For me, one of the most exciting aspects of Civilization is deciding where to build my next city. Since each city’s production is determined by the surrounding terrain, it becomes an interesting spacial challenge and I have spent hours weighing the benifits of a few spots. Well, here I get the defensive bonus from being on a hill, but I loose the food bonus for the cattle. Here I gain access to the coast, but lose the iron resource…
There has yet to be an MMO strategy game that replicates this feature but Lord of Ultima takes a step in the right direction. When building your OSG city, most games have a “slot” feature, where there are a dozen or so slots for you to place buildings, and it really doesn’t matter which ones you choose.
Lord of Ultima makes things much more interesting by giving bonuses based on what your buildings are adjacent to. For example, if you build a Woodcutter’s Hut next to a Woods, you get bonus production. If you build a Warehouse next to a Mill, you get bonus storage. If you build a Warehouse next to two Mills, you get even more storage, and so on. This leads to a lot of strategy and a large number of guides suggesting where to build in order to get the most out of your city. With enough planning you can get upwards of 6,000% training speed!
This adds a very interesting element to city building that other games really lack. To be fair, Lord of Ultima is not the only game to include this feature. Escaria also places a lot of emphasis on how you construct your city. Escaria is a very small game though, and their system is quite different from LOU’s. Some newer Facebook strategy games such as Backyard Monsters and Battle Pirates also let you freely design your own base and its defenses, but these games borrow from Tower Defense and are more about combat than building a city. So, respect to Lord of Ultima, and enjoy your municipal planning!