City Layout (Space Optimization)

The 3 Keys to
Space Optimization

Using space wisely is a key strategy element of Elvenar, as there just never seems to be enough for everything we want, and this doesn’t change much throughout the game! Being able to juggle the puzzle that is the city layout is a primary skill that will aid you well throughout the life of the game.

​One should never grow too comfortable with their layout; continuing to unlock more powerful and efficient buildings will keep you constantly needing to shuffle things around to make space.

There is no single best layout to be used, but there are certainly some best practices that can be employed to get the most out of your space.

​This article provides the 3 primary secrets to smart space layout that will be true no matter what stage of the game you are in and no matter how advanced your city is or isn’t.


The 3 Keys to Space Optimization:

  1. Use as few roads as possible.
  2. Place expansions carefully.
  3. Use culture wisely.


The fewer spaces you have taken up by roads, the more you have left for culture, population, or production.

Follow these tips to reduce roads needed:


Roads should serve 2 buildings, not one.


Avoid running roads along edges.(Unless perhaps it’s temporary because you are going to expand along the other side, and soon!)


The more buildings that can use the same road squares, the better.



Far more grid squares are used by roads running along both sides of a building.


Fewer roads are needed when they only cover one side of a building.


Arrange buildings so that the short end is facing the road.

Elvenar spacing

More road space is used for each building, which requires more roads, and takes up more space.

Elvenar Houses

When the shorter end of the building touches the road, less road contact is needed, and more buildings can fit into the same amount of space.


No need to run the road all the way to the end of the board – a building only has to have one square touched by a road. ​

Elvenar Spacing

Don’t waste space that could be used to enhance your city’s culture!

Elvenar Spacing

Use every square efficiently to get the most out of your city.

Use the ends for extra small culture items!


Avoid wasting road contact on culture buildings or the builder hut. Leave enough space behind other buildings for these things.​

Elvenar Spacing

Road space wasted on culture items and builder hut uses more roads than necessary.

Elvenar Optimized SpacingEnough space is left between the edge of the city and the first road to allow for culture and builder hut to fit neatly behind.


Place large buildings on the corners or ends where they only need to use a square or two of road. Placing these buildings at a dead-end of a road is a great way to use only one square for it.

​Sometimes you might put these in the center of larger groups of items as shown below.

Here’s one example of how a large 5×4 barracks can be placed efficiently, using only one square of road:​

Elvenar Buildings Placement


When you’re placing expansions, keep in mind that once placed, they can’t be moved. Buildings, however, can be moved.

It may be tempting to place the next one where you want to add a particular building, but placing expansions too hastily can work to hold your city growth back. Place expansions where they allow for the most usable space overall.

Follow these tips if you want to ensure you are shaping your city for the most optimal layout possible.


Off-shoots aren’t usually an efficient use of space, because they tend to leave small strips that can’t be used without being next to other usable space.

Several 1-square sized strips of space are left, and are unusable for buildings.

Had the upper expansions instead been placed next to already existing strips, that space wouldn’t be unusable anymore.

The same amount of space could be used for additional buildings, making it much more valuable.


One of the primary differences between elves and humans is that their main buildings have opposite orientations. This is an important distinction to notice when planning your board layout.

The building used in the greatest quantity is Residences. It makes sense then to plan the city layout to accommodate the most optimal placement of these, and then build the rest around it.

We already learned we can fit the most into the smallest space by keeping the short end along the road, which means you need roads that go long.


If you are elf, expand long before you expand wide.

Elf cities are most efficient when space is added to the length before it is added to the width.​

This allows the city to be laid out in columns, so that the shortest end of the residences touches the road.​


If you are human, expand wide before you expand long.

Human cities are most efficient when space is added to the width before it is added to the length.

This allows the city to be laid out in rows, so that the shortest end of the residences touches the road.

As you continue to grow and expand your city, these differences become less pronounced and matter less over time as you fill up more and more and more of the grid.

However, the smaller you are, the more important it is that expansions are used optimally.  You don’t have many; make sure each can be used to its fullest extent!

3. Use Culture Wisely

Using culture wisely is just as important a concept to space optimization as where you place your buildings!


Just as other buildings must be upgraded to make them more efficient as you grow, so also must culture.

You can’t actually upgrade culture buildings of course, but you can replace older culture buildings with newer culture buildings that are more valuable per square.

Each time you unlock a new culture building, you’ll usually want to swap out any earlier culture items with it.


Look ahead in the build menu and in the research tree to see what is coming next. Set your city up in a way that makes it easier to replace with that item.

For example, this design allows for easy swapping once the player reaches the next culture building:

This city designer is planning ahead!

Space readily available to replace flying boats with whispering trees once they’re unlocked.

Upgrade Roads

Convert all your roads to the highest version you have unlocked.

This increases your culture by 10, 20 or 30 for every road block, giving the equivalent of an extra culture building or two (or even three!) without wasting space.

There’s no need to erase/delete the street; you can build the new blocks directly over the old ones.

Don’t over-do it

Culture is important, but it is meant to enhance your city’s growth and production, not get in its way.

​Rather than making it a goal to always have the highest culture bonus, consider the cost of that bonus and how much it is really worth. How much can that same space be used to create the equivalent in coins or supplies? Or, how much do you really need more coins and supplies? Would higher production instead add a greater benefit?

In an active fellowship, it should be relatively easy to achieve and maintain a bonus from regular polishes; you don’t need to be able to hit your desired bonus level with your culture buildings alone.

Achieving and maintaining a culture bonus of 125% which can reach higher bonuses with just a little help from fellows and neighbors can be plenty for one to be quite successful.

Bonus Tips

♦ Design your layout with like-sized and like-type buildings aligned together. This makes it easier for you to:

  • create even rows and columns; uses fewer roads
  • easily and efficiently collect and reset production buildings

♦ Help yourself by helping your visitor! We can only expect so much from folks going click, click, click as quickly as they can. Use your design to attract help where you want it.

  • Put things you want clicked near your Main Hall.
  • Keep things you don’t want clicked away from your Main Hall.
  • Spare your neighbors and fellows from having to play “hunt the builder” if you want builder-hut help.

Building Rotation & Storage

Many new players to Elvenar ask or wonder, how do we rotate buildings? How do we store buildings?

They may then become frustrated to discover that neither building rotation or storage is possible.

In short, it is never intended to be possible.

This is the answer the Developers have given during a live Q&A session:

This is a question we actually receive quite often. Now, the short answer is no. But here is why. Every city builder needs features that make placing buildings challenging. In Elvenar, this challenge comes mainly from two sources:
One is that most buildings need a street connection, and the other is that every building has a fixed shape.

The combination of this, along with the inability to store buildings, makes it challenging to build an efficient city. Of course, the downside of every challenge is that sometimes it feels like a burden. If you could rotate or store the buildings, this would make things much easier. But the downside of a low challenge is: when it gets too easy, it also gets boring quite fast. So, since this “city puzzling” is a core mechanic in Elvenar, we never implemented any technical base to make it possible to rotate or store buildings.

ElvenArchitect (and ElvenStats)

Two extremely helpful tools for playing with and designing your city layout are ElvenArchitect, and ElvenStats.

ElvenArchitect is a sandbox for your city; buildings and roads are in a grid layout, and can easily be manipulated and moved in any way you like.

ElvenStats has a built-in tool which will create your existing city in ElvenArchitect so that you can play with it as it is currently, without having to build it first, yourself!


In ElvenArchitect, you can place, upgrade, remove, any expansion or building. You can also see reports to tell you the total population, culture, production, etc. for your plan so you can test various scenarios as you design.

Check out this video for more about how to use ElvenArchitect:


In addition to valuable details about your city that may give insight to how you might like to improve it, ElvenStats has

The Magic Button

Navigate to your own stats page in ElvenStats, and then click to get a link to your city already created in ElvenArchitect:

Don’t like your plan? Want to start over? Save, and grab a fresh copy again from ElvenStats!


Designing and re-designing our city is a core part of playing Elvenar; each new chapter adds new challenges that force us to re-think our layout. Space is a precious resource in Elvenar. It is very limited, and it will never feel like enough! Making the most of what we have is the best way to make sure it can be.

We hope you found this guide helpful in finding ways you can optimize space in your own city as you plan your design!

~Happy Gaming~

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