Most of the time I do not rush Iron Working research. When I get it, my cities are reasonably expanded and several tiles around them are already improved. The problem is that when I have it researched, it reveals Iron sources only outside of my borders. However, when researching other technologies revealing other strategic resources (Coal, Oil, Aluminum etc) quite frequently I do get "X source revealed" and it happens to be inside of my territory. It isn't about size of my civilization, because I even do find Horses when the borders of my only city haven't really expanded. Haven't found a single Iron resource within my borders during all the games I have played. As a result I tend to rush Iron working in the hope, that it will spawn just outside of my territory and will get it by border expansion. Early game without Iron can be quite challenging if you happen to have fighting civilization as a neighbor.

Is Iron resource somehow special in this matter? How does the game spawn resources around the map?

I'm talking about vanilla Civilization 5 and typical setup (no changes in Advanced Options).

  • 10
    That is just bad luck, nothing else.
    – user28015
    Oct 27, 2014 at 13:37
  • 1
    Agreed, just bad luck. I often had Iron in my borders when it appeared after research. How often did you try it? (Sample size?)
    – Sentry
    Oct 27, 2014 at 18:04
  • How many games have you played? Oct 28, 2014 at 2:57
  • 1
    Later on in the game, you have more cities. It's statistically likely you'd settle near sources of aluminum than it is in the early game when you have only one or two cities. If iron is important to you, then research it before expanding and build accordingly. And yes, as others have said, it can be pure bad luck. I've had games where I had no iron or coal on an otherwise normal looking map and had to pay a pretty penny to enemies or city states to power my armies.
    – Kyle Baran
    Oct 29, 2014 at 16:13
  • @DavidHarkness Steam says 388 hrs on record. Nov 3, 2014 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


Resources are spawned at the start of the game. Where you position your cities won't somehow retroactively change this. This can be proven relatively easily:

  1. Start a game
  2. Rush Iron Working
  3. Record the position of the Iron
  4. Load the initial save
  5. Build a city next to or on the Iron
  6. Research Iron Working again

You'll notice the location is exactly the same.

The fact that you've always noticed iron spawning outside your territory is a combination of small sample size and confirmation bias.

Also as the horse resources are found only on plains, grassland, and tundra, they are more probably to be located next to your first cities, in contrast to iron, which is found on grassland, plains, desert, tundra, snow, and hills, and as such more spread out on the map and many of them not next to the prime area for cities.

  • I've found Iron on flat terrain plenty of times. I play mods occasionally, but not exclusively so I can't believe the original game requires hills. Anyone know for sure? Oct 28, 2014 at 2:56
  • I just did the initial save scenario and the results seem to back up your theory. Resource location are randomized and I just had a bad luck streak. However Iron resources do spawn in flat terrain. In fact, while doing the test I got 2 Irons, all in plains. Perhaps some patch made it random regardless of surrounding terrain, which makes it pretty hard to predict its location and position your cities accordingly. Nov 3, 2014 at 14:41
  • @DavidHarkness I'm just misremembering. Nov 3, 2014 at 16:07
  • There is such thing as an edit button. Which I used to remove that incorrect information about iron not spawning on flat terrain.
    – synchronos
    Jan 3, 2015 at 23:17
  • There is also the question if iron is more scarce in general than e.g. horses. And if horses are found in smaller "chunks" (less per tile in average) than iron (some iron tiles are up to 6). I couldn't find any data on that, so didn't add anything about that yet. But what is known is that horses appear more abundantly on the plains and grassland, as iron appears on tundra and snow more abundantly (according to wikia wiki). This of course means that even if there are same amount of horses and iron on the map, horses are much more probably located next to your first cities than iron.
    – synchronos
    Jan 3, 2015 at 23:26

Other resources appear when you're already covering a fifth of the map with your cities. This is just the fact that you only have one/two cities combined with RNG luck.

  • Ok, but I do research Horseback Riding earlier and with less border expansion. Yet I do find horse resources from time to time. Haven't found Iron just once. Is it really just coverage and RNG? Oct 27, 2014 at 15:57
  • Yes. It is really just bad luck. I find Iron inside my borders a lot. Oct 28, 2014 at 1:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .