Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Basics of City Placement

City placement is probably the single most important decision you will make in Illyriad. It's easy to screw up, and if you make mistakes, it can be painful to correct them. In some cases it will be nearly impossible. I will write this short guide from the perspective of a military-prepared player. Even if you don't intend to fight in Illyriad, unexpected wars can break out and drag you in. It's wise to follow good practices.


Illyriad cities sustain damage by sieges. Sieges are alliance-scale battles, so please give up any notion that you can break a siege by yourself. A properly executed siege is an avalanche of force that will crush your personal defenses. Therefore, try to stay within 150 squares of your allies. Your friends are the only hope you have of breaking a siege before it wrecks all your buildings and weeks of careful construction.

All the other sutbleties of city placement are irrelevant if you are off by yourself, unreachable by your allies when you come under enemy fire.


If you are besieged, it is best to be surrounded by plains. Cavalry is the fastest attack unit, and gains a +30% attack bonus on plains. In addition, defending bows are already weak against cavalry, and defending spears (the best anti-cavalry defender) suffer a -15% penalty on plains.

In short, it is by far the easiest for your allies to break sieges on plains.

Absolutely, positively DO NOT EVER place your city adjacent to a building or mountain. Ever. Not even if you're an elf. Just don't do it, period, the end. These tiles amplify spear and bow defender units in the siege camps, and heavily penalize attacking cavalry coming to your rescue.

Avoid large hills, large forest, and small forest tiles whenever possible. Lots of people think they are clever by building infantry, and surrounding their city by forest tiles (which gives infantry attackers an advantage). This is not clever. Infantry is slow. Once the local infantry forces are depleted--very common in prolonged wars--you will be stuck waiting for rescue by very slow units which might not arrive before your city is destroyed.

You can place your city next to impassable or water tiles, but these are often bad choices that limit your troop production speeds and overall flexibility.


Many non-military players want to have big cities. The +2 food from 7-food plains tiles and 7-food jungle forest tiles will help you to accomplish that. But remember rule #1? Plains tiles are easy to clear with cavalry, and that includes the defenders inside your plains city. Just understand in advance that if you ever get into a war, the armies in your city might constantly get destroyed by fast-attacking cavalry armies.

What just got said about plains cities and cavalry, happens to apply to forest cities and infantry. Slower infantry attacks will give you more time to react, but the assaults themselves will be extremely expensive to defend.

In contrast, a city on a 5-food mountain will limit its final size. However, from rule #1, you should remember that defending spear and bow units are amplified on mountains, and attacking infantry and cavalry are penalized. With a City Wall 20, a mountain city is easier to defend, and much harder to attack directly.

Since your gold taxes are directly dependent on city population, it should be obvious that a 7-food city can support 40% more standing troops than a 5-food city. That tends to be less important in military alliances for two reasons.

First, cities built for size typically use the nearest 8 tiles for Farmstead structures, boosting food production and therefore size. This leaves only 12 other tiles for military production boosts, and a small pool of research points to maintain them. A mountain city tends to be built for pure military advantage, and so typically sacrifices size to maintain a full 20 military production boost tiles

Secondly, extended wars are about production, not standing forces. Once your 50000 infantry army is down to 5000 troops, the replacement rate becomes far more important than the standing army size.


If you are building a city for size, then you want a nearby food boost tile in the 12-18+ range. The most common food boosters are dolmens and coastal water tiles.

If you are building a city for a specific kind of military unit (recommended for all serious military players), then search for bonus tiles 1-3 away from your city location. These tiles will grant a +1%, +2% or +3% troop production bonus for every sovereignty level maintained. This adds to the standard +5% structure bonus, so finding a good cluster of bonus tiles can significantly accelerate troop production.


New players are advised to terraform 7-food mountains. Terraforming combines the size potential of a 7-food plains tile with the pure defensive power of a 5-food mountain. You will need a second, disposable account to terraform. Illyriad rules only permit owning two accounts, so the best time to terraform is when you are just starting out.


Specialized cities have cost reduction structures that make it cheaper to maintain specific types of units like archers or cavalry. These buildings consume a lot of certain basic resources. Decide your city's specialty BEFORE you build, otherwise you might find yourself short of a specific resource, which will limit your ability to reduce costs or accelerate unit production.


Since city placement is such a big deal, be sure to ask questions of experienced players. Also, I recommend asking several players, because you will invariably get different responses to consider. Always remember: take advice from players you want to emulate. You will be bombarded with lots of well-intentioned advice from General Chat (GC), but taking military advice from a non-military player is a recipe for disaster.

  • Locate your cities near your allies.
  • Always surround your cities by plains, impassable squares or water.
  • NEVER place cities next to buildings or mountains; avoid hills and forests as well.
  • Build on 7-food plains for size; build on 5-food mountains for defense.
  • Decide your city's specialty first, then pick a square with the correct allocation of basic resources.
  • Keep an eye out for food boosts (for big cities) or military production boosts (for military cities).
  • If you are new to Illyraid, using a second account slot to terraform 7-food mountains will provide a large military advantage.
  • Always consult with experienced military players prior to deciding on a particular spot.

Originally posted as a Night Squires training article. Reposted here because it's my article and I feel like it. Until the next training post:

Misbehave, everyone. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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