For clarification, tall empires are ones with a few very large and productive cities. Wide empires are ones with many smaller cities.

In Civilization 5, global happiness prevented you from creating too wide of an empire. In addition, science and culture costs increased for each new city you founded.


In Civilization 6, global happiness was removed, leading me to believe that in theory, I could create as many cities as I could fit on the map.

What mechanisms exist in Civ 6 to penalize you for creating a wide empire?

I am not looking for opinions on which is better, I am looking for specific game mechanics like added costs.

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: Taller civilizations are now much harder to pull off in Civ VI. Instead you are encouraged to go wider.

You question stretches across a large number of the changes between V and VI, so let me take them point by point -

Global happiness was removed

This is true, but the concept is not entirely gone. Happiness was replaced by the Amenities system. Each city now requires a certain amount of amenities based off its population, but if one city doesn't have enough amenities it doesn't affect the rest. Amenities come from 4 general sources:

  1. The Entertainment district, buildings, and wonders
  2. Religion
  3. Government policies
  4. Luxury resources

That last one is the most important for your question. Each luxury resource provides 4 amenities (meaning having duplicate luxuries does actually have value), but each city can only use one of each type of Luxury. The game is balanced such that you can't really have your cities survive off the first 3, you need luxuries. Since luxuries only give 4 amenities per resource though, that limits your growth. Also don't forget that just like in previous civs, unhappy cities (aka not enough amenities) can spawn rebels.

In addition, science and culture costs increased for each new city you founded.

I haven't confirmed this, but I'm pretty sure this is no longer the case, or at the very least is much less extreme. I can tell you that the culture victory no longer lends itself towards smaller, taller empires. Instead it too encourages a large thriving empire (its a similar tourism system to Brave New World).

What mechanisms exist in Civ 6 to penalize you for creating a wide empire?

Luxury resources is the big one. On top of that some civs now explicitly don't like it if you get too land-grabby. You also have to build a settler for each city, and settlers now cost 1 population each (instead of halting all growth in V). You also have to be careful in managing your finances when you have a lot of cities. Remember that most buildings have maintenance costs, so if you go full science with no finance you will go bankrupt fast.

I think though there is one question though you are forgetting to ask:

What mechanics exist to penalize taller empires and encourage wider empires?

The big one here is the city building system, specifically Districts and Wonders. They each take 1 tile now, replacing the effects of the old tile. That means you can no longer have one uber capital that pumps out 32 wonders in 3 turns each throughout the game. There just isn't enough land for it.

Following on that, Wonders (and Districts) also now have terrain requirements. If you want to build Petra you actually need to have a desert tile in your city borders.

Finally, all the victory methods now discourage small empires. Obvious domination and science always encouraged large empires. Religion also encourages large empires because you need a lot of faith to pump out religious units. Faith only comes from religious buildings, so you want a lot of them, meaning you need a lot of cities. The big one though is cultural victory. Just like Brave New World, its all about tourism here, meaning that you need lots of great works, relics, artifacts, etc. You need to store these in museums and such, and that means you need cities. The more you have the more tourism you can generate.

Last point - its important not to forget that having a lot of cities is just a lot of work... Turns start to take forever and the game becomes less fun in my opinion. Its not really a game mechanic, its more of a flaw or even an opinion of mine, but its something work considering.

With all that being said, you are still encouraged to create good, productive cities. One of those is still worth multiple small cities

  • 1
    I encountered the problem in my tall empire (playing as Rome) that I just didn't have enough build queues, despite buying pretty much everything I could with gold, of which I had a ton from my trade routes and Rome's bonuses. There are some things money just can't buy.
    – Paul Z
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 13:32
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    This is interesting. So you are saying that you should basically always go as wide as you can? There is no real tradeoff?
    – nhouser9
    Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 16:43
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    @nhouser9 More or less, yes. There are limitations, so its not like you can get a city every 4 tiles. For the most part though as far as I can tell there are very few reasons not to make new cities when ever you find a good spot. Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 17:24
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    I have a feeling that settlers become more expensive the more you create. I haven't fully researched this yet, though.
    – Sjoerd
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 6:47
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    @Sjoerd I think it has to do with settlers costing more as you advance through the ages Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 0:04

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