Understanding City Improvements, Resource Nodes and the Usable Tile Limit; Also Influence and Town Halls!

By on August 28, 2010 6:49:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

sagittary

Join Date 05/2008
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There seems to be some lack of clarity on how and where you can build improvements and resource nodes. So here's a guide, I guess, to how it all works.

 

Updated for 1.07

To do: Update to use the term resource horde since that's what Stardock uses

 

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[ Definitions ]

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Tile: One unit on the world map. If you have the grid turned on, those are 1 tile.

World Tile: Same as above.

Square: One buildable space unit. This is equal to 1/4th of a tile.

Space: Same as above.

City: What you build with pioneers. Anything within the city walls is considered a part of that city.

City Tile: A tile that is considered part of a city. A city tile is any tile with an improvement on it. Special case with resources (see below)

City Center: The initial tile that a city is founded upon. It will change appearance as the city increases influence and level.

Town Center: Same as above.

Enclosed: When something is surrounded by city walls and thus within the city limits. Improvements by default. Resources depend (see below)

Usable Space: A measurement of how much space a city has to build with. You can find this in the city detail screen. This is the same as Open Tiles and starts at 50.

Buildable Space: Same as above.

5-tile limit: The 5 square area away from a city that other cities or improvements can not be built within.

 

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Building Limits ]

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Every city has 50 squares of buildable space. This does not increase; you can always destroy buildings to free up space. Some buildings will take up 1 space while bigger buildings will take up 4.

 

Any part of your city counts as 'city' for purposes of movement. A unit can enter the city on any tile that is considered 'city' and leave on any tile adjacent to a 'city' tile. Thus if a unit enters a city that is 1x4 world tiles long from one end, they can leave on the other end at the cost of only 1 movement point. 

 

Any part of your city counts as 'city' for purposes of defense and military engagements. Thus a unit trying to enter any part of the above 1x4 city would have to face the defenders with the city defense bonus.

 

Cities and improvements can not be founded or built within 5 tiles of another city tile. It is important to remember that this limit is based off city tiles not just the city center itself.

 

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Improvements ]

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Improvements can be built on any square bordering an existing city square. This can work on both diagonals and horizontal pieces. As with cities, they can not be built within 5 tiles of a different city square.

 

There are few restrictions to where you can build improvements. You can not build on non-walkable terrain (steep hills, mountains, and water). You can not build on beaches (other than the harbor improvement). You can also not build on forests. The latter are important; not all the tiles in the game are distinctly forest or beach; some of them may have only a few dead trees or such to indicate what they are. Thus it may see 'clear' but not actually be clear. You will need to use the terrain window (upper right) to check. You can build on swamps.

 

You can also build improvements outside your influence area as long as all other requirements are fulfilled. That is, if building it keeps you under 50 squares, and if it's far enough away from any other city's tiles, and it's next to another existing improvement, then you can build it even though it's outside the area of influence. If you do so, the tile with the improvement will produce its own influence for itself. 

 

Improvements count as part of the city. As such, even if there is only one improvement on a tile, that tile counts as a city square for all intents and purposes.

 

2x2 buildings can straddle more than one world tile; they do not need to be contained into one world tile to be build. I've checked this on two tiles and need to check using 4.

 

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Resources ]

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Resource nodes are special and a result of a lot of confusion and ambiguity.

 

As long as a resource node is outside the city limits (it is not enclosed by the city walls), it is -not- considered a part of the city for any purpose. It only provides resources and can be attacked independently of the city. If there is an improvement within 1 square, a resource node will be enclosed. This makes the resource a part of the city for -all- purpose. It will count as city, allowing you to build improvements off it that do not connect to any other 'normal' improvement.

 

However, it will also count as a city square - thus allowing movement but also preventing building things within proximity. As of 1.07, resource hordes

 

Not Enclosed Resource: Provides resource, is not protected by city units, does not consume usable space, can not build improvements off, is not considered a city tile for purposes of the 5-tile limit.

 

Enclosed Resource: Provides resource, is protected by city units, consumes usable space, can have improvements built off it, is considered a city tile

 

Non-enclosed resources are built using their own independent building cue. Resources that would be considered enclosed are built using the city's queue.

 

What this all means is that resources can act in two different ways and change what they do depending on what you do. Most importantly for other cities, this means that a resource can change state from not-a-city to city. This in turn will change which tiles are considered within the 5 tile limit.

 

Resources -always- benefit from multipliers in the city it is linked to, enclosed or not.

 

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Examples ]

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( Example 1)

 Say you have two cities (A and B ) with a resource (R) between them:

 

[A] [ ] [R] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [B]

 

A and B can build improvements normally. They respect the 5 tile limit and they can build all around them. All seems well. A decides to build improvements towards the resource in order to enclose it. B also decides to build towards the resource for some reason.

 

[A] [X] [R] [ ] [ ] [ ] [X] [B]

 

The moment A finishes it's improvement, something -very- important happens. R is now considered part of A; it is now a city tile. This means that B is now -inside- the 5 tile limit by 1 tile. This prevents B from building more improvements on that side, regardless of space. If there is a forest or some such on the opposite side of B, then B will not be able to build in that direction either. This is because B is on the edge of the 5 tile limit but the tile past it is not.

 

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( Example 2)

Here is another example (and probably more common). In this case, there are multiple resources near by and they are touching.

 

[A] [ ] [R] [R] [ ] [ ] [ ] [B] 

 

[A] [X] [R] [R] [ ] [ ] [ ] [B] 

 

A builds and encloses the nearest resource. Then, he builds the second resource; that encloses automatically since it is linked to the first resource which is linked to A.


Now, the both resources are considered part of A and a city tile. But, now, suddenly, look at the distance B is from A's city limits! B is not 1 but -2- squares within the 5 square limit. As a result, B can not build -any- more improvements since any improvement would be inside that limit. The only time B could do so is if B had build two improves in the other direction -before- A did. Note that resources that are not enclosed do not suffer from the 5-limit. So

 

[A] [ ] [R] [R] [ ] [ ] [ ] [B] [X] [ ]   - B builds X and the player builds on both resources.

then

[A] [X] [R] [R] [ ] [ ] [ ] [B] [X] [ ]  -  A builds towards the first resource and connects them; again, both enclose since they touch.

 

In this case, B could then build improvements off the existing inprovements since that tile beyond them is outside the 5 tile limit.

 

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( Example 3 )

 

Save you have a big city with 4 spaces left. You build a resource building that will cause it to be encircled. Since the resource is 'city', you will now have zero usable space left. If you have less than 4 spaces left, I don't know yet how the game will react but it may mean that clearing out a few buildings may not bring you over 0 again.

 

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Special Note: Town Hall and Influence ]

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The town hall and the empire equivalent increase influence, according to their description. What does that mean?

 

Influence is a hidden number that seems loosely based off prestige; that is, they seem to have close to the same growth rate. The amount of housing available determines how much influence a city can have. This in turn determines the size of the zone of control a city projects. 

 

This radius is normally centered on your city center. Cities will produce a circle. Town halls act as a second city center, effectively projecting a second circle of equal size from their tile. Note that resources also must be within a certain distance of the city to be linked to it. This presumably affects that as well.

 

In effect, that level 1 city can grow it's zone of control without leveling up by using its improvements to span a greater width. The effect is also more noticeable in larger cities with sprawling layouts.

 

What these buildings allows a player to do is build cities further away from resources while still keeping those resources in range of the city. The question of whether you want to build in a cluster of resources or not  depends on how big you want that city to grow, how much protection you want on those resources, and what not.

 

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Special Note: Enclosed tile with no improvement on it ]

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It is possible to create a city where a tile has no improvement on it but it is otherwise enclosed in the city walls. In this instance, the blank tile is not a city tile. A unit that walks into that tile will not enter the city. Therefore, in order for a tile to be considered a city tile, it must have an improvement on it. Resources, of course, only count as city tiles if they are enclosed.

 

Something to check out is enclosing a resource without actually touching it. My guess at this point is that it will not use up any city space and not be considered a city tile. However, with improvements all around it, it could effectively be defended for all intents and purposes as while no space around it holds an improvement, the world tiles around it would be considered part of the city.

 

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I hope this helps clarify this.

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August 28, 2010 7:24:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That should help clarify things for people on building cities.

Good Job

Only thing that I would add is to make it more clear that although a resource inside the city gains protection from the units in the city and walls, it takes up 4 squares of the max of 50 squares. As in for example: I build a new city near a resource build a few houses that cause me to have 46 tiles, then the resource becomes part of the city the next turn meaning there are only 42 tiles now.

This just means not to build a city too close to many resources and hope new ones don't appear adjacent to it. (Had a city one game that had so many resources that I couldn't make anything other than a school and a few basic buildings losing potential to make a lot of money)

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August 28, 2010 7:30:05 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

oh boy no wonder I was having some problems with cities too close to the enemy.

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August 28, 2010 7:32:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'll add that in. I had just remembered that myself while playing the game. Though I don't agree that having too many resources is necessarily bad in all cases. It may mean you have to just really really be picky about how to build up your city. Though I guess if it leaves you with just a handful, yeah.

 

That also means refugee camps are 'tricky'. If you leave them outside the city, you gain their 100 pop cap bonus at no charge to space or food versus the 4 huts it would require. If you enclose it, you lose the 4 space advantage. It means you may only want to enclose a refugee camp if its a vulnerable city; otherwise, you may as well leave the refugees outside and save some space.

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August 28, 2010 7:35:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There's a typo in your opening sentence.  I'm also unsure if you can build on swamp tiles.  Other than that though, this is a superb summary that needs to be stickied.

Being aware of how resources extend the tile limit is oh-so-critical.  I once had new resources pop up and chain in such a way that they extended one of my cities to within one tile of an adjacent city... meaning that the latter couldn't build in any direction because even the opposite side was too close to the first city.  Blargh.

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August 28, 2010 7:37:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for explaining city tiles, that's been bugging me.

So in most cases, it's better to work your way toward a resource than try to settle next to it, since you get no real advantage other than it's "protected" within your city.

That seems like a very costly advantage to have, since there are far more improvements than tile space, and terrain can further reduce your building options.

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August 28, 2010 7:39:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Which typo? Chrome isn't showing a squiggly line and I'm not lazy enough to not double check myself. Though of course, I am likely to just be having a brain fart anyway and over looking spelling something completely different.

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August 28, 2010 7:45:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Nenjin,
Thanks for explaining city tiles, that's been bugging me.

So in most cases, it's better to work your way toward a resource than try to settle next to it, since you get no real advantage other than it's "protected" within your city.

That seems like a very costly advantage to have, since there are far more improvements than tile space, and terrain can further reduce your building options.

 

Yeah, depending on need, I try to daisy chain resources with improvements as much as possible and limit how many improvements I use purely for their bonuses. Especially if you already have a Lost Library or two (or whatever), building a study isn't doing you much unless you have -a lot- of them. You'd need 5 cities with a bunch of bonuses to equal 1 LL with a handful of bonuses. 

 

And especially if the city is away from any potential conflict (no enemy turf near by, fog of war and tamed lands surround it), encasing a resource is probably just a waste of space since there is little chance of it getting attacked. I suppose this is where less useful improvements can be used as temporary links. If a city is contested, you may want to protect the resource. If the fighting moves past and it's safe, bulldoze the linking building. Resource unprotects and free up space to use for other stuff.

 

Advantage wise, it depends on how much you want to improve a city. Not every improvement is strictly needed especially by late game. However, I also use improvement crawl advantageously to block terrain. For instance

 

Mountain - tile - tile - tile - mountain

 

By building improvements in each of those three tiles, I block off the mountain pass as opposed to a unit running right by the city. Minor benefit there but if there is an opponent with fast units, this forces them to stop at that city. The same can be done with beach tiles though this requires a lot more improvements to block. You can think of it like your own little Helmsdeep.

 

Another use for improvement crawl is 'highways'. Since you can enter and exit a city at any point, you can make a long city that units enter at one end and leave at the other. So if you have a 4 tiles + 2 resources all in some sort of line, you can have a unit move in 1 turn what it would take for 3. More as the city gets longer.

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August 28, 2010 7:47:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very nicely done Saggittary

This definitely makes me want to keep city spam to a minimum 'cause it just has so many ways to go wrong unless you really space it out.

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August 28, 2010 7:56:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

that's a nice extension to the FAQ thread. I will link to this thread if you don't mind and it definitely needs a sticky.

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August 28, 2010 8:00:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is possibly one of the worst designed mechanics I've ever seen. This isn't intentional is it?

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August 28, 2010 8:03:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Syiss,
This is possibly one of the worst designed mechanics I've ever seen. This isn't intentional is it?

funny, I think it is one of the best designed mechanics I've ever seen regarding city improvement... 

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August 28, 2010 8:14:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting phazonfreak,
that's a nice extension to the FAQ thread. I will link to this thread if you don't mind and it definitely needs a sticky.

 

Not at all; add away!

 

Quoting phazonfreak,

Quoting Syiss, reply 10This is possibly one of the worst designed mechanics I've ever seen. This isn't intentional is it?

funny, I think it is one of the best designed mechanics I've ever seen regarding city improvement... 

 

I enjoy it as it has the potential to let you create pretty unique cities, in both form and function. With improvement, refinement, and enhancement, it could be one of those things that really helps set this part of Elemental apart from other games before it. That said, it is -not- documented well, if at all, and some things are somewhat unintuitive as far as first glances go. Resources being the major case as they are likely the cause of a lot of instances where other cities suddenly can not build. Other instances are likely a result of poor tile design - some of the forest tiles are little more than a handful of dead trees... which looks very similar to some of the buildable tiles which also have a few trees.

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August 28, 2010 9:40:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

1.06 8/28/10

 

Resources

Note: Once wild improvements are linked to your city, they will take up 4 improvement slots. If possible, don’t link wild improvements to your city. Early game it may be worthwhile, so that the improvements are protected by your city’s garrison. Later, once borders have expanded and been secured, there is no need for wild improvements to be a part of the city – you will need those tiles to grow.

Always improve resources before linking them to the city. If they are improved away from the city, they build independently. If they are improved while adjacent to the city, they will be placed in the city’s build queue, holding up other building projects.

If possible as Kingdoms, research Adventure tab early. Get the resource techs. They will boost production massively. Food will no longer be an issue. Or for Empire, research Domination to get Umber’s diary. Gold rules.

 

Growth

If you really need more tiles, destroy wild improvements, then the tiles linking to those improvements. Rebuild the city away from the wild improvement; rebuild the improvement.

Place buildings you will eventually destroy on the periphery of your city. If these buildings are vital links to other portions of the city, they can’t be destroyed.

Plan cities for specific purposes. Many small cities work better than one large city. Focus on: food, materials, gildar, arcane research, tech research, metal, or armies if possible. Avoid building armies in cities focused on research or gildar – the more population spent on armies, the slower the city grows. Growing cities to level 5 is difficult. You won’t make it to that level 5 gildar building if your city is also focused on maximizing food and metal production.

A level 5 cities takes a long time to grow. Try not to produce armies in this city. The fewer armies a city produces, the faster it grows, the quicker you get those level 4 and level 5 buildings.

In order for a city to grow, it needs prestige. Various buildings, and sovereigns or heroes with the Royalty trait increase prestige. Since most prestige buildings come up much later in the game, prestige is the best choice for a sovereign’s profession for a medium to long length game.

 

Misc

Small cities/outposts are good for protecting clusters of resources on the periphery. Once resources are linked to an outpost, they can all be defended by a single army. This is especially important for resources near forests – wild monsters destroy improvements.

Caravans are great for roads. They also provide some kind of economic enhancement. I have no idea how trade works. Sending caravans to other empires/kingdoms doesn’t seem to add any gildar. But roads speed up movement.

Low level housing automatically upgrades to higher level housing for higher level cities.

Name cities for what they produce. It makes it easier to remember what to build where. Moreover, when a city upgrades, you cannot check to see which city it was. If you don’t have every city memorized, it can be difficult to know which level up upgrade to take.

Use the cloth map as often as possible. It makes managing an empire much easier, and improves performance.

Always use the cloth map when expanding notifications on the right toolbar – they load A LOT faster.

 

*Exploit* Infinite build tiles

This has worked for me; I don’t know if it has worked for others. When a city reaches a significant negative number of slots, building slots no longer matter and one can continue building anything well into the negatives. Find a collective of wild resources (perhaps 3-5), build on them, and then build towards them. Once the city is near its limit for tiles, build a link to the collective of resources. They should become part of the city, plummeting the tile limit, and allowing for infinite building henceforth.

This may also work with gildar / turn and army maintenance. If somehow one's income could forcibly be dropped well into the negatives, one may be able to build a massive army without regard to maintenance. This remains to be tested.

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August 28, 2010 11:44:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting SapSnark,
This may also work with gildar / turn and army maintenance. If somehow one's income could forcibly be dropped well into the negatives, one may be able to build a massive army without regard to maintenance. This remains to be tested.

I can't test with the current version because it wont allow old saves to be loaded, but in previous versions this was not the case. The AI could use negative Gildar for infinite army and city expansion, but you as the player could not. In this case the negative Gildar was acquired via trading with a bugged AI that somehow managed to get a negative balance.

Not that it's that important, as I expect both the negative Gildar bug and the negative tile bug to be plugged in an upcoming patch.

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August 29, 2010 3:30:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

sometimes i can build two improvements in one city. usually i get negative current gold as a sideeffect.

like i can build 2 merchants or 2 basic arcane research buildings or 2 irrigations. and the bonuses actually stack. i wonder if this is a bug or some odd game mechanic?

 

there seems to be no logic to how and why i can sometimes build 2 improvements of the same kind.

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August 29, 2010 4:18:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting inerz,
sometimes i can build two improvements in one city. usually i get negative current gold as a sideeffect.

like i can build 2 merchants or 2 basic arcane research buildings or 2 irrigations. and the bonuses actually stack. i wonder if this is a bug or some odd game mechanic?

 

there seems to be no logic to how and why i can sometimes build 2 improvements of the same kind.

 

The build window only updates when you first open it up. Thus if you build something and don't close the window, you can build as many of them as you want. I would assume this is a bug.

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August 29, 2010 4:45:01 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Updated with some fresh information about the Town Hall.

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August 29, 2010 6:36:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good to know.  Any verification of how the Influential faction trait affects influence?

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August 29, 2010 11:57:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for this I just had to start a new game because I was constantly building up to resources and encasing them in my city limits. Now I build close to them so the army can jump on them if an baddie shows up close to them.

 

Edit, sorry, I know inns and pubs increase prestige, but these heroes that do...I have never seen any effect from them and my last game I had 3 I think.

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August 29, 2010 12:26:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting phazonfreak,

>>>Quoting Syiss, reply 10

This is possibly one of the worst designed mechanics I've ever seen. This isn't intentional is it?

>>>

funny, I think it is one of the best designed mechanics I've ever seen regarding city improvement... 

You are joking? Right?

How can something be good mechanic, when resource pop or enclosing some resource could potentially make another city unable to build anything?

I mean, what's up with those mandatory 4 tiles "building restricted" zones between cities?

 

Here is my unfortunate save, where whole city (Raaminobl) lost ability to build buildings, due to Lost Library being absorbed by city at north. Destroying library makes possible to build things in other city.

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August 29, 2010 12:40:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I noticed one thing while building a city close to the enemy. He had influnce that overlapede a resource, he then started building on that resource, but before it was done my influence bubble expanded and now the resource was in my zone of control and it became my resource.

 ..and the resouce was not enclosed to either of our 2 citys btw

Wonder if your zone of control could get so high you would take over another players city...just wondering, but at leas you can lose resource that way to the one with more influence.

 

Greate post btw

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August 29, 2010 12:53:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Btw, this thread is sooo great that it deserves a sticky. It explains some aspects of gameplay that are not explained anywhere else.

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August 29, 2010 1:06:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting p22,

Quoting phazonfreak, reply 11
>>>Quoting Syiss, reply 10

This is possibly one of the worst designed mechanics I've ever seen. This isn't intentional is it?

>>>

funny, I think it is one of the best designed mechanics I've ever seen regarding city improvement... 


You are joking? Right?

How can something be good mechanic, when resource pop or enclosing some resource could potentially make another city unable to build anything?

I mean, what's up with those mandatory 4 tiles "building restricted" zones between cities?

 

Here is my unfortunate save, where whole city (Raaminobl) lost ability to build buildings, due to Lost Library being absorbed by city at north. Destroying library makes possible to build things in other city.

 

I don't disagree that it presents issues - especially in instances with resource popping and other mechanics. However, I don't think it's a necessarily a bad idea. And to an extent, it may be a means to encourage city development - destroying and rearranging buildings - and/or to combat city crawling and otherwise just dropping cities at a whim. It also creates interesting dynamics in the game as cities and factions fight to control space using cities; you can project your influence though the shape and size of your city. 

Again, the issues with the mechanic and the hangups it creates with other mechanics should and do need to be addressed. Better UI for the mechanic, a better system of deciding where resource popping happens (or a better system in general), 

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August 29, 2010 1:17:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As suggestion to Stardock, to quick fix/remove worst instances of this "feature":

Resources adjacency to city should not be absorbed/encased in walls, if they already violate "not up to 4 tiles from other city" rule.

Look the save I posted. If location of lost library was empty, no building could be built there due to being too close to other city. But since resources get auto-encased in walls when near the city, building the library, on normally invalid slot for city building, steals slots from nearby city, which is just plain wrong.

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August 29, 2010 1:59:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting p22,
As suggestion to Stardock, to quick fix/remove worst instances of this "feature":

Resources adjacency to city should not be absorbed/encased in walls, if they already violate "not up to 4 tiles from other city" rule.

Look the save I posted. If location of lost library was empty, no building could be built there due to being too close to other city. But since resources get auto-encased in walls when near the city, building the library, on normally invalid slot for city building, steals slots from nearby city, which is just plain wrong.

 

This presented an issue for me in a game:

Had 2 specialized cities, one for gildar, one for food.

Somehow I built something which caused a massive pile of resources to jump from the food city to the gildar city.

Since the gildar city had no food enhancement buildings, my food production plummeted. This caused all kinds of problems.

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