So, I have Civilization 5 with all the expansions and DLC. I'm playing on the largest map and want to start moving units across the world to face my other enemy, but it's quite far and I don't own any cities nearby. There's a small area on an island to a south that nobody owns -- it's just free land.

Is there any way I can take this area without having to set up a city? I have no desire for a city in that area, but I would like a place to act as kind of a forward operating base for my units before I attack. I can ultimately make a city should it be my only option. I just wanted to avoid it because I already have units that can go far and fast and don't really want to bother with the management.

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    no there is not
    – user28015
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 0:29
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    Hi! Welcome to Arqade. You should only use the "steam" tag if you are asking a question about how Steam impacts play. As it didn't make it into the body of the question, it doesn't seem relevant here. Also, it's unnecessary to put the game's name in the title -- the tag is enough. Notice that the system automatically adds civilization-5 to the page title from the tag. I hope we satisfied your need -- thanks for your contribution.
    – Brythan
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 0:56

3 Answers 3


There is a way, but it likely involves too much work.

To answer your question directly - which assumes you settling near that area is not an option - there are two ways to do this:

1) Expand your borders:

Eventually, your borders will keep growing even past the 3 workable tiles. I believe the maximum is 5, so if it's close - you'll eventually get it.

In addition, even if it's 20 spaces away, you can still get it. To do this, you'll need a bunch of Great Generals. These guys can simulate what was known in the past as a culture bomb. Place them on the border of where you want to expand, and consume them to create a citadel; this will expand your border 1 tile in all directions (it will even replace other civilizations borders with yours!). With enough Great Generals, you can get anywhere you want (and your borders can look quite odd - too!)

2) Gifting 'glitch'

I'm not sure if this is a glitch or not, but this also involves great generals. To do this, annex a city with tiles you want within its borders. Then, consume a great general over the tiles you want to keep. When your city stops revolting, trade it to a civilization - they'll get the city, and all the unhapiness - while you keep the citadel tile and its surroundings.

Often this results in you having small, uncontected patches of land all over the place.


Depending on the location relative to your current territory, it's possible that your borders will eventually envelop this island. It takes progressively more culture per hex annexed into your borders, though, and your borders are unlikely to take tiles on the other side of another player's territory. If it's very close and you've got time to wait, chances are you'll eventually "own" the island.

You can found a city on this island, and then the tile the city is on and the surrounding area will be considered yours. However, the benefits of this aren't really all that awesome if the area is not desirable. The only benefits I can think of is any "in your territory" bonuses from wonders or social policies, and the possibility of airlifting units in and out if you've researched the relevant technologies and built an airport.

You can make a "staging area" there if you wish, even if it isn't in your territory. Having a unit in a hex will prevent other units from being there, so you can just order your units to stop over at the island on their way to the war and get most of the benefits of a staging area without actually building anything there.

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    You can pay to acquire new hexes around a city too. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 12:28
  • @JonathanDrapeau, only up to a point. You can't buy hexes further away than the working radius of the city, but eventually culture will annex those hexes for you.
    – agent86
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 13:33

For future games you could install the Fortress Borders mod. This mod allows your workers to build forts in neutral territory which will convert one ring of tiles around it to your territory. They will also steal territory from enemy rivals.

I haven't tried it yet, but it looks cool.

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