SimCity Newbie Mayor's Strategy Guide - Page 3

Updated Mon, Mar 11, 2013 by Shayalyn

SimCity Newbie Mayor's Strategy Guide


Your city can’t function without services. Not only will you need to set up utilities, you’ll also need to provide your populace with access to things like education, health care, and mass transit. Your sims are also going to want fire and police protection. Needy little buggers, aren’t they?

  • Your sims are a pretty tolerant lot when your city is first getting started--they’ll put up with your lack of services for a while as long as you have met their basic needs for things like water, electricity, and sewage outflow. (Ick.) But eventually, they’ll start to make demands. This is why it’s important to resist growing too fast--if you save your money, you’ll be better able to meet those demands as they come up.
  • Your city needs to provide all kinds of services, but which ones should you make your first priority? Figuring this out is easier than it seems--let your citizens tell you. As your city grows, they’ll begin to make demands, which you’ll see in little thought bubbles above their houses. A resident telling you that they smell smoke, or an alert saying that there’s a small fire in your peaceful burg, indicates that you need to plop a fire station first and foremost. As a rule, you’ll need fire protection first, followed by health care (clinics), police and schools. That can vary depending on your city, however. A city with high tech industries, for instance, will want you to make schools an early priority so that they have access to educated workers.
  • As your city spreads out to take up more land area, your need for services increases. Cycle through the services on your toolbar regularly to make sure that your coverage areas are keeping up with demands. When you click an icon, such as health care, you’ll see the roads in its coverage area lit up in green. Wherever your roads aren’t illuminated, your sims don’t have access to that service and you’ll need to plop another building.

  • SimCity Strategy Guide

    The service coverage zone map shows you where you have coverage (green areas) and where you have no coverage at all (not illuminated.)

  • You can edit most ploppable buildings to expand them--just click on them and select the edit tool. Expanding utility buildings allows you to add more resources (like more wind turbines to provide additional power, for example) without plopping another building. However, expanding services like fire and police departments does not seem to expand their physical coverage area; it only allows them to provide services to more sims as an area’s population density increases. To increase your physical service coverage as your city grows, you’ll need to plop more buildings.
  • As your population increases, you’ll be able to upgrade your City Hall. Choose your upgrades wisely! You don’t want to upgrade Education only to find that your city’s Utilities are in dire need, because you’ll need to grow your population significantly in order to earn your next upgrade. Here’s where knowing your city comes in handy. If your industries have been complaining that they don’t have enough educated workers, you’ll have to focus on education early on so that you unlock access to building a college. If urban sprawl has put a strain on your utilities, you’ll need to make that your first priority.

Additional Tips

We’ve covered the basics, but there are still plenty of helpful hints to be had. Here are a few for starters.

  • If you get in a financial bind and find that you need a service right now, but you don’t have the cash to make it happen, you can resort to taking out a bond. Do this only when you really need to, though, because you’ll pay out money in interest and a bond can put an unexpected strain on your income as your city dynamic changes. Open the budget panel from the toolbar to access bonds. You can have as many as three bonds, and they’re available in larger amounts as your city grows. Use them judiciously.
  • The budget panel allows you to adjust taxes and, when absolutely necessary, take out bonds.
  • Disasters will happen. Some of them aren’t just so bad (tornadoes, surprisingly), and some are devastating (zombies.) My cities have recovered from a tornado and even a giant lizard attack, but recovering from a zombie apocalypse can be hellish. Try to keep a nice cushion of income in your coffers to mitigate these types of random emergencies.
  • A word on zombies--they suck. One of my thriving metropolises was devastated by zombies and went bankrupt. Trust me, it’s gut-wrenching to watch all that you’ve built fall because your buildings are nearly all vacant, and the cause of that vacancy is: “devoured by zombies.” Here’s a little trick I learned before my second zombie apocalypse tore down yet another city: block them in. Zombies, it seems, do not go cross country--they’ll only stick to roads. When you get the alert that zombies are in your city, pause the game and find them--they’re the people with the green glow about them. Once you’ve located them (generally around a clinic), block their path by deleting intersections (just the intersections; if you delete roads, you delete buildings) that would allow them to spread into the rest of the city. If those little bastards get to your apartment complexes they’ll spread like wildfire. When you unpause the game, keep it running on the lowest (turtle) speed and continue to search your city for signs of more zombies spawning, then pause and block those in as well. They’ll poof like vampires when the sun comes up, and you can reconnect your intersections then.
  • The giant lizard isn't a lot of fun, either. He'll smash buildings, but the worst damage that he causes is that he will create a large radioactive area in your city. Sims won't live or work in radioactive areas. (Can you really blame them?) The only solution I've found to this is to check your radioactivity map, destroy buildings in the radioactive area, and dezone it to prevent sims from entering. Yes, you'll lose some city area, but it'll keep your sims much healthier and happier.
  • From the budget menu, you can temporarily raise your city’s taxes to earn a little extra income. Don’t do this for too long, however, or your citizens, as well as commercial and industrial property owners, will become frustrated and may even abandon their homes and buildings.
  • If your city fails (don’t worry, it happens), you have a couple of options. You can start another city in the region and, once it’s rolling along smoothly, you can gift money and resources to your struggling city to help get it back on its feet. You can also abandon your city (from the region menu). If you abandon your city, you’ve given up your claim to it, which allows another mayor to step in and take a crack at fixing it up.

SimCity is not a difficult game to learn, but mastery takes practice and experience. Obviously, you’ll be a better mayor the more you play. You have 10 slots per server for starting cities, so go ahead and experiment and hone your skills. Be sure to check out our 8 Tips for the New SimCity for a more detailed set of city-building strategies.

Do you have some tips for new SimCity players? Share them in the comments below and we may add them to this guide!


We’ve gathered eight tips to help you understand the new SimCity and make your way from Mayoral neophyte to Mayor in Chief. So get your officially sanctioned sash and top hat and let’s get to work on making some of the biggest and best cities in the history of the new SimCity.

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