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Thread: Appropriate City Placement

  1. #1
    King of Rasslin
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    Appropriate City Placement

    I see a lot of people placing their cities Civ 2 style. They want to use all 20 squares surrounding the city, including the one the city is placed on. I see many great games play this way, but those are exceptions. What is important now is that corruption will eat away at the power of those super cities as they are farther away. And this perfect placement of cities creates another problem. Time is an issue here.

    Although a city's maximum potential is all 21 tiles, they will not reach this peak until the modern era. First, they can only use 7 of the 21 tiles (1 is the city itself) before an aquaduct is constructed. That is all of the ancient era. In the middle ages, it can only use 13 of the tiles, or 2/3 of its potential. After a hospital is made, pollution becomes rampant and the city grows very slowly after this point. Finally, it gets its true potential in the modern era. Great.

    Come on, any smart Civ 3 player will figure out the "super city" placement died with Civ 2. Here are the benefits and disadvantages of making smaller, but more efficient cities.

    Benefits

    #1- Less corruption. Because your cities are packed closer together, they don't have to deal with as much corruption. This really makes a difference in this game!

    #2- Growth. 2 cities grow faster than 1. Having a large number of cities early on will create fast growth, and a power advantage, by the middle ages. This is an obvious, and the best benefit.

    #3- Culture! Don't forget that making less cities means less culture. Having a lot more cities means more culture.

    #4- Happiness. Luxuries are more useful in my city planning. It is so difficult to satisfy 8 size 20 cities. You are much better off with 14 size 12 cities instead. The population is almost the same, but they are easier to keep happy.

    #5- Defence. A sprawling mass of size 20 cities all over the map is very, very, very hard to defend. The cities are much better defended because they aren't all over the place.

    Disadvantages

    #1- Defence!? Yep, big cities get the precious metropolis defence bonus. The value of garrison units like spearmen is lower because they don't get the huge city defence bonus. However, the smaller cities are defended better by offence units because they are closer together. And offence units can fight back and punish whoever wants to mess with you.

    #2- Wonder building. The only serious disadvantage to making small cities is that you don't have 1 or 2 super production cities. However, you don't need most of the wonders! They aren't that good! And the best ones are snatched by a great leader anyway, so don't worry about not having 80 production in a single city!

    #3- Resources. Yes, making your cities very close to each other will limit your resources. That doesn't hurt as bad because you won't need as many resources, but strategic resources can be harder to obtain. However, this can be prevented by having a reliable ally or conquering early.

    #4- Score. The widespread empire will have a higher score because of the territory bonus. So what. It will have more unhappy people, but that part of Civ 3 is underrated in the score section. I bet a small country can beat a widespread one because more cities can grow faster and have an industrial age advantage. You can win if you kill the giant before hospitals are made.

    How to use city placement

    Normally, 2 size 20 cities ues 42 tiles, or 2 separate city radii. 3 size 13 cities use 42 tiles too. This is very ideal, but you see what I am trying to tell you. You can make 3 size 13 cities with the metropolis defence bonus, and still have the same amount of production and trade as 2 size 20 cities. However, 3 size 13 cities grow 50% faster than the 2 size 20 cities!!!

    I am CONSTANTLY scorned and ignored by people that do not like my strategy. I thought that people would have learned by now, but the many succession games I have viewed has taught me otherwise. The main complaint is that you will not get enough territory quickly enough. Land is more important than growth in the score. So, here is how you compensate. Make 3 or 4 core cities first, while your warriors/scouts scout. Then, place your next cities near the AI border. This won't work in MP because they would be attacked, but the computer doesn't really have a clue

    Then, fill in your land accordingly! Because you will have very fast growth by placing cities closer, you will be much bigger later in the game. And you can safely assume you will be expanding so much early on you won't hit the size 6 limit. After making aquaducts, you will have a lot of size 12 cities, although very close to each other. Territory is taken early by closing borders, then you make your cities where you want them. It is much, much better than placing cities so they all hit max potential.

    Good Luck!
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  2. #2
    Arrian
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    Rass,

    I have no doubt of the power of close city placement. I just choose not to do it. I don't like it.

    There are many compelling reasons, such as those you posted, for doing it your way. There are few for doing it my way, but this is a case where personal preference trumps cold, calculated strategy.

    -Arrian
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    dawidge
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    I like packing my cities into a "denser than optimal" arrangement, as well. I try to make cities that are exactly three spaces apart so that my troops will leapfrog from city to city on their trips to the front, providing a momentary boost to defense, instead of standing in the countryside. When you actually make it to the modern age, pick some of them to become super-metropolii and rearrange the neighboring cities' population placement to allow the metropolis to use all 21, while the "suburbs" must content themselves with whatever fringe is remaining. This works very well when pursuing a cultural victory.

  4. #4
    King of Rasslin
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    That's ok, games are for fun!

    Close cities look very crowded together and very, very UGLY. It's powerful, but it just doesn't look attractive. I kinda feel sorry for those "pro" game players like the Starcraft guys in Korea. I can't imagine not enjoying a game. That is a scary thought.

    Civ 3 can never go "pro" like the Starcraft tournaments. So much depends on luck (great leaders, starting locations, resources, combat, etc.) I'm getting too OT here, but you know what I mean.
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    Pythagoras
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    Ive been doing this since SMAC for defense purposes. Something though that you have to take into account is the cost. If you eventually have every city have every improvement, your expenses are going to increase due to your many cities.

    Also - doesnt corruption also have a component for the number of cities you have?
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    King of Rasslin
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    You don't really need to worry about the cost. You need less temples because you have less people unhappy. I make Adam Smiths in most of my games on Large and Huge maps, so marketplaces and banks are free. However...

    Close city placement can mean more costs in libraries. But you can't see the difference until the modern age. The benefit, however, is a lot of culture.

    The ideal city number was increased in one of the patches, so I use close cities more often now. It actually helps you early on because despotism and monarchy have units payed for based on the # of cities they have. Because the super city doesn't appear until the late game, you have to use the growth advantage when you have it.

    If you must go super city, you can always starve off a city to "suburb" size. I play as the Babylonians when I want to play peacefully, and I almost always use close city placement for a lot of culture.
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  7. #7
    Arrian
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    Why starve a city off, why not just punch out a settler and add it to the designated super city?

    -Arrian
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    The trick isn't to break some eggs to make an omelette, it's convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.

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    King of Rasslin
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    Making workers would be more appropriate. By the time the city starves off, the one you want to be a super city will be really close to hitting its max anyway. I think "starve off" was a little blunt.

    You don't want to just disband a city in 12 turns. I mean, remove 1 worker from a tile and place the another worker from the other city on it. Do it gradually. Otherwise, you will have a lot of unused tiles before the big city is ready. Settlers pumping up the large city might go too far. Often, my cities overlap in very complicated patterns, so I don't exactly have perfect cities by the end. I might have a few size 14s, 18s, and some above 20 (that is a bad thing). I let my cities grow naturally, "pumping" them has often been in error, on my part. Miscalculations happen, I have to figure it out as I go.

    Hey, nobody is perfect. Often, I am powerful enough not to change to super city style by the end of the game. I like the culture.
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    Alkis
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    Not that I disagree but there is something you didn't mention. You assume that all the tiles in the city radius are usuable. In practice however there are many tiles that are not usuable. A city may have only a couple of good tiles in it's radius. Some tiles may be desert, mountain, jungle you get the idea. Also, good tiles need to be worked, hills have to be mined, plains irrigated etc. So, by putting cities too close you will have the problem that your cities will not have the necessary tiles to grow and produce.

    Just put them close to each other, not too close, that's what I think.

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    King of Rasslin
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    Alkis, never underestimate what a horde of enslaved workers can do for your tiles

    All tiles are useful. Burn forests, clear jungles, mine hills, etc. If anything, closer cities means less distance for the workers to travel. The faster growth gives the illusion that you are not working as fast as you should be. Either make enough workers or choose an industrious civ. Even a desert becomes useful after railroads. Food from a grassland can make up for deficits. Placement is key here, but it will work.
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    Pythagoras
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    Originally posted by King of Rasslin
    You don't really need to worry about the cost. You need less temples because you have less people unhappy. I make Adam Smiths in most of my games on Large and Huge maps, so marketplaces and banks are free. However...

    Close city placement can mean more costs in libraries. But you can't see the difference until the modern age. The benefit, however, is a lot of culture.

    The ideal city number was increased in one of the patches, so I use close cities more often now. It actually helps you early on because despotism and monarchy have units payed for based on the # of cities they have. Because the super city doesn't appear until the late game, you have to use the growth advantage when you have it.

    If you must go super city, you can always starve off a city to "suburb" size. I play as the Babylonians when I want to play peacefully, and I almost always use close city placement for a lot of culture.
    Well the culture is the kicker for me. The culture cancels out any additional expenses that might ensue.

    Another thing to take into account: How does this relate to REXing? I mean my tendancy when I do close placement (I place cities imediately outside of another cities support radius) is to just expand by building just outside an already existing city (instead of making swiss cheese and filling the holes later). Although this city placement strategy could facilitate rexing if I plan my "swiss" out correctly, building cities in appropriate expansion chokeholds (blocking off enemy civs, surrounding them, not letting them block me, you know the drill) and then filling in the less important holes later.
    "What can you say about a society that says that God is dead and Elvis is alive?" Irv Kupcinet

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  12. #12
    Theseus
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    In general, I agree with King.

    But I mostly, especially in the early game, have totally gotten away from radially expanding. Especially for the first six or so cities, if possible, I want to pick the highest value sites. This might mean food, shields, resources...

    I explore pretty quickly (ROTC for Warriors), and I tend to let my cities grow to 4-6 before building Settlers, so I can see the relevant terrain. I pick out the best city sites, get those core cities built, and then focus on chokepoints, key area to control (for passage), and forward military bases. Sometimes the core cities are as close as 3 tiles, sometimes as much as 8-10.

    Then I backfill... sometimes even thousands of years later.

    Any interference from AI settler diarrhea is considered a "ONE DAY SALE!!! GET YOUR FREE WORKERS HERE!!! STEP RIGHT UP, SONNY, TAKE A WHACK WITH THAT SLEDGEHAMMER AND SEE IF YOU CAN'T WIN YOURSELF A GL!!!"
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  13. #13
    Harovan
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    I completely agree with King of Rasslin. I also build my cities 3-apart. This has certain benefits. Yea, it looks ugly, but, oh well . Each city gets 9-11 tiles to work. That means, with railroads and irrigated plains I get enough size 13+ cities for the Battlefield medicine, and the others, well, just don't grow above, say, 11 or 12. I also care less about medieval wonders. If I get 2, it's good, if 3, it's wonderful. They aren't sooo powerful. The happiness wonders are good, but if my cities don't grow so big, I just don't need them. I better care to build up my economy this time. But I respect and understand Arrians perfectionist style. I played once similar... till I saw, that cold calculated strategy also has its benefits .

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    Random Passerby
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    I do use closer-than-"optimal" (hee hee, how I love that term!) placement, but usually don't have many problems expanding. The AI usually won't aim for holes that don't have a good 10 tiles to them unless there's some nice juicy luxuries sitting there, which of course begs the question of why you're leaving holes over the luxuries...

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    Jethro83
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    I tend to avoid overlapping. However, it eventually gets too difficult to avoid doing. Since I am an early warmonger, and build no more than 5 cities myself, I find the layout of my whole empire to be something like so:

    Surrounding my capital are a few large, unicultural cities, named from my city list, with the whole 21 square radius, and after that is a heap of smaller, tightly packed, multicultural cities with foreign city names (unless I change them).

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    Lawrence of Arabia
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    I place my cities all 5 squares apart unless they are in bad lands (aka desert/tundra/rainforest) then i place then 4 squares apart.
    "Everything for the State, nothing against the State, nothing outside the State" - Benito Mussolini

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    star mouse
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    I prefer quality over quantity.

    One factor to consider is that corruption is determined more on the number of cities rather than their distance from the capital or forbidden palace. Once you have the maximum number of cities, all the most distant cities will be very corrupt, no matter how close they are.

    If I have a city that's only working 7 of 21 tiles, so what? It's likely to be working the best 7 tiles of those 21, and those 7 tiles could be better than the other 14 put together.

    Spacing your cities also allows you to claim more territory with fewer cities. More territory means more squares that could contain resources, and CIV3 is a resource game.

    I try to space my cities about 5 tiles apart in one direction and 4 tiles apart in the other, such that all tiles are covered with the least overlap. I cannot get troops from one city to another in a single turn, but if you maintain constant vigilance of your borders and plan carefully this should never be necessary.
    None, Sedentary, Roving, Restless, Raging ... damn, is that all? Where's the "massive waves of barbarians that can wipe out your civilisation" setting?

  18. #18
    Nakar Gabab
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    I generally don't worry about spacing, and focus more on placement (like that settler factory I built on a hill adjacent to a river with flood plains. ).

    However, in one game as China (on Regent), I was forced to turtle by necessity. It was a Small or Standard map (can't quite recall), and I had a VERY small amount of rather hilly fertile grasslands and a TON of jungle... and on the other side of the jungle, the AI. I had so little land available by comparison I figured I had pretty much lost the game already... but then I started backfilling where I'd already settled.

    Bottom line, I crammed in at least as many cities in that little bit of land as the other civs had, and they were just as productive (how many squares can early cities work, after all?). So I build up the swordsmen and knights and went to town, conquering better land for myself. I believe I won that game via Space long after flattening my continent.

    So never dismiss small-scale spacing out of hand. You need to know how to work it, because you never know if you're going to HAVE to do it.

  19. #19
    King of Rasslin
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    I actually see less corruption in packing cities close to each other. If they are big and far apart, the distance will create corruption. And the optimal city number doesn't hurt you as much as the distance, especially after the optimal city number was raised.
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  20. #20
    MiloMilo
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    Rasslin: you make very good points. It's just so hard, when I see all these "perfect city cites" on the map, to ignore them... (I know, whine whine whine...)

    Anyway, with a strategy of high numbers of closely-packed cities, it seems you'd do best going with a commercial civ. +1 commerce in each city center means the more cites, the more benefit. And reduced corruption (it's actually noticeable) means you can more easily exceed the "optimal cities" limit.

  21. #21
    DrFell
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    I build cities 2-4 squares apart, aiming for hills/deserts/other crappy land as the actual city site, and early on I like a couple shielded grassland for each city. I only space cities 1 space apart when I need to get a resource or fill in some land the AI might build on. Also, there is no use spacing cities a long way apart unless you're doing it to stop the AI claiming land.

  22. #22
    alexman
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    Originally posted by MiloMilo
    Anyway, with a strategy of high numbers of closely-packed cities, it seems you'd do best going with a commercial civ. +1 commerce in each city center means the more cites, the more benefit. And reduced corruption (it's actually noticeable) means you can more easily exceed the "optimal cities" limit.
    Don't get me started again with the commercial trait! The +1 commerce kicks in for size 13+ only. If you pack your cities that close, it's not worth even building a hospital to get to that size.

    Also, commercial increases the optimal number of cities by one. This is barely noticeable (maybe 2% increase in income for a city in the middle of the pack) on small maps, and next to useless on large ones.

    I really hope they fix this trait...

  23. #23
    MiloMilo
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    alexman: Is this really true? I thought the official literature says +1 commerce in center square. I share your frustration with the relative weakness of this trait. Personally I think it should be +1, then another +1 at size 13, plus cheap markets, plus decent corruption reduction.


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    Txurce
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    King, I'm not sure whether I'd build the three hospitals necessary for your "three size-13 cities is better than two 20s" example, but building close makes a lot of sense, especially if you're playing for domination, and won't even reach the modern era. My feelings parallel Arrian's, but I'm going to make a big effort to ignore them in my next game.

  25. #25
    King of Rasslin
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    Building hospitals to make size 13 cities is really a desperation move for the metropolis defence bonus. I would only do this on the border, not in the main cities.

    Yes, commercial is very, very weak. It will probably be strengthened in a later patch or in PTW. I used to be really good when corruption was so awful in the early versions of Civ 3. Now, it is probably the worst.
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  26. #26
    King of Rasslin
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    (absolutely a shameless bump here)
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  27. #27
    jshelr
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    I'm a little surprised that the warmongers don't universally adopt the packed cities strategy. Early wars benefit from getting front line troops created ASAP. They also benefit from leaving the AI plenty of room to overextend themselves, building settlers instead of military units. I love to see a modest patch of green with a horse on it somewhere large enough to start four to six cities. Closely packed cities, with expansion stopped early, can churn out the MWs in time to win control of the home continent. Winning the land grab just does not matter. So, anything that slows down creating and connecting the core cities is just bad, period.

  28. #28
    Geekinstein
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    I tend to pack my cities more densely towards bad guy territory, build walls, and clear out all the brush so they (bad guys) don't get any defense plus up. Those cities are always two-three squares apart (usually two). Fun thing about this is, if bad guys rush me, they typically don't attack the cities (but go after the workers I leave naked a square or so back), and then I mop up with massed catapults/horsies.

    I tend to think of this (packed cities) as just a technique to deal with the overbearing AI especially at Deity (who can't find its posterior with both hands even at that elevated level). Later, I just grind down a less "optimally" placed city in favor of a 20+ monster by popping out settlers/workers.

    BTW, this type of "defense" was used by the Romans along their boarders; i.e. forts and/or defended cities linked by good roads. If bad guys penetrated behind the defenses, they marched out and kicked a$$...at least until the late 300s AD when the leaded water kicked in addled their collective brains. Our modern warriors call this an "archipelago" defense and use it frequently to set up kill zones.

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    ShuShu
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    Ethical discourse...

    ICS - Infinite City Sleaze
    In Civ I & II is clearly the most efficient strategy because game mechanics improve efficiency given the greater impact of the free square.

    Three questions, one philosophical, one ethical, one theoretical...

    Philosophical: Did Firaxis succeed in rendering ICS inefficient?

    Ethical: Since the philosophical answer is clearly 'No' , does not any theory that claims smaller cities are more efficient suffer from the same ethical problem as ICS? Smaller cities for tactical (road networks, archipelego defenses) reasons don't have the ethical taint. Smaller cities for strategic (resources, cultural boundaries) don't have the ethical taint. But doesn't the smaller cities for 'Efficiency's' sake suffer the same ethical cunundrum?

    Theoretical: Is the King's 3 city strategy more efficient than ICS? Thus relieving it of ethical taint?

    PS. my answers would be No, Yes, No but I am not sure about the two No's.

  30. #30
    SABRA
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    is the placement of city not going to be optional in the new editor ?

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