was impossible before - to finish a production project in the middle of your turn! Use it to get ahead of the competition when constructing Wonders, or when you desperately need to produce something right away.
Purchasing is the ability to spend one of the two "currency" resources ( Gold and Faith) to instantly acquire something in a city. Purchasing by either Gold or Faith has its own tabs, along with the Production queue. You may instantly purchase two types of game elements:
- Buildings, from the City Center or any District, as long as they are unlocked (have their requirements fulfilled). Districts may not be purchased in vanilla Civilization VI; in Rise and Fall you can use Gold to purchase districts in a city where Reyna is established with the Contractor title, and in Gathering Storm establishing Moksha in a city with the Divine Architect title allows Faith purchasing of districts there. Buildings are usually purchased with Gold, unless they are religious worship buildings (such as the Wat) that are accessible only by their respective worship belief, in which case they can be purchased with Faith or built normally via the production queue. The only buildings that cannot be purchased at all are city defenses such as Ancient Walls, Flood Barriers in Gathering Storm (unless you are the Suzerain of Valletta), Government Plaza buildings in Rise and Fall and, of course, wonders. Purchased buildings appear in the relevant district right away, and start functioning.
- Units. Most units may be purchased with Gold, with the exception of some special units such as the Spy. Some units may only be purchased with Faith; this includes the three types of religious units (Missionaries, Apostles and Gurus), the Warrior Monk, the Naturalist, the Rock Band, the Nihang and the Soothsayer. If you have chosen Theocracy as your government (or, in Rise and Fall, built the Grand Master's Chapel), you may also purchase land military units with Faith. Gitarja of Indonesia can purchase naval units with Faith. In Rise and Fall, the Monumentality Golden Age Dedication allows you to purchase civilian units with Faith. Note that the cost of purchasing civilian units with both Gold and Faith goes up with each unit purchased, following the same scaling rules as producing them. So, as the game progresses and you keep purchasing or producing a certain type of unit (for example, a Builder), its cost will rise far above its base value.
In general, the Gold cost of an item is 4x its current Production cost, while the Faith cost is 2x the Production. Discounts to Production costs applied by gameplay elements (such as Policies) do not affect the purchasing costs. Note that in cities with Military Academy or Seaport you can also purchase units as Armies/Fleets, etc. However, their cost will be double the normal cost for a Corps/Fleet, and triple for an Army/Armada. In this case it is cheaper to produce the units, since their Production cost receives a discount from the above-mentioned buildings, and comes out as less than double/triple.
Note that, in the case of unit purchases, the place where the unit will appear needs to be free - that is, no other unit of the same type may be present there. So, for example, if you have a Builder in the City Center, and you try to purchase another one, or a Settler (which is again a Civilian type of unit), you will be told that you can't do it. The same is valid for Military units, although they may have the additional option of appearing in an Encampment.
- Main article: Project (Civ6)
The final type of production in a city (besides districts, buildings, and units) are projects - conceptual undertakings which use the city production system, but don't pop up physical things such as units or buildings. Instead, they provide different benefits which are now far more varied than in previous games.
Raze A City
Most conquered cities can be razed. The decision to return, keep, or raze a city is made on the same turn as conquering the city.
When a city is razed, all improvements and districts that belong to this city are removed.
The original Capital of a civilization cannot be razed.
- Main article: Territory (Civ6)
As in previous games, every city pushes your empire's territorial boundaries. A city claims 6 tiles when first founded (11 for Russia), and further territorial expansion is dictated by the amount of Culture the city produces. Note that, barring exceptional circumstances, even newly founded cities now produce a small amount of Culture from their Population, and will thus grow their borders eventually.
Tiles may also be purchased with Gold. This is now done straight from the city options on the main screen. You may purchase any tile which borders the current boundaries of the city; the farther the tile is from a City Center, the more expensive it is. Also, the price of tiles increases with technological and civic research. However, you may only purchase tiles up to 3 hexes away from any City Center - further tiles may only be annexed via normal cultural expansion.
- Main article: City combat (Civ6)
Being a civilization's main manifestation, a city is always a target for military action. That's why it's also important to consider how a city can defend itself from enemies.
In Civilization VI early cities are quite weak, because they lack any defensive structures. Unlike in previous games, without defensive structures a city cannot use a Ranged Attack to damage invaders. It will still damage attacking units in retaliation to melee attacks, though.
But there are additional vulnerabilities to cities in Civilization VI: because their districts are now physically located on other tiles, cities may now become severely crippled by invading armies even if they don't attack the City Center. Invaders now are able to pillage nearby districts, crippling other aspects of the city production, and setting an empire back even without taking its territory.
Where to Construct Cities
Cities should be constructed in areas with plenty of Food and Production and with access to Strategic, Luxury, and Bonus Resources. It is often a good idea to build a city on a River or coastal tile, as sources of water are very important to a growing Population. Cities constructed on Hills gain a defensive bonus, making it harder for enemies to capture them.
The exact location of the City Center shouldn't consider yields, just strategic access (and eventually, whether there is a resource on it). This is because of the change in yield the city forces on the tile. In fact, the best possible yield for a City Center without a Resource on it is 2 Food, 2 Production, and this may only be obtained by settling on a Hill in Plains. For any other terrain, the yield will be 2 Food, 1 Production, even in Desert or Snow. In fact, you may find it worthwhile to settle in such inhospitable terrain, as long as nearby tiles have better yields. This way you will practically force a tile without yields to acquire one, and still preserve better tiles for use by your Citizens. Normally, you should also leave tiles with resources to be outside the center, because later you can build improvements there and increase the yield. Settle on top of resources only in extreme cases, when other strategic factors warrant it.
Cities built on a coastal tile will be able to build ships once you've researched the right technologies. Cities built within 2 hexes of a Coast or Lake tile will be able to construct a Harbor (once the water tile is within their borders), and then they too may build ships. Any civilization which wishes to develop seafaring must have at least one city with conditions to build ships. Civilizations which have special sea-oriented abilities, such as Norway and England, should make settling cities along the coast a priority. The game will usually place their initial Settler on a Coast anyway, as per the individual civilization bias.
Gathering Storm brings new dangers to cities: natural disasters and coastal flooding caused by melting ice caps! Although this cannot be your main worry when choosing a location, you should be aware of the potential dangers, and prepared to react to them. In fact, settling on Rivers close to their floodplains may turn out to be even more important than before, as floods will bring additional base yields to these tiles. You just need to stomach the occasional destruction of your improvements and districts there.
With a Settler selected, ideal city locations will be shown on the map with an icon. Additionally, every Settler will show the Settler Lens (for the first settler, you can activate it with the filter button on the top of the minimap), giving you an idea of where on the map will provide the best source of water for your city, and indicating unavailable tiles.
In Rise and Fall there is an additional factor to consider when settling cities: Loyalty. Locations which are too far from the core of your empire and too close to other empires will suffer a serious Loyalty penalty, and unless you take proper precautions, you will risk losing your newly-founded city to another civilization! The Settler lens will show the projected Loyalty penalties in all tiles.
Choosing the exact location for a city is actually so complex that it almost amounts to an art. With all of the above recommendations, there are still a ton of other factors to consider: location with respect to your other cities, rival civilizations, nearness of resources, and so on. It is only after you acquire experience playing the game that you will be able to place your cities in the best locations strategically.
Cities can be traded with other civs, though it is practically impossible to buy a city from an AI leader, as they'll seemingly always refuse even if you offer basically your whole empire for one city. You can trade cities in peacetime or even demand one in wartime for peace, but that option usually is only viable if the AI deems that city lost already due to your overwhelming force being close by or close to sacking the city anyway. Always keep this in mind if you want to end a war after getting a tradeable city.
The city has to be at full health before trading.
While the AI might not pay that much for a city far away from home or in the middle of your empire, you can potentially take advantage of this by trading cities that you can easily Loyalty flip. Once your former city becomes a Free City, you can send your military units in to pillage the city's districts and tile improvements and capture any Builders it spawns. This will provide you with massive sums of Gold and/or Faith, especially if you use your own Builders to repair the city's damaged improvements and then pillage them again next turn. You can continue to pillage and repair the improvements until Loyalty pressure causes the city to flip back to you, at which point you'll receive +2 Era Score. (If playing as John Curtin, you can instead capture and liberate the city to receive a 100% Production bonus for the next several turns.) The downsides of this strategy are that it takes a long time to repair the pillaged districts and their buildings once you regain control of the city (especially if said city has poor Production potential), and you'll miss out on all the Great Person points from its districts while it isn't under your control - it's best to do this with a city that has many tile improvements and few or no specialty districts.