Sirian's Great Library - Strategies for Civilization III
Tips for Expanding Your Empire

UPDATED Aug 1, 2002: In previous Civ games, special resources appeared according to a particular, fixed pattern. It was almost never wise to build directly on a resource, as it would only guarantee that that was the only special bonus you would get. That is no longer true! Special resources are handled more realistically now, and particularly with luxuries, it may pay off for you to build directly on the resource, as you don't have to wait for a road to be built to it. This is also a good way to secure strategic resources, as the enemy has to conquer the whole city, or to pillage all the connections to the city, and if you have a harbor or especially an airport, even then the resource won't be disconnected. DO NOT build on top of food bonuses, though, unless there is no reasonable alternative, as you get a flat two food out of your city's core tile, no matter what it was (barren or rich, it's all the same, the city center is two food).
UPDATED Aug 1, 2002: When you build a new city, your home square is guaranteed to produce two food, no matter where you build. Forests and jungles are cleared away automatically, and even deserts or hills provide two food for you, but ONLY in the square you actually build your city on. This can be vital information when planning where to found new cities. It may increase the city's potential to build the city center on a hill, desert, tundra or jungle square, and at the least, it helps to know that you CAN do so without penalty. Make the most of your land! Choose strategic sites for your new cities, and try to plan out your entire expansion as quickly as you can, so that you don't realize later that a particular city was founded in a bad location.
Nov 16, 2001: Don't be afraid to let your cities overlap a little. Sure, it may hamper them ever so slightly down the line, and you don't want cities overlapping by a lot. You certainly want to avoid overlap, but not at all costs.
Nov 16, 2001: Use the sea to offer you extra "land" for your empire. Harbor improvements will allow each sea square to provide enough food to sustain one more level of population, and in some cases (deserts, tundra, plains without access to irrigation, mountain ranges) the sea may even provide a city's MAIN path to growth. It also helps to be able to build ships from many cities, especially if your nation is located on a land mass not accessible to other civs except via ship. A strong navy can help keep you safe. Also, any inland cities with coastal squares won't be able to build harbors, which means those coastal squares will be limited to a single food unit. If you build to include as much coast as you can, your coastal cities will be light on production but strong on trade. You don't want every city to be like that, but you don't want to waste coastland or limit your empire's potential by being too stingy with where you are willing to put a city. You should fill the available land, try to use almost every square, and that includes the coastal waters.
Jan 2, 2002: Early on, irrigate those wheat and cattle squares, if possible. Sure, you could mine them and get more shields, but if you irrigate, you grow faster, and you can use the extra population that you get sooner to make up for the shields you lose, and then some. Irrigating these squares during despotism gets beyond the food barrier and propels your city growth to new heights, ultimately giving you MORE of a production boost in the long run than mining would have. If you can see the big picture there. By contrast, you generally want to mine your grasslands, as irrigating them won't help you until you can change governments and get out from under the Despotism penalty.
Aug 1, 2002: Firaxis programmers recently revealed some information about the goody huts. Expansionist civs are fully protected from a hut breaking out into attackers. A hut will only pop out techs if you are still in the ancient era. A hut will not pop a settler if you already have a settler active OR in production -- very useful information for improving your odds. Also, for any civ, hostiles will never spring out of a hut if you have no active military units (meaning it's always safe on the first turn) and also never if a city is only one tile away. Use these tips to improve your goody hut results!
Aug 1, 2002: An early granary in your capital is often a good idea, despite appearances. If you have food bonuses in range, you can postpone the granary a while. If you don't, and all you have is grass, plains, and so forth, your tiles offering two food each at best, then it's wise to build the granary before the first settler, even, because this will act from there onward as if you had food bonuses. Food, not shields, will limit your settler production rate, so get as much food as you can! Warrior-granary-settler, with units and settlers thereafter, is a solid strategy for those dry or barren starts, with no fish, game, cattle, or wheat in range.
Aug 1, 2002: On larger maps, or especially pangaea games, it may actually save you production and expansion rate to build up to three or four dedicated explorers (at the cost of earlier settler) and explore as much as you can and make as many contacts as you can as quickly as you can. If you can be the middle man trading contacts and/or maps, it may be worth as much as half an age of techs gained, and of course production is somewhat interchangeable with commerce (you can use the money saved to rush a number of projects, after a government change, just as one example). Getting techs faster may bring other advantages too, like access to wonders. By contrast, if you know the game's going to be crowded, every turn lost could mean lost chances to grab a larger share of the available land. At least give it some thought, both ways. Choose your strategy according to the situation, instead of reacting on automatic.
Aug 1, 2002: If you know you are on an archipelago map, of course it's vital to get to mapmaking as quickly as possible. Don't delay! You may even want to have scouts, settlers and defenders ready and waiting to board ship as your first ships are produced.
Aug 1, 2002: One of the best ways to make key gains is to remain neutral while some of your neighbors fight it out, and to have one or more spare settlers sitting around, ready to rush in to any gaps formed by the combatants razing a city. Capitalize on the misfortune of others by grabbing the now-unclaimed land for yourself! This is sometimes the only way to expand any further peacefully, but rare is the time when such a window of opportunity remains open for long. If you aren't prepared, you'll miss out!

- Sirian

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