Civilization 4 was a little different with where you might want to settle, and in Civilization 5, there is no real benefit of even settling next to a river for your capital. Sure, you will lose out on some water buildings, but overall, they aren't worth the hammers they cost to build them anyway.

So like this question which asked how important it is to settle next to a river, I'm curious: If your Settler spawns on a hill, is there ever any reason to move it to another tile?

Correct me if I am wrong, because I have only completed one settler level game and now I'm running immortals and deity, but doing the math, a hill tile is always better. You get the additional hammer for production early on, which means you can strike out a Monument 3 turns earlier. The earlier Monument means that if you go the Pottery > Writing route, you can slingshot into Medieval by getting the Great Library.

I restart all of my games at about turn 100, but from what I can gather, settling on a hill means I get Liberty earlier, and get my Settler about 7 turns earlier.

Is a hill start the best start you can get?
Is it worth wasting a turn to settle on a hill?

  • 3
    Actually, besides the direct benefits, hills also have tactical benefits: they increase the strength of the city built on them, and if you garrison a ranged unit in the city, a hilly city will enable the unit to shoot over adjacent hills.
    – Oak
    Sep 15, 2011 at 17:06
  • Are you talking about just for your capital, or for all cities in general?
    – bwarner
    Sep 15, 2011 at 17:20
  • I'm talking about early game, where those additional 3-4 turns really count.
    – Layke
    Sep 15, 2011 at 17:30
  • "I have only completed one settler level game and now I'm running immortals and deity," - That's some leap. :D
    – klutt
    Dec 13, 2018 at 11:13

3 Answers 3


I would say that the only reason not to build on a hill is because there is a better spot. That might seem like dodging the question, but I guess the point is that while hills are good, they are not so good that there aren't plenty of situations where something else would be better. Maybe building off the hill gives you access to a resource you would otherwise miss. Maybe building on the hill keeps you away from the coast when you want to be able to build naval units. Or maybe you play a very Great Person heavy strategy and want to be by a river to build a Garden.

I almost always build my capital in the location that my settler starts, regardless of whether it is on a hill or not. Generally the starting location is dead center with a bunch of resources, and even that one turn of not building your capital does have a multiplied effect over time. So I would say that you should definitely take hills into account when planning city locations, as they are quite nice, but don't get so focused on them that you miss out on other locations that might be better.


It depends on what you see of your surroundings when you move your starting Warrior to scout on the first turn. I usually never found later than on the second turn and only if:

  • There is an obvious spot where I get more resources within three tiles of the city.

  • My starting hill doesn't have a 3-food tile (Grassland Wheat, Cow, Oasis etc) right next to it and I can get to one if I found on the next turn instead while still getting a good amount of resources. This will help early growth immensly and pay for that extra hammer from the hill in no time.

  • My starting hill is not next to a river and I'm playing a river-dependant civ or strategy (Montezuma with Floating Gardens, Nebuchadnezzar with Gardens etc).

  • My starting hill is not next to the coast and I'm playing a navy-dependant civ and want an early navy (usually doesn't happen unless you turn off starting bias in the settings when creating your game). If you are fine with making your 2nd/3rd city coastal, you don't need to move.

All that being said, hill starts are usually great and you should really think about it before moving away. I completely disregard that you can't build the Windmill if you found on the hill since having that extra hammer for the entire game is gonna far outweigh the late game production bonus you'll get out the Windmill.

  • Doesn't really apply. Civ5 is completely different to Civ4.
    – Layke
    Sep 20, 2011 at 8:49
  • 1
    Eh, this is Civ5 specific advice actually :) Am I missing something? Is it the reference to the "fat cross" that threw you off? I still call the area that your city can work the "fat cross", it's a CivFanatics habit I've never gotten out of. Sep 20, 2011 at 10:57
  • Yeah sorry. I stopped reading when you said FatCross. I just assumed you can't make a cross from hex'es :P
    – Layke
    Sep 20, 2011 at 11:03
  • 1
    Removed fat cross from the answer, it was definitely a bit confusing... ;) Sep 20, 2011 at 11:09

There are buildings that you can and cannot build, depending on whether or not you've built on a hill. One that comes to mind is the windmill, which can't be built if you build your city on a hill. I'm fairly certain that there's one building that can't be built unless you've built your city on a hill though.

With that said, the windmill is a mid-late game building (can't remember exact era) that only increases your production by 10-15%, so that quicker start might be more beneficial for you.

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