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SimCity: General Tips & Strategies

March 28th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

“My Shuno!” fellow readers.  Despite “SimCity’s” rocky launch, I’ve invested well over fifty hours into the game with no signs of slowing down.  I wanted to take this opportunity to pass on what I know and what worked for me.  Should you take the below to heart over anything else you may have learned?  Absolutely not.  I’m sure I could stand to do things better, but I’ve managed to keep every city in the green and then some.  Below are some basic tips that might serve a newcomer to the game well…enjoy!


Traffic woes? Fires burning down the whole city? Read on…

1. Before you start building in the area you claimed, take a moment to view your map overlays to see what resources you’ll have access to.  If the city/area you selected has a ton of coal, ore, or oil, you may want to consider exporting or utilizing them for cash down the line.  Also take note of where your water sources are, so that you can build polluting structures away from them.

2. After getting a feel of where your resources are, start with a medium avenue that connects to the region.  Roads are expensive, so don’t extend it too far just yet.  On one side, create low capacity roads branching off from the avenue and build residential and commercial zones on one side of those roads.  Putting houses and businesses on only one side of the street, I found, helps traffic quite a bit later on.  I reserve the other side of the street for environmental buildings, which bring up land value scores.

3. On the other side of the main avenue, create another low capacity road and extend it further away toward one of the corners.  Your industrial zones, power plants, garbage, and sewage buildings will go there.  Make note of the wind indicator and try to keep the pollution away from your main city by positioning these buildings appropriately.

4. I stick with wind power plants from the get go, as they are cheaper initially.  Down the line, they get more expensive and take up more space.  Don’t forget, you can build service roads from the main building and continue building small and large windmills off of them.  Once you bag some more money later on, you may want to consider coal or the more expensive solar / nuclear power.  Keep in mind that some of these structures require natural resources, which means you’ll have to provide them yourself through mining or buy them from the global market.  One water tower is good at the start as well, so as long as you keep it away from industries and anything that pollutes.  Don’t worry about services, sewage, or garbage until the folks start demanding them…they are expensive to maintain.

5. Keep your residential and commercial zones near each other, but don’t connect their low capacity roads.  I found that the less intersections you have, the better.  I’ve adopted a “caterpillar” design to where your avenue is the main body and the low capacity roads are the legs.  The only intersections I create involve avenue to avenue, if I can help it.  Low capacity roads that intersect might not be a problem now, but will be down the line.

6. Slow and steady growth is the key.  Zones cannot increase in density unless you upgrade a road to its next level of capacity.  You can take advantage of that and control your city’s growth.  Allow it to grow too fast, too quickly will leave you without the funds you’ll need to build those expensive services.  I leave low capacity roads there for a long while, bump up the game speed in windowed mode, and watch something on Netflix while I increase my treasury size safely and pressure-free.

7. After your population hits a certain point, people will want services.  I recommend the garbage, sewage, and fire services first.  Garbage and sewage should be placed away from everything, just like your power plants.  If my cash flow is still green, I go for medical and then finally police services.  I also build environmental buildings ($ and $$ for now) on the other side of the streets from my residential and commercial zones.  Down the line, you can tax individual wealth brackets and having wealthier residents is generally a good thing.

8. Space…always always always leave enough space in between services and important buildings.  If you can, plop them on avenues to improve their accessibility.  Most services can be expanded upon, so you’ll need space to do so.  Don’t cram important structures into a corner or surround them with zones.  I put all of my services (with the exception of polluting structures) on the main avenue. 

9. When you’re ready to fill up more room, you can extend your avenue through the center of your city.  If you have the money, create avenues around the outside of your city connecting those side streets so commuters have more than one access point.  Or, create a “+” with your avenues across the city length and branch out accordingly.  Or, create an “E” pattern.  It all depends on where you resources are honestly, since you’ll be trying to build around them.

10. When you’re ready to bring in cash after seeing to the needs of your city, go ahead and build a structure that will mine a natural resource.  Build a trade center to go along with it, as well as extra storage slots to hold the material.  I try to construct them close to each other, just so that the mine (or etc.) doesn’t fill to capacity because trucks en route to the trade center are stuck in traffic.  Don’t forget to set the resource to “export” in the trade center menu.  Recycling plants are expensive initially, but you can export metals, alloys, and plastics with the recyclables that you bring in.  Again, be sure to have a trade center with the appropriate storage slots.

11. Understanding your cash flow might be overwhelming at first, but it’s fairly easy to understand.  Transactions through the buying and selling of goods are not included in your hourly cash flow.  While you may see “-200” or something on your overlay, you might actually be making a profit once you factor in your exports, culture, and etc.  The trick is to stay in the positive AND make a profit from exporting or other specializations that you may have.

12. I construct a train station and an airport in every city, just to help with the flow of traffic.  In regards to advanced services, I rarely ever have needed to build expensive police / fire stations, since my citizens overall are educated and happy.  Keeping your citizens educated is a good idea once you have the funds to spare.  Start with a library and elementary school, making sure to seed every residential street with bus stops.  Expand the capacity on schools ONLY if you need to and have the money.

13. Buildings like town halls and universities have upgrades that effect your other cities throughout the region.  If you build the financial add-on to your town hall, for example, then all of the cities in your region will be able to set taxes for $, $$, and $$$ brackets.  Since these add-ons require maintenance, only build one in the region, if you can help it.  After your fourth city in a particular region, you’ll have all of the add ons you’ll need to access everything from the get go in new, future cities.  Universities work the same way.

14. When you’re ready to increase the capacity of your buildings, start with one or two streets and wait for them to upgrade before moving on.  Start with the zones highest in demand.  When you’re buildings upgrade, you’ll notice a dip in your income per hour…this is to be expected.  You don’t want this happening city-wide at the same time, for obvious reasons.  Remember…you can open your road menu and select the “road upgrade” button to quickly upgrade a road without having to demolish anything.

15. In the end, remember that these are YOUR cities, so do what you want with them!  Experiment!  Have fun!  Just keep in mind that there is no “undo” button.  I currently have six highly profitable cities without a casino in sight.  It’s important to stress that cities take time, especially with the recent patch to take out cheetah speed (as of 3/28/13).  Playing in windowed mode allows the game to continue playing while you do something else.  Alt-tabing in full screen mode pauses the game, at least for me.  Find something else to do while you wait for your funds to grow…trust me, when you are ready to expand, you’ll be glad that you have the cushion.

I’ll add to this list as I think of more, so check back regularly if you can!

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