Feng Shui - the Basics

In Emperor, terrain elements (rocks, water, underground water, trees, elevation changes..) affect buildings, not in a way that buildings stop working or don't work at full capacity when placed improperly, but if you place a building in an inauspicious location, your Feng Shui rating suffers as a result, and things affected by the Feng Shui rating are among others the satisfaction of your people and the effect homages to heroes have.

You probably noticed that the footprint of a building is either green or yellow when you want to place the building. If you place it when the footprint is green, the building will be in an auspicious or harmonious location. If the footprint is yellow when you place the building, it will be inauspicious.

Now how does it work?

The 5 elements wood, water, earth, metal and fire play a key role here, they disrupt each other following the pattern below:

water -> fire -> metal -> wood -> earth -> water

To explain further:

Each terrain element in Emperor is associated with one of the elements:

Element Associated terrain type(s)
Water grass (indication of underground water)
Fire bare ground
Metal ore bearing rocks (=copper ore deposits and iron ore deposits)
Wood trees
Earth rocks, elevation changes, stone quarries

All buildings are either associated with one of the elements, or are always auspicious. You can see what element is associated with every building in the Building Data table, and a more easy to read list can be viewed here.

Two tables to show what type of building likes to be placed near what terrain types and where it doesn't like to be placed:

Building Element Likes to be placed near:
Water on grass, ore-bearing rocks, trees
Fire on bare ground, trees, rocks, elevation changes, stone quarries
Metal ore-bearing rocks, on grass, rocks, elevation changes, stone quarries
Wood trees, on grass, on bare ground
Earth rocks, elevation changes, stone quarries, on bare ground
Building Element Does NOT like to be placed very close to:
Water on bare ground, rocks, elevation changes, stone quarries
Fire ore-bearing rocks, on grass
Metal trees, on bare ground
Wood rocks, elevation changes, stone quarries, ore-bearing rocks
Earth on grass, trees

Summary for placing buildings:

Building Element Grassland Bare earth Copper/iron ore Trees Rocks, elevation changes, quarry
Water Yes No Yes Yes No
Fire No Yes No Yes Yes
Metal Yes No Yes No Yes
Wood Yes Yes No Yes No
Earth No Yes Yes No Yes

You usually can't change the Feng Shui element of a tile, however, trees can be removed, and the feng shui of open tiles will be recalculated accoringly. Building which were already placed before the trees were removed will keep their status (auspicious/inauspicious), it only affects new buildings. A common 'trick' is to place buildings which like trees nearby first, then remove the trees, and place the buildings which don't like trees.

My words of wisdom:

Experiment a bit with the Feng Shui, see what buildings can be close to what terrain, and HOW close.. Remember: in most cities you can achieve Perfect Harmony, in others it's impossible. The "Perfect" is a challenge on its own, in addition to the city-building itself, and gets harder as your city grows bigger. The effects are not that much, so you can ignore Feng Shui if you like, to a certain degree: if the feng shui rating drops to inauspicious or below, your popularity will go down fairly rapidly. More about how the rating is calculated can be found on the Feng Shui Rating page.

If you're intrigued by how Feng Shui works, continue reading at the Feng Shui in Detail page.