If you like simulation games, you’ve probably played SimCity or one of the related titles (e.g. The Sims, Sim Earth, Sim Tower, even Sim Ant if you were born in the 70s or early 80s).  With the advent of smartphones and tablets, Maxis released new versions of its games, such as SimCity, and The Sims, for iOS and Android devices.

I found Maxis’ latest iteration of Simcity, known as SimCity BuildIt, interesting for a while as it took the focus off the more granular details, such as the number of people actually using your subway line, and let you focus more on macro issues. After rising to level 48 and amassing over a million Sims and Simoleons, though, I gave up on the game for a while. But thanks to a new competition that pitted me against other players (known as Mayors), it piqued my interest again.

So: How can you succeed in SimCity BuildIt now? It all depends on what you want to do. I see two paths:

  1. Business as usual. You can get by pretty well just sticking to the status quo – construct more residential buildings, which garner you Experience points and Simoleons, and build facilities that support and attract new residents. Keep them happy and they will pay more taxes. However, you won’t be able to construct some of the more interesting buildings that require Platinum Keys.
  2. Step up to the competition. If you want to climb up the rankings, you need to adopt a new layer of strategy above what you were previously doing when you were governing your city in isolation. Besides doing shipments to dodgy-sounding companies and air cargo deliveries to Paris, London and Tokyo, there’s now a Contest of Mayors.Tap on the island at the bottom left of your map to find it. The Leaderboard shows your current standing and the League table shows you what level you are competing in (from the lowly Neighbourhood League, to the Megalopolis League). You can also join a Mayor’s Club to give advice and sell missing items to each other.

The focus of this post will be on the second approach because it requires more advanced planning.  There will inevitably be more tradeoffs to be decided when competing with 99 Mayors with the same level of experience as you. The next several paragraphs contain tips on how to have your cake and eat it.

Choose your assignments wisely. Firstly, pick sure-wins over long shots. When I first joined the Contest of Mayors, I bit off more than I could chew and wasted precious time and resources that could have been better spent on easier Assignments. Take on the more ambitious Assignments only after you’ve completed all the easy Assignments.

What are ‘easy’ Assignments? For those of us with well-run cities, it is easy to earn Simoleons (produced by regular homes) or NeoSimoleons (produced only by Omega homes). Before taking on an Assignment to earn Simoleons or NeoSimoleons, accumulate enough taxes by NOT tapping on City Hall or any of the Omega homes. This is a very quick way to earn at least several hundred League points.

Secondly, kill two birds with one stone by capitalising on similar requests. For example, in the Contest of Mayors, you may sometimes be asked to produce a certain number of items (such as 5x fruit juices) within a limited time period. If you’ve played the game long enough, you will find occasions where the airport or port will ask for the same items. That should be an Assignment worth taking on. Produce the said number of items for the Contest of Mayors, collect League points and then fulfil the cargo order.

Another example of killing two birds is taking on an Assignment to launch Dr Vu disasters, followed by a second Assignment to repair the disaster zones.  Repairing disaster zones can also earn you a few Golden Keys, which never hurts. However, be mindful of the number of times you are required to launch Dr Vu disasters for the earlier Assignment – this does not equate to the number of homes you destroy.

Timing is important too. Get in and out quickly of an Assignment so that you are free to fulfil other Assignments and cargo orders. Pick the Assignment you want to do – but do not officially commit to it yet. Produce as many of the requested items as you can at one shot, and let them sit, uncollected, in your production facility. Then commit to the Assignment (by pressing the Start button), collect the items and collect your League points for completing the Assignment. This strategy has helped me climb to the top of the League tables, several thousand points above the nearest competitors who are Mayors with the same level of Experience as me.

Mistakes can still happen. If you fail to complete an Assignment within the stipulated period, it isn’t the end of the world but obviously there’d be an opportunity cost of completing another Assignment. You would also have wasted some time and resources that could have been used to fulfil other orders. So think wisely and prepare all the required base materials in advance.

You can ask for help. Join a Mayor’s Club and ask for advice. Even better, if you’re short of an item, ask if someone could sell it to you. The norm is to put the item up for sale but without an Advertisement, which reduces the chances of non-club members buying the item first.  Of course, you could also keep visiting the Global Trade HQ or NeoMall to see if the item is on sale, but this can be time-consuming and fruitless.

You can also help yourself. Use Speed-Up Tokens to make your production facilities work faster. There are three types of tokens and their multiplier effect lasts for an hour. Each token can only be used for one production facility at any one time.

  • Bronze Token – 2x the usual speed
  • Silver Token – 4x the usual speed
  • Gold Token – 12x the usual speed

Different types of Speed-Up Tokens can be earned by completing Assignments. So don’t hoard them – use them to climb higher up the League Table, which will reward you with more powerful Speed-Up Tokens.

Other tips

You can use Simcash to create more production slots in each facility or to complete producing items – although to me, using it to buy the latter is a waste. Big green wads of SimCash aren’t as easy to come by as Simoleons – you have to earn them by completing special tasks such as achieving milestones for your city, or watching an advertisement. I’d rather use them to buy special buildings that could boost my Sims’ quality of life.

That’s it for now – there are of course perpetually operational challenges like expanding your city and deciding where to place facilities to support a growing population, but I presume that if you’re reading this, you would have had such issues figured out a long time ago.