Some tips to get newer players through the early game.
Guide to Early Game
This isn’t like other city builders. There is no starting highway to connect to. You may start by using gravel roads only (though I use one strip of Avenue to help plan my future, to avoid demolishing stuff to widen roads). I also use an Avenue because it helps with Road Hierarchy. I want citizens to use the Avenue to reach a smaller road. I never zone on the avenue, only on the roads running off the avenue.
Start by pausing, why doesn’t this game start paused? Dev must hate us. Place a Water Tower and Diesel generator.
On one side, for me, the left, I place some Medium Density residential zones. On the other side, I start with some Low Industrial, and some Low Commercial in between. About 4 full size buildings. Then I put in some Medium Density right behind them, but not too many. Build a few farms, too.
Now, we should have some panic as we are bleeding money – and must gain enough residents and workplaces to tax to get some profit coming in. I place a few more Medium Zones per demand, and check taxes. We want Low Income and Medium around 9-11%. Retail around 7%, Office around 8%. Basic manufacturing about 8%.
I build Elementary Schools and only level them up to need. I build fewer high schools.
Once you start adding police, fire, hospitals, more generators and water, upgraded schools – you will need a lot more tax money or you will bankrupt. You want to add this stuff slowly. I don’t add any fire department until my first fire, or my first police department until I have a reason to.
I like to set up “areas” inside a city – an “area” has a focus. I put my state owned stuff (all for the poors) and some farms in one area. Then I build another where I place some parks, low density residential, low density commercial, and wait – once land value skyrockets, I add industry and the industry built inside the high land value area will become advanced industry – it’s important to use some Low Density commercial/industrial zones as a buffer. We don’t want “Basic Industry” pollution to kill our advanced manufacturing, so we build manufacturing in this area once the land value is high enough that we don’t get basic industry.
Ignore the tutorial – your 1k citizen city doesn’t need an airport.
Each “area” of your town needs its own Police and Fire.
Any area where people live also needs Schools and Hospitals.
You can play for a decent while before traffic congestion forces you to upgrade your gravel roads. I use the roads with trees for the streets I build most things on. These roads, I connect to the black streets with more capacity, which take you to the avenue. Then, the Avenue takes you where you’re trying to go.
Your goal is to set up your basic services, and reach a profit without stability collapse.