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How much culture is required for a city to switch?

For example, in my current game, a neighboring city shows 53% my culture, 46% it's original owners. At what % will the city join my empire?

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Unfortunately, I do not know exactly how much you must culturally dominate a city for it to switch. That number may well depends on your difficulty level.

However, I think I can help answer your implied question: This city is more culturally mine. Why hasn't it switched to my empire?

First be sure city switching due to culture is turned on.

I assume it is, but this is an option you can set before the game, so its worth mentioning.

The threshold might not be 51% This is what you supposed, and I agree this might be true. Until someone else chimes in with a number (or several for difficulty) lets assume something else is wrong...

Culture switches are not immediate.

The city will usually have at least one cultural revolt first, i.e. both you and the current owner of the city will see an event like "A [Spanish] revolt is taking place in [City]." This is a great sign for you, and means that you passed the threshold; the city would switch to your empire fairly soon if it had no troops in it. This has the unfortunate consequence that...

The current owner can put troops in the city to slow you down

The longer the city is in revolt in the name of your culture, the more likely it is to switch. So naturally, if the revolt is suppressed by, say, more troops, its less likely to be successful. I think with enough troops the revolts can be prevented altogether. I'm not sure of this, or whether a city can switch without revolting first.

Troops are the only way I can remember the current owner being able to fight you, but there may be others options I can't remember, like particular government choices or wonders?

Consider destroying the troops with espionage

If the troops can slow down the process, then get rid of them. You sound like you want to take the city without war, so spies are the option you have left. But, if you don't care whether you go to war or not...

Consider taking the city with military

If I recall correctly, a city that prefers you culturally will be "liberated" rather than "conquered". Unfortunately, this has the same problem you asked about taking the city cultural: how much is enough? I'm not sure, but I believe if they have revolted for you then its enough.

Liberating a city is effectively "this city is supposed to be mine, the people welcome me", I am certain its what happens when you retake a city you founded but lost, and has great effects:

  • The city does not lose a population due to being "conquered".
  • The people do not revolt, but begin working immediately.
  • Buildings are more likely to survive the transition. (Perhaps all of them do?)
  • (Does not apply to your situation but...) The cultural border the city had when you last controlled it are restored.

As a final note, if you could liberate a city, and a third civilization takes the city, they immediately have the option of "returning" it to you.

I feel like I've missed something, I will add it later if I think of it.

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I did see a revolt there at around 51%, which was put down by military force. As my culture continues to envelop this city (a nice built up 13 pop one) will it revolt again? –  C. Ross Oct 3 '10 at 11:44
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@C.Ross Yes, they'll revolt again. The people will keep wanting to revolt as long as your culture is stronger, and the revolts will get stronger as your cultural dominance continues to grow. I'm still not sure if the game lets the other civilization stop the revolts completely with a LOT of military units, but if that's possible it really takes a LOT of them. –  WillfulWizard Oct 3 '10 at 17:54
    
Troops can prevent revolts, if you have enough of them. Very important to avoid those lost turns. –  Larry Wang Oct 5 '10 at 9:18
    
My city finally revolted around 55% culture. The owner had 10 units in it. –  C. Ross Oct 8 '10 at 13:48
    
Thank you for the detailed explanation. One more question: I have about 95% culture in other civ city, my own religion and form of rule, and people there did a cultural revolt few times, but city is still their. their troops there also, but for spies I don't have an option to eliminate their troops. How can I switch the city to my civ in such a situation? –  Genius Dec 10 '10 at 10:05
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