I'm still new in Civilization 4 and had a lot of questions about playing the game. I'm finding the game to be insanely complicated so please keep that in mind while giving your answer. If you use too much game jargon I won't understand. Thanks for your help in advance.

Question: I can't decide which one to focus on in the beginning - food or production? My choices don't seem to have any clear impact on the game. I have read in tutorials that food is consumed each turn but even if I sit idle and do nothing no one complains that there is no food. It seems there is always enough food. So what should I focus on in the beginning of the game and why?

2 Answers 2


Food determines how fast your city grows, at the top of the city screen is a bar that shows how much food is stored. When that bar is full the city grows one population point and the bar is emptied again.

Each population point of your city eats some food, that is subtracted from the total food earned and only the excess food goes towards growing your city.

Each population point means you can work one tile more of the city, that is a considerable bonus. As long as your city is happy, additional population is very helpful. You should try to keep your population below the limit where they are getting unhappy.

  • I can finally understand a bit of what is going on inside the city. I'm finally doing more than just clicking around randomly. Yehay!
    – Mugen
    Jan 10, 2011 at 2:48
  • Oh, that is why the Granary is useful. It means the bar only half-empties, right? Jan 28, 2011 at 23:19

In the beginning focus on food, food and more food. Also, adopt Slavery civic. Hurrying stuff via Slavery a.k.a Whipping gives you far more benefit than just having large city working unimproved tiles. Granary is the absolutely best building in the game bar none, because it allows you to regrowth quickly after whipping.

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