Very soon into the game players may find themselves struggling to fit in all the buildings they want. Expansions can be purchased, but they depend on technologies which may be a while off, and get quite expensive by the time you are well into things.
Here are a few tips on how to maximise the available space and work best with what you have. Most of these tips will cost you nothing, but combined they can more than double the number of squares you can build in.
Town Hall location
Straight away, you want to move your town hall into the top right corner of your city (the one furthest away from you). This has two advantages. Firstly, you won't be struggling to move or sell small buildings behind it. And more importantly, it will give you much more space. By placing the town hall in the corner, you only need two roads going out of it: one running top to bottom and the other left to right. This means you wil need much less road than if it were in the middle, where you need a horizontal road and then at least two "prongs" coming out. Less road means more available space, and this tip will free more of it up than you think.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Placing your Town Hall in the middle of your city is the most efficient. I'm gonna invite my infamous friend, math, to help me prove this.
To simplify the problem let's say that the Town Hall has a size of 5x5, and you're placing only 2x2 houses and roads around it over time.
- You place 1 road beside your Town Hall, in the middle of one of its side, then 2 houses beside it. That's a Road 1:2 Houses ratio, best stuff.
- Along that road your next step is adding 1 more road and 1 more house (this closes the road temporary), 2:3 ratio.
- Adding another road and another house, and you're at 3:4 ratio.
Just like that the ratio is closing to Road 1:1 House with every step.
With that in mind: if your Town Hall is..
- in a corner, you can make 2 of that row/line,
- in the middle, you can make 4 of that.
So with the Town Hall in the corner your ratio is closing to 1:1 twice as fast over time. This means that with the same amount of buildings your road/building ratio will be always better with the Town Hall in the middle, than in the corner. Yes, you also need crossroads to use all the space, and that makes a middle-TownHall even better, because you need less of them. For some time ago the Town Hall becomes transparent when you hover over it with a building tool, so you won't have any problem managing buildings behind it. Buying the first 2 or 4 territory upgrades allows you to place the Town Hall in the middle of your max sized Town (after you bought all expansion upgrades).
This tip is by far the most yielding in terms of the space it gives. More over, it is completely free and might even make you a profit selling road! The most space-efficient way to build up your city is to have straight streets. In order to do this, you should build your road as follows: your town hall is now in the top corner of the city. From here, you want to select the square which is the top and leftermost one on the top-left side of the town hall. Once you have this square, build two straight lines of road, one running to the right of the city, one running down the left edge. Then, from the left-edge street, build straight paths of road at 4 or 6 square intervals so that they run in parallel with the right road. In this way, your city will be like a large terrace settlement. The photo above provides an example, although the town hall should be in the corner. This infrastructure has three advantages. Firstly, having four or six squares in between parallel roads make it much easier to fit buildings into your city. 2x2, 2x3, 3x2, 3x3, 3x4, 4x3 and 4x4 will all fit neatly in the right quantities into these streets. Secondly, having a uniform structure will make your city much easier to expand. Instead of making conmplicated road patterns to fit more buildings in, you simply have to extend the two principle roads and then add more secondary streets. Finally, and most importantly, using this structure will mean that you need far less road to connect your buildings. As in the first tip, this will give you much more space in which to put buildings.
Regardless of how well you plan your city, you will definitely need expansions at some point in the game (these tips can however delay that point so that your money is not drained early on). However, it is vital that you place your expansion in a good place; it is the only thing that the game will not let you move. Place all of your expansions in single rows or columns. The reasoning behind this is similar to the road tip. If you put all your expansions in one row or column, you will need less road to connect the buildings you have in it. If your expansions are jutting out of the main building grid all over the place, you will need separate alleys for them, and the desired building may not fill the 4x4 space efficiently. This tip might only save you two square's worth of road per expansion, but by the iron age you will have somewhere in the region of 10 expansions, and so cumulatively it can give you lots of space to work with.
Efficiency of buildings
The desire to need more space is primarily to rope in more coins, population, supplies or goods. Without doubt a crucial part of the game, not just for saving space but for prosperity as well, is choosing the right buildings. In my opinion, the most important factor in this is building efficiency, i.e. how much of the desired commodity is given per square. For example, a goat farm from the Iron Age will produce more supplies per hour than a shoemaker from the Early Middle Ages. However, the shoemaker has a number of advantages that, for maximizing resources, make it the better option. Its production per square is greater than a goat farm's. This means that although 1 goat farm beats 1 shoemaker, axa square's worth of shoemakers will destroy the same area of goat farms, since the former is considerably smaller. Population cost is also much less for the shoemaker, meaning that you will spend roughly the same population on three shoemakers as you do on one goat farm. Sometimes the difference in price will outweigh these benefits, for example certain cultural buildings cost so much more than their counterparts that the relatively small efficiency increase is not worth it. However, unless that cost difference is well into the thousands and tens of thousands, purchasing a more space-efficient building will give you much more profit in the long run and will pay back the difference. This efficiency applies to all buildings, production or not, so using this tip on all of them will leave you with more space into which you can expand.