In Civ 4 there was a serious penalty when you settled a city far away from your main capital.

What is the position on this in Civ 5? Should I scatter shot my cities far away? Or place them close to my capital?

2 Answers 2


There is no penalty for building a city far away, though it does pose some hardships in practice:

  1. It takes longer to move troops from one city from the other, which can be critical at times.

  2. Moving airplanes and missiles between them requires special naval units, unless you have friendly cities in the middle.

  3. Creating a trade route between them can take longer and be more expensive, see this related question on road maintenance cost - though this can be mitigated if they are both coastal cities, or close to other coastal cities, as you can read in this question which explains the trade network.

  4. It takes longer to get the settler there in the first place - those are turns wasted on moving a fragile settler around instead of starting a city.

  5. It takes longer to move workers and great people from one city to another, meaning more turns in transit (while still paying unit maintenance costs) and less turns doing useful stuff.

  6. If you try to build a spaceship, and you build the parts in distant cities, it takes longer to move them back and they must be carefully guarded - spaceship parts are very lucrative units to destroy.

I think point (1) is the most important one. I've had enough instances where my distant cities came under siege and I could not reinforce them in time; I now try to expend slowly, though I admit it's sometimes very hard to resist building a city when coming upon a great location.

Point (3) is also very important but can usually be mitigated by just covering the long distances with the help of coastal cities.

  • I've spotted an area about 50-60 tiles away from my capital which has 3 Bananas and a Gem tile surrounding it. Would be perfect. If I settle there I would certainly be making that city unconnectable with my own territory. It would be blocked off by other nations. What is your advice for this instance?
    – Layke
    Sep 11, 2011 at 16:27
  • 3
    @Layke I dunno, I just listed the cons above, you're welcome to do with it what you want. I wouldn't say 1 gem and 3 bananas is a lot but it's hard to tell without actually seeing the map. Plus, remember this is just a game, I think it's fun to be adventurous from time to time :)
    – Oak
    Sep 11, 2011 at 16:33

Something to consider:-

Cost of New Cities It's never wise to go about like Civ 5's AI and settle everywhere. Each new City you add will increase Unhappiness by 3, while each unit of population will also generate 1 Unhappiness unless you're playing on a really low difficulty (it will still fall, just not as much). So, since a city is -3 and starts with 1 population, settling a new city will cost you 4 unhappiness immediately. Cities will raise the cost of future social policies by 10%, and that can be quite a lot - so most cities need to at least justify themselves with the basic boost of a Monument to mitigate this, though it's not nearly enough later in the game. If you need more slots for great works of art, music, or writing, you can always add some of these buildings to Outposts so that you can fit the Great Works and get the +Culture/Tourism of those along with any base benefit from the building itself, at the cost of gold maintenance. Science costs go up 5% with each new City, but this isn't a big issue and wouldn't make me want to put a library in a little outpost to try to mitigate it - after all, any settlements I've made that are never intended to grow large are allowing my other cities to grow larger due to the resources they provide.

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