SimCity 8 Tips

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.

Try Not to Figure on Biggering and Biggering – Expand Slowly, Upward First then Outward

My largest tip by far for any intrepid mayor is to run to your local library and pick up a copy of The Lorax. This telling book gives you detailed step by step instructions on how to do well in SimCity, starting with avoiding cutting down every Truffula Tree to exposing the dangers of biggering deep within the Grickle-grass. I’m not kidding; SimCity will let you play out the entire book, from the first chop until you’re sitting weeping quietly bankrupt and having to demolish large swaths of your village, returning it to a polluted town full of hovels. The GlassBox engine will push back against you and crumbling your desires to bigger every step of the way, resources become scarce fast, pollution will cause untold sickness and the Brown Bar-ba-loots frown rather quickly. Everything will collapse and you’ll sit desiring fifteen cents.

Stepping back briefly from the confusing word play, you must build slowly and watch out for expanding too quickly. Take your time, watch employment. If you have more jobs than residents, then you need additional housing to expand. Additional housing doesn’t mean to zone more, it’s much better to increase density first, build up then out. Why? Fire, medical, power, and trash coverage are more efficient the smaller the area – a building is a building.

SimCity Income

The faster you expand, the more infrastructure you’ll need to avoid critical failures such as fires, sickness, and crime waves. In addition, infrastructure is insanely costly and inefficient the further any of the services have to travel. If you can’t afford the additional expense of the infrastructure, then you’ll start having bigger and bigger problems later on. In addition, exploiting industry will result in massive pollution and lack of workers (industry requires a lot of people to operate) which results in abandoned villages, a drain on power/water, and tons of pollution.

Basically the quicker you bigger then faster you’ll be sitting under the bad smelling skies in your big empty city, just yourself and some pie. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, your city and its residents will sit and stagnate in a cycle of anguish. I’ve made over ten cities and in the ones where I took my time I was rewarded greatly with profitability and happy residents.

So, if you want to bigger, take your time, look at the charts, and play strategically. Sometimes it takes a Grinch to see the true magic in Christmas, after all.

Location Location – Plop buildings in the most efficient central locations.

The big difference between SimCity and SimCity 4 is that the service buildings (police, fire, medical) aren’t adjustments on happiness, but actual physical sims that respond to actual physical events. In previous titles you attempted to make sure all sims had coverage and tried to avoid overlap. In SimCity you’re not worried so much about overlap as you are about response times and availability of forces. One police station will attempt to service the entire map; however it will not be able to respond to crimes far away unless the car is patrolling near the incident.

To that extent, think smart about where you place services. Put them in locations that they can access roughly half to a quarter of the map easily. Avoid edges of the map and try to put them as central as possible to your population, close to avenues and away from traffic jams. Remember that you can’t stop every single crime ever, but you want to keep it managed to the point that your sims don’t complain about sickness, fire, or crime.

SimCity Income

The same goes for mass transit. The passenger train station & ferry needs to go near commercial areas and culture (tourist) attractions. Bus stops shouldn’t be spammed everywhere, but spaced out to allow an efficient network of coverage. Trade ports should go near industrial so that the industrial trucks don’t jam up traffic. Again, majority of times, the most central location is the best location, so that everything is about the same distance.

The only exception is trash pickup, which you probably will end up jamming into a corner and that’s fine, the trucks are pretty efficient at rolling out and getting trash. The same thing with schools, bus stops helps alleviate the need of putting them in a central location.

Intersection Jams – Avoid unneeded intersections and build a smart traffic network.

Each sim wakes up every morning, gets in their car or walks to a nearby bus stop, travels to fastest way to get their location to work, then goes out and shops, then returns home. It’s important to note in previous interviews, Maxis has stated that sims don’t live in a specific home, work a specific job, but they go through the moves (leave home, go to a random job they qualify for, shop at locations that meet their social status, then go to a random home that they can live in). Visiting sims coming from the highway will drive from the highway and try to path the fastest way to their destination. Things that slow them down include stop signs, red lights, and emergency personnel.

SimCity Income

To avoid major traffic jams later on, build your traffic network smartly, avoiding unnecessary intersections. For instance, on the corners you can use a rounded road to keep traffic flowing smoothly versus letting two roads come to each other at an intersection.

The road guides automatically try to find the way to make your roads work for you. They will work to create the most density as possible with your road designs. It’s best to generally follow them, but do note there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Sims stop at red lights, so intersections can jam a city up. Circular roads are alright to use in SimCity and flow traffic around pretty well. You can make roundabouts rather easily to help with traffic (draw a cross with the straight road tool, then use the circular road tool, then delete the roads inside).

You Can’t Do Everything – Specialize into a specific type of city and stick to it.

The game has a UI simplistic enough that anyone can build a city, but depth enough that you can get REALLY into building specific cities, industries, etc. The game however, makes each pursuit very costly, but rewarding, but only onto itself. For instance, education is costly; you can pay up to $20,000 an hour or more to have all of the buildings and enough upgrades to keep the classrooms from being full. The payoff is that you’ll have less pollution (less sickness), less fires, and less crimes, along with recycling (which will let you sale materials).

So to have an educated city, you might not really want to go heavy into specializing into ore/oil mining at the same time, because it’s not only counterproductive, but hard to pay for the expansion of both at the same time. Likewise, don’t try to zone industry, commercial, and residential while running a mining outfit, and trying to get tourists into your town.

SimCity Income

You don’t need everything either – you don’t have to plunder your city’s natural resources, you don’t have to have education (it forces you to buy a recycling center to keep your city clean), you don’t have get a trade HQ and expand it, nor do you need a university. You don’t need all of the mass transit options unless you have a reason for needing it.

So basically don’t try to do everything, think of what you want your city to be and work towards it. You’ll be a happier, healthier, and saner mayor.

Protect the Environment – Watch Pollution

In previous games pollution was kind of a joke, it lowered residential demand in the areas that it was concentrated and made your sims quite angry. In SimCity sims seem content to live in polluted areas and like traditionally, they complain and land values plummet, but it also causes germs. Germs are a terrible to deal with and costly, increasing the demand of your health network. You want as little infrastructure as possible, due to how costly it is. Police, fire, and health increase land values and invite more sims in (paying for themselves) but having an excessive amount can be a fast money drain.

SimCity Income

Pollution is easy to deal with in SimCity – industry pollutes, backed up sewage pollutes, industry pollutes, non-ecofriendly power stations pollute, and finally the garbage pollutes. Pollution decreases slowly over time, both air and ground, and trees can help filter some of the air pollution down.

Start Out With Nothing – Build a small city and run off of RCI profit for a while.

When you first start a region you kind of have almost nothing, nothing unlocked, no money to trade around, nothing. Start small, throw down some roads, then zone in residential, a little bit of commercial, then industry. You can just have a few rows of straight roads, really. No infrastructure at all. It works best if in another city, you throw down police, power, water, sewage, fire, and clinics, then send all available extras to the other city (so that you can just buy everything from the other city).

Then wait until you’re at $3,500 to $5,000 an hour and let the game just sit. Money is a lot easier to get before you start biggering, because you’ll run into the obstacle of always needing to spend whatever extra income you get on advancement or else your town will burn down, everyone is going to get sick, or a crime wave will start.

SimCity Income

Vu Tower – Evil Incarnate

I’m not sure if it’s bugged or not, but Vu Tower sends out crime waves and these crime waves will flood other cities in the region if not dealt with. Do everyone a favor; skip out on Vu Tower unless you’re ready to dedicate the police forces necessary to prevent the crime waves it sends out.

If there is a Vu Tower in your region bothering you, max out a police precinct and send all available officers to that region. I hear that helps a ton in preventing crime.

Industry Wins – Build Industry for fun and profit!

Later on in the game, taxation won’t be enough to pay for schools and neat things, so be sure to build an industry!

  • Recycling – You can reclaim metal, alloy, or plastic and resell it on the global market for what amounts to free money.
  • Electronics – You can use recycling and purchasing to create electronics, which has a major profit margin.
  • Culture – Tourism is big money, have a healthy city with at least a passenger rail station and place down an expo center (that seems to be the major tourist flood trigger). You’ll then have streets full of shoppers.

That's our eight tips for a better SimCity experience. What are your tips? let us know in the comments section below.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our SimCity Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

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Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.