Civilization 5 Hints and Tips: Cities

Civ 5 Hints and Tips: Cities

If you’ve played Civilization before you know that the most important thing about the game is the production of cities to increase your empire, create additional revenue, culture and resources and to increase overall population – without cities you simply don’t have a civilization! Civilization V has made some very important changes to the way cities work, and some of these changes require a lot of thought and a change in strategy:

Expansion - in previous games of Civilizations your borders of your cities grew very quickly and you soon found yourself with a huge empire – this isn’t the case with Civ 5 – a city will expand one tile at a time and will have a maximum radius of 3 tiles (or 37 tiles). It’s unlikely that many cities will reach this level if left alone so it becomes important to purchase expansion tiles.

Culture controls how quickly your cities will add a new tile; you therefore have to wisely spend your gold to expand into tiles, thus making you think about the balance between purchasing improvements or increasing your borders. This made me place my cities far closer than I used to, and also made my expansion tiles almost follow the roads I build between the cities so that my cities are culturally connected. As well as having more compact empires I found that I focused more on improving and expanding older cities than building new cities as the cost to improve them and bring them into the empire was very high – I didn’t have dozens of settlers moving across the land, but had a more organized strategy!

General City Tips

  • Where possible 'buy' expansions especially on hexes that have many food and production 'units' - try to link cities together quickly by buying expansion.
  • Stick to your plan - if you want to have a militaristic city then don't change your plans halfway through - use the tips your advisors give you as an indication of what suits your plan.
  • Try and focus on production improving items first to assist in future production
  • Don't focus on defensive troops - your city has defenses - it's better to protect out-lying cities and then have a core force that can quickly get to any city in danger of being over-run
  • Specialists are important - early on use Engineers to increase production, changing to other types of specialists as the game progresses.
  • Trade routes - connecting cities together with roads is one of the first things you should do when making 'improvements' - try and get a few workers out quickly - the benefits from improvements far outweigh the initial production costs.

Tips for Defending Cities

  • The initial placement of a city plays a big part in its defense - if you give the enemy opportunity to use the terrain against you then you'll find it hard to defend the city.
  • Use the terrain - building forts in the right place will add bonuses to any troops garrisoned in the fort.
  • Forts and Walls - walls add a lot to the defense of a city, and a circle of strategic forts with defensive troops will make it more difficult for enemies to attack, allowing you to choose the route they take, and often allowing you to reduce the amount of units that can attack.

Tips for attacking Cities

  • Attacking cities takes more co-ordination than before. Try and get ranged attacks in place (and setup where appropriate) to bombard the city and reduce the protecting units.
  • Terrain is an important factor as often troops will not be able to quickly get in place and you'll often find that while you have a lot of units near the city, you only have two or three that can attack on any given go. Again, timing and organization becomes very important.
  • Bombardment form the coast is very useful - try and get your best ships close so that you get an additional ranged attack.
  • Generals are really important in some of the tougher city battles - the general will give a bonus to all adjacent units.
  • Choose your troops wisely - make sure you use units that are built to attack cities - while tanks are great combat units, they have penalties when fighting against cities.
  • Destroying surrounding improvements prior to attacking the city is a useful way to slow or stop production of units in the city - attack and take-over workers so that the improvements cannot be remade.

You cannot purchase tiles in enemy or ‘claimed’ territories unless you have captured the relevant city! The cost of each expansion will vary depending on the type of terrain.

Combat – every city has combat strength automatically and can initiate ranged attacks against enemies – this is a useful addition, and perhaps makes up for the fact that you can only garrison one item in the city – while I agree there should only be one unit per tile, I feel that the city should be an exception and perhaps allows two combat units!

The addition of combat strength does mean that you don’t have to worry too much about having a warrior or spearman in every city as it is difficult for the roaming barbarians to march into a city now, especially as you can bombard them as they approach.

The strength of the city does not go down, so even damages cities still are potent defensive forces. With 20 hit points, and the ability to heal one hit point a turn, this addition to the city really changes the early strategy of having to build warriors in new cities to avoid aggressive neighbors – they may still be attacked, but at least they have a rudimentary defense – I wouldn’t rely on this as you move through the game though!

One note of warning – be careful not to block a newly created unit in – if you have a garrison and then every tile surrounding the city has a unit in it, you could find that a new unit has nowhere to move and therefore will be disbanded!

Capturing cities has also changed – you now have the option to annex a city, raze it or create a puppet city. An annexed city is like a normal city, but it will add to your overall unhappiness until you build a courthouse – at this point it is exactly like a normal city. A puppet city will generate gold, science, culture etc but you have no control over its production etc. It doesn’t produce as much unhappiness as an annexed city, and can be converted into an annexed city if you want. I tended to avoid puppet cities as I found the ai didn’t follow my normal ‘standard’ and it was better for me to quickly build a courthouse and then be able to control the city as I wanted.

Specialists haven’t changed much from Civ IV:

Artists add culture and are useful if you want to quickly get some social policies. They also add Great Artist points.

Merchant generate gold and are great if you want to improve or expand cities quickly. They also add Great Merchant points.

Scientists generate science and help you research technology quicker. They also add Great Scientists points.

Engineers increase production and in conjunction with Merchants really can get your cities improving quickly. They also add Great Engineer points.

Normal citizens that are not assigned to a tile produce 1 hammer. This is important for production, but if possible you should try and place all citizens on a tile or turn them into specialists.

Production – I’m not going to cover production on this guide as it merits a whole page to itself. Suffice to say that production is similar to other versions of Civ. One immediate difference being the ability to build settlers only after your population reaches two! One thing I like about the production is that your ‘advisors’ mark items they feel would improve the city with an icon – sometimes two advisors will pick the same item – this really is a good enhancement and often helps me decide what to concentrate on! My general strategy so far has been to use my capital to build all settlers and workers thus allowing my other cities to build up quickly – once I have a fairly established second city, I switch the major production to this city and focus on improving my capital – as cities improve I continue with a similar method!

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6 comments

Usman 5 years ago

Instead of 'hints' and 'tips' all i see is a review.

Please choose your titles appropriately


SimeyC profile image

SimeyC 5 years ago from NJ, USA Author

Usman: tips added - these are obviously subjective tips...


Manuel 5 years ago

Hey, thanks a lot. This helped me a bunch!

Thumbs up.


Norman 4 years ago

Thanks for the page, was a very nice little intro. I would like only to add that there is one more difference between a puppet city and an annexed one. A puppet city is not included when counting requirements for building national wonders.

For example, if you have 5 cities of your own or annexed, and 4 puppet cities, you need only to have the 5 barracks in the own/annexed cities to be able to build Heroic Epic.


EmperorFool 4 years ago

In addition to what Norman said, puppet cities also don't increase the amount of culture required for each new Social Policy.


EmperorFool 4 years ago

...and Great People.

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