(7-35) Increase Merchant Specialist to 5 Gold

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May 28, 2019
A merchant specialist gives +4:c5gold:, -1:c5food:. Aside from the great person points, this is about on par with working an unimproved bare hill (2:c5production:). Kinda terrible. All of the other specialists give better yields.

Proposal: Increase the gold to 5.
An alternative would be another tech increase, if early-game balance is a concern.
I think it's probably not of great concern.
We've been going into a buff merchant -> buff engineer -> buff merchant cycle.
engineer got a cut last congress, tho (and it may need another one... there's no reason it should have 3 different tech boosts in the span of one era)

Anyway, more importantly this doesn't have anything to do with engineer. The yields on merchant are just bad
Is there anything besides gold that might make it more interesting? Border growth or something
engineer got a cut last congress,
Wasn't that cut just a reversion of the overbuff in the congress before that? In return, the first engineer is made available earlier.

I don't agree the gold is bad either - sometimes you really need to turn that negative GPT Into positive.
We commonly say that 2 gold is roughly worth 1 production, but the merchant falls way short of that threshold
We commonly say that 2 gold is roughly worth 1 production, but the merchant falls way short of that threshold
When we're talking about "gold", do we mean "net gold" or "gross gold"? It's the yield with very diminishing returns...
yeah, part of the issue is that gold can vary in value. If you've got so little gold that your coffers are at zero and you're negative on income, then gold is worth more than science (which is itself worth more than production). On the other end, if you have enough gold that you can make trade deals, additional gold is mostly just for purchases and investments, which puts it at about half a production. And if your gold level is somewhere in between, where you're struggling to meet maintenance but not zeroed out yet, then it's, well, somewhere in between.

In my experience it's almost always on the higher end of this. I have enough to be buying and investing and rarely have issues making trade deals, and this is while giving gold a low priority (ex: not building markets until a CS quest to build them or they're needed as a building prereq). But I do acknowledge that the other scenarios do exist. My statement that it's on par with working a bare hill is true if gold is valued at about 0.7 production. This is higher than the 1g = 0.5p value it has when all your gold is surplus.
The full picture:

Both Engineer and Merchant start at 4 yields.

Engineer is boosted at techs Engineering (late Classical), Metal Casting (late Classical), Machinery (late Medieval), Industrialization (late Industrial, +2), Ballistics (late Modern), and Lasers (mid Information, +3).
Merchant is boosted at techs Currency (late Classical), Economics (late Renaissance), and Internet (mid Information, +3).

Tutelary Gods adds +1 :c5production: :c5faith: to Engineers. Nothing boosts Merchants but not Engineers at the same time.

Merchant was just nerfed in last congress (6-39) removing the boost from Caravansary.

@pineappledan's comment: "If we want Merchants to have higher yields we should either increase the base yield of merchants to 5 :c5gold: or have Currency give them +2 :c5gold:"

This proposal is doing the former, but is a specialist giving base 5 :c5gold: in Ancient on a great building (Market) good to have? If anything we should give more tech boosts to Merchants.
I'd start with +2 at Currency, +1 at Guilds, +2 at Economics, and +2/+3 at Corporations.
The underlying issue here is that on average gold is not valuable enough. Increasing the amount of gold available in the game don‘t solve that issue, it exacerbates it. And please let's not have even more late-game yield inflation.
Value is relative. There's no issue if yield A is only 10% as valuable as yield B, as long as you get 10x yield A compared to yield B.

I'm not against buffing Merchants, but it shouldn't be done to the base value.
Azum’s assessment is right on the mark.

The base value is fine. The tech bonuses are weak.
both are weak imo
4 gold is worse than the 3 science specialist. hell, 5 gold is still worse than the 3 science. And then there are very few tech boosts in addition to the base value being too weak.
Now, you can argue that the merchant specialist being 1 tech earlier means it should be weaker. And you can also argue that the great merchant is stronger than the great scientist or great engineer and thus the specialist should be weaker. I can see those arguments. (I don't agree tho)
Now, you can argue that the merchant specialist being 1 tech earlier means it should be weaker
Which is why it's better being buffed at late Classical (to +6).
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