National Parks are designated by the Naturalist, a special civilian unit that is unlocked by the Conservation civic. They can only be established on a cluster of four contiguous hexes that meet the following requirements:
- All tiles must be on land.
- The tiles must be Natural Wonders, Mountains, or a tile with an Appeal of Charming or better.
- All four of the tiles must be owned by the same city (that is, be in its territory).
- The tiles must form a vertical diamond shape.
- No tile can have an improvement or a district on it. Roads are permitted, though.
National Parks cover more land than standard improvements, but they provide valuable bonuses to Tourism and Amenities. A National Park provides Tourism equal to the total Appeal of all the tiles included in it, as well as 2 Amenities to the city that owns it and 1 Amenity to the four closest cities in your empire.
Establishing National Parks can turn into one of the greatest challenges in the game because of their strict placement requirements. However, the result is well worth the effort, especially for players pursuing a Cultural Victory. The combined Tourism output of a single National Park could range from 8 (if all tiles have the minimum required Appeal of 2) to more than 24!
The key to establishing National Parks is, as with everything else in this game, planning. You should mark the areas where you want to establish National Parks in the future, and avoid constructing districts on them (because once placed they cannot be removed, unless the parent city itself is destroyed). Furthermore, you should avoid placing Appeal-diminishing districts (Industrial Zones, Encampments, Airports and Spaceports) nearby, and try to build Appeal-raising districts (Holy Sites, Entertainment Complexes, and Theater Squares). You can also build the Eiffel Tower or use the Great Engineers Alvar Aalto and Charles Correa in the city closest to the site of the National Park to further increase the tiles' Appeal.
Remember to build next to and not on the tiles that will be included in the National Park! You can build improvements there, but know that you will have to remove them eventually.
Prime locations for establishing National Parks are Natural Wonder tiles - they are automatically considered valid, and they raise the Appeal of nearby tiles, thus helping them achieve the minimum requirement. It is interesting that, when designated, these National Parks receive the name of the Natural Wonder itself (something like "Yosemite Valley National Park"), which is very much like real life!
Mountains are also a good location for National Parks, especially when they form long vertical chains. The Mountains and most of the nearby tiles will already be valid sites, and you will just need to include them in the territory of a nearby city. Just remember that you will always need one non-Mountain tile (with an Appeal of Charming or higher and no improvements or districts on it) from which the Naturalist can designate the National Park.
Creating Suitable Land for National Parks Edit
Despite all your planning, you may discover that when selecting your Naturalist the coveted white pattern doesn't appear anywhere. Thankfully, you can manipulate terrain features and purchase tiles to create places for National Parks. Here is what you should do:
- Analyze your land. Remember, you're looking for four neighboring tiles that create a vertical diamond shape. If you have lots of Mountains or a Natural Wonder, these are the places where you should start your analysis, but remember that you always need at least one passable tile there. Next, look at coastal regions - all of these have naturally higher Appeal rating, so chances are you will find spots which almost fit all requirements.
- Identify problems. Take a careful look at all potential spots, and see what hinders them from becoming suitable. Chances are the Appeal of one or more tiles isn't high enough, there is an improvement on one, or the tiles you need aren't part of your territory. Of all these, improvement problems are the easiest to solve - just take a Builder and go remove the problematic improvement!
- Increase Appeal. The second most common problem when creating National Parks is that one or more tiles in your target location don't have the minimum Appeal of Charming (2). However, you can fix this by manipulating terrain features - remove existing features which diminish Appeal (that is, Rainforests and Marshes) and/or plant Woods. Any tile with Woods gives +1 Appeal not only to itself, but also to adjacent tiles. If you place Woods on all four tiles, you can potentially raise their Appeal by 4, which should be more than enough.
- Buy tiles. The final and most difficult requirement to satisfy is that all four potential tiles must belong to the same city. Many times one or more tiles will belong to a neighboring city (in which case there's nothing you can do), or tiles necessary to complete the pattern will be outside your borders. In this second case, and if the missing tiles are within 3 tiles of the city, all you need is to purchase them. However, if they are too far, there's nothing you can do but wait for the city to expand to them naturally.
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