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First off, Civ-Revolution is the first Civ game I've played so pardon my ignorance. When I was playing earlier I noticed that with my large city, almost none of the squares around were being "used". For example, I could have a city, let's call it Dijon, with a population of 20 and a courthouse. Dijon's working squares extend out 3 spaces in every direction, with a great mix of resources (food, production, trade). I'm not at war with anyone and there are no units or towns in the area. Let's also assume that I have the workshop so that hills are worth 3 production. Now let's say that only 3 or 4 of the working squares are being utilized, mostly for food.

Maybe I'm not looking at this closely enough. Why would one of the population stay in the city to produce 1 production or 1 production and 1 trade vs going to a hill to make 3?

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This is mainly due to how you have set up your workers in the city in the customize workers screen (second paragraph).

By default, every city is set to the Balanced option, which means it will try to diversify itself as much as possible (so it will opt to take 1 food, 1 production, and 1 trade vs 3 production, as you've seen).

In the management screen, however, you can change this so the city will focus on Production, so it will opt to take the mountain square instead. You're also able to change the focus to any core resource in the game (gold, food, science), or you can opt to do it Manually, so you can handle it all yourself.

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