Maximum Population is one of the defining characteristics of Cities in the game. It measures the amount of citizens (in thousands) that the landscape can support.
Although Maximum Population has an upper limit of 25 in regards to the maximum City size, this limit does not apply to calculations relating to Population Growth, which compare the available Food supply with the City's current Population.
Maximum Population is mainly a function of the amount of Food that can be gathered from the surrounding area, but it can also be affected by a few other factors. Before founding a Settlement, the Maximum Population for any location on the map (without bonuses) can be viewed using the Surveyor tool. For existing cities, using the same tool will also include bonuses in the calculation. To survey a tile containing an Encounter Zone, it needs to be cleared first so it disappears from the map.
To avoid any confusion, the factors affecting Maximum Population are listed here in the order of application:
Available Food Edit
- Main article: Food
The Base Food Availability of any city comes from the sustenance that can be provided by the surrounding tiles. This depends on the terrain types of these tiles as follows (tiles shared with another city provide only half of the availability for Food for both towns):
|Terrain Type||Available Food|
| *: according to both the game manual and the Surveyor, Swamps should give ½.|
This has been corrected in the unofficial 1.51 patch.
Bear in mind, that this is not actual Food produced by these tiles. Rather, this is Food that can be produced from them (by various gatherers collectively termed as Farmers).
Summing up the Food available from the tiles in the Catchment Area forms the basis of any calculation relating to Maximum Population and Population Growth, and this is the number listed as Maximum Population by the Surveyor for any tile on which a City can be built. On occasion this number can be higher than 25, which is the practical upper limit for Population. In these cases the Surveyor will simply display 25, and the only way to determine the actual amount is to add up the tiles manually.
This applies to Swamps, River Mouths , Nature Nodes, and Sorcery Nodes in particular, which, according to the Surveyor, should produce ½, ½, ½, and 1½ respectively. The table above lists the numbers actually used by the game procedure. Luckily, the Surveyor's "Max Population" display does use the same summing procedure, so this number will match that of a City built on the spot (minus any Wild Games).
There are also three special types of shore tiles that, contrary to what the Surveyor says, actually have 2 available on them. These are:
|Terrain Type||Available Food|
|Single tile lakes with River||2|
|Shores with double Rivers||2|
|Shores with a single River mouth surrounded by Ocean||2|
Note that Shore tiles of different configurations (including single tile lakes with no river inflow, and river outlets with one or more surrounding regular land tiles) will not receive this benefit.
Tiles that are shared with another City will only provide one half of their Food availability to each town. Since this is part of a sum, the rounding will generally depend on the rest of the tiles (but will always be down). This means that unlike Production, there is no set contribution of individual terrain types. For example, sharing a Forest and a Grassland will yield 1 available for each City.
It may be worth noting that for internal calculations, the unit of measurement for Food availability on a map tile is actually 1/4 (in the above example this would mean that each town gets 3 + 1 units). However, fractions left after summing up the Food from all the tiles will be ignored for calculating Maximum Population and Population Growth.
Any tile that is corrupted will cease contributing to food availability. Such tiles can no longer be harvested for Food by any means until purified. Unfortunately the Surveyor will only consider this effect for already existing towns, meaning that, when looking for a place to build a new settlement, any nearby corrupted tiles will need to be considered separately.
Corrupting a tile in the catchment of an existing City will immediately remove its contribution (if any), and can effectively reduce the Maximum Population, possibly below the current Population. Note, however, that simply having a Maximum Population below the actual Population will not, by itself, cause the town to start losing townsfolk.
Gaia's Blessing Edit
When cast on a City, one of the effects of the Nature Magic realm spell Gaia's Blessing is to increase the "maximum food harvest" by 50%. In practice, this means the Food Availability provided by the tiles surrounding the town. Since this is the same as the base Maximum Population, casting Gaia's Blessing effectively increases the base Maximum Population of the target City by 50%.
Although the spell has no direct effect on Food provided by later bonuses, it does have a chance to clear Corrupted tiles every turn it is active, in addition to changing otherwise unfarmable terrain types to more hospitable ones, as noted below.
The Death Magic realm spell Famine has quite the opposite effect. This Town Curse will instead reduce the Food availability of the target City by 50%. This will similarly reduce the base Maximum Population by the same amount. While this will not affect the later bonuses, Famine's reduction does get applied after Gaia's Blessing. This means the two spells stack multiplicatively, resulting in a cumulative -25% reduction, regardless of which spell was actually cast on the City first.
Town Buildings Edit
There are two buildings that can be constructed in any City that provide a bonus to Maximum Population, these are the Granary and the Farmers' Market. They provide bonuses of +2 and +3 respectively. They increase both the availability and actual supply of Food, and are unaffected by the above spells in either capacity. On the other hand, they can be demolished by other spells (or random events) like any other Town Building.
Wild Game Edit
The Wild Game is a Terrain Special that, like the buildings above, provides a bonus to both the availability and actual supply of Food. Each Wild Game in a City's catchment provides a bonus of +2 to both values (and thus +2 to Maximum Population). Although they could be technically considered to be part of the terrain, their effects are applied separately, and will thus ignore both Gaia's Blessing and Famine.
They will, however, be rendered useless if Corrupted, and lose both bonuses until the corruption is removed. They can also be permanently destroyed if the Chaos Magic realm Raise Volcano spell is cast on the tile.
Terrain alterations Edit
Since the basis of the calculations for Maximum Population is a function of the surrounding terrain, it is only natural that changing the terrain will also change this value. Apart from tiles containing water (Rivers, River Mouths, Oceans, Shores, and Sorcery Nodes), and Forests housing a Nature Node, all terrain can be changed in one way or another. There are 3 spells that can alter the terrain type of a tile: two in the Nature Magic realm (Change Terrain and Gaia's Blessing), and one in Chaos Magic (Raise Volcano).
Positive food direction Edit
To increase Maximum Population, terrain that provides little or no Food availability can be transformed into a more fertile landscape. The main spell to use is Change Terrain, however, Cities with Gaia's Blessing will convert certain terrain types automatically over time. Altering Tundra tiles in any way requires the Raise Volcano spell.
|→ Change Terrain →|| |
|→→→→→→→→→→ Change Terrain →→→→→→→→→→|
|→→→→→ Change Terrain, Gaia's Blessing →→→→→→|
|→ Raise Volcano →|| |
|→ Gaia's Blessing →|| |
|→ Change Terrain →|
|→ Change Terrain →|
In addition to these changes, Gaia's Blessing is also able to change the tile under Chaos Nodes: from Mountain to Hill (+½). Note, however, that since neither Raise Volcano nor Change Terrain can be targeted at these tiles, this change is irreversible, and the Node will remain in this condition for the rest of the game.
Negative food direction Edit
Occasionally, there may be situations where reducing the Food available to a City is a desirable outcome. Whether the goal is to dismantle a friendly town without any loss of Fame, or hinder the economy of an opposing Wizard, two of the spells that can be used to improve the landscape are also quite capable of ruining it.
The obvious winner here is the Chaos magic Raise Volcano, as it negates not only the Food availability of the tile it is cast on, but also eliminates the Production bonus (as long as the Volcano is active). On top of that, it destroys any Minerals on the target square, and increases the Power income of the caster by 1 (again, until the Volcano is exhausted).
Change Terrain takes a backseat here, as most of its uses increase Food availability rather than decrease it. However, it can turn Grassland into Forest, which is a reduction of 1, albeit with a side effect of production gain (including increased benefit from certain Town Buildings).
Possessing both spells enables the player to also Raise Volcanoes on Hill and Mountain tiles (by converting them into Grassland first), which would otherwise be disallowed by the spell's targeting mechanism.
Considering that Cities with absolutely no water tiles are rather rare, it is very unlikely to reduce the Food availability of a town to 0, even with the use of both of the above spells. Adding the Chaos Magic Corruption to the repertoire (which can temporarily negate River and River Mouth tiles that can not be altered otherwise) may make this just barely possible for a landlocked City.
Should this happen however, and the City have no Food availability buildings (Granary or Farmers' Market), its Population Growth will be set to the negative of its current Population. For example, if the town has a population of 5,300 (Population value of 5), Population Growth will be set to -5 (-50 citizens per turn). This is still not enough to make the City disappear, however. At 1,000 Population, the next decrement of -10 will set the population to 1,050 instead.