In another question answer bwarner writes:

Once a tile has been claimed, you can't "steal" it like in Civ 4 (except using the Great Artist as mentioned in comments). So you want to make sure you establish your borders quickly before another Civ or city-state grabs those tiles.

Is this accurate? That is, given two enemy cities side by side on the map, one generating a lot more culture, will this still not override the "small" citys borders?

  • 15
    This question stems from Civilization 4, where you could out-culture a square to take it from the enemy, which is only possible in Civilization 5 with a Great Artist. When I was a young gamer playing earlier Civilization games before you learned to click, I didn't have any of your fancy "culture", all I had was the "Traditional" pointy stick method, we had to walk uphill both ways to the enemy city and the tech tree only had 3 techs! Commented Oct 13, 2010 at 16:52
  • Also worth mentioning that the culture bomb can only be triggered from a tile that is in your territory or next to it, and cannot be triggered while in someone else's territory. So if the tile you want is blocked by other tiles controlled by your opponent, it might take multiple culture bombs to get to it.
    – bwarner
    Commented Oct 13, 2010 at 18:22
  • @WW - lol :-)
    – Martin
    Commented Oct 14, 2010 at 5:51

3 Answers 3


No, there are three possible ways to steal territory:

  • Culture Bomb with a Great Artist (Vanilla game only)
    Build a Citadel with a Great General (Gods and Kings ExPack only, see PhysicalEd's answer)

  • The Traditional Method - just declare war and then capture whichever of their cities "owns" the tile in question.

  • The Diplomatic Method - convince the Civ in question to give you whichever of their cities "owns" the tile in question as part of a trade or peace agreement. You may find this method easy to achieve if using the Traditional method on some of their other cities first.

With both the Traditional and Diplomatic methods once you are in control of the relevant city you can either keep the city (and so the tile), or you could raze the city so all that land becomes free to be taken (by anyone!) and then purchase the tile/expand culturally from your nearest city.

The serious point here is that once a city unlocks a tile it belongs to that city for the rest of time, regardless of who owns the city, unless the city is destroyed in which case the tiles become "free" for other cities to take ownership.

The culture bomb (or building a citadel in the G&K expansion) is the only exception to this. Doing this captures all of the tiles around the tile where the effect is triggered, and this will take tiles away from any player or city state that had owned them (and I guess it gives them to the nearest city of the bombing player?).

Unlike Civ4, you cannot override a neighbour's borders by racking up a massive culture score in a bordering city.

  • 8
    +1 I like how you describe it as the "traditional method." As old as Cain and Able.
    – tzenes
    Commented Oct 13, 2010 at 16:27
  • I guess this is a good answer, although I took this question to be culture-specific. Of course you can conquer the territory, but that's not entirely relevant. The relevant part, though, is that once conquered you can manipulate what happens to those tiles.
    – lilserf
    Commented Oct 13, 2010 at 16:50
  • @lilsert The answer is a little tongue-in-cheek, and the headline question doesn't mention culture. Guess I'll add an extension to the answer of a more serious tone.
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 13, 2010 at 17:01
  • I like your clarification. Also, per your question "I guess it gives them to the nearest city of the bombing player?", it just makes those hexes part of your civ's territory, not part of a particular city. They aren't necessarily workable by ANY of your cities. If you have one or more cities within 3 hexes, those cities will be able to work those tiles, though.
    – lilserf
    Commented Oct 13, 2010 at 17:39
  • @lilserf - my point is, which city would an enemy need to capture to gain control of those hexes? The tiles presumably must be assigned to a city, not just the Civ in general, otherwise there's the potential for a little circle of your borders deep inside captured territory. Ownership (in the context that I'm using it here) is not the same as workable - massive cities will start to claim tiles outside their workable range by culture (if everything inside the range is already taken) - if the city is captured those tiles can also flip (so they are "owned" by the city).
    – DMA57361
    Commented Oct 13, 2010 at 17:47

There is another way. The AI (Attila) just did it to me. Maybe it's new in the expansion.

Use a Great General to build a Citadel. When a Citadel is built, it claims the tile it is on and one tile around it. The citadel can be built on land belonging to the civilization building it, or on unowned land. This is well documented in the Civipedia.

So Attila was pissed at me for founding a city north of one of his. He moved a general up to unclaimed land right outside my border (and right next to my mine). He built a citadel, extending his territory to take my mine (and a couple more tiles) away. The event is reported as "so and so has stolen some of your land with a Great General". He then moved another great general up into the newly claimed space and built another citadel right next to the one he had just built, taking more of my land. I don't think there is any way to stop this other than going to war.

  • 1
    This is expansion-only. In the expansion the "culture bomb" ability was removed from the great artist and was instead merged with the general's citadel. In the expansion, constructing a citadel behaves precisely like a culture bomb, except it leaves a citadel improvement behind. This is not the case in the vanilla game.
    – Oak
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 7:13
  • @Oak - interesting. What is the special one-off ability of the great artist in the expansion?
    – Martin
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 14:52
  • @Martin the great artist is the only great person that can start a golden age in the expansion - that ability was removed from the other great people.
    – Oak
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 16:35

This is correct from a Culture standpoint. Tiles claimed by a civ are permanently theirs except if a "Culture Bomb" is used. You can leverage this in your favor by preemptively purchasing tiles that will be in contention later.

Of course, the opposing civ will likely contact you and be pissed about your land purchases right near their borders, but that's just the price you pay!

You must log in to answer this question.

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