View Full Version : Farms vs. Cottages: a simple simulation


RemoWilliams
Jun 01, 2006, 08:18 PM
This topic comes up so much in these forums (especially the Strategy and Tips section), I thought I'd run a quick simulation in worldbuilder to give some semblance of a scientific answer.

Edit Note, this test is only reasonably applicable to noble difficulty, as we can easily get a large population (up to 9-10) in the BC era. On higher difficulties, happiness limits are very low in the early game, and therefore the simulation bears little resemblence to reality on higher settings.

This is a pretty contrived test, as most tests in worldbuilder are, but I think the results are striking enough to have some small meaning.

The question is, is it better to build farms for growth, and then work cottages, or to just spam cottages from the beginning, so that the cottages can grow into hamlets/villages/towns faster?

I've got a bias here, I've always intuitively thought that it was better to focus on growth first, and then commerce/science. Hopefully my experiment was not too heavily influenced by this bias, but I thought I should mention it.

Without further ado, here are the experimental procedures and results:

Settings

Difficulty: Noble
Victories: All disabled
Opponents: None
Civ: Inca

Both cities in 4000ad

Science Slider: 0%
City builds: 1 warrior, then nothing

- Globe theater
- Granary
- Aqueduct
- Hospital
- Recycling Center
- Automated citizens
- All grassland
- Every tile next to a river

My reasoning here was that I was too lazy to set up routes to the basic happy/health stuff that I typically have by 1000BC (enough for 9/9 happiness, and 8/9 health).

Farm/Cottage City

- 10 farms, and 10 cottages to start
- Max growth until 6 population
- Max commerce after that
- Turn on limit growth at 9 population (I think this is not unreasonable for the early game)

Cottage City

- 20 Cottages
- Max commerce

Results

I think this is a pretty good test, but if someone can think of a fairer test that is relatively easy to perform, I'll be happy to take it on.

1990 BC

Farm/Cottage city: 8 pop, 3321 gold
Cottage city: 6 pop, 2809 gold

990 BC

Farm/Cottage city: 9 pop, 6652 gold
Cottage city: 9 pop, 5522 gold

I hesitate to call these results conclusive, but I think they go a ways to bearing out my intuition.

RemoWilliams
Jun 01, 2006, 08:33 PM
I had to leave the start files off of the original post, because of the 5 file limit

VirusMonster
Jun 01, 2006, 09:18 PM
Great idea to test it out! :)

Can you extend the experiment for 500BC-1AD-500AD-1000AD? And can you explain why you switch to max commerce after 6 city size, but not 10 or some other number? What makes 6 the magic number in your eyes?

I think there is a sweet spot between, farming and cottages, but I am not sure whether it is 10farms/10 cottages. Can you try with 8 farms/12 cottages? 6 farms/14 cottages? 12 farms/8 cottages? Or even ifyou will not try, why do you think 10/10 ratio should work best?

Also, is there any difference for a Financial leader for this test? If you make all squares near rivers, you get +3 commerce with cottage and thus you might prefer cottage first instead of growing first.

DaveMcW
Jun 01, 2006, 09:38 PM
So you proved that given infinite workers and grassland, it's better to farm before working the cottages. :)

The situation is quite different at 4000BC in a real game. ;)

RemoWilliams
Jun 02, 2006, 12:11 AM
Great idea to test it out! :)

Can you extend the experiment for 500BC-1AD-500AD-1000AD? And can you explain why you switch to max commerce after 6 city size, but not 10 or some other number? What makes 6 the magic number in your eyes?

I think there is a sweet spot between, farming and cottages, but I am not sure whether it is 10farms/10 cottages. Can you try with 8 farms/12 cottages? 6 farms/14 cottages? 12 farms/8 cottages? Or even ifyou will not try, why do you think 10/10 ratio should work best?

Also, is there any difference for a Financial leader for this test? If you make all squares near rivers, you get +3 commerce with cottage and thus you might prefer cottage first instead of growing first.


I chose 6 because on Noble difficulty, 6 is the max happiness cap for a while, so in a typical real game, that's around the point where I would stop maxing growth.

Since I only grew to 9 pop, anything beyond 10 farms/cottages wasn't tested.

I'm absolutely certain that you are right that there is a sweet spot between farms and cottages, this was a simple test. I've seen numerous postings where people assert without evidence that it is better to work cottages first, and even people who say they never get to their happiness cap, as though towns are a magical panacea that will make them win the game.

One point of this test was to show that even without working any cottages at all until many turns had passed, you end up with more money if you have a faster growing population.

10/10 is for sure not a good ratio. The point wasn't to show the optimal path, that's highly situational. You'll never have a city with all grassland and every tile a river tile. In fact, there are some who would say that if you did encounter such a city, the best thing to do would be to put no farms at all, because you have the ability to grow to 20 without them. This guide is a good example: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=158482

That's a great guide, and I learned a lot from it, but just enough farms to grow to 20 is a simplistic habit you should grow out of once you get more of a feel for the game.

I think stopping at 1000 BC is a good idea, because, flawed though the simulation is, up to 1000 BC it's not as much of a stretch. Past that point and we definitlely start to drift into fantasy land.

RemoWilliams
Jun 02, 2006, 12:20 AM
So you proved that given infinite workers and grassland, it's better to farm before working the cottages. :)

The situation is quite different at 4000BC in a real game. ;)

I totally agree. But I don't think the sim is as flawed as you make it out to be.

The point is that if you have a lot of grassland and flood plains, it's better to cap your population before you work the cottages. In the farm/cottage city, I didn't work a single cottage until I got to 6 pop, yet by the end, I had 1000 more gold.

In a real city, you'd likely have better tiles than grassland for farming, so in that sense, I think the sim was actually a little biased against my point of view. If you had 2 specials, and 2-3 flood plains for farming, as you would in a typical prime city location, I contend it's better to get those up, at least until you max pop, than to spam cottages first and make sure they grow at the expense of pop.

I think for most advanced players this is understood, even a no-brainer. But a lot of newer players question this concept constantly, and I thought I'd run a sim.

Edit: and of course, I forgot to mention the slavery benefit, which is the real kicker, IMO. Having the food resources up first allows you to whip the slaves more often, and grow quickly back to the max. If the 1.61 nerf to tree chopping didn't turn you into a slave-driver, nothing will.

DaviddesJ
Jun 02, 2006, 01:07 AM
You obviously should have at least a couple of farms if you have zero food resources, so this isn't much of a comparison. On the other hand, if you have two food resources, plus some floodplains, then I'm very dubious that you want to farm the floodplains as opposed to cottages. In a real game (at significant difficulty, say Emperor) you're just going to end up with more food than you can use, and the lost commerce is significant.

MestreLion
Jun 02, 2006, 02:52 PM
You obviously should have at least a couple of farms if you have zero food resources, so this isn't much of a comparison. On the other hand, if you have two food resources, plus some floodplains, then I'm very dubious that you want to farm the floodplains as opposed to cottages. In a real game (at significant difficulty, say Emperor) you're just going to end up with more food than you can use, and the lost commerce is significant.

I think the point of the OP is... if you have food resources and/or foodplains, that would only change the 10/10 ratio between farms and cottages. You would build less farms so you DONT end up with more food than you can use. That way you would have more cottages sooner, getting even more gold.

So his point of growning first (only till cap, no waste), then working the cottages is still valid, even reinforced by having foodplains and resoures.


As a side note: a city with all grasslands and rivers? Possibly with resources and foodplains? WOW, if its past 1AD, i wouldnt even bother to make cottages at all... i would farm everywhere, get 30+ pop, caste system civics, tons of specialists, thus turning the city in the sweetest GP farm ever! :D

DaviddesJ
Jun 02, 2006, 03:01 PM
So his point of growning first (only till cap, no waste), then working the cottages is still valid, even reinforced by having foodplains and resoures.

The problem is that he's comparing something reasonable (lots of farms) with something unreasonable (zero farms and zero food resources). Obviously the former is going to come out better.

RemoWilliams
Jun 02, 2006, 03:59 PM
The problem is that he's comparing something reasonable (lots of farms) with something unreasonable (zero farms and zero food resources). Obviously the former is going to come out better.

It's obvious to some, but definitely not obvious to everyone.

Remember that I didn't work a single cottage in the farms city until I reached 6 pop, whereas I was working cottages constantly in the cottage only city.

A lot of people think that the best thing to do is work cottages first so that they'll become towns more quickly.

Furthermore, according to some guides and articles, the best way to farm is to build only exactly enough farms to reach size 20, and no more. In the cottage city, the number of farms needed for size 20 was zero. However, we saw a large benefit from the farms in the farms/cottages city.

If I proved nothing else, I at least proved that the "just enough for size 20 pop" rule is not a hard and fast rule. Hopefully we can at least agree on that. I get the feeling you think I've drawn a whole bunch of conclusions that I didn't draw. I was very careful in the article to point out that the results were merely interesting rather than being conclusive proof of anything.

I think one of the issues here is that you play emperor whereas the article applies to noble difficulty. Noble starts with a 6 happiness cap in the capital, and that probably makes a significant difference in terms of opening strategy when it comes to which tiles you improve and how. I wouldn't know, I don't play emperor.

Stay tuned, I'm going to try to devise a different test that will be more realistic.

DaviddesJ
Jun 02, 2006, 04:43 PM
A lot of people think that the best thing to do is work cottages first so that they'll become towns more quickly.

I think that is usually correct. But that's because most cities (in the early game) have one or two food resources.

Furthermore, according to some guides and articles, the best way to farm is to build only exactly enough farms to reach size 20, and no more.

If there's one thing that's absolutely clear, it's that what happens when your city reaches size 20 is completely irrelevant to the early game. You can always modify your improvements later, when your cities start to get that big. (The midgame generally sees plenty of workers with not much to do.)

Zombie69
Jun 03, 2006, 07:06 AM
Stay tuned, I'm going to try to devise a different test that will be more realistic.

If you want to see something realistic, try the following examples :

1. Capital limited to 4 pop at high difficulty level, which has 2 food resources making it have +8 food (+2 base and +3 from each resource).

2. Non-capital city limited to 3 pop at high difficulty level, which has 1 food resource, making it have +5 food (+2 base and +3 from the food resource).

3. and 4. Try the examples above, but at +1 happiness thanks to a happiness resource or a religion.

I think you'll find that in each case, it's extremely dumb to build even a single farm.

These cases encompass 90% of all cities in a typical game of mine.

Zombie69
Jun 03, 2006, 07:09 AM
Also, building a granary makes the case for farms even worse, and granaries are usually the first building i make in every city, because of how overpowered pop rushing is.

Tech Step
Jun 03, 2006, 10:01 AM
you forget that having a couple of farms worked and using slavery kills all the strats that you have posted.

whipping your pop is the only way to win in the early game.

RemoWilliams
Jun 03, 2006, 11:04 AM
If you want to see something realistic, try the following examples :

1. Capital limited to 4 pop at high difficulty level, which has 2 food resources making it have +8 food (+2 base and +3 from each resource).

2. Non-capital city limited to 3 pop at high difficulty level, which has 1 food resource, making it have +5 food (+2 base and +3 from the food resource).

3. and 4. Try the examples above, but at +1 happiness thanks to a happiness resource or a religion.

I think you'll find that in each case, it's extremely dumb to build even a single farm.

These cases encompass 90% of all cities in a typical game of mine.

Not everyone plays deity with the 4 pop cap, myself included. I prefer to play noble, and as the settings section of my article indicates, that's what this article is about. Why deity players feel the need to pop up in every article about lower difficulties and explain how it doesn't apply to higher difficulties is perplexing to me. You already know that it doesn't, and I never claimed it did.

On Noble you can easily have 10 happiness in the BCs, and that's what this article is about.

DaviddesJ
Jun 03, 2006, 12:54 PM
I prefer to play noble, and as the settings section of my article indicates, that's what this article is about.

I don't think that's really clear from what you wrote. I thought the Noble difficulty level was one of the simplifying assumptions for a "contrived test". Not the level at which you were actually giving strategy.

RemoWilliams
Jun 03, 2006, 01:17 PM
I don't think that's really clear from what you wrote. I thought the Noble difficulty level was one of the simplifying assumptions for a "contrived test". Not the level at which you were actually giving strategy.

Fair enough. I thought it was clear from the difficulty setting, and from the fact that I said 9 pop was reasonable for the early game, and that we were limited to 6 happiness in the early game, etc. But I've added an edit to be sure there's no further confusion.

ownedbyakorat
Jun 03, 2006, 02:14 PM
Not everyone plays deity with the 4 pop cap, myself included. I prefer to play noble, and as the settings section of my article indicates, that's what this article is about. Why deity players feel the need to pop up in every article about lower difficulties and explain how it doesn't apply to higher difficulties is perplexing to me. You already know that it doesn't, and I never claimed it did.

On Noble you can easily have 10 happiness in the BCs, and that's what this article is about.

Well, if we're discussing Civ strategy, then the viability of different approaches at different levels is fair game. I'm no diety player (trying emperor now, getting butt kicked) but I understand that what works on Diety will work on lower levels, but the reverse is not true. So for a player that wants to get better, it's not good to invest in learning a strategy that is not scalable with levels.

malekithe
Jun 03, 2006, 04:06 PM
Not everyone plays deity with the 4 pop cap, myself included.

Just wanted to point out that the 4 pop cap starts at emperor, not deity. It's very applicable to most of the games I play. In my opinion, writing strategy guides for noble-level play is a bit short-sighted, unless it's some sort of variant style of play (eg. how to win without building a single unit more advanced than a warrior). I think the majority of players who read these articles are doing so in an attempt to move up to a higher difficulty level. The players who read these just to become more dominant at lower levels, I believe, are in the minority. As such, teaching players tips and tricks that will not be applicable once they move up in difficulty is not terribly beneficial.

The thinking that every city should be setup optimally to reach size 20 was born out of people's dabblings at lower difficulty levels. Your article plans to reach size 10. That's very reasonable for noble level play. But, just at you scoff at those who give advice on how to best reach size 20, those who play above noble think it's inadvisable to give advise on how to reach size 10 from the beginning. If you want to plan for higher levels of play, consider an initial max pop of 4-6.

For the same reasons that you shouldn't heed (or give) advice along the vein of, "Build stonehenge, then the oracle, then the pyramids, followed up by the parthenon..." You shouldn't heed advice that goes like, "Do this while growing to 10 population in the beginning." You're building a crutch into your game. Once you move up in difficulty, you won't have the luxury of either.

Naismith
Jun 03, 2006, 04:55 PM
Very interesting thread. I'm kind of a combination of stuck in a rut and lazy - I have never *once* used slavery to whip anything. I played with it a bit in Civ3 and thought it was overrated. I assumed the same was true for Civ4. I'm very much aware that I'm revealing my own ignorance here. :blush:

Instead, I am a cottage-spammer. Well, I almost always build cottages on flood plains and green squares, unless a city is seriously food-challenged. I build farms on plains. I tend to build a lot of windwills, once they become available. Mines where the food surplus allows it. I like to cities with a surplus of at least 2 food, 3 is more normal. I try to get pottery as one of the first 4 techs or so - BW first of course.

It's pretty simple-minded, but it works well for me at Prince level. So, I have my own bias. My intuition tells me that I couldn't do as well using farms to grow my pop to the cap, and then replacing them with cottages. Here's my thoughts:
1) Using farms early means less money in the very early part of the game, which is the most critical part of the game.
2) There are times in the game when workers don't have much to do, and other times when they are busy and you wish you had more. I suspect that workers might be at a premium when you needed to convert farms to cottages.

VirusMonster
Jun 03, 2006, 04:57 PM
Ok guys listen, I play tons of high difficulty games and here is what happens. :p

I start with low pop, low happiness limited cities, but at one point in the game after heavy warmongering, my empire captures many cities, i.e. controls 20-30 total cities, but many of those cities have not enough population to support most of the cottages around the city. At that time, I usually have enough health and luxury resources to support at least 10 if not 15 or 20 size city. At that point, due to the large mass I conquered, I practically control every single health and happiness bonus resource in the game. I have many of such cities at around 5 population, and I was very curious what the most economically beneficial way for me would be to grow such cities. Cottages first or farms first?

I think this article just helped me on that point and that is what is great about the test he did. It is now clear to me that working the citizens on farms first will give me more commerce over the long term. And I will grow my city population for final score as well.

For the beginning of the game, you can develop any strategy you like, cottages first, hammers first, farms first. For example, in my quechua rush deity strategy, I prefer building 5 quechuas initally at 0 growth. Sometimes, I go 0 growth for a long time to pump out sufficient quechuas to capture several cities. I don't even have the luxury of working at cottages on that point; my priority is hammers.

But at one point in the game after heavy warmongering, you control many below 5-10 population cities that you would like to grow. At that point, I am convinced that working on farms first will yield you more commerce in the long run. Get high population first and start working on cottages later.
You get more final score too, because you can support a larger empire population. You might want to change some farms into cottages once you reach a certain size, but first build some farms on floodplains and grassland, LET THE CITY GROW :) You will get mass commerce with some patience when mass citizens work on all cottages instead of a few citizens working now and growing much slower.

Thanks again great article for those who can draw the conclusions. I vote 5 stars for the unique test idea.

malekithe
Jun 03, 2006, 05:36 PM
I start with low pop, low happiness limited cities, but at one point in the game after heavy warmongering, my empire captures many cities, i.e. controls 20-30 total cities, but many of those cities have not enough population to support most of the cottages around the city. At that time, I usually have enough health and luxury resources to support at least 10 if not 15 or 20 size city. At that point, due to the large mass I conquered, I practically control every single health and happiness bonus resource in the game. I have many of such cities at around 5 population, and I was very curious what the most economically beneficial way for me would be to grow such cities. Cottages first or farms first?

By the time you conquer 20-30 cities, depending on the size of the map, the game is mostly academic at that point. How best to secure and milk your advantage is a very different topic from how to create that advantage.

VirusMonster
Jun 03, 2006, 06:32 PM
By the time you conquer 20-30 cities, depending on the size of the map, the game is mostly academic at that point. How best to secure and milk your advantage is a very different topic from how to create that advantage.

Well, 20-30 city empires might be large for smaller maps, but I almost always play on a huge map, so 20-30 cities don't guarantee the win on Immortal or Deity. It is still very important to know how to milk most commerce out of your cities once you have a large empire, but low empire population.

The article definitely has its uses for commercial milking, not necessarily for score milking. Score milking is easy, biology mass farms.

RemoWilliams
Jun 03, 2006, 08:28 PM
It's pretty simple-minded, but it works well for me at Prince level. So, I have my own bias. My intuition tells me that I couldn't do as well using farms to grow my pop to the cap, and then replacing them with cottages. Here's my thoughts:
1) Using farms early means less money in the very early part of the game, which is the most critical part of the game.
2) There are times in the game when workers don't have much to do, and other times when they are busy and you wish you had more. I suspect that workers might be at a premium when you needed to convert farms to cottages.

Growth first is also applicable to Prince, imo.

As far as point #1: I don't agree that farms = less money at prince. I think at the very least you will break even getting your population up before you work cottages. This doesn't necessarily mean farms, if you have special resources, they will suffice.

I nearly always max growth when I have happiness available. You might give up a bit of production or commerce for a few turns, but you will be able to work one more tile afterwards, and this is nearly always better.

Slavery is absolutely key.

RemoWilliams
Jun 03, 2006, 08:34 PM
Ok guys listen, I play tons of high difficulty games and here is what happens. :p

I start with low pop, low happiness limited cities, but at one point in the game after heavy warmongering, my empire captures many cities, i.e. controls 20-30 total cities, but many of those cities have not enough population to support most of the cottages around the city. At that time, I usually have enough health and luxury resources to support at least 10 if not 15 or 20 size city. At that point, due to the large mass I conquered, I practically control every single health and happiness bonus resource in the game. I have many of such cities at around 5 population, and I was very curious what the most economically beneficial way for me would be to grow such cities. Cottages first or farms first?

I think this article just helped me on that point and that is what is great about the test he did. It is now clear to me that working the citizens on farms first will give me more commerce over the long term. And I will grow my city population for final score as well.

For the beginning of the game, you can develop any strategy you like, cottages first, hammers first, farms first. For example, in my quechua rush deity strategy, I prefer building 5 quechuas initally at 0 growth. Sometimes, I go 0 growth for a long time to pump out sufficient quechuas to capture several cities. I don't even have the luxury of working at cottages on that point; my priority is hammers.

But at one point in the game after heavy warmongering, you control many below 5-10 population cities that you would like to grow. At that point, I am convinced that working on farms first will yield you more commerce in the long run. Get high population first and start working on cottages later.
You get more final score too, because you can support a larger empire population. You might want to change some farms into cottages once you reach a certain size, but first build some farms on floodplains and grassland, LET THE CITY GROW :) You will get mass commerce with some patience when mass citizens work on all cottages instead of a few citizens working now and growing much slower.

Thanks again great article for those who can draw the conclusions. I vote 5 stars for the unique test idea.

Finally someone gets it.

Yes, after an expansion war, max growth in all of your cities. It makes a huge difference. In fact, if you have to choose what your captured workers will do, it is often best to build whatever farms/food resources you need to get pop up quickly.

I am fairly sure food is also the most important in the early game, and I am going to try to prove it in such a way that people will not be so argumentative about the results. I'm still working out a test procedure that will be less controversial.

Thanks for the feedback!

RemoWilliams
Jun 03, 2006, 08:44 PM
Well, if we're discussing Civ strategy, then the viability of different approaches at different levels is fair game. I'm no diety player (trying emperor now, getting butt kicked) but I understand that what works on Diety will work on lower levels, but the reverse is not true. So for a player that wants to get better, it's not good to invest in learning a strategy that is not scalable with levels.

Well, I think growth first is quite applicable after your expansion war(s) as well, as VirusMonster pointed out above. At that point, you have a big happiness surplus, and I'm pretty certain you don't want to work the cottages at the expense of growing to your happiness cap.

I tend to max growth after expansion wars, and after Biology as well. I know from experience that this yields better results than maxing commerce and growing slowly. I knew this would be a controversial topic but I decided to take it on anyway. :)

The point to stop growing, imo, is the point where either:

1) It will take a long time (30-40 turns on marathon)
2) Happiness cap is reached.

If you get to 1, before you get to 2, time to build a farm or connect a food resource, and in the meantime, max commerce or production, or work the tiles manually, whatever you prefer or the situation calls for.

Naismith
Jun 04, 2006, 10:02 AM
This doesn't necessarily mean farms, if you have special resources, they will suffice.

I almost always hook up and work special resources as a first priority, especially happiness resources. I'm certainly not going to work a cottage in a one pop city when a 4 food, 2 hammer cow is available, or almost any other special resource, for that matter. You also have to balance hammers in low pop cities, especially in the early game. If I have rice and corn hooked up, I'm not going to work three cottages if my happiness cap is 5. I will mine a couple of hills if available instead. Of course, some people who are smarter than I am might see that as an opportunity to use the whip. :)

I nearly always max growth when I have happiness available. You might give up a bit of production or commerce for a few turns, but you will be able to work one more tile afterwards, and this is nearly always better.

It might be a lot more than a few turns. Again, this is very situational. If I'm in a war, and I'm fighting for my life, I won't even consider giving up production or commerce in any city. I suspect you would agree on this - you have to survive to enjoy the benefits of growth. If I've just conquered serveral cities, and I know my new neighbor Monty has a stronger military than me, and a different religion, farming isn't exactly a priority. I'm concerned about production for making military units, and commerce so for (hopefully) military techs that will give me an added edge. Commerce can be especially critical if your conquests have temporarily brought you to a shakey financial situation.

Having said all that, if I've conquered a city with pop of say, 5, and it has a happiness cap of 10, I will concentrate on growth in that city if I can grow the population fairly quickly. Depending on the circumstances, my first two builds are often a theatre (to expand city borders), and then a granary to maximize growth.

I am fairly sure food is also the most important in the early game, and I am going to try to prove it in such a way that people will not be so argumentative about the results.

I hope you are not trying to imply I am argumentative. :lol: I think I've already learned a few things from this thread, and probably brought a few other things into clearer focus. By all means, create some more scenarios.

RemoWilliams
Jun 04, 2006, 02:09 PM
It might be a lot more than a few turns. Again, this is very situational. If I'm in a war, and I'm fighting for my life, I won't even consider giving up production or commerce in any city. I suspect you would agree on this - you have to survive to enjoy the benefits of growth.


I agree wholeheartedly. The times you want to max growth are almost always peaceful times.

I started this thread because I got burned by the cottages first strategy, and found that when I grew population instead, two things happened:

1) I won by a lot bigger margin
2) Ofen a side-effect of max growth is that cottages/hamlets/villages/towns are the tiles to get worked anyway, since they are typically on grassland and flood plains, meaning they are the best food tiles. Therefore science doesn't take much of a hit when you max growth, but obviously, production does (although, as I've pointed out several times, in this simulation, no cottages were worked until 6 pop).

RemoWilliams
Jun 04, 2006, 02:22 PM
It might be a lot more than a few turns. Again, this is very situational. If I'm in a war, and I'm fighting for my life, I won't even consider giving up production or commerce in any city. I suspect you would agree on this - you have to survive to enjoy the benefits of growth.

edit: oops, sorry, double post.

Zombie69
Jun 05, 2006, 06:41 AM
Well, I think growth first is quite applicable after your expansion war(s) as well, as VirusMonster pointed out above. At that point, you have a big happiness surplus, and I'm pretty certain you don't want to work the cottages at the expense of growing to your happiness cap.

One doesn't have to be at the expense of the other. The point is that most cities will have at least one or two food resources, and once those are worked, you grow quickly enough that you can afford for everything else to be cottages.

Back when i played noble, prince and monarch (which laster all of 4 games), i did build farms first. But on my first emperor game, i quickly noticed that cottages first was much better due to the low happiness. Try it at emperor or above, you'll see. There's no need for any farm (except on resources, in the GPF and in the production center) at those levels.

SuperSatan3
Jun 05, 2006, 08:50 PM
So in summary, Should the number of farms you build be based mainly on the number of happy citizens you can support?
If you start near a resource you can exploit early on to provide happiness(gold which requires mining, or elephants or fur, both require hunting) then you could have more happy citizens.

As far first cities go, I usually go for growth and production, building farms and mines wherever I can(FYI, I never played anything higher than Noble, which I win at most of the time). I usually try to crank out wonders and settlers(in my capital city), in addition to making soldiers to defend my less developed towns.

After I get a high great person birth rate(which I usually do by building a national epic), I build a science academy and Wall Street. On Lower difficulties where happiness is hardly an issue, I usually grow large populations and make specialist to compensate for the lack of money from building farms instead of cottages.

DaviddesJ
Jun 05, 2006, 09:20 PM
So in summary, Should the number of farms you build be based mainly on the number of happy citizens you can support?
If you start near a resource you can exploit early on to provide happiness(gold which requires mining, or elephants or fur, both require hunting) then you could have more happy citizens.

Usually you'll have access to 1 or 2 of the early luxuries (gold, silver, gems, ivory, fur). If you have 3, yes, you might treat that as encouraging a bit more growth. On the other hand, if you have more luxuries you'll probably have fewer health resources, and perhaps be more constrained by health.

RemoWilliams
Jun 05, 2006, 09:57 PM
So in summary, Should the number of farms you build be based mainly on the number of happy citizens you can support?
If you start near a resource you can exploit early on to provide happiness(gold which requires mining, or elephants or fur, both require hunting) then you could have more happy citizens.

As far first cities go, I usually go for growth and production, building farms and mines wherever I can(FYI, I never played anything higher than Noble, which I win at most of the time). I usually try to crank out wonders and settlers(in my capital city), in addition to making soldiers to defend my less developed towns.

After I get a high great person birth rate(which I usually do by building a national epic), I build a science academy and Wall Street. On Lower difficulties where happiness is hardly an issue, I usually grow large populations and make specialist to compensate for the lack of money from building farms instead of cottages.

Well, I prefer to build enough excess food to be able to recover very quickly from slavery. This, for me, does not equal just enough for the happiness cap, but it depends on the city as to whether you build several farms or just a couple. For example, if my "true" happiness cap was 10 (without pop rush penalties), and I had 2 irrigated rice paddies, I'd probably want 2-3 flood plains farms too, if I had them available.

Flood plains look like mines to me.

And where do I put my cottages? Gasp! On regular ol' plains tiles, mostly. I prioritize in the following way:

1) Any flood plains I have left over that I'm not planning to farm (rare that I have enough so that this comes up)
2) Any plains next to river tiles
3) Any grassland next to river tiles
4) Anywhere else

Why 2? Because a farm on a plains is almost useless. Basically it's just a self-sustaining tile you get 1 hammer from. I hardly ever build workshops until I get to state property. Plus, I don't have much problem being able to work a 1 food tile, because I have all the excess food from the big food tiles.

Why is 3 not higher on the list? Because later on my grassland may make good farm land, since it will produce surplus food even before biology. These days I take a quick look 'round the tiles surrounding the city, and I already have planned out which tiles will become which improvement. A big factor to consider is what the city will look like after civil service, when you can chain-irrigate, and a lesser concern is what will happen after Biology (until you get closer to Biology time, that is).

To me, Biology is as big an event in the late game as Civil service is in the early game. My civ takes off like a rocket, pun intended.

Ironically, as big as I am on farms, I've been leaving the GP farm alone for a while now. Mostly I've been working on the space race aspect of the game, and for a GP farm to be really effective for the space race, it needs to produce scientists and engineers. Scientists you get with caste system, but you have to give up slavery, which is a really big deal breaker for me. Engineers you only get through various buildings, and buildings take about a million years to build in a GP farm, especially if you're running caste system. If I hold off on caste system until I get the buildings I want with slavery, I end up never switching to caste system, just keep putting it off.

Plus, I don't play philo leaders.

It just takes me too long to get to the point where I'm producing the GPs I need, and in the early game I have a city that's not doing a lot for me. It just doesn't seem to fit with my style. But maybe there's folks out there who can set me right.

RemoWilliams
Jun 05, 2006, 10:13 PM
One doesn't have to be at the expense of the other. The point is that most cities will have at least one or two food resources, and once those are worked, you grow quickly enough that you can afford for everything else to be cottages.

Back when i played noble, prince and monarch (which laster all of 4 games), i did build farms first. But on my first emperor game, i quickly noticed that cottages first was much better due to the low happiness. Try it at emperor or above, you'll see. There's no need for any farm (except on resources, in the GPF and in the production center) at those levels.

Well, I believe you about the higher difficulty as far as the early game is concerned, but I think you're making a pretty big generalization beyond that.

"Quickly enough" is pretty vague. If I have 3 citizens, but enough happiness for 10 citizens, there better be enough food for me to get to 10 pretty quickly, or I'm wasting everything that city can do for me. With a granary, this means I want it to take about 5-6 turns (on marathon game speed) at each level, and no more than that. The only way you can convince me that it's better to grow really slowly and work cottages is if you do an experiment like the one I've done, or at least throw out some math that supports your position.

Now, I certainly could be wrong, and please don't take offense at my presumption here, but I suspect that you're not much of a builder, are you? At really high difficulty, you just about have to be a warmonger from beginning to end, which is why I don't really like to play those difficulties. It's not that I cannot do it, I just don't enjoy it that much. If I get the itch for some warmongering though, of course I'm not gonna play Noble.

As VirusMonster pointed out, you can have a pretty good size happiness cap in the mid-late game, even on high difficulty. Think about it: every turn you don't have max population is a turn that you could be producing something from a tile and you're not. Growing as fast as possible, even at the expense of other things, if necessary, is nearly always the right play, assuming you have large excess food.

Looks like we may have to just agree to disagree on this one. Cest la vie.

RemoWilliams
Jun 05, 2006, 10:28 PM
Very interesting thread. I'm kind of a combination of stuck in a rut and lazy - I have never *once* used slavery to whip anything. I played with it a bit in Civ3 and thought it was overrated. I assumed the same was true for Civ4. I'm very much aware that I'm revealing my own ignorance here. :blush:

Instead, I am a cottage-spammer. Well, I almost always build cottages on flood plains and green squares, unless a city is seriously food-challenged. I build farms on plains. I tend to build a lot of windwills, once they become available. Mines where the food surplus allows it. I like to cities with a surplus of at least 2 food, 3 is more normal. I try to get pottery as one of the first 4 techs or so - BW first of course.

It's pretty simple-minded, but it works well for me at Prince level. So, I have my own bias. My intuition tells me that I couldn't do as well using farms to grow my pop to the cap, and then replacing them with cottages. Here's my thoughts:
1) Using farms early means less money in the very early part of the game, which is the most critical part of the game.
2) There are times in the game when workers don't have much to do, and other times when they are busy and you wish you had more. I suspect that workers might be at a premium when you needed to convert farms to cottages.

A farm on a plains is almost, but not entirely, useless. What do you gain from it? 1g if it is next to a river, and 1 hammer either way. Wow! Only after Biology does it produce excess food, and become useful. I'd rather pre-chop forests than build a pre-biology farm on a plains tile. It sure doesn't help you work any of those cottages. On the other hand, a single farm on a grassland lets you break even by working a cottage on a plains, and you have more pop for slavery. A single farm on a floodplains lets you run 2 cottages on 2 plains tiles, or 2 cottages on 2 grassland, and 2 cottages on 2 plains.

If you aren't using slavery, I hope you're using caste system and have a badass little GP farm going on. That's the only excuse I see for not using it, at the very least in your science or culture cities. I used to be shy about slavery as well, but now I recognize that it is an essential part of the game.

Try it my way, worst case, maybe it won't fit with your style and you'll write me off as a crackpot.

DaviddesJ
Jun 05, 2006, 10:33 PM
At really high difficulty, you just about have to be a warmonger from beginning to end

No, not really.

RemoWilliams
Jun 05, 2006, 10:51 PM
No, not really.

Hey, I bet you can't argue with this:

"This statement is contradictable" ;) :)

Zombie69
Jun 06, 2006, 06:05 AM
Now, I certainly could be wrong, and please don't take offense at my presumption here, but I suspect that you're not much of a builder, are you? At really high difficulty, you just about have to be a warmonger from beginning to end, which is why I don't really like to play those difficulties.

True that i'm generally more of a warmonger, but wrong that you have to wage war to compete at high difficulty levels. In my current game, at Immortal, i didn't wage a single war until Redcoats. The only cities i conquered were barbarian cities. Yet, by the time i got to Redcoats, i had climbed all the way up to number 1 in score, peacefully. All by micromanaging my way into outproducing the AI.

As VirusMonster pointed out, you can have a pretty good size happiness cap in the mid-late game, even on high difficulty.

Yes, but by then your cities are already pretty high in pop. You're never more than 4 or 5 points lower than your cap. That is, unless you're talking about conquered cities, but those are a totally different scenario altogether, and shouldn't even be compared to an article that talks about starting size 1 cities.

Think about it: every turn you don't have max population is a turn that you could be producing something from a tile and you're not. Growing as fast as possible, even at the expense of other things, if necessary, is nearly always the right play, assuming you have large excess food.

Think about it : every turn you're not working a cottage is a turn where it's not growing. At high difficulty levels, you'll quickly find yourself out-teched and out-gunned by the AI if you go with farms instead of cottages.

Like i said, your way works at low difficulties, but it's extremely sub-optimal at higher levels.

Naismith
Jun 06, 2006, 08:48 AM
Think about it : every turn you're not working a cottage is a turn where it's not growing. At high difficulty levels, you'll quickly find yourself out-teched and out-gunned by the AI if you go with farms instead of cottages.

When I am playing the early game at Prince or Monarch, my one overriding concern is to get my finances going strong ASAP. The only way to do that (other than the obvious need to hook up special resources) is to get early cottages going. If you are building farms instead, you are losing the immediate commerce, and the extra turns you would have worked the cottages. If you have a high enough happiness cap, and you don't get completely left behind in the tech race, then maybe it works out for you.

Getting into the tech race early is critical. If you reach Alphabet late, you don't get a chance to catch up (and possibly surpass) other Civ's by using your temporary trading advantage. If you fall behind in tech early, you are also more likely to get involved in an early war where you are fighting better military units at your most vulnerable time in the game.

It's much nicer to reach the tech for cats well ahead of your neighbors, for instance. You can leverage your military advantage into more commerce by taking over your neighbor's cities, and building more cottages :mischief:

RemoWilliams
Jun 06, 2006, 11:19 AM
When I am playing the early game at Prince or Monarch, my one overriding concern is to get my finances going strong ASAP. The only way to do that (other than the obvious need to hook up special resources) is to get early cottages going. If you are building farms instead, you are losing the immediate commerce, and the extra turns you would have worked the cottages. If you have a high enough happiness cap, and you don't get completely left behind in the tech race, then maybe it works out for you.

Getting into the tech race early is critical. If you reach Alphabet late, you don't get a chance to catch up (and possibly surpass) other Civ's by using your temporary trading advantage. If you fall behind in tech early, you are also more likely to get involved in an early war where you are fighting better military units at your most vulnerable time in the game.

It's much nicer to reach the tech for cats well ahead of your neighbors, for instance. You can leverage your military advantage into more commerce by taking over your neighbor's cities, and building more cottages :mischief:

The point is that when you have a big happiness surplus, you will make more commerce by getting your population up, and then working the cottages, than you will by working the cottages and growing slowly. The whole point of this article is to point out that sometimes you max your commerce by maxing population first.

Would you rather work 1 village for 30 turns, or 3 hamlets? That's what this thread is about.

RemoWilliams
Jun 06, 2006, 11:23 AM
Think about it : every turn you're not working a cottage is a turn where it's not growing. At high difficulty levels, you'll quickly find yourself out-teched and out-gunned by the AI if you go with farms instead of cottages.

Like i said, your way works at low difficulties, but it's extremely sub-optimal at higher levels.

Zombie, I know you are a good player, and the likelyhood is that you are already reaching a good balance with your tiles, and this thread isn't helpful to you.

I'm not suggesting farms instead of cottages. A lot of folks out there think that they should just put a cottage on every tile. Often this means that some of their cottages never even get worked for one turn.

If you're constantly at you happiness cap, or near it, of course you should be working cottages/towns/villages with your available pop.

Naismith
Jun 06, 2006, 11:33 AM
The point is that when you have a big happiness surplus, you will make more commerce by getting your population up, and then working the cottages, than you will by working the cottages and growing slowly. The whole point of this article is to point out that sometimes you max your commerce by maxing population first.

Would you rather work 1 village for 30 turns, or 3 hamlets? That's what this thread is about.

You may not be able to tell, but you have affected my previous ideas on farms vs. cottages somewhat. I'm especially interested in seeing if I can apply it more to conquered cities.

malekithe
Jun 06, 2006, 01:26 PM
Just to sort of distill what's been said recently... Your main point seems to be:

Unused happiness cap isn't doing you any good. Therefore, you should have surplus food in order to work more tiles as quickly as possible.

The only "fuzzy" notion in that statement is: How much surplus food is enough to grow "quickly" and maximize your happiness cap? Answering that question is a very good topic for a strategy guide. Right now, I'm firmly in the "it depends" camp. In most games I play, I don't think the answer involves much farming (on non-bonus tiles). There are many things to consider: The current happiness "gap", available worker turns, and short-term needs to name a few. This simulation showed that, with near unlimited worker turns, no short-term needs, and a 9 point happiness gap, throwing down quite a few farms was the way to go. I'd like to see a methodical approach at other scenarios.

UncleJJ
Jun 13, 2006, 09:20 AM
This is a very interesting thread :) and I agree with others that say it is highly situational. But my intuition tells me that some farms are good early on to boost the growth and productivity of the city. Although I only play on Prince at present that will still hold to some extent at higher levels depending on how you want to play and where the city is with regard to enemies.

I want my newly founded science cities to contribute to the whole economy and they need buildings besides a library and granary to do that. You can chop some buildings and use the residual hammers from your food source and city square but later on you really need to use slavery. Maybe I need them to help in a war or to make an extra worker... and pure cottages won't help much there.

In the end the analysis of farms versus cottages boils down to trading food (and hence productivity) against commerce since early on a farm gives +1 food and a cottage gives +1 commerce that grows to +4 when it's a town. And how much that benefits you depends on the other food sources in the city radius. If you already have an excess of 5 food the need for farms is less than if it's only 2.

Another factor is how many religious buildings you will want to build and how many religions you have access to (or expect in the future). Monasteries give a nice +10% science boost as well as consolidating your cultural output. Temples raise that all-important happiness limit and help towards the cathedral restrictions. A largely cottage based economy will not be able to build these useful buildings as fast as one that makes use of extra food (via slavery) so the actual science output from the city could be lower despite having more commerce. Obviously more farms also mean that Universities and Observatories can be built much faster as well.

It seems to me that pure science city based almost exclusively on cottages will be less useful to the rest of the economy than a slightly lower output one that is able to build other buildings faster and which can respond to emergencies without seriously harming commerce output for a long time. Having said all that :mischief: it really all depends on the surplus food output and not farms versus cottages. :)

RemoWilliams
Jun 13, 2006, 03:31 PM
Very well put, UncleJJ! You basically summed up my feelings on the subject. However:

Having said all that :mischief: it really all depends on the surplus food output and not farms versus cottages. :)

The title of the thread is based around the question: "Is it better to always work cottages, or to sometimes work food instead until a certain level of population?" So, in that sense, it is farms vs cottages. I suppose it should maybe be "Farms and Pastures vs cottages," but the simulation I ran only had farms, thus the title.

I've figured out that Zombie is an extreme micromanagement player, which is probably why he is so anti-farm. He gets a lot more out of slavery than I do, but next game I'm going to try out some of his slavery mm tips.