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A Beginner's Guide to the Specialist Economy (SE)

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by JackOfClubs, Dec 21, 2006.

  1. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    In just about every thread in which the topic is discussed, someone asks for a strategy guide to creating a Specialist Economy. Wodan gives some general principles here but it is still not a step-by-step guide. I do not consider myself an expert, but in attempting to teach myself to master this important style of play, I took several notes from the various threads on the subject and combined them with my own experience. Adding a bit of polish to make them fit for public consumption, I submit them for comments by the true experts.

    Please note that this thread is an attempt to tell the beginner HOW to run a Specialist Economy and therefore assumes that you actually want to try the SE for whatever reason. Maybe you think it is a good strategy, maybe you are bored with your current games and wish to try something new, maybe you think the SE sucks and are just a masochist. I don't care. Just keep the comments helpful and save the advocacy for another thread.

    The actual guide will be in the second post. Here are some other links that I found helpful in filling in the gaps and getting my thinking in order on the topic:

    iamdanthemansta

    futurehermit (This is where I got the basic outline for this guide as well as Average Tech Cost and Optimal Number of Science Cities data. He makes an error in his calculations that he notes at the bottom of the first post, which I have corrected in this guide.)

    acidsatyr

    UncleJJ

    There are lots more, but I can't remember all of them. A search for threads with "Spcialist Economy" in the title is a good place to start for more info.

    Edit: I should mention that I don't play the Warlords expansion so I have limited information on that. Anyone that can make suggestions on that score or on anything else I've left out, please feel free.
     
  2. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    Definition of Specialist Economy:

    A civilization in which the majority of research is funded by Scientist specialists supported by 1-2 farms or other high food resources. Since this approach tends to generate Great Scientists more quickly than other economies, another source of research is the lightbulb option.

    Benefits

    1. Optimized regrowth of population from slavery/drafting. (Note: this sacrifices research until regrowth is complete.)
    2. Less danger from pillaging since farms are much easier to rebuild than cottages which have matured to towns.
    3. Independence from the :science: Slider increases flexibility to divert commerce directly to gold for upgrades or to Culture/Happiness if the :culture: slider is used.
    4. More effective at higher difficulty levels (Emperor and above).

    Limitations

    1. May require more micromanaging compared to Cottage Economy (CE).
    2. Specialists require supporting food resources or farms. In cases where food resources or fresh water for farms are unavailable this may be a limitation on early city placement. After Civil Service this becomes less of a consideration.
    3. Specialists can only be assigned if certain buildings exist (e.g. Library enables two Scientists).
    4. Caste System eliminates the restrictions for item 3, but conflicts with Slavery as well as other labor civics. This may later become critical if Emancipation is adopted by another civ, since the unhappiness generated by failing to adopt Emancipation can be a serious drain on productivity.

    General Tips and Advice

    1. Prioritize food resources and farms in new cities.
    2. New cities only need Granary, Library and possibly Courthouse. Any other buildings are secondary. (This doesn't apply to Production cities which will be the same as for CE).
    3. You may drop the :science: Slider to 0 when Alphabet has been researched and trade for any techs you do not yet know. This is to maximize cash for other purposes -- usually military upgrades or high maintenance costs due to conquests. However, it may be wise to keep the :science: slider up at the maximum that is still generating a positive income for certain critical techs such as Literature and the Paper-Education-Library sequence (if there is no GS available for lightbulbing these).
    4. Alternatively, if dropping the :science: Slider from 100% to 0% results in only a factor of 2 or 3 increase in the number of turns for your current tech, then it is about time to drop it. If it is much more than 3, you probably need to focus on getting more scientists up.
    5. Philosophy, Paper and Education are prerequisites for Liberalism and can be lightbulbed by a Great Scientist. Consider saving a GS or three for these techs.

    Pre-Game Considerations:

    Leader Characteristics: Philosophical is generally considered to be very important (for the double Great Person Points (GPP) and also for the cheaper University). Industrious is a good second choice at lower difficulty levels, but note that you can’t be both. For a second trait, Spiritual is good for rapid civic shifts, Expansive is good for the health bonus, Creative for cheaper libraries (Warlords expansion), and Aggressive because of the general synergy between SE and warfare (See Benefits section above).

    City Order: This guide assumes that the capital city will be used primarily for wealth production to take advantage of the Bureaucracy civic. No other city should generate wealth in a Specialist Economy, unless there is no way to farm it (which will be rare, especially post-Biology). I generally find it useful to make the second city a Production Facility and will not found the Super Science City (which also winds up being a GP Farm) until at least the 3rd city. At higher levels of difficulty, however, it may not be beneficial to build the Academy or settle scientists. This is due to the much faster tech rate of the AI and the need to use every scientist to lightbulb a tech. So the Super Science City may not be the way to go at these levels, but that discussion is more appropriate for Intermediate and Advanced guides.

    You will probably want at least one other high-production city by mid-game and others as necessary. Also don't get into the mindset that all cities need to be research oriented. The SE is a method of acquiring research in those cities dedicated to the task, but Civ IV is a game of balance and tradeoffs. This isn’t limited to the SE, but the lesson to bear in mind is not to sacrifice military preparedness for research.

    The following Age-by-Age guidelines are offered as a preliminary base for experimentation. Obviously any of the recommendations made can be rebutted, but I prefer to err on the side of structure vs. flexibility, since too many options can be confusing to a novice. Once people have tried the recommended format, they will be in a position to decide for themselves what works for their style of game play.

    I have used the following principles in determining how many Great Scientists should be settled versus used to lightbulb technologies (based on futurehermit's analysis in this thread): There are no settled GS listed in the Classical era because you are still setting up Libraries and the GP farm. The first spare GS is used for the Academy and each era gets another settled scientist. The exception is the Industrial Age, in which Scientific Method eliminates the two free scientists from the Great Library, so an additional parked scientist is added in that era. The objective is to sustain a rate of science with an average of 5 turns per tech. This requires either the addition of settled scientists or an increased number of cities with 2 or more specialists each.

    Note that some people object to settling any scientist or building an Academy, preferring to use Great Scientists solely for lightbulbing techs. The rationale is that, although the former use produces more total research over time, lightbulbing produces the techs earlier which can be more important. I consider this to be more of an intermediate or advanced topic, but I note it here so that the beginner will be aware of the issue. Advocates for the lightbulb theory admit that the SE tends to falter after the late Renaissance or early Industrial eras (about the time Democracy and Scientific Method start eroding some of the SE-friendly benefits). My intention in this guide is to provide a long-term strategy for SE that is sustainable throughout even a long game. But I must also note that these advocates are also much more experienced than I so at least be aware of the controversy. Also, at higher difficulties the lightbulb method may be the only way to stay competitive, but -- again -- that is an intermediate or advance consideration.

    Classical Age

    Research Priorities: Masonry, Writing, Alphabet, Literature, (Polytheism, Meditation?)

    Build Priorities: Libraries, (Monasteries?)

    Optimal Number of Science Cities: 3 (including SSC)

    Scientists per city: 2

    Super Science City has: Great Library

    Wonder Priorities: Great Library, (Pyramid, Parthenon?)

    Civic Priorities: Representation

    Notes: Pyramids is somewhat optional and many feel that the time spent on building this wonder can be better used to expand your empire. Likewise with the Parthenon. I recommend building these, but you may need to reconsider if stone or marble is not near the capital. The Great Library, however, is very important and is usually achievable but is much more valuable if you have access to Representation (from the Pyramids). I put a question mark by monasteries since they may not be possible to build if you didn’t found a religion. This period should be characterized by expansion more than research.

    Medieval Age

    Research Priorities: Meditation, Code of Laws, Civil Service

    Build Priorities: Libraries, Monasteries

    Optimal Number of Science Cities: 6 (including SSC)

    Scientists per city: 2+ (Library allows 2, Caste System allows indefinite)

    Super Science City has: Great Library, Academy, 1 Settled GS

    Wonder Priorities: Academy

    Civic Priorities: Representation, Caste System, Bureaucracy

    Notes: There is some debate as to whether Caste System is more beneficial than Slavery. I include the former since Slavery is not specific to the Specialist Economy but use your own judgment here. Make sure that you have at least 6 libraries by the end of this period. This figure includes extra cities to prepare for building Oxford in Renaissance which requires 6 universities (which, in turn, cannot be built in a city without a library).

    Renaissance Age

    Research Priorities: Education, Liberalism, Astronomy, Banking

    Build Priorities: University, Observatory

    Optimal Number of Science Cities: 4 (including SSC)

    Scientists per city: 3+

    Super Science City has: Great Library, Academy, 2 Settled GS, Oxford

    Wonder Priorities: Oxford

    Civic Priorities: Representation, Caste System, Bureaucracy, Mercantilism

    Notes: Mercantilism is also controversial and is included here for similar reasons to Caste System noted above. The usual caveats apply. You need 6 Universities to build Oxford which will use the “extra” cities built in the Medieval period. Also, if you don’t have a reliable source of copper for the Statue of Liberty in the next era, this would be a good time to start thinking about capturing one.

    Industrial Age

    Research Priorities: Democracy, Physics, Biology

    Build Priorities: ?

    Optimal Number of Science Cities: 6 (including SSC)

    Scientists per city: 5+

    Super Science City has: Great Library???, Academy, 4 Settled GS, Oxford

    Wonder Priorities: Statue of Liberty

    Civic Priorities: Representation, Caste System, Bureaucracy, Mercantilism

    Notes: Statue of Liberty is huge (unless you are on an Archipelago map) so make sure you get it. This is doubly important since you lose the Great Library about this time due to Scientific Method.

    Modern Age

    Research Priorities: Computers, (Fiber Optics?)

    Build Priorities: Laboratory

    Optimal Number of Science Cities: 8 (including SSC)

    Scientists per city: 6+

    Super Science City has: Academy, 5 Settled GS, Oxford

    Wonder Priorities: (Internet?)

    Civic Priorities: Representation, Caste System, Bureaucracy, Mercantilism

    Notes: This era is a bit less well researched since many SE games have been won by this point. I will update this if anyone has any further suggestions.

    Sample Games:

    Frederick ALC - Prince

    LotR18 No Cottage Challenge - Prince

    Louis XIV - Monarch

    Isabella No Cottages - Emperor

    Saladin No cottages - Immortal

    Acknowledgements:
    The following threads/posts were invaluable in forming my early versions of this guide. The discussion thread for this guide can be found here.

    acidsatyr

    futurehermit

    iamdanthemansta

    UncleJJ

    Wodan
     
  3. Sisiutil

    Sisiutil All Leader Challenger

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    Excellent work! It's about time somebody put together a good, basic SE guide like this. I haven't played with the SE in my off-line games for awhile; you've inspired me to give it another go. :goodjob:

    I like how you maintain that the Pyramids are optional, especially since patched Warlords makes them a very expensive wonder indeed. Running representation early, however, really lights a fire under the SE.

    The one thing you didn't mention is how the SE--at least in my understanding of it--relies upon almost constant warfare. The fact that you have very few cottages vulnerable to pillaging lends itself to warfare (especially since pillaging cottages is the AI's favourite wartime tactic). In addition, pillaging and city-capturing are the principal ways you yourself are going to generate gold for much of the game. The SE definitely, in my experience, lends itself to warmongering as opposed to peaceful building.

    As for reference links (thanks for those too!) I will indulge in a little shameless self-promotion and suggest the Frederick ALC game for an applied example of the Specialist Economy (link in my sig). It was my first attempt and I didn't do it perfectly, but the discussions surrounding the game by the SE experts were, I think, very enlightening.
     
  4. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    Thanks for the positive feedback. I was kind of shocked to discover that this didn't already exist with all the discussion about SE vs CE on the board.

    I began hoping that early Representation was not crucial to the strat when my attempts to get Pyramids left my civ woefully under developed. :rolleyes: I was glad to see that several people had demonstrated that SE could be effective without going that route.

    So you think maybe a Benefits/Limitations section in the introduction? That would be possible, but I'm kind of leary since it would inevitably be a step toward controversy and there is enough of that as it is. But your point about the higher cost of regrowing pillaged cottages/hamlets/villages/towns versus farms should probably be mentioned. I'll have to think about it.
     
  5. Sisiutil

    Sisiutil All Leader Challenger

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    Have a look at the ALC Frederick thread, especially Eggman's posts. As I recall, he was the one maintaining that I needed to get out and smack down the neighbours almost constantly, and provided pretty sound reasoning for it.
     
  6. futurehermit

    futurehermit Chieftain

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    Hey guys,

    I've learned a lot about the SE since I did that research awhile back, mostly from acidsatyr.

    I now agree that "wasting" GSs on academies, settling, etc. is not the way to go. Instead, much better to be lightbulbing and trading for maximum amounts of beakers.

    It is especially important to lightbulb paper and education on the way to liberalism.

    Check out acidsatyr's current deity game with better ai mod :wow: with egypt going SE. They got liberalism in 500AD!!!

    My current thinking on the SE:

    1) Beelining to CoL is very important for 4 reasons: a) opens up philosophy slingshot (1st GS); b) opens up castesystem; c) opens up CS (after trading for math); d) courthouses to stop the bleeding on all your newly conquered cities (did I mention SE goes hand in hand with being a warmongerer? :D )

    2) Avoid pyramids unless easy access to stone. Instead focus on early expansion. Early expansion > early representation I now am convinced after many games played, especially on emperor+. Great wall is still an option if you want an early GE (good idea in some cases imo, plus it allows you to ignore barbs, which can be good).

    3) Great library still very important, especially if you have marble.

    4) Once you start getting into education-liberalism territory, it is important to start thinking about protecting your tech lead, especially if you have designs on wiping out your continent and going for domination.

    Ok, now my thoughts on actually running a SE:

    1) Farm pretty much everywhere, although you can still cottage you capital for bureaucracy (I will still run some specialists, even if farms are necessary). Instead of "commerce" cities, you now have multiple gpfarms. You can still have some designated production cities. GSs are usually what you want to be farming, although there are times when the other GP (esp merchants) are better.

    2) If you are going spacerace, you want to try and get oxford up as soon as possible in your GL/super science city. Go for liberalism beeline and start building universities in your gpfarms once you hit education. If you are going domination, you want to try and get/maintain a tech lead and continually use a technologically superior army to wipe out your rivals. Imo SE is better suited to domination, although it is still definitely possible to win spacerace. If you're going spacerace, running mercantilism and getting the SoL are both quite important (also good if your domination victory will take awhile).

    3) Philosophical (for more gp) and Spiritual (to switch between civics such as caste system and slavery often) are some of the better traits for SE although others are ok as well. Try and look for other things to complement your SE: Take a look at the Roman UB for example...
     
  7. OneBinary

    OneBinary Chieftain

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    SE Beginner POV: I need more information on the slider. When do you lower it? I understand you gradually lower it over time, but are there any indicators to go off of? Any tips on this?
     
  8. futurehermit

    futurehermit Chieftain

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    I will beeline for alphabet (going for it as soon as i don't immediately need any other techs to get my empire up and running). once alphabet comes in i'll generally lower the slider. why? because that is also the time i start cranking military like there's no tomorrow and conquering cities = increased maintenance. in short, i can no longer afford to keep the slider up :D
     
  9. OneBinary

    OneBinary Chieftain

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    Do you generally lower the slider as needed to just keep a positive cash flow, or do you purposefully lower the slider to run a high positive cash flow?
     
  10. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    There are differences of opinion on the slider. I think futurehermit's idea is to drop it to 0 as soon as you get Alphabet. Once you get that, you can trade techs to fill in the blanks and also, as he notes, you can start upgrading your units and paying maintenance on new cities.

    Another idea is to drop it as soon as you get your scientist specialists up. This tends to be about the same time as Alphabet, since the scientists require libraries.

    One metric I use (and I forget who originally suggested it) is if dropping the slider from 100% to 0% results in a factor of 2 or 3 increase in the number of turns for your current tech, then it is about time to drop it. If it is much more than 3, you probably need to focus on getting more scientists up. I will put something like that into the revision. Any expert opinion on this?
     
  11. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    I've been following some of you discussions and come to the conclusion that you and acidsatyr are on what I would consider an advanced level of discourse. I will put some of those qualifications in but I am trying not to overwhelm the beginner. It is bettter, when starting out, to have a few easily remembered rules or steps that you can learn, with experience when to break or skip.

    Doesn't this depend on how expensive the tech that they will currently lightbulb is? Or do you mean just save all GS until you can get a good tech? I would think that an early academy would produce more :science: over the course of the game than a cheap lightbulbed tech.

    I like your original format of adding one or two settled scientists to the SSC because it is easy to implement and is less counterintuitive than letting a GS sit around until there is something for him to do. But if you can point me to an argument that crunches numbers and overwhelmingly supports the idea of never creating an academy/settling a scientist, I will add a note to that effect. Otherwise, I would consider this to be an intermediate/advanced topic that belongs in a different guide.

    Oh, and thanks for the feedback. As I noted above, your original research was instrumental in helping me organize my thoughts on the SE. Even if you feel it has been superseded, it is still a very useful starting point.
     
  12. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    One more question to the general readership:

    I have discovered that in later cities (ie late medieval ore early renaissance) it is sometimes a valid tactic to pop a theater rather than a library and use the Artist to generate both :culture: and :science:. This is useful because
    1. the theater is cheaper,
    2. it produces happines, and
    3. you often need :culture: to push your borders or counteract the residual culture in a captured enemy city.

    If you are running Representation this means 4 :science: vs 6 :science: from a scientist, which is not too bad for developing city.

    Should I mention this in the guide or is it an intermediate topic? I feel it is the latter, but beginners might benefit from seeing the alternatives. Any thoughts?
     
  13. acidsatyr

    acidsatyr be water my friend...

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    ok i know you'r just trying to present basics here, i'll just comment on academys and settling GSs. On lower levels you might do this. The higher you go, however, you will see that those are poor choices and lightbulbing gives you better immidiate adventage. The only way I would consider building academy is if I'm philosophical, bringing in GSs like theres no tommorow, and currently have GS which won't do anything for a while and my capital has 3 gold mines. You get the picture. Otherwise pop the techs.

    Edit:

    There is a series of SG, "no cottage games", ranging from monarch to immortal lvl, i think you should include in your list.
     
  14. futurehermit

    futurehermit Chieftain

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    Ok, simple rules:

    1) Build farms not cottages.

    2) Assign specialists as you are able to in most cities (some can be pure production). Use caste system to increase your limit when you are able to.

    3) Usually you want to be running scientists since they give you the most beakers and pop the techs you want.

    4) If your GS can't immediately pop a good tech then save him for a bit until he can.

    5) GSs can pop paper and education which are on the way to liberalism, so prioritize the liberalism research path (start on CS as soon as you get CoL and trade for math).

    6) Use your first GS on philosophy. To get this you will need to trade for meditation and math and research CoL.

    7) Don't rely on your science slider for research once you get alphabet. Beeline to alphabet as soon as you don't immediately need any techs to build your early empire. By immediately I mean you don't NEED them before alphabet would come in, at which point you can trade for them. Try and get alphabet consistently before 1000BC.

    8) In newly conquered cities you want courthouse, library, farms, specialists. Then it's set up and good to go :D

    9) Good leader traits for SE: Philosophical, spiritual, creative (cheaper libraries), aggressive (SE works good with warmongering), on lower levels industrious (good for GL, pyramids, SoL, maybe parthenon, etc.).

    10) SE becomes more effective as you rise higher in skill level. One reason is that when you lightbulb a tech the AI will have something good to trade because they research quicker.
     
  15. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    OK, I have edited the guide. I have tried to include as much of the above advice as possible, though some of it was already there and other bits are a little too specific or advanced for a beginners guide.

    I added sections for Benefits and Limitations. Please feel free to suggest anything here I might have missed, but let's try not to turn this into an argument. :mischief:

    I also added a section for Tips and Advice.

    I dropped the Average Tech Cost line since I thought it made that section a bit too crowded and I moved Research and Build priorities to the top of each era since those seem to be more important.

    I added a couple of lines to the City Order section to address acidsatyr's concerns about settling scientists and building the academy. I don't think those are too important at the lower levels of difficulty that most beginners will be playing on, but it is worth mentioning so that bad habits aren't formed at the easy levels. ;)

    I haven't gotten around to looking into the various other threads people have suggested. I will try to do that Tuesday 12/26 when I get back from the Christmas holidays. If anyone has any other suggestions, please post a link and I will look into it.

    Thanks again to everyone for all their feedback.
     
  16. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Chieftain

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    In general - growth first. All happy citizens work tiles until your desired level of food as been accumulated; then hire specialists off the farm to maintain that desired food level.

    Plan ahead - you should be able to get a good sense for when the GP will appear, and schedule your research to match. In the ideal case, you want to be able to use the tech as soon as you get it.

    I've got to believe that a granary belongs in that list (probably before the library).
     
  17. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Chieftain

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    Where did the numbers of settled great scientists come from? They appear to be completely arbitrary.

    Also, the following two ideas appear to contradict each other:
    I would expect that, if the Great Library is very important, then the slider should be kept as high as possible until Literature (the next researched tech after Alphabet?) comes in. Unless the plan is to rush the Great Library with a Great General?


    Questions I would like to see addressed:
    1) What is a "typical" pace for the spawning of GP? Something to give a player a sense of whether he is ahead of or behind the curve.

    2) Allocations of National Wonders. Presumably we want Great Library, National Epic, and Oxford to go together, if possible (subitem: under what sorts of conditions should that pairing be abandoned?), and not in the capital if that city is specialized for commerce? If Wallstreet is part of the plan, where do the banks go?

    3) Do cities that will not generate another GP continue running specialists?
     
  18. acidsatyr

    acidsatyr be water my friend...

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    You always want to keep research slider as high as possible, IF by doing that you don’t compromise happiness. Early in the game, IF you don’t have representation, and in all cases on high levels you wont (unless you rush nearest opponent who built pyramids for you), you still want to keep slider as high as possible, especially since you still don’t have drama, so why keep slider at 0?

    1) A good spawn rate for GP for philosophical civ is about the rate which I had in my Immortal game tutorial if you want to call it that way. You run as many specialist as you can as early as possible. For any other non philosophical civ the rate is slower, but you can calculate it if you follow what I said above. You need library as soon as you can get it. Creative is really good trait now, but philo will still spawn his first scientist faster if done properly. Too bad philo + creative is not in the game anymore.

    2)I rarely, if ever build NE when philosophical. The reason is that with +100 birth from trait itself, and probably the pacifism your going to run, its not worth it to spend production on NE, and I always seem to get GA from it even though the chance is minimal. But GL + NE is good IF you are going to run at least 4 scientists (2 from GL and 2 from library). With only two scientists from GL and NE, you get high chance of GA. So unless your not running multiple scientists it’s not a good idea. I almost always end up with GL + NE + Oxford in my capital and run as many scientists as I can. Wallstreet usually goes in shrine city you conquered. Lots of times, due to its high production cost and not that great of a benefit at that stage of a game, I just don’t bother building it. For FE/SE it’s not important wonder at all.

    3) Yes they do; if your civ is pretty much FE you need to run them.
     
  19. GoodGame

    GoodGame Red, White, & Blue, baby!

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    How about Expansive as well----potentially larger cities = more specialists. Or is health overated to SE?

     
  20. futurehermit

    futurehermit Chieftain

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    Of course growth is first, but farms of course help growth more than cottages and I was just making a general statement about the kinds of general tile improvements you want to be making (i.e., not cottages).

    Yes, of course planning ahead and playing optimally is the best way to go, but this is for *beginners* so I was just saying that if you *happen* to have a GP that doesn't have anything to *immediately* lightbulb, why not keep him around for a few turns while you open up a better lightbulb opportunity?

    A granary does belong on that list, possibly before a library, but again I was just making a general comment that once you have courthouse, library you are good to go (on the tech side of things). Of course you want things like granaries, barracks, etc. as well, but I was trying to keep it simple.

    RE: Keeping slider up. Of course you don't want to hamper your tech rate if you don't have to--i.e., you want to keep it up for as long as possible. Yes, keeping it up to lit is a good idea and I often will do this. I was just making a comment from my play style, which is to crank out a ton of military asap once I hit alphabet and go capture a bunch of cities. More cities = more libraries = more specialists = more research so sometimes I will temporarily lag my research in favour of military. However, I will still try and run a few specialists to keep research going toward literature and I will also raise the slider a bit again once I start getting good money from capturing cities. So, yeah, that's just the way I play, but definitely GL is important so you should get Lit asap one way or another.
     

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