BtS One City Challenge Strategy Guide

This guide is intended to show players who haven’t played a One City Challenge (OCC) before, or at least not one in Beyond the Sword, some basic strategies and guidelines to use.[B]
What’s different in an OCC[/B]

-As the name implies, you will be limited to one city for the duration of the game, so settlers will be removed from your city’s build menu.

-Your Capitol will be limited to building 5 national wonders, a change from previous versions.

-Certain victory conditions are impossible, or nearly impossible, without playing a custom game with Permanent Alliances enabled.

[B]Which Traits are ideal / choosing a Leader[/B]

Top Tier OCC Traits in my opinion (in no particular order) are:


Spiritual is a great trait for OCC because it allows you to constantly tune your civics to maximize whatever it is your city is doing at that moment. It also gives you a lot of diplomatic flexibility, since you can swap civics and religion to gain quick relations boosts.


Without any settlers to build, and no extra cities to garrison you’ll find yourself building wonders quite frequently, as well as 5 National Wonders. The +50% Hammer boost to wonder production allows you to more easily grab key wonders, and over the long term frees up quite a few hammers that can go into either units, infrastructure, or even raw gold/research.


Your city will be a great person powerhouse from all the wonders you’ll end up collecting, and doubling the rate you produce great people at really helps accelerate your economy whether you plan on bulbing up a storm, or settling them.

This doesn’t mean other traits are useless, or that you must use some combining of these traits to win an OCC. However, these three traits I find to be the most influential in maximizing your Capitol’s potential compared to others, and it’s very nice to have at least one of them in your leader’s combo.

[B]Improving the Capitol’s terrain[/B]

During the early game you want to focus on growth, and hammers. Generally you should go worker first to start improving your terrain asap. Start hooking up your food resources right away, and if you get lucky enough to get a nice commerce tile like gems or gold get that up as soon as possible. Once you’ve got your food hooked up start getting mines / quarries / ivory, online to help build some wonders. Work towards getting all your hills mined, and balance out any food needs you have with more farms. Concentrate on farming / mining riverside tiles first, since they provide an extra commerce, which adds up over time. Ideally all your hills should be mined asap.

It’s important to always make sure your city is growing as long as you’re under the happy cap, you really want to maximize the number of citizens / specialists you have working for you. Keep laying down a fair amount of farms during the mid-game. Each time you reach the happy cap just switch some of the citizens to specialists to slow/stagnate your growth until you can increase the cap.

Later in the game as technology and advanced civics start providing bonuses for specific improvements, you might want to start retooling the Capitol’s improvement. For example, if you’re going for a space race win, you might want the throw down a healthy mix of watermills and workshops to crank out the parts as fast as possible.

[B]All about Civics[/B]


-Hereditary Rule:

Hereditary Rule can be somewhat useful early on when happiness is a big limiter. It allows you to get +1:) in the city per unit garrisoned there. I would mainly use it if happiness is a major issue and you’re going to be bulbing with your first few great people, and not running any specialists. Once you have the Globe Theatre constructed this civic becomes obsolete, since you’ll have no unhappiness.


Overall Representation is the best government civic for OCC’s. It adds +3:science: per specialist, and +3:) in your capitol. The research boost is huge, especially if you settle a lot of great people (who all reap the rewards as well as regular specialists), the extra happiness is just icing on the cake.

-Police State:

Police State gives +25% to unit production and -50% war weariness. It isn’t very useful in an OCC unless you’re trying for conquest / domination where the added production can be useful (assuming your city doesn’t already crank 1 units / turn). War weariness doesn’t get bad until later in the game, at which point you’ll have the Globe Theatre so it never becomes an issue.

-Universal Suffrage:

Universal Suffrage gives +1:hammers: per Town, and allows gold-rushing of certain city builds (units, buildings, wonders). It’s not a civic I use for any length of time, but in an OCC you tend to have piles and piles of gold laying around and it’s very useful to switch into Universal Suffrage for 5-turns to gold rush some infrastructure or wonders, then switch back out to Representation.



Vassalage gives +2 XP to units you build, as well as provides free unit maintenance. It’s not usually of any use in an OCC aside from diplomatic bonuses, or if you’re going for a military victory and really, really, really, want the +2 XP for that 3rd or 4th promotion out of the gate.


Bureaucracy gives +50%:hammers: and +50%:commerce: to your Capitol. It’s by far the best civic in the Legal category for an OCC, since your entire empire is composed of only the Capitol.


Nationhood provides +2:) from Barracks, +25% espionage, and allows drafting. The happiness is fairly useless since you’ll probably have the Globe Theatre, the extra espionage can be useful if you’ve been settling a few great spies to leverage that part of the game. The biggest use of this civic in an OCC would be for the draft. Personally I wouldn’t recommend mass drafting in your only city since it would destroy your economy, but in a pinch it would allow you to create 2 units per turn which can be quite useful if you get backstabbed and need to mobilize some quick defence.

-Free Speech:

Free Speech provides +100%:culture: in every city, and +2:commerce: per town. Fairly useless since your Capitol will have no problems with culture,. The +50% commerce for your Capitol from Bureaucracy also provides a bigger bonus to any towns you might have, as well as any other commerce you have coming in from riverside farms, or trade routes for example.



Slavery allows you to pop-rush units, buildings and wonders. It’s a very potent civic since it allows you to convert excess food into production. Early in the game you’ll be limited by happiness, so you can help keep yourself under the cap as well as speed up construction of critical infrastructure. If you’re Spiritual, and playing with Random Events on, I’d recommend only switching to slavery when you need to slave something, then switching back out asap to avoid those nasty slave revolts.


Serfdom allows your workers to build improvements 50% faster. It’s fairly useless in an OCC since your fat cross should already be highly improved by the time it’s available.

-Caste System:

Caste System allows you to run unlimited Scientists, Merchants, and Artists. It also gives +1:hammers: per workshop. It’s a very powerful civic when coupled with Representation for science, and also very powerful for your production when coupled with State Property (which gives +1:food: per workshop).


Emancipation grants +100% growth speed to cottages, and there’s an unhappiness penalty for civilizations not running this civic. Somewhat useless in an OCC since unhappiness in your Capitol will be nullified by the Globe Theatre by that time. If you really decided you wanted to plant a few cottages and grow them asap it can have some use in short bursts, but generally it’s not going to be much help.



Mercantilism gives you a free specialist in every city, and closes all foreign trade routes. Though the extra specialist sounds like a good idea, it usually isn’t because you’ll likely be making a solid trade income. If for whatever reason you don’t have a bunch of foreign trade routes or they’re not very profitable this civic can come in handy however.

-Free Market:

Free Market gives an extra trade route in every city, and reduces corporate maintenance by 25%. The extra trade route can add quite a bit of commerce which is pretty nice. The reduced corporate maintenance is fairly useless if you found the corporation, since the only other cities that will get your corporations are foreign so they pay the maintenance and you collect some tidy profits. That being said, sometimes corporations aren’t that great in an OCC, since you’re pretty limited on the number of resources you’ll control (more resources = more bonuses from corporations) they’ll mostly just be making you gold which might not be a big deal if you’ve already got a large surplus.

-State Property:

State Property reduces distance maintenance costs for extra cities, gives +1:food: to workshops, and watermills, and gives +10% production to your empire. At first glance it seems this civic is mainly for large empires, but oddly enough your single city can benefit quite a bit from State Property. Windmills and workshops become production powerhouses later in the game when you’ve unlocked all the techs that provide benefits to them. Give them each +1:food: with this civic and they turn into some disgustingly good tiles. +10% production is also nothing to sneeze at by the time you’ve settled some great priests / engineers, and have mines, workshops, and windmills all over the place. You can’t found or run any corporations under State Property, but unless you control (or can trade for) a fair amount of extra resources you’ll get more food and hammers out of state property.


Environmentalism gives +6:health: in every city, and increases corporate maintenance by 25%. It also provides a commerce bonus for forest preserves. It’s generally not that useful in an OCC since the National Park makes health concerns a thing of the past, but it can be useful. For instance, if you happen to have a nice amount of health resources combined with this civic it could allow you to forgo building the National Park and use that slot of a different National Wonder.


-Organized Religion:

Organized Religion gives a +25% production boost for buildings (including wonders) if your state religion is present in the city, it also allows you to build missionaries without a monastery. This is a great civic for when you’re building infrastructure and wonders, it’s basically like a magical forge.


Theocracy provides +2 XP for units produced in your city if the state religion is present, it can be useful even if you don’t plan on going to war. The extra promotion is always helpful to your garrison units. If I’m playing a Spiritual civ I’ll switch into the Theocracy when I’m building troops, then switch back into something else as soon as I’m done. If you aren’t Spiritual and not planning on war it’s probably not worth the anarchy.


Pacifism gives a +100% boost to great person generation cities you control with your state religion present, at the cost of increasing troop maintenance by 1:gold: per unit. It’s very useful for speeding up great person generation during periods when there aren’t any wonders you want to build. Even if you plan on a warmongering game you usually have enough surplus gold to absorb the extra costs without any problem.

-Free Religion:

Free Religion gives a +10% research bonus to your empire, and +1:) per religion present in the city. The happiness, as usual, isn’t a big deal. The +10% research bonus can be pretty good when you’re trying to power through some of the larger techs on your way to space, or on your way to a specific tech, but generally I stick with Pacifism or Organized Religion for most of the game.

[B]Choose your National Wonders wisely[/B]

In a BtS OCC your Capitol is limited to 5 National Wonders, and choosing which ones you want is of critical importance. The type of victory you’re trying to achieve, as well as what resources you have will determine which 5 best suit your needs. I’ll list the National Wonders I consider worthwhile below with comments on each one. I’ll also nitpick Wall Street and why I think it’s not much use in OCC.

Globe Theatre (available with Drama):

The Globe Theatre eliminates all unhappiness in the city it’s built in. Happiness being one of the two constraints on the size of your city, getting completely rid of one is a huge benefit. You can grow your Capitol as large as your food supply, minus health penalties of course, will allow. You’ll pretty much always build the Globe Theatre, since chances are you won’t have anywhere near enough happiness resources to max out your population. You could use the Hereditary Rule civic to boost your happiness cap with units, but I much prefer running Representation for the science benefits.

National Epic (available with Literature):

The National Epic doubles the rate at which your city produces great people. I almost always build the National Epic because more great people is a wonderful thing, you can never have too many settled specialists or lightbulbed techs in an OCC.

Oxford University (available with Education):

This one is a no brainer, +100% research in the only city you have doing any research.

National Park (available with Biology):

Health is the biggest factor limiting the size of your city in an OCC, since the Globe Theatre is available fairly early to quell your unhappiness concerns. The National Park eliminates all pollution caused by population, at the cost of removing the cities access to coal. I almost always build the National Park because it allows the Capitol to reach it’s it maximum population.

Note: The loss of access to coal isn’t that big of a deal, it doesn’t mean you can’t build railroads, it just means the city itself won’t have access to coal for things like giving the Ironworks +50% from access to coal, or running a coal plant.

Ironworks (available with Steel):

The Ironworks provides +50% production with Steel, and +50% production with coal. If you don’t have access to coal or iron (and won’t be able to acquire any) don’t bother building it since it will give you no benefit other than 3 engineer slots. Since I almost always plan on building the National Park which removes access to coal, this usually means No Iron = No Ironworks. If I do have Iron though I scoop this up, +50% production to everything you produce is very nice.

Heroic Epic (available with Literature):

The Heroic Epic doubles the speed at which your city produces military units. I usually don’t build the Heroic Epic, but it can have it’s uses if you want to go for a Domination or Conquest win on a slower game speed (Epic / Marathon). On Quick/Normal speed your Capitol will pretty much build any unit in 1 turn anyway, so the Heroic Epic doesn’t offer any practical benefit. Even on Epic speed it’s benefits can be somewhat wasted so I’d probably avoid it unless playing Marathon with a low hammer Capitol.

West Point (available with Military Tradition:

West Point provides units built in the city an additional 4 XP. It’s only useful when going for a Conquest or Domination victory and you want to get your units above 10 XP or 17 XP to get that extra promotion. It’s use is somewhat limited, but if I’m playing a warmonger game and don’t have access to Iron I’ll throw this in the 5th slot instead of the Ironworks.

Wall Street (available with Economics):

Wall Street gives an additional +100% bonus to all gold (not commerce) generated in the city, which normally sounds great but it’s use in an OCC is quite limited. The main reason is because money is never a problem in an OCC. Your maintenance costs are microscopic, so even one settled Great Prophet or Merchant is enough to keep you in the green at 100% science the entire game. The +100% you will already get from a market, grocer, and bank is already more than enough to multiply any gold you’re taking in. I’ve never once played an OCC where I didn’t have more cash than I knew what to do with. I never build Wall Street.

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