Basic tips on how to get the most out of SimCity

6 min read


Most of the coverage of SimCity up until this point has been negative because let’s be honest, negative news sells and so does bashing on SimCity. But I’ve been hard at work in SimCity since Saturday and the game really is pretty impressive. So here are some tips for the early city builders out there.

Plan Your Roads

You’d think this is pretty obvious but it is amazing how quickly that great plan in your head disappears as soon as the alerts start popping up. The easiest plan is the good old fashioned block pattern. So to start stick with that and make sure you change your road drawing tool to the block tool to make sure your roads always fit.

The different road styles can be found to the left of your list of roads. Start with Medium Density if possible and remember to upgrade later on to ensure you get higher density residential towers forming.


Plan Your Areas

As above planning is crucial to a successful city. Residents don’t want to live next door to the Industrial sections and neither do commerce really. I’d recommend keeping your residential area as far as possible from the industrial section and remember you really want to increase density so when your guy tells you that you need more residential put more focus on going up rather than finding more space.

In this SimCity space is at a serious premium so learning how to increase density is crucial.

Three things will help aid your sims in increasing density and that is happiness, shopping and road density.

You won’t get skyscrapers on anything but high density roads and if you don’t have any nice parks or plazas in the area the skyscrapers will be more like slums than fancy Sandton residences.

See the dots of blue in the outer rings.. good idea 

Also a trick I didn’t realise at first; the density won’t hit full without some decent shops in the area which means you need commercial zoning inside your residential areas. These rich people want to shop. As a standard I put one large block of commercial with every 6 blocks of residential and it makes the world of difference.

And don’t forget if you hold CTRL down while choosing an area it will section the entire area quickly for you. It works with bulldozing as well, not always with the best results on that one though.

Plan Your Specialisation

Are you noticing a pattern here? One of the biggest changes in this version of SimCity is that you can now specialise your city in a number of ways. The most common being gambling and mining (of different things). When you choose your land you need to take a look at what minerals are available in that area and plan accordingly.

Also remember that all minerals, oils and ore will be depleted over time so plan ahead.

My current city is mining oil and now that it is starting to run out I’m slowly changing its specialisation to be education and research instead; which then unlocks higher technology industries and then micro processing.

Oh and don’t forget to always add a trade depot to your city! You are going to want to trade the stuff you mine and make. Right now I have 3 of them as you can only add 4 lots to each depot and you need a lot before you can trade in a commodity.

It’s a Regional Game

Cities do not live in isolation in real life and neither do they in SimCity. Plan your regions and what each city is going to offer to each region.

I’m now on my third city in the Lazygamer region (East Europe 3) and my current city still doesn’t have any power plants in it. People don’t like living next to power plants so I’ve decided to have my second failed city be the power house of the region and every time I start running out of power I add a new plant to that city and everyone else buys from it.

My other city is also close to becoming a police state as it mines out police forces to everyone. I’m not sure this is a good plan but you see where I am going. You can share pretty much everything between cities and most importantly you share government offices.

If I upgrade my town hall in city A to have a Financial Department then every other city in the area has access to what that brings. This means that with three cities working together you can pretty much unlock all the specialities in record time.


Education isn’t only important in real life (stay in school, kids!), but also in SimCity. You need to ensure your sims are educated so that they stop causing fires, getting sick so much and start increasing the technological advancement of your city.

Your sims will travel between cities to be educated, especially at higher levels, so plan for that as well.



I’ve put in 29 hours so far into SimCity and don’t feel like I’ve yet come close to scratching the surface of the intricacies of this game. Everything is micro-managed by the glassbox engine and you can be as detailed or as “larger picture” orientated as you like.

Also as you can see I never used Origin before so I have no friends which is depressing. Add me on Origin if you like (LazygamerZA) and come join my region. I need someone to send all my sewerage to.

Oh and here’s an oddity for one of our articles, this one is actually supported by the lovely people over at Incredible Connection. They reached out to me when they found out I still didn’t have a review copy and were only too happy to help out and make sure you, the readers got to hear more about this game.

So if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of SimCity and this article made you think about it then be a nice reader and see if you maybe would like to buy it from them?

And while we are at it how about giving them thanks via Twitter?

Keep an eye out for our review coming later this week.

PS: I shouldn’t need to say it but just in case, Incredible Connection had no say in the editorial content of this article. No one ever does. Hell I don’t even know what I’m going to write most of the time.

Last Updated: March 12, 2013

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

  • Hmmmmm nah…

  • Twakkie

    Time to spam Gavins origin account! 😛

  • AndriyP

    Seems like a cool casual game to play but for its price i would never consider it

    • SimCity isn’t casual, it’s not an action title but there is more depth in this game than virtually any other.

      • AndriyP

        Im sure it has a lot of depth but after a few straight hours i would come back to it now and again to spend an hour or so in. Not constant lenghtly sessions

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Wow, that’s pretty rad of them.

    Still undecided on if I should purchase though or not.

    Hows the client on data usage? Is it cap intensive?

    • BeatzByChrisBrown

      Do you support intrusive DRM? Then buy the game. If not, don’t.

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        I hear you. A part of me is screaming to not buy this because of this always online nonsense. But my inner child that remembers the awesome of SimCity2000 is crying for a go at this 🙁

        • Always online isn’t going anywhere.. the Internet will complain loudly about it but it doesn’t affect sales so it will hang around. It’s sad but true

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            What you say is true. Pitty that it has to be this way. I shall patiently wait for the review to finally decide but I have this odd feeling the review is already going to get a lot of thumbs up from you by the sounds of it 🙂

          • BeatzByChrisBrown

            Ubisoft canned always on DRM so there is hope. You can’t just give up on your beliefs and convictions because it’s hopeless. Fight the fight!

          • The Bearded Dutchman

            People are always bitching online about always being online ….. say what?

        • As long as you have at least played a little simcity 4 – Then you might not be as keen to get into this…

    • TriangularRoom

      Haven’t actually examined the data usage but I have to say, EA has put in a lot of effort to smooth out the issues seen at launch. When you are in the game, it runs pretty smoothly. I even had a game disconnect from the server for several minutes and it didn’t kick me out.

  • Danny Baromen

    Yeah, i’ve been playing since Saturday as well and yeah, even with the block design there’s just too much traffic!!!

    • really? Have you put down a proper bus system? I have no traffic problems

      • Danny Baromen

        Bus & street car system… however i suspect that maybe more than one depot for each system is required…

        • Well only after you have maxed out the garage updates

          • Danny Baromen

            Hmmm. maxed out street car depot and maxed out european bus depot…street car running from residential area through commerce into industrial and bus stops on virtually every street corner

          • hmm maybe you are just far more advanced than I am… what’s your population sitting at?

          • Danny Baromen

            Over 100k…

          • Well get out of the basic tips post then 😛

            I’m just over 50k so these tips you know all about already.. maybe you can write the advanced tips post?

          • Danny Baromen

            Wahahahahaha, maybe…

            But everything you said rings true… you need to keep the zones small but push up the density, otherwise you run out of space FAST!

            Invest in education early on and don’t skimp on it either… the faster you get your sims smart, the better it is for your city.

            There’s only so many upgrades your town hall will accept so you HAVE to use more than one city to unlock all the upgrades.

            Fiddling taxes helps with bringing people into the city, but don’t give them too much of a tax break or you’ll end up bankrupt… and while it is hard to fail in this simcity, you can still get it right…

            Try to plan ahead with water and power, because if those two go down, the rest of the city services suffer or stop working…

            I’ll have to play around with reducing / managing traffic, because at the moment, having 15 police cars, 8 fire trucks and 6 ambulances doesn’t help if they can’t get to where they’re needed…

          • matthurstrsa

            No option for underground subway system or a Skyrail type system that goes above the roads?

          • Danny Baromen

            not in this version of simcity… but maybe / hopefully in time once Maxis opens up the Modding API…

          • matthurstrsa

            Eish, that’s actually a bit of a dealbreaker for me. It sounds silly, but that’s kind of important because the only way for you to now manage traffic in my opinion would be to go up above the roads or below ground. Or add lanes?

            Good luck!

          • Danny Baromen

            at the moment i am maxed out at 6-lane (3 lanes in each direction)… and that isn’t enough… I’m going to try beefing up the street cars and bus service but yeah…. high-capacity subways or above roads metro rail would help…. a LOT…

  • TriangularRoom

    Technically you have one friend! Unfortunately when I tried to join your region it wanted me to do the tutorial again…

    Though at the rate my cities are failing, perhaps I DO need that tutorial…

    I can also confirm that putting your residential area downwind of your industrial area is a bad idea…

    • Start the tutorial, then quit to main menu… then continue…

      • TriangularRoom

        Ohhh. Will try that tonight then.

      • Lardus

        Would have loved to join with my port city “Atlantis”, but alas, interwebz 🙁

  • Guest

    I think this guy got the most out of SimShitty.

  • Deon Steyn

    I think this guy got the most out of SimShitty…

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew


    • Sir Captain Rincethis


    • Yep $60 to $80 to buy the game to write that, or writing it on the Simcity Facebook wall for free. I think we know who really got fooled.

  • GTO

    What sucks is by most accounts it is a very good game if you don’t consider the drm.

  • TriangularRoom

    I think Origin does give inflated counts of ‘hours played’ though. Mine says over 24 hours, but I know that is mostly having the launcher open, downloading updates, rather than actual playtime.

    • Deon Steyn

      They should break it up into :

      hours you could have played
      hours waiting for server
      hours downloading fixes,patches and dlc’s
      then hours played.

    • This is true, 29 hours may be inflated but it won’t be that far off… I played a solid 14-16 hours on Saturday, about 8 on Sunday and then a bunch last night

  • Deon Steyn

    Hahaha Look at Gavin go in the comments. He’s turned into and EA(Executive Assistant) for EA.

  • Lardus

    Game sounds fun, but I cannot play it with this online crap. Seriously, my iBurst has slowed down do dial-up speeds over the last 3 years! I used to play WoW with 300ms latency 🙁 I have some fond memories of the older Sim Cities so would have loved to take this one for a spin!

    • Brady miaau

      My iburst is getting slower over time too. I used to play Starcraft 2, now it is too slow (well, most of the time!)

      Perhaps this why I do not want to buy this.

      • My iBurts is also getting ridiculously slow lately.

        • Brady miaau

          Do you live in Pretoria?

  • Anon A Mouse

    I really really really want this but I’m still not going to buy it.

    • Brady miaau


      Why? Not sure.

      Will it measure up to the rose tinted memories of older SimCities?

      • Anon A Mouse

        Mine is easy, always on interwebz for a single player game. Not happening.

        • Brady miaau

          that is a huge factor, but I played Starcraft 2 like that.

          The problem is my iburst used to be fast. I downloaded all of Mass Effect 2 DLC’s overnight, switched on Xbox, when I woke up and checked, downloads all done. Now I cannot do a gig overnight sometimes.

  • duncan duncan

    This game looks amazing.i will give it a shot

  • I’m enjoying the game a lot, even with all the online silliness. If you’re a Simcity fan, and have a stable connection, then I’d highly recommend it! Yes, I also despise EA, but the game is improving really quickly…

  • CGI03

    I will claim my square tonight

  • Tidycpc

    What is the pc specs required to play the game?

Check Also

The EvoPoints Downloads of the Week – 12 May, 2017

Welcome back to our weekly post of featured downloadable content available for different g…