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 Icon Food.pngFood supply with the City's current Population.

Maximum Population is mainly a function of the amount of Icon Food.pngFood 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.

Calculation Edit

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 Icon Food.pngFood for both towns):

Terrain Type Available Icon Food.pngFood
TerrainSpecial NatureNode Nature Node Icon Food.png
Terrain Arcanus RiverTerrain Myrror River River Icon Food.png2
Terrain Arcanus RiverMouthTerrain Myrror RiverMouth River Mouth Icon Food.png2
TerrainSpecial SorceryNode Sorcery Node Icon Food.png2
Terrain Arcanus GrasslandTerrain Myrror Grassland Grassland Icon Food.png
Terrain Arcanus ForestTerrain Myrror Forest Forest Icon Food.png½
Terrain Arcanus HillTerrain Myrror Hill Hill Icon Food.png½
Terrain Arcanus ShoreTerrain Myrror Shore Shore Icon Food.png½
Terrain Arcanus SwampTerrain Myrror Swamp Swamp -*
Terrain Arcanus TundraTerrain Myrror Tundra Tundra -
Terrain Arcanus VolcanoTerrain Myrror Volcano Volcano -
Terrain Arcanus MountainTerrain Myrror Mountain Mountain -
Terrain Arcanus DesertTerrain Myrror Desert Desert -
Terrain Arcanus OceanTerrain Myrror Ocean Ocean -
*: according to both the game manual and the Surveyor, Swamps should give Icon Food.png½.
This has been corrected in the unofficial 1.51 patch.

Bear in mind, that this is not actual Icon Food.pngFood produced by these tiles. Rather, this is Icon Food.pngFood that can be produced from them (by various gatherers collectively termed as Farmers).

Summing up the Icon Food.pngFood 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 can unfortunately be somewhat tedious, especially since hovering the cursor over some tile types will display the wrong amount of Icon Food.pngFood available from that specific tile.

This applies to Swamps, River Mouths , Nature Nodes, and Sorcery Nodes in particular, which, according to the Surveyor, should produce Icon Food.png½, Icon Food.png½, Icon Food.png½, and Icon Food.png 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 Icon Food.png2 available on them. These are:

Terrain Type Available Icon Food.pngFood
Terrain single tile lake with river Single tile lakes with River Icon Food.png2
Terrain shore with double river Shores with double Rivers Icon Food.png2
Terrain shore with all ocean single river Shores with a single River mouth surrounded by Ocean Icon Food.png2

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.

Shared tiles Edit

Tiles that are TerrainSpecial Half shared with another City will only provide one half of their Icon Food.pngFood 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 Icon Production.png Production, there is no set contribution of individual terrain types. For example, sharing a Forest and a Grassland will yield Icon Food.png1 available for each City.

It may be worth noting that for internal calculations, the unit of measurement for Icon Food.pngFood availability on a map tile is actually Icon Food.png1/4 (in the above example this would mean that each town gets 3 + 1 units). However, fractions left after summing up the Icon Food.pngFood from all the tiles will be ignored for calculating Maximum Population and Population Growth.

Corruption Edit

Any tile that is TerrainSpecial Corruption corrupted will cease contributing to food availability. Such tiles can no longer be harvested for Icon Food.pngFood 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 Icon Nature.pngNature 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%.

For TerrainSpecial Half shared tiles, Gaia's Blessing will only increase the Icon Food.pngFood availability of the tile towards the City it was cast on, rather than increasing it for the whole tile (both cities).

Although the spell has no direct effect on Icon Food.pngFood 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.

Famine Edit

The Icon Death.pngDeath Magic realm spell Famine has quite the opposite effect. This Town Curse will instead reduce the Icon Food.pngFood 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 Icon Food.png+2 and Icon Food.png+3 respectively. They increase both the availability and actual supply of Icon Food.pngFood, 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 Icon Food.pngFood. Each Wild Game in a City's catchment provides a bonus of Icon Food.png+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 Icon Chaos.pngChaos 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 Icon Nature.pngNature Magic realm (Change Terrain and Gaia's Blessing), and one in Icon Chaos.pngChaos Magic (Raise Volcano).

Positive food direction Edit

To increase Maximum Population, terrain that provides little or no Icon Food.pngFood 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.

No Icon Food.pngFood Icon Food.png½ Icon Food.png
Terrain Arcanus ForestTerrain Myrror Forest
Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain Terrain Arcanus GrasslandTerrain Myrror Grassland
Terrain Arcanus Swamp Terrain Myrror Swamp
→→→→→→→→→→ Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain →→→→→→→→→→
Terrain Arcanus Desert Terrain Myrror Desert
→→→→→ Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain, Icon Nature.pngGaia's Blessing →→→→→→
Terrain Arcanus TundraTerrain Myrror Tundra
Icon Chaos.pngRaise Volcano Terrain Arcanus VolcanoTerrain Myrror Volcano
Icon Nature.pngGaia's Blessing Terrain Arcanus HillTerrain Myrror Hill
Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain

Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain
Terrain Arcanus MountainTerrain Myrror Mountain
Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain

In addition to these changes, Gaia's Blessing is also able to change the tile under Chaos Nodes: from Mountain to Hill (Icon Food.png). 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 Icon Food.pngFood available to a City is a desirable outcome. Whether the goal is to dismantle a friendly town without any loss of Icon Fame.png 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 Icon Chaos.pngChaos magic Raise Volcano, as it negates not only the Icon Food.pngFood availability of the tile it is cast on, but also eliminates the Icon Production.png Production bonus (as long as the Volcano is active). On top of that, it destroys any Minerals on the target square, and increases the Icon Power.png Power income of the caster by Icon Power.png 1 (again, until the Volcano is exhausted).

Change Terrain takes a backseat here, as most of its uses increase Icon Food.pngFood availability rather than decrease it. However, it can turn Grassland into Forest, which is a reduction of Icon Food.png1, 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 Icon Food.pngFood availability of a town to Icon Food.png0, even with the use of both of the above spells. Adding the Icon Chaos.pngChaos 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 Icon Food.pngFood 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.

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