This guide will give tips on starting City Specialization.
Note that this is only one method, and may not be the best for everyone. If you are new to the game, checking out the Beginner's Guide will provide a better understanding of the game.
Specialized cities work better due to having the ability to build special buildings such as silos and fertilizers that will increase production. Exceptional buildings and Megastructures will not be covered as they are only buildable in late game.
Much more planning is required, and tedious amounts of switching and trading is required.
Maps for support cities should have a three stars in the corresponding resources. Resources collection can also be combined with one another if possible.
The hardest part about building support cities is maintaining the budget while satisfying your population, all the while increasing export tokens. A good way to start off a city budget is to build offices with skilled workers to provide tax. Later on however, it will be very crucial to trade in money from the central cities to balance out the budget. Don't attempt to complete a city on it's own, or supply and demand will fail, instead, give each city a small start, and then develop each city side by side.
Agriculture Agriculture is needed to export food for retail. The special resource buildings are Silos (for every 10 farms) and Fertilizers (for every 5 Silos), and only affect the buildings of each farm that are in it's radius. The closer they are, the more increase in production they provide. Farm buildings will appear between the first and last edge of the zone, which gives the ability to have all buildings on one side to maximized influence. Build each farm right up to the edge of the fertile area to maximize space, and 100% for each farm to maximize token production.
Water Water pumps can be built in places indicated by green overlay in the water resource tab. Each pump will use up a surrounding area of water where other pumps cannot be built. Build each pump on the very edge of useable areas will allow more pumps to be built in the city.
Oil Oil functions similarly to water in that they take out a chunk of surrounding area when built. Building along the edges at 100% for each oil field will maximize the space and token production.
Now that the support cities have started off, and resources are flowing in, it's time to develop the central cities. It's best to divide it into polluted cities, centered around Heavy Industry, Manufacturing, Electricity, and Waste Production, and unpolluted cities, focused on High Tech, Offices, Hotels, and High-Class housing. Both these cities will result in a massive sprawl, so be sure to plan out the transportation network, or refer to the Transportation Guide for tips.
Polluted cites are easier to build and are very straight forward. Just start building the city as you normally would, but importing resources when needed. Hold off on office buildings, as these will be needed kickstart the unpolluted city. When the industries start complaining about the lack of offices, switch over to the map for unpolluted city.
Offices are one of the few ways to start up unpolluted cites, as high-tech and high-class housing is only unlocked much later in the game. Balance out housing and offices to start of the city, again importing resources when needed, and exporting offices to the unpolluted city. Holiday hotels are also another small source of revenue, and will also provide a good basis for fulfilling the satisfaction of executives and elites. Jump between the two cities, and also the support cities when resources become scarce. Import some money from the central cities when the budget drops. Continue in this fashion until high-tech is unlocked. At this point, the manufacturing in the polluted city will start crying about overproduction, so import them into this city, where they will be bought by the high-tech industry. Soon, you'll unlocked the higher tiered housing, which are needed for higher tiered industry and commerce, and on your way to building a successful game.