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Cities are the backbone of every empire. They are the primary generators of FidsSmall.png FIDS and InfluenceIcon.png Influence, the production hubs for units and city improvements, and a city must be founded in a region before you can claim it as your own and start exploiting it's resources (with some exceptions).

FIDSI Production[]

FIDSI (FoodSmall.png Food, IndustrySmall.png Industry, DustSmall.png Dust, ScienceSmall.png Science, and InfluenceIcon.png Influence) are produced every turn in cities by three main routes: exploited Terrain tiles, City Improvements, or the assignment of population Population Units.

FIDS FidsSmall.png is produced every turn for a city through all exploited Terrain tiles. A tile is exploited by the city if there is a District built on the tile, or if the tile is adjacent to a District. The CultistsIcon.png Cultists faction can exploit tiles from Minor Faction Villages and their adjacent tiles through their "Conversion" Faction Trait, and this exploited output contributes to the output of their capital. Note that Terrain tiles that reside beyond the boundary of a region cannot be exploited by a city in that region. Also note that, while both the tiles on and adjacent to districts are exploited by cities, only the tiles adjacent to a city are considered "Exploitation" for the purposes of city improvements such as Plow Factory.

City Improvements can be built within a city to further increase the production of FidsSmall.png FIDSI, usually by the following means: a flat bonus, a percentage based bonus, a Terrain tile based bonus, or a Population-based bonus. Most improvements require a specific Technology to be available. Also, most of the non-Dust producing Improvements have a DustSmall.png Dust upkeep cost, which is subtracted from your Empire's total DustSmall.png Dust every turn.

Individual population Population Units can be manually assigned within a city to further increase FidsSmall.png FIDSI for a specific resource. For a new city, each unit of population can increase the per-turn production of FidsSmall.png FIDS by 4, and InfluenceIcon.png Influence by 2 due to the City Hall improvement built upon founding a city. City Improvements and Heroes can further increase these amounts.

City Population[]

Each city begins with a population Population of 1. Pacifying a village in the region gives the city in that region +1 population Population unit, but this unit is not counted for purposes of growth nor food consumption. Each turn every unit of Population consumes 2 FoodSmall.png Food from the city's stockpile.

Population Growth[]

If a city's FoodSmall.png Food Stockpile increases above a threshold it will grow and gain an additional Population Unit, alternatively if it falls below a threshold it will starve and lose a Population Unit. The threshold amounts are given in the table below, and follows the formula:

Game Speed Limit for next population
Normal 1 + 5 * population 2.75
Fast 1 + 2.5 * population 2.75

I.e. half it for Fast game speed.

It should be noted that the Allayi require twice as much FoodSmall.png to gain new population due to their "We Chosen Few" trait.

Food Threshold for Growth
population Population Normal game speed Fast game speed
FoodSmall.png Threshold on step FoodSmall.png Threshold on step
1 0 0 0 0
2 34 34 17 17
3 103 69 51 34
4 227 125 114 62
5 418 191 209 95
6 691 273 346 137
7 1 055 364 528 182
8 1 523 468 762 234
9 2 105 582 1 053 291
10 2 813 707 1 406 354
11 3 655 843 1 828 421
12 4 643 988 2 322 494
13 5 786 1 143 2 893 572
14 7 094 1 308 3 547 654
15 8 576 1 482 4 288 741
16 10 241 1 665 5 121 833
17 12 099 1 858 6 049 929
18 14 158 2 059 7 079 1 030
19 16 427 2 269 8 214 1 135
20 18 916 2 488 9 458 1 244

Broken Lords[]

Due to their "Appetite for Dust" trait, the Broken Lords cannot use FoodSmall.png in any way, and so their population grows instead by manually purchasing new population with DustSmall.png. The cost to purchase new population is determined both by the specific city's population, as well as the total population of the Empire. The cost to buy a new unit of population is as follows:

Cost of +1 population = 50 * (city population)1.1 + 2 * (empire population)1.1

Using Population[]


When a City is selected, the City Info panel shows the FIDSI output of the City in five columns as shown to the right. In addition to providing information on how much of each resource is produced by city tiles and improvements, as well as bonuses granted by multipliers, this is where population is put to work as "Workers".

Each Worker can be moved to any of the five columns freely, and upon doing so will add an amount of the selected resource to the city's output, before modifiers are applied. The number at the top of the column represents how much of the given resource each worker adds to the city's output. This number can be increased through building City Improvements, or by assigning Heroes with certain skills, capacities, and equipment as governor of the city.

The bonus output from Workers provides cities a degree of flexibility in the resources it produces, so that cities can adjust during the events of the game. While putting the majority of your workers into IndustrySmall.png is considered a good general strategy, there can be situations were putting more workers into a specific resource can have its benefits, such as putting more workers into FoodSmall.png production during winter to prevent starvation and subsequent loss of population.

Additionally, growing a city's population is essential for growing the city by building Districts. For most factions, every 2 population unlocks the ability to build a new district, not including the population gained from pacified villages in the region. The only exception are the Necrophages, who are able to build a district for every 1 population due to their "Cellulose Mutation" trait, and the Allayi, who use the Garth of the Allayi as their district instead of Borough Streets, with the Garth being unlocked for construction every 1 population.

City Development[]

Over the course of the game, effectively developing the cities you found is one of the most important tasks you will have to do. While most of this is dependent on building City Improvements and Expansions, there are also a few other things to take into account when planning and building your city.

City Improvements[]

City Improvements provide a variety of different bonuses to the City they are built in, usually focusing on a specific area, whether that be one of the FIDSI resources, military might, or something else. Most city improvements are unlocked by researching the respective technology, but there are a few that are unlocked by quests or Blessings. City improvements make up the lion's share of city development, but since they simply come into effect upon completion, it is simply a matter of deciding which improvements to build in what order. As with Population, it is generally recommended to built improvements that improve a city's IndustrySmall.png first, as this will make the construction of all improvements afterwards quicker. A list of all City Improvements built in a city can be seen by clicking the "Browse" button on a selected city's City Info panel, and city improvements may also be destroyed from this screen if the improvement's upkeep is outweighing the benefits it provides.


Expansions are the second major part of city development, and fall into the two sub-categories of Districts and Regional Buildings. Regional Buildings are buildings like Resource Extractors and Towers, and are fairly simple strategically speaking; there are places in every region where these buildings can be placed, and as soon as the necessary technology to build them has been unlocked, those buildings can be places on those locations, regardless of how far they are from the city.

Districts, on the other hand, are what makes up the city's physical presence on the map, and require a little more planning to be utilized effectively. When selecting a location to found a city, it should generally have a good balance of FIDSI output, room to grow, and appealing terrain to grow towards. For example, it is almost always a bad idea to found a city against a region's border, since this will not only reduce the number of tiles the city is exploiting right from the start, but it will also limit the city's ability to expand greatly. Ruins and Villages should also be taken into account, since districts cannot be placed on tiles occupied by either of these structures.

Next, once you actually begin building districts, it's important to remember that every district will level up, providing additional benefits, if they are surrounded by four other districts of the same or greater level. Generally the most effective district layout are those that leave the least number of districts at level 1 while getting as many other districts upgraded as possible. This also has a big impact on a city's approval, since Level 1 of both Borough Streets and Garth of the Allayi reduce a city's approval, but their Level 2 versions increase it. But in some cases (e.g. to placed Ardent Mages Pillars), you may want to create a layout that is an effective compromise between amount of exploitation tiles and high-level districts.

Among the most effective layouts are:

  • Stick: Two-tile wide line.
  • Broken Rod: Based on "Stick" layout, but move the last district in the end one step away allowing to grab another exploitation tile. Break the end you don't want to expand.
  • Triangles and pyramids.
  • Triangle Tiling: Matching triangles with vertices. Allows to make shapes with turns

Finally, certain unique districts that can only be built once in a city have limitations on where they can be placed, such as:

While these districts are usually not available to build until later in the game, it is wise to plan for their placement ahead of time, such as leaving a particularly good anomaly undeveloped for a while so that the Abbey can be placed there, or building towards a sea tile on the region's coast that has 4 land tiles around it so that the Cargo Docks can be upgraded to level 2.

Trade Routes[]

Trade Routes passively produce Dust and Science, but require some work to establish. The first step in creating trade routes is to research Imperial Highways or Cargo Docks. These technologies allow the Right of Way or Cargo Docks improvements to be built, which allow cities to be connected by land or by sea respectively. Two cities are connected by land if they are in adjacent regions and have both built the Right of Way improvement. Two cities are connected by sea if they border the same ocean and have both built the Cargo Docks improvement in that ocean. Additionally, if two cities are connected by land or by sea to a third city, then they are also connected themselves. This means that two cities may be connected via a complicated series of alternating land and sea routes.

Further details on how Trade Routes work and how to improve them can be found on the Trade Routes page.


Heroes can be assigned as the Governor of a city, which can provide a large bonus to the city's production depending on the Hero. Many heroes have Capacities which can increase the FIDSI output of a city, either by an increasing the "per population" bonus for a specific resource in the case of "Efficiency" capacities, or providing a base amount per the hero's level of a given resource in the case of "Boost" capacities. For either type of capacity, there is also a +1% modifier per the hero's level for the specified resource on the city, making high-level heroes a huge boon to a city's production.

Heroes also have access to a number of skills that can increase a city's performance, either through the "Common" branch or the "Faction" branch; the "Class" branch only ever consists of Army skills. While all heroes have access to the skills in the "Common" branch, which provides a few general benefits to the city, each of the factions has their own "Faction" branch which often has city skills that align with that particular faction's 'themes', so to speak. For example, the Wild Walkers faction branch has skills that focus on improving IndustrySmall.png Industry and reducing production costs, while the Vaulters faction branch focuses on ScienceSmall.png Science and defenses. It should be noted that the "Faction" branch is not always best-suited to governors, and some Faction branches are better than others; for example, the Morgawr faction branch is much more focused on making the hero an effective naval general than governor.

Finally, Governors can be equipped with Accessories to help provide an even greater bonus to cities. Nearly all accessories that help in this way are of the Tome variety, and while most provide an additional "per population" bonus for a specific resource on the city, there are others that have different functions, such as increasing the XP granted to recruited units or the security on a city.


Approval is a measure of the happiness of your people. It is tracked on both the level of individual cities, and the empire as a whole. Faction traits, City Improvements, Hero capacities, and skills, can all generate ApprovalSmall.png Approval. Alternatively, Disapproval is generated by settling new cities (called Expansion Disapproval), building new city borough, and sieging armies. Approval yields a direct percentage modifier to the amount of FidsSmall.png FIDS generated by an empire's cities.

Empire-level approval is a weighted average over all cities by population, and affects the total production of ScienceSmall.png Science and DustSmall.png Dust from every city.

State ApprovalSmall.png Approval ScienceSmall.png, DustSmall.png Modifier
Rebellion 0 - 10 -50%
Unhappy 20 - 39 -20%
Content 40 - 59 +0%
Happy 60 - 89 +15%
Fervent 90 - 100 +30%

City-level approval effects the production of FoodSmall.png Food and IndustrySmall.png Industry for the individual city.

State ApprovalSmall.png Approval FoodSmall.png, IndustrySmall.png Modifier
Rebellion 0 - 10 -50%
Unhappy 20 - 39 -20%
Content 40 - 59 +0%
Happy 60 - 89 +15%
Fervent 90 - 100 +30%

Defending and Capturing Cities[]

Since cities are arguably the most important part of an empire - after all, you can't have an empire with no cities - it is also important to know how to prevent your cities from being taken by others, and maybe take a few of your own in kind.

City Defense[]


One of the most important parts of defending your city is FortificationSmall.png Fortification. In the event that an army attacks your city, any units garrisoned in that city will receive an amount of bonus LifeIcon.png HP equal to the FortificationSmall.png of your city; so if your city has 100 FortificationSmall.png, then every unit garrisoned there will receive an extra 100 LifeIcon.png if the city is attacked. This bonus health is tracked separately from the unit's own health, and is shown as a white section of the unit's health bar above the section of the faction's color. Any health lost from the FortificationSmall.png bonus doesn't affect the health total of the unit, losing health from this bonus doesn't decrease the city's FortificationSmall.png total, and the bonus gets re-applied at the start of each battle, making the units in a city with full FortificationSmall.png significantly harder to kill, and as a result makes the city much harder to capture. Note, however, that this bonus only applies to defensive battles. Units from a city that are called upon as reinforcements - even if the battle they are reinforcing is with an army sieging the city - will not receive the fortification bonus.

If you play with the Endless Legend Community Patch, there is a new rule-set for how Fortification Armor works: If either the attacking or the attacked army (or both) are on a City or Exploitation Tile, Fortification Armor gets applied to all defending armies on a City Tile but not to reinforcements outside the city. See this image for a graphic explanation. This alternate rule-set is optional and can be switched off in the Advanced Game Settings.

All cities start with a base amount of 100 FortificationSmall.png due to the City Hall improvement built upon founding the city, but your Empire's capital city receives an additional 50 FortificationSmall.png from the Palace improvement, also built automatically when the city is founded. After this, the most common way to increase a city's FortificationSmall.pngis by building Borough Streets (or Garth of the Allayi for the Allayi), as they provide an additional 20 FortificationSmall.png for each level after the first. However, there are a number of methods to increase a city's fortification that are quicker and more effective than working to get a district to level 2.

City Improvements[]

Does not include City Hall or Palace. Most of these improvements have additional effects, but only those that increase a city's maximum FortificationSmall.png Fortification have been listed.

Name Faction Obtained IndustrySmall.png StrategicIcon.png Upkeep Effects
Stronghold Architecture FactionIconSmall.png All Era I 75 +100 Fortification FortificationSmall.png on City
Defensive Wards FactionIconSmall.png All Era II 600 5 Glassteel Color 256x256.png 4 +30 Fortification FortificationSmall.png per population on City
Can only be built once in your Empire
Imperial Kennels FactionIconSmall.png All Era III 600 5 Titanium Color 256x256.PNG 1 +200 Fortification FortificationSmall.png on City
Materials Hoard FactionIconSmall.png All Era III 600 5 Titanium Color 256x256.PNG 1 +100 Fortification FortificationSmall.png on City
Koni School of Elite Riders KapakuIcon.png Kapaku Faction Quest 800 20 Palladian Color 256x256.PNG 6 +100 Fortification FortificationSmall.png on City
Can only be built once in your Empire
Strength of the Vault VaultersIcon.png Vaulters Era III 250 10 VaultersIcon.png 1 +100 Fortification FortificationSmall.png on City
The VaultersIcon.png cost indicates that the Holy Resource has to be chosen
Military Reserves FactionIconSmall.png All Era V 2000 10 Titanium Color 256x256.PNG
5 Adamantian Color 256x256.PNG
2 +400 Fortification FortificationSmall.png on City

A hero assigned to a city as governor can provide a few boosts to Fortification through capacities and skills, though these are much less common than hero abilities that increase the output of FIDSI. There are only two heroes that have a capacity that increases a city's Fortification, Iracu and Sclera, who have the Fortification Boost 2 and 3 capacities, respectively. Fortification Boost 2 provides +20 Fortification FortificationSmall.png per Hero's level on City, while Fortification Boost 3 provides +30 Fortification FortificationSmall.png per Hero's level on City, and both provide +1% Fortification FortificationSmall.png per Hero's level on City.

Across all the different skill trees, there is only one skill that increases a city's fortifications. In the Common branch, the Tier 3 "Defender" skill grants +50 Fortification FortificationSmall.png on City for levels 1 and 2 of the skill, and +100 Fortification FortificationSmall.png on City for level 3.

Resource Boosters[]

The Emeralds Luxury Resource booster provides +30% FortificationSmall.png on Cities when active.

Fortification Recovery[]

As well-fortified as your city might be, those fortifications can be worn down. One of the effects of a city being sieged is that its fortifications are chipped away every turn by an amount equal to Fortification Damage FortificationDamage.png value of the sieging army/armies. Fortification Damage will be covered in the section on sieging cities, but for now it is important to know two things: a city's fortifications can be reduced, but they will also regenerate back to their maximum if the city is not being sieged. The amount of FortificationSmall.png a city regains each turn is called Fortification Recovery, and is 8 FortificationSmall.png per turn to start with, but this can be increased by City Improvements and one skill in the Vaulters faction skill tree: Subterranean Networker, which increases the Fortification Recovery of a city by +4 FortificationSmall.png per turn for level 1 of the skill, and by +8 FortificationSmall.png per turn for level 2 and 3.

The following City Improvements increase a city's Fortification Recovery. Most of these improvements have additional effects, but only those that increase a city's FortificationSmall.png Fortification Recovery have been listed.

Name Faction Obtained IndustrySmall.png StrategicIcon.png Upkeep Effects
Stronghold Architecture FactionIconSmall.png All Era I 75 +2 (+6 with ELCP) Fortification Recovery FortificationSmall.png per turn on City
Materials Hoard FactionIconSmall.png All Era III 600 5 Titanium Color 256x256.PNG 1 +10 (+20 with ELCP) Fortification Recovery FortificationSmall.png per turn on City
Koni School of Elite Riders KapakuIcon.png Kapaku Faction Quest 800 20 Palladian Color 256x256.PNG 6 +10 (+20 with ELCP) Fortification Recovery FortificationSmall.png per turn on City
Can only be built once in your Empire
Strength of the Vault VaultersIcon.png Vaulters Era III 250 10 VaultersIcon.png 1 +5 (+15 with ELCP) Fortification Recovery FortificationSmall.png per turn on City
The VaultersIcon.png cost indicates that the Holy Resource has to be chosen
Military Reserves FactionIconSmall.png All Era V 2000 10 Titanium Color 256x256.PNG
5 Adamantian Color 256x256.PNG
2 +4 (+40 with ELCP) Fortification Recovery FortificationSmall.png per turn on City

Note: With ELCP Emeralds Emerald Grey 256x256.PNG also grant +50% Fortification Recovery FortificationSmall.png per turn on all Cities.


Retaliation Damage Retaliation.png is a way to use a City's Fortification FortificationSmall.png as an offensive resource as well as a defensive one. There are only a few ways to make use of Retaliation, all of which must first be unlocked through acquiring the associated Blessing, and then have an additional Pearl Pearls.png cost.

In order to get Retaliation Damage on a City, you must build the Ward of Auriga in the city, which costs 600 IndustrySmall.png and 30 Pearls.png. Upon building the Ward of Auriga, 0.5 points of Retaliation Damage Retaliation.png per point of Fortification FortificationSmall.png will be dealt at the start of the turn to any and all unfriendly (not at peace or in alliance) armies on the city's exploitation tiles. So, for example, if a city with 500 FortificationSmall.png has the Ward of Auriga built in it, it will automatically deal 250 Retaliation.png spread evenly across all unfriendly units adjacent to it. This amount can be further increased by equipping the city's governor with the Tome of Auriga's Wrath, which gives the equipped hero the Retaliation Boost capacity, increasing the city's Retaliation by 10% per the hero's level.

A more indirect way of protecting a city with Retaliation is through the Tower of Truth and Tower of Fidelity defensive towers. These towers can be built in place of Watchtowers, and while they have a reduced vision range compared to Watchtowers and do not provide health regen for friendly armies, they will deal Retaliation Damage to any unfriendly units within their vision range. The amount dealt is also determined by the tower's Fortification, with the amount being equal to 0.3 Retaliation.png per FortificationSmall.png for the Tower of Truth, and 0.5 Retaliation.png per FortificationSmall.png for the Tower of Fidelity.

Garrisons and Militia[]

A city is captured when an enemy army attacks a city that defeats all its defending units in battle, or if they attack a city that has no units in it, regardless of how much Fortification the city has. As such, it is important to make sure that the city always has some units in it to defend it. To that end there is the city garrison and the city Militia.

Every city has a garrison that is able to house a number of units within it equal to the Empire's max army size (4 by default, but can be increased by 2 by the Meritocratic Promotion and Signal Corps technologies), and these units will be called upon to defend the city they are in if an enemy army attacks the city, and will benefit from the bonus Health provided by the city's Fortification in such a scenario. Units that are garrisoned are also slightly cheaper to maintain, as they are not considered an active "army", and so that cost no longer applies to their upkeep, making garrisoned units 4-8 DustSmall.png cheaper to maintain, depending on max army size.

The city's Militia, on the other hand, are units that the city automatically generates and maintains within the city. Every city starts with 4 Militia units by default, but this can be increased by 1 via the Infantry Cantina and Military Reserves technologies. Militia units do not count towards the number of units in the city's garrison, but cannot leave the city, cannot be made manually, and cannot have their design modified; Militia units simply carry the most advanced Iron or Dust Longspear available, and no armor or accessories. Militia are moderately weak compared to other units in the game, and the inability to wear armor or use advanced weapons can make them much weaker compared to an army of units that is fully-equipped, so while Militia may be able to hold off an attacking army from capturing a city for a little while, it is generally best to either train new units in the city to support the Militia or call in reinforcements from elsewhere to deal with an army sieging a city. If Militia are killed in combat, a new unit will be trained to take their place a few turns after.

Capturing Cities[]

Sieging Cities[]

When a city is under siege, the following penalties come into effect.

  1. Exploitation tiles are no longer productive; only tiles with Districts and the city center bring FidsSmall.png FIDS.
  2. All the region buildings outside the city are disabled due to the loss of their connection with the city; their vision range is also set to 0. The region buildings within a district are still active.
  3. The city cannot build any more region buildings.
  4. Science and Dust production are halved.
  5. The besieged city suffers from a loss of Approval.
  6. Units within a besieged city or on a city tile have their regeneration disabled.
  7. Each turn, the battle between the sieging army and the garrison must be resolved before any army outside the area can attack the sieging army.
  8. Each turn the city loses fortification points equal to the siege strength of the besieger. Once the fortification is reduced to 0, units within the city garrison or on a city tile lose health each turn in proportion to the siege strength.
  9. The Governor (Hero) of a besieged city gains more experience.

As such, sieging a city is useful as not only a way to soften them up to be captured, but also to prevent the city's current owner from fully benefiting from the city and preventing them from building Expansions, which can be useful at times; e.g. sieging a city where the owner is trying to build the Industrial Megapole so that you can build it for yourself before they have a chance to break the siege and finish it.

Fortification Damage[]

Armies have an attribute called FortificationDamage.png Fortification Damage, which is the damage that army does to a city or regional building's FortificationSmall.png Fortification at the end of each turn when sieging or pillaging, respectively. The amount of Fortification Damage an army deals is equal to the number of units plus the total level of all units in the army, including heroes. For example, an army of 4 level-2 units with a level-3 hero leading it would have 16 FortificationDamage.png; 5 FortificationDamage.png from the number of units, and 11 FortificationDamage.png from the total level of all units.

For accessories, there are two types that increase a unit's FortificationDamage.png, the set of Glassteel Insignias added by the Shadows expansion, and the Adamantian Talismans. The Insignias - like all insignias - can only be equipped by heroes, and give the equipped hero the Faster Pillage 1, 2, or 3 capacity depending on what tier of the Insignia is equipped. Faster Pillage 1 grants +1 FortificationDamage.png, Faster Pillage 2 grants +2, and Faster Pillage 3 grants +3. As the name suggests, although these accessories can be obtained earlier, they are really only intended to be used for Pillaging, as the effect they have on a city's fortification is nominal.

On the other hand, the Adamantian Talismans can be equipped on any land unit, and grants the equipped unit with the City Breaker 1, 2, or 3 capacity depending on the tier of the accessory. City Breaker 1 grants +4 FortificationDamage.png, City Breaker 2 grants +8 FortificationDamage.png, and City Breaker 3 grants +12 FortificationDamage.png, making these accessories much more powerful on a single unit, but also more powerful overall since they can be equipped on an entire Army. This does, however, come at the cost of a great deal of Adamantian, as the base cost for Tier 1, 2, and 3 of this accessory are 6 Adamantian Color 256x256.PNG, 12 Adamantian Color 256x256.PNG, and 24 Adamantian Color 256x256.PNG respectively.

Additionally, the Broken Lords hero skill "Siege Engine" grants +2 Fortification Damage FortificationDamage.png on units for level 1 and 2 of the skill, and +4 FortificationDamage.png for level 3.

Finally, while most Naval units cannot siege cities, the Artillery Ship can due to their "Coastal Bombardment" Army Action. In addition to the base 2 FortificationDamage.png that all other units share, Artillery Ships may also equip the Trebuchet weapon, which grants the City Breaker 1 through 4 capacities, depending on the item's tier, with City Breaker 4 granting +24 FortificationDamage.png.

City Ownership[]

Upon capturing cities, you do not immediately have full control over it, as the people in the city will not have accepted your rule yet. When you first capture a city, it will have an ownership rating of 0%, which will gradually increase over a number of turns to 100%, when the city becomes fully yours. While you do not have full ownership of the city, the city's Approval ApprovalSmall.png is capped at the ownership rating you have over it, and you cannot perform certain special actions such as Salting the Earth. Additionally, during this time, it is possible for the original owner of the city to re-capture the city without having to deal with regaining ownership over it themselves.

On Normal speed, ownership increases at a rate of 8% per turn, though it is possible to increase this by placing a Roving Clans Hero with the "Fleet on the Street" skill as Governor of the city. Additionally, the Allayi have a +100% bonus to Ownership Recovery rate on Cities from their "We Chosen Few" Trait.