Following up to this answer, given that a newly conquered city will

  • spend a few turns of zero production ("rioting")
  • after that, will be hampered in production because of diminished population and destroyed buildings, so that building a courthouse will take very long

is there any point really to annex a newly conquered city immediately?

Doesn't it make much more sense to first puppet the city and then wait - say 10 turns - until things have evened out and only then annex the city to start the courthouse?

EDIT: One aspect that I didn't ask for explicitly is whether you should always leave the city as puppet until the rioting stops (typically 2-5 turns in my games so far)?

9 Answers 9


I've been thinking about it myself, and I agree that it's almost always a better option to let the city stay as a puppet for a while before annexing it.

One major drawback here is not only that you cannot control what puppets produce, but it's that puppets never produce units. If you're at war, for example, the ability to produce units is critical, and sometimes you just need the extra city right now. Still, considering that conquered cities lose half their population and most of their buildings, their production is usually so low that making them a puppet is probably still the best choice.

Regarding the edit: I see no reason for annexing a city before the riots are done. You can't do anything during riots anyway, so it's best to not lose the extra happiness for these few turns.

However, now WillfulWizard's answer becomes more important. If you intend to annex it soon but you want to keep it a puppet for just 2 to 5 turns, there's a good chance you might forget - particularly if you're in the middle of a war and every turn is hectic and eventful. If you intend to annex it quickly anyway, maybe it's best to just lose the few points of happiness from having the city annexed during its riots, than to forget about it completely.


So you don't have to remember to Annex it

You've just conquered a city you KNOW you're going to want to annex soon. (In my most recent game, I needed to force building a harbor to start up trade routes to my latest expansion, "Old Greece") Unfortunately, you're human, and simply might forget to do it later. So, rather than remembering to interrupt your 10th turn from now, you annex the city and set it to building the courthouse. Done. Nothing to remember, no turn interruption, the game will alert you when the city is ready for its next order.

This can be especially important if your turns otherwise consist only of dealing with the next item in the queue, then clicking next action/turn. I don't normally recommend playing this way just off the next action button; You will catch a lot of mistakes by stopping at the end of each turn and asking "is anything wrong? is there anything else I should do? what's the worst problem facing my empire right now?" However, the event-queue style of play can be a very fun way to play a relaxed game (far easier to get into "the zone"), or to play a game on an easier difficulty just to try something.

Everyone else has already covered the few times when it might be ideal for your gameplay to annex the city immediately, but those are sadly exceptions. So, if you want to play your BEST, you'll have to puppet the city and somehow remember to check back later to annex it. I recommend keeping notes as you play of things you need to do in the future, write down what turn you're on and what turn you want to check back, and check your list before the end of each turn when you ask yourself the questions I mentioned above.


If you're annexing cities, that means you're conquering cities, and if you're conquering cities, that means you're at war.

The advantage of Annexing a city is that you are then able to rush-buy units from that forward point, which will in most circumstances take less time than moving a unit from one of your production cities up to the front. If you're fighting a cross-continent war, for instance, you probably want something like this ASAP because your production is going to be particularly far from the battlefront.

Other than this corner case though, I'm inclined to agree with Oak's answer.

  • You also often get cities as part of a peace agreement, so you're no longer in immediate need of units. Technically you can also get a city through trade even not as part of a peace agreement, but since the AI values them so high it's indeed most likely that if you got a new city it was during a war.
    – Oak
    Commented Nov 11, 2010 at 22:12
  • But while the city is rioting, you cannot buy anything either -- or can you?
    – Martin
    Commented Nov 12, 2010 at 8:24
  • @Martin nope, you cannot. I think the main reasoning behind rioting is to make cities not give instant advantages when taken during combat.
    – Oak
    Commented Nov 12, 2010 at 9:40

One trivial example: You're a landlocked civilization (maybe even just a single tile away from the ocean), but are in need of naval units and have just captured a coastal city. You would want that city to start cranking out units as soon as possible, so annexing it immediately is the only thing that makes sense.

  • Was in this situation just recently.
    – Akusete
    Commented Nov 12, 2010 at 2:37

How the unhappiness from captured cities is calculated:

  • +5 per occupied city (compared to +2 per non-occupied city),
  • +1.25 per pop in occupied city (compared to +1 per pop in non-occupied city).

Now remember that factors which decrease your unhappiness from the number of cities work the same way towards the unhappiness from captured cities. To mention:

  • Wonder: Forbidden Palace - 50%,
  • Order SP: Planned Economy - 50%.

Having both of them effectively eliminates all the unhappiness from the number of cities and from the number of occupied cities. Therefore leaving you with just a miserable increase of unhappiness of 0.25 per pop. So in that case you can feel free to annex a city straight away without any big consequences. Probably it's not even worth to build a courthouse.

  • 1
    Annexing cities has other costs, though - each non-puppet city you own increases the cost for all the next social policies and the cost for all the next great people.
    – Oak
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 15:50
  • 1
    Given the nerfs to both Meritocracy and Forbidden Palace, this answer is no longer accurate. Both of those now reduce global unhappiness due to population, not number of cities. And they only apply to non-occupied cities, to boot. And Planned Economy is now about factories, not happiness. Alas! Commented May 30, 2012 at 1:04

This applies if you were planning on annexing the city anyway.

Even though the city is rioting, if you annex right away, you can change priority to food production. Hammers, Science, and Gold production are set to 0 during riot, but not food.

By setting priority to food gathering, you can actually build population during the riots, which is the only thing in the city you can develop.

Without annex, the city might sit on gold production (which will be 0 because of riots)

Whenever you have enough extra happiness to annex without going negative, you get some extra population out of doing this. Once riots wear off, the extra population also helps you build a courthouse quicker.


Not sure if this is new in BNW, but there is a policy in Order where you get a free courthouse upon conquering a city. I checked it out, and you lose the free courthouse if you puppet first. So if you get this policy, ALWAYS annex, unless you want to raze.


It's probably a subjective answer, but I like to annex straight away if I can afford it because I prefer to have control over what cities are creating. There's nothing more annoying than a puppet city starting a Wonder when it has next to no production. Another scenario that I will annex immediately is if I am being aggressive militarily, because a puppet city won't produce units.

  • 1
    Puppet cities do not produce wonders, they only produce regular buildings. Also, while in general being in control is important, the AI is not super-stupid in its decisions. Yes, it likes barracks and walls for some reason, but it's also aware of my needs - at times when my happiness is low, for example, I see all my puppets start to produce happiness-increasing buildings.
    – Oak
    Commented Nov 11, 2010 at 21:35
  • Really? I was pretty sure I'd seen that but I can't produce anything to prove it unfortunately. Anyway, my point was micromanagement FTW! Otherwise I wouldn't be playing Civ...
    – dlanod
    Commented Nov 11, 2010 at 22:54
  • 1
    yes, the manual also confirms that. Puppet cities can build projects, though, but it's most likely a bug.
    – Oak
    Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 19:35

I may be misremembering this, but I believe that when you annex a city, it goes back to rioting for a few turns regardless of whether it was a happy puppet state or not. So annexing immediately is to your advantage if you know you're going to annex it eventually and can spare the resources.

  • 4
    I'm pretty sure annexing cities that have been puppets for a while does not cause riots.
    – Oak
    Commented Nov 11, 2010 at 21:39

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