The Tutorial

Every time you start a new game, it puts you through the tutorial. I find that a bit annoying. I've never found a way to skip the tutorial.

I've played the game often enough, I know I want to clear any boulders inside the tract of land I already own, plus inside the first two tracts I will purchase along the beach. There are two reasons for this:
  • You can't place structures on top of the rocks.
  • The more development you have, the more expensive it is to remove rocks.
The price of rock removal starts at $3000. It will never be this cheap again and every single thing you put on the map just pushes that cost up.

Conveniently, this map has exactly five rocks within the borders of the three tracts of land I want to clear. You get your first gem after clearing five rocks.

The tutorial starts with having you build some housing. I always put my first four houses along the edge near the beach.

Your early buildings don't take long to build, so it's not a huge imposition to simply wait. However, your earliest buildings are also super cheap to speed up and speed ups are another source of bonuses. So I always speed up the early, cheap buildings immediately.

I built my first house without building a road next to it. No one can get to it. I have to add a road so people will move in.

Next, the tutorial asks you to build something from the "decorations" menu. These are parks, lakes and trees.

I always start with the only park that is 3x3 tiles. Decorations are the only items that don't need road access, so I place it three spaces from the road for future planning purposes. It will eventually be the central tile in a 9x9 block of 3x3 buildings.

I failed to get a screenshot of just the park. The screenshot here shows the park and additional buildings from a later stage in the game.

Decorations and community buildings both provide happiness. Decorations are inexpensive, provide minimal happiness and cannot be upgraded. On the other hand, no matter how many you build, you can pay with cash, not gems. Gems are relatively scarce and become a serious limiter in the late game.

Next, the tutorial has you build a commercial development that provides jobs. But it initially doesn't give you many options.

The first building I want to build is the bank. If you build two or more houses, a park, a road and speed up the houses, you will go up in level so you have access to the bank.

I also promptly speed up the bank. It's only $750. That's the cheapest speed ups ever get. The cost never goes lower than that.
I build the bank first because I've played the early game many times and tested different scenarios. If you do it right, you can fit 100 people and 100 jobs and enough happiness points to be at full for everything within the first tract of land that you start with.

The bank is part of that plan. It provides 30 jobs and makes good money fairly quickly for an early game building.

In the early game, you go up in level fairly quickly. This unlocks new structures.

You also get bonuses fairly quickly. You get your first bonuses after doing five things -- remove five rocks, build five facilities and do five speed ups.

And that gets us to this point:

If you look closely, I'm at 97% happiness. I'm also one person short of my max population.

That's not "coincidence." When you fall below 100% happiness, your housing will not fill up. It will suppress your numbers.

This is problematic. You don't ever want to drop below 100% happiness.

So, the next thing I will build will be a community building, in part because that's the next thing the tutorial will demand and in part because being below 100% happiness is a bad thing.

Generally speaking, you want to do things in this order:
  • Happiness facilities (decorations or community buildings)
  • Housing
  • Commercial
You need to raise your happiness before you add housing. More people will bring down your happiness.

After you have adequate happiness and people, add commercial. It provides jobs which provide your city with income.

Unemployment is not a big problem. It's fine to have a gap between how many people you have and how many jobs you have.

I try to not get too hung up on details like that. I chalk it up to "It's a game. A lot of this is symbolic."

So don't take it too literally. If you take it too literally, then every man, woman and child can have a job in the early game because it gives you direct counts.

Later, it starts making up the "maximum" figures and you have to check the last building you built or upgraded to check if you are actually at 100% for population or jobs.