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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. Wodan

    Wodan Chieftain

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    Border pushing, for its own sake, can be good and bad. General comments about border pushing and Sistine:

    Good
    -- to get a fat cross in a city which is already being pushed by your neighbor, in other words, a defensive push
    -- to try and flip your neighbor's city
    -- to increase cities when you're going for domination (easy to set a merchant or something in a brand new city, which can replace the need to have slavery and whip a theatre)
    -- if you're going for a cultural victory, every little bit helps, especially if you're doing a SE / cultural (you run Caste System and many artists in your 3 cities)
    -- Sistine Chapel itself is a good boost for a cultural victory in one of your big 3 cities
    -- increases tensions with your neighbor, maybe he'll declare war

    Bad
    -- costs production that almost always is better spent on something else
    -- increases tensions with your neighbor, maybe he'll declare war

    Wodan
     
  2. KMadCandy

    KMadCandy giggling permanoob

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    i like sistine chapel for gaining tiles during a war in my newly captured cities. it's super handy, lets you get workable tiles and a buffer zone for safety from his nearby cities that you haven't captured yet. it works even without caste system. no matter what, even under slavery or other civs forcing you into emancipation due to unhappiness, and even with no infrastructure in the city, even with no workable tiles yet, plain old one-hammer citizen specialists are always available, and sistine works on them.

    twice recently i've captured the wonder from Louis. thanks for spending the hammers for me buddy! i'd never thought about it as a defensive war tactic until that first capture, i tend to build it only in culture games, so that i don't trigger domination in other games (i leave all conditions on even when i want only one). getting it free tho, and seeing it in action, man it was wicked cool. made me a believer, altho not to the extent that i've built it myself in a warmonger game.
     
  3. iamnleth

    iamnleth Chieftain

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    I've been wondering about the best place to put the Great Library. I usually place it in my capital (and my capital is usually my science city). Is it a major penalty to place it elsewhere if the desired location has no production? And should I be cottaging the capital?
     
  4. Wodan

    Wodan Chieftain

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    If you plan to run Bureaucracy it's almost always a good idea to cottage the capitol.

    I'm not sure what you mean by your other question.
     
  5. jihe

    jihe Chieftain

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    completely useless. instead of culture push, just take the next city.

     
  6. Bagpuss

    Bagpuss Chieftain

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    This made me laugh because I can see the truth in it, but once you've taken the next city...Well, there's only one logical conclusion to this way of thinking!

    I want to experiment with an SE and I'd like to say thanks to all the knowledgeable people who have contributed to this thread, and especially to Jack of Clubs for the original article.

    I have a point that I'm not entirely clear on though and I'd appreciate some wise words. My question is: Where do you set the food 'slider'? By which I mean, is there a rule of thumb with respect to the balance between how much surplus food is devoted to city growth and how much we plate-up for the cosy, pampered, soft-handed, never-do-a-days-hard-work intellectual types?

    I've pretty much managed to dispel the voice in my head that constantly whispered 'buildings are good!', but that 'growth' voice might need some serious medication to put to sleep.

    Also - and it might be an idea to add this to the article since it's for beginners - what would be the best map-type/size to be using for experimenting and getting comfy with the SE? Someone earlier mentioned Oasis - is this the way to go?

    Thanks.
     
  7. Wodan

    Wodan Chieftain

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    There's another complicating factor, as well: Slavery and whipping. So the question is how to balance between:
    1) city growth
    2) running specialists
    3) whipping

    Comments:
    -- Most people say that you whip like mad when the city is small, and stop once you have the buildings you need (usually granary, library, and maybe theatre). The reasoning is that each "grown" citizen is cheaper (in terms of food required) when the city is smaller. (It takes much less food to grow from size 2 to 3, than from 5 to 6). And, once you whip the couple of cheap buildings you really want, other buildings cost a LOT to whip (University, Forge, etc can cost 4 or more citizens).
    -- Then you let it grow to max size; once at max size, assign 1-2 scientists; then when the city starts to have unhealthy or unhappy citizens, turn off the scientists and whip again (repeat)
    -- I'm one of the few who replaces the above point by often running specialists in any city which has 4 or more surplus food. What does this do? Gives me research all along, and gives earlier research (1 beaker now is worth 2 beakers which you don't get for another 500 years).

    Good for you! :) We won't have to put you on the 7-step recovery program.

    Ehh, I wouldn't worry too much about that. You want fresh water, either lakes or rivers. Anywhere you don't have fresh water = production city. If you have too many production cities, then SE simply isn't a good choice.

    Wodan
     
  8. Martinus

    Martinus Emperor

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    Thanks for answering about SC.

    I have another question, this time about technologies - it seems to me that there is a lot of stress put on tech trading to stay ahead of other players in game. Does it mean that in a game with tech trading disabled SE is inferior, or you just need to adjust your gameplay somehow (e.g. by settling great scientists rather than light-bulbing them for unique techs)?
     
  9. Wodan

    Wodan Chieftain

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    I'm not sure I would say that tech trading allows you to "stay ahead of other players".

    What does trading do? It gives one of your techs to (hopefully) multiple other players, in exchange for a different tech from each of them. They have almost certainly traded amongst themselves, so they have rough parity already. What trading does is brings YOU into rough parity. So, tech trading allows you to keep up. It does NOT allow you to get ahead.

    And that's how trading works in a SE. You lightbulb a tech nobody else has, and then you trade it around to get other techs which you now don't have to bother to research.

    If trading is turned off, then you can't do this. However, neither can the other players. What lightbulbing does here is gets you expensive techs (or the techs that unlock religions or other benefits), which are the hard ones to research and/or the ones you want to research before anybody else gets it. You spend your beakers to research the "easy" ones.

    To this end, SE with tech trading turned off does indeed allow you to get ahead and stay ahead.

    A CE meanwhile is going to have to do everything the hard way. A CE is at its strongest only after Paper (etc.) So, a CE is going to have to research all the techs when it is at its weakest (with slowly-maturing cottages, before Emancipation), which means much less chance to found religions, and it will probably lag behind (at best it will keep parity) some of the other players. (Some AIs focus a lot on early military, and you'll probably keep up with or beat those guys... it's the Mansas and Huyanas that are going to beat you in the tech race.)

    This means that with TT turned off, a CE is going to be struggling to keep up with the other players, while a SE is going to be easily able to stay ahead. And, the Shrines (etc) will give the SE a financial boost all game, while the early Universities will give the SE an earlier research bonus (if a SE gets Universities in 100AD while the CE gets them in 900AD, then the SE has an extra 800 years of +25% research).

    I've been playing with TT turned off quite a bit lately. One thing I often do is a SE -> CE switch midgame, if I feel like going for a Space or other victory. Domination/Conquest it's often better to stay SE.

    A SE -> CE switch is pretty easy to pull off, and gives you the best of both worlds, to a large extent. We can talk about how it's done (how I do it, anyway) if you're interested.

    Wodan
     
  10. Martinus

    Martinus Emperor

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    Thanks, very good points and I'd like to hear about the switch.

    On an unrelated topic, I believe I saw a thread recently about Cultural Victory achieved with SE (as opposed to the standard CE method of "rush to liberalism/democracy/rifling and switch to 100% culture). Do you guys happen to remember whose thread it was?
     
  11. Wodan

    Wodan Chieftain

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    I don't remember the thread, but you can use the thread search tools up top.

    SE cultural is much easier (and faster) than CE cultural, IMO. "lightbulb code of laws, assign 6+ artists in each of 3 food heavy cities; switch to 100% culture; crank maces out of most other cities; settle Great Artists as they appear"

    Anyway, here's how I do a switch. Basically, the power of SE is producing GP in parallel in multiple cities, before you have an effective GP farm (which eliminates the possibility of parallel output). What you're likely to have is 2-3 cities with a wonder and 0-3 scientists each, and a 0-3 more cities with 2-3 scientists each, plus a few other cities (no food for scientists). This results in 6-9 GPP each city. If you have one city that you built a handful of wonders, you screwed up. The point is to spread things out.

    As each city generates a GP, turn off the specialists and send in the workers to start cottaging (you can send the workers in a few turns in advance if you are paying attention). That city is not going to produce another GP for the rest of the game. It's that simple.

    Kind of elegant how the timing works, though. The cities turn out a GP at staggered times, because they were built and made a Library at different times, and it takes additional GPP each time. So, your workers just gravitate from city to city making cottages. You have time inbetween to keep up with other improvements you need to make. I often run Serfdom during this period.

    Also, very shortly after (and during) this time, you are able to get Emancipation. Remember: most of your GP are used to lightbulb Philosophy, Education, etc. Often you can use Liberalism to get Nationalism for free, which helps a lot. (If you're cocky you can use Liberalism to lightbulb Democracy.) Emancipation then speeds up your cottages maturing.

    Wodan
     
  12. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    Sorry for dropping out of this discussion for so long everyone. I have revised the guide to include some of Wodan's criticisms and also to acknowledge more explicitely the controversy between settling scientists and using them to lightbulb. I stand by my recommendations here since it provides a framework for using the SE throughout the game, but it would be irresponsible not to mention the other side of the story. Especially since futurehermit did most of the original analysis on which I based this guide and has now changed his mind.

    Also, it is worth noting that the guys who disagree with me are much better players. But for that very reason, I think a beginner's guide might need to take a different tack, even if it is not the best strategy at higher levels.

    @Wodan: Thanks for all your detailed analysis. I took some of your advice but I feel the need to explain why I left out the big section on tech preferences. Most of what you say is true, but I think it is too detailed for this guide. I would much rather have people read your comments in this thread than try to complicate the basic guide with so many qualifications. As noted before, I assume that the reader is not a novice player of Civ IV but might in fact have quite a bit of experience. So the considerations that you mention, while valid, are things that hopefully will occur to them as they play through their games. If not, they will still have your post to bring them to their senses. ;)
     
  13. Hold The Onion

    Hold The Onion Chieftain

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    This might be the best line ever.
     
  14. ccccc

    ccccc Chieftain

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    I just wanted to say this thread is awesome. I played my first-ever SE game today (well, the beginning of it anyway), and no way would I have found the courage to try it without this. I always played the "newbie" Financial trait before, but right now I'm enjoying me some Philosophical/Creative action.

    Anyway, the main things I had trouble with were this:
    • How do I know if I'm over-expanding? With a CE, it's clear -- my research slider is dropping, therefore I am in trouble. But with my newfangled SE, I find it hard to tell -- obviously if my gold is in the negative, I have to change something, but ... is there perhaps a target for "percentage of GNP devoted to city maintenance"? Or do you just go crazy with expansion, doubting that you will ever expand too fast?
    • Do I start converting my cities to cottages or something someday? Or is it reasonable to stick in this specialist-mode forever, stuck with renaissaince civics? At this point, I'm going to find it difficult to force myself to switch all those civics and specialists. I like them.
    Thanks so much for the guide though! :goodjob: I sort of feel like I am cheating, having all these cities, leaving everyone in the dust tech-wise and having Statue of Liberty / Caste System / Mercantilism / Representation with "free" scientists all over the place. :lol:

    Silly Frenchies with their special building though, I keep popping great artists. :p

    Spoiler a couple images of my first SE [noble level] -- thanks! :

     
  15. Wodan

    Wodan Chieftain

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    :cringe: Not criticisms... reasoned alternative viewpoints.

    :lol: No problem. Glad to be of service. :)

    First off, one big difference between running a SE versus a CE is that you can pretty much ignore what the research slider is at. Since the majority of your research is independent of the slider, the slider % is in fact probably giving you disinformation.

    The way to tell is to look at how many beakers you are teching each turn and/or how many turns it takes to get a tech. As long as the beakers are pouring in and you are researching fairly quickly, that's what matters.

    As far as how far can you go with expansion, generally you can expand until your slider is at 0/0/100, with all commerce going to gold for maintenance. (Though, generally I stop at 10/0/90 to give myself some room for slightly sloppy gameplay, which allows me to have fun rather than be an anal git and micromanage every last detail.)

    As with a CE, you should prioritize Code of Laws and Currency. This will cut down on your maintenance and allow you to expand more.

    Heh heh. Good for you and welcome to the club. SE is quite fun.

    As stated above, it's quite possible to do a SE->CE switch. Frankly I think that is the strongest gameplay over any other kind. But that's just my opinion.

    You can stay SE all game if you like, and you'll do quite well. The CE players will start to catch up unless you keep them trimmed down to size by carefully chosen wars. Pillaging raids are your friend.

    And, regardless, if you plan to win the game by domination or conquest, then SE is a much better choice than CE, no matter how you look at it. Definitely don't switch over.

    Wodan
     
  16. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Chieftain

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    SE is not a beginner strategy.
     
  17. wmtrexler

    wmtrexler ICBM Diplomacy

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    I do not think anyone has said that it is.

    However it appears to me that Jack is trying to write a guide for those beginning to explore the Specialist Economy.

    @JackOfClubs
    Thank you for this guide. I have learned much from it.
     
  18. JackOfClubs

    JackOfClubs Chieftain

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    @ccccc & wmtrexler: Glad you both found it helpful. Actually, I learned a lot as well. As I mentioned in the first post, this all started because I was trying to teach myself how to play this way.

    @DaveMcW: As noted, this isn't a guide for inexperienced Civ IV players, but for people who are new to SE. But I have kind of a funny story about this. When I first started playing, I didn't realize the benefits of creating cottages since they didn't exist in Civ III and I didn't realize that they improved over time: the measly little 1 gold seemed a waste of time. So I played my early games the way I had played Civ III, mining hills and farming grasslands and generally avoiding plains and deserts. For research, I used specialists since they did exist in Civ III. So I sort of defaulted into a Specialist Economy (though you have to be somewhat loose calling what I did an "economy") simply because I was a beginner and didn't know any better! :cool:
     
  19. popejubal

    popejubal Chieftain

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    Here's some math that I use as an analogy to understand the idea myself.

    Everyone starts with 100 "points" of research
    I lightbulb a tech worth 20 points.
    A few AI civs get 20 points worth of techs.

    I now give my 20 points to each of 5 AI civs.

    They now each have 140 (100 + 20 that they researched + 20 that I gave them).

    I now have 220 points of tech (100 + 20 that I lightbulbed + 5*20 that they traded me).

    I fail to see how I am just keeping up and not getting ahead. Your analysis is generally good, so this might just be a failure of understanding and imagination on my part. Any suggestions on where my understanding is failing here?
     
  20. Wodan

    Wodan Chieftain

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    Sure.

    Each of the 5 AI civs give their 20 points to each other.

    They now each have 220 (100 + 20 they researched + 20 you gave them + 20 x 4 they got from each other)

    Wodan
     

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