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SimCity Newbie Mayor's Strategy Guide

Updated Mon, Mar 11, 2013 by Shayalyn

SimCity Newbie Mayor's Strategy Guide

Before this week, I had never played a SimCity game. Oh, sure, I’d manipulated the day-to-day lives of many a virtual person, but only in the micro-managed world of The Sims. After reading David “Xerin” Piner’s review of the rebooted SimCity, however, I felt I had to give macro-management a whirl. Turns out the game is addicting as hell, and I honestly couldn’t keep my hands off it--if the servers were up, I was in my region zoning, sorting out utilities, and plotting mass transit options. To keep things lively, I also dealt with the aftermath of a tornado, a giant city-crushing lizard (straight out of EA’s Spore), hostile aliens, and zombies. (God, how I hate zombies.)

As a newbie, I found SimCity dead simple to pick up. But, the more I played, the more the game’s depth came to light, and the more questions I had. So I put together a compendium of the answers I dug up, and the strategies I learned by playing SimCity obsessively since launch. I’ll assume you’ve skimmed through the manual or can figure out the bare basics on your own. Even with the most basic familiarity with the game, these tips should help you transition from novice city founder to mayor extraordinaire.

Getting into the Game

Going through the game’s tutorial will get you off to a solid start, but there are a few things the tutorial won’t necessarily tell you that experience revealed to me.

  • When you begin the process of claiming your first city, you’re given the option to start a new region, or join an existing one. There are advantages to joining an existing region, since you’ll be able to share resources with your neighboring mayors, and they will also send you things like fire and police protection, which are helpful when you’re just getting your city off the ground.
  • If you want to spend some time learning the game and ironing out strategies without having to worry about things like money problems, air and ground pollution, and random disasters, you can check the box for Sandbox Mode on the Select Region screen. While you won’t be able to gain achievements, rank on the leaderboards, or participate in challenges, you will have full control over your city without all the associated struggles. You’ll also have access to limited cheats. (Alt+W adds $100,000 to your city’s coffers. Kaching!)
  • However...as tempting as Sandbox Mode is, it’s probably best to avoid it at first and learn from the good ol’ School of Hard Knocks. Sure, you’ll screw things up, but don’t call them mistakes, call them learning opportunities.
  • Take some time to look over the available cities in your region before choosing one. Each will have advantages and disadvantages, and differing levels of available resources, which present different levels of challenge. They’ll also give you clues as to what sort of specializations your city is best for. One might tell you that the area would make a great resort town, which is perfect if you plan to specialize in tourism. Another might point out a wealth of natural resources and mass transit options.

  • SimCity Strategy Guide

    Taking time to read over the city descriptions and examine their available resources can help you choose the right city for what you have in mind.


  • If you’re brand new to the game, you might do well to choose a city at a higher elevation with a good source of wind, since wind is a cheap and clean energy source to use when you’re just getting your city off the ground and funds are tight.
  • Should you choose a different server to start on later, the game will automatically have you repeat the tutorial. You can skip this process by beginning the tutorial and moving through it until you get to the first lesson about camera controls, then hitting Esc and exiting to the main menu.

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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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