I have one turn left for my settler, and it is two turns left until my city grows from 2 to 3. Should I change to build something else to allow the city to grow before finishing the settler?

I realize that you probably would need much more details for an exact answer suited for my particular situation, but I'm interested in how I should think in general around this matter.

3 Answers 3


Generally, I recommend letting the city hit 3 population before letting the settler finish, but ultimately you can make your judgment using several factors, including: that city's current tiles, where your citizens are working in that city, the state of your empire as a whole, current units, intended settlement destination, and more.

Remember that when you finish a settler, the current population in the city where they were built drops by 1 to represent that. This always impacts growth and production in that city, with particulars depending on which tiles your citizens in that city were working--in this case likely making it take more turns to reach population 2 again than pausing the settler to reach population 3 would have, and delaying the next few builds in your production queue on similar reasons.1

If this is just one of your many cities, that might not be a big impact. If this is your first city, it might have a bigger cascading impact down the line from a slightly slower start.

There are other reasons you might want to switch for a bit and let the population keep building. Most apply to multi-city empires:

  • You are in a position where you need an escort unit for the new settler and you realize you don't have one available, or near enough (nearby barbarians, at war with someone, etc.)
  • You are in a period where you're focusing on districts and you're about to hit a population tier that will increase the district limit in that city
  • You are about to end an era and lose a particular era bonus (dark or golden) that will make a certain build easier/cheaper/more valuable/give something extra when it finishes and can manage to finish the build before it expires
  • You are about to make a particular policy or government obsolete via the tech or civic trees and lose an associated bonus that makes a certain build easier/cheaper/more valuable/give something extra when it finishes and can manage to finish the build before the research completes

Some situations for finishing the settler first:

  • You have more than one city and it won't make a big impact overall if this city is reduced to the slower pace of 1 citizen for a while, or you can support the loss of food/production via internal trade
  • You are currently unable to swap government policies outside of civic advances, you're coming up on a new civic that will let you swap, and you need to switch out a policy giving a discount on settler production in favor of something else you need
  • You are about to lose an era bonus making settler production cheaper and want to pump out as many as possible now before it expires
  • You are in a settlement race with another civ over a particular area and need as many settlers as possible as fast as possible

[1] Personally, I never make settlers in cities with less than 3 population for this specific reason. I also only play on Prince difficulty and tend to play games like it's Utopia Sim, so, YMMV.

  • Does building a settler reset the population growth, meaning it's actually a loss of 1.9 population instead of just 1? I suspect that's the real motivation behind delaying. (The only civ game I've played is SMAC, but it has a similar population growth mechanic from the sound of it)
    – qazmlpok
    Jun 8, 2023 at 1:20
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    @qazmlpok My understanding is that the growth-to-next-population is retained, but it's been awhile since I paid that much attention to the details of Civ6.
    – Cadence
    Jun 8, 2023 at 1:39
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    In Civ1 you built as many as you could feed, to build as many towns as you were willing to micro manage before it just becomes a slog of popup notifications. If it still raises the city like it used to when you build a settler in a town of one, then yes. The one-city-challenge should be considered; not that I ever do: this game should be called urban sprawl. Answer to the title is NO! If you build it, they will come. Especially since the difficultly is done by giving the (same) AI 1 or 2 extra settlers at the start. You need to level that playing field asap.
    – Mazura
    Jun 8, 2023 at 4:46
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    "Since the computer players are not controlled by advanced AI (i.e., cannot learn from and react to the player's strategies by changing their own accordingly), but instead behave based on a very long list of if-then statements, the game makes the AI leaders more challenging opponents by giving them advantages on higher difficulty levels. The bonuses conferred to both human and AI players on each difficulty level are listed in the table below." civilization.fandom.com/wiki/Difficulty_level_(Civ6)
    – Mazura
    Jun 8, 2023 at 4:46
  • @Mazura that sounds like the start of a good answer that can address difficulty levels I have no experience with. I'd +1 if you wrote it out--I can only answer based on my own gameplay experiences at Prince difficulty at best. Jun 8, 2023 at 13:22

I only know the very old Civilization I, II and III but with the mechanics back then the recommendation is to build the settler now and not wait for the population increase.

The way population increases are handled in these games is through accumulating a food surplus. Once the surplus passes a threshold it is consumed and the population increases. This threshold increases with population.

This means that if you build the settler now, the population will decrease to 1 and the food already accumulated is more than is needed to go from 1 to 2 so the population will go back up the next turn. From then on you are accumulating food to increase population again. Iirc if you have more food in store than you need for the increase the surplus is kept and helps for the next population increase afterwards.

If on the other hand you wait until you have the population increase more food will be used for the increase and you only start later to collect food for the next increase. The only benefit is the single turn with population 3 but the price is that your population will increase to 3 permanently several turns later.


OK you are really pushing an edge case (meaning you shouldn't) but in general if you have enough accumulated food to go from 2 to 3 you also have more than enough food to go from 1 to 2 => it will grow in 2 turns. Possible problematic situation would be if your city center is on a tile with no food. A thing I really, really wouldn't test.

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