There is no right answer to “where should I put my city?” But there are a few things to keep in mind – guidelines, rather than rules. So weigh up what is right for you, but consider the following….
- In the long term, what constrains a city’s maximum size is Food production. So, when building second, third, etc. settlements, some players always go for squares that grant 7+ Food Production, rather than the usual 5. (On the World Map hold your mouse cursor over a square to see its stats, which will be shown to the right of the map.) Of course, the 7 Food squares (and the rare 11 Food squares) are all on open, plains-type areas, which are hard to defend.
- The easiest squares to defend are mountains, the next easiest are forests, and the hardest to defend are plains. So, people often put cities on mountains: mountains benefit troops which are already defensively strong, like archers and spearmen, and penalize typical attacking troops (notably cavalry).
- Think ahead: when your settlement gets big, you will start to claim Sovereignty. Sovereignty allows you to claim a Sovereign Structure bonus from each nearby square. You will probably end up claiming Sovereignty over all squares within 2 of your city, so make sure you have some good bonuses from some of these squares; particularly, look for Farmstead – food production – bonuses, as in the screenshot above, where yellow shows Sovereignty claimed including a great selection of food-bonus squares. (Again, hold your mouse cursor over a square on the in-game map to see the bonuses.)
- If you eventually want to claim Sovereignty over all squares within 2 or 3 of your city, then you probably don’t want to be within 4 (or 6, or 8…?) squares of another city – settle too close and you’ll end up in a conflict over Sovereignty.
- Think about “if the worst happens”: the worst is probably that someone will try to Siege your city. This requires an attacker to take up a position on an adjacent square to your settlement, and if they do, you will want to attack them – so think about whether you are happy attacking the squares immediately around you. (Example: if you want to build an entirely cavalry army, don’t put your settlement next to a mountain – a siege camp can just sit on that mountain, knowing that your cavalry will be at a disadvantage attacking them.)
- Look at special features on the map, which either give a benefit now (e.g. Temple of Reason), or may do as the developers release updates for the game (e.g. Trade Hubs). Ask yourself if you want to be close to any of these locations.
- Find a friendly neighborhood. Don’t settle in an area that looks like an established Alliance is trying to dominate it. Don’t settle too close to another city. Don’t settle next to cities belonging to players or Alliances which (from their Profiles) sound like they are looking for a fight. Do send a Message in game saying hi to new neighbors, either before you settle in the area (to check that they’re happy with you moving in) or soon after you have arrived (so they know you are friendly).
Of course, genius has many forms. And one sort of genius is to do something utterly unexpected – perhaps ignoring all or most of these guidelines! But that is a subject for another post….