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About courhouses - are they worth it ?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Babibo, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. Babibo

    Babibo Immortal

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    I almost never build courthouses, at least not until the late game, and when I don't plan on a State Property game (in which case maintenance costs are low), or when I'm organized (for cheap courthouses), or in rare cases, such as extremely far cities (which almost never happens in my games). Why ? Simply because it's not worth the cost. There always seems to be something more important to build.

    However, they seem to be quite popular. According to what I hear, it would be a good building to recover a crashed economy, but I disagree. It's an expensive building, and its effect is very limited. It's usually better to increase your profits than to reduce your losses (I would never write such a sentence out of this context :)). This thread is intended at Monarch / Emperor players who want to step up a level (who doesn't ? ;)).

    I'll make a comparison between buildings and show that the courthouse is less productive than other buildings of the time. For simplicity, I'll ignore the +2 :espionage:, although I suppose it can be marginally useful (personnally, I don't use espionnage until the late game, with the exception of the Great Wall/ Great Spy strategy). We will only look at the effect it has on the maintenance cost (i.e -50%).

    Courthouse : 120 :hammers:
    saves 2 or 3 :gold: in small cities, and up to 4 or 5 when the city is far from the capital, big (size 10 or more), and your empire is large (more than 10 cities). I'm being optimistic on these values. Usually, you won't save more than 3:gold: until very late.

    Library : 90 :hammers: +25% :science:
    Well, libraries enable scientist specialists. That should be enough to justify the 90 :hammers: spent. However, even my worst cities can produce at least 8 :science:, even with the science slider at 0% . So, for 90 :hammers:, I'll get at least 2 :science:, and the bonus will get better with the time, while the courthouse bonus doesn't really improve... + the possibility of assigning specialists, which is huge.

    Now, let's compare with a building I rarely build :

    The harbor : 80 :hammers: +50% to trade route income
    This +50% is tricky. In fact, it's 50% added to a bunch of other bonuses (around 200% or more), which make it look like a +20%. Add to this that a trade route base income can't be less than 1, and you'll realize that this building won't earn you any gold in most cases... However, if you build it in big cities (trade income depends on the size of the cities), then it can earn you something like +2 :commerce:. Don't forget :commerce: is not like :gold:. Your :commerce: income is multiplied by any bonus you have with libraries, markets, etc...
    The conclusion is that this cheap building can yield something like 3 or 4 :science: / :gold: + a nice :health: bonus...

    The conclusion
    Ok, ok... I won't talk about every building in the game. I'm just trying to start a discussion. Most people have probably gotten bored at this point, and don't see my point :
    "well, after all, it looks like all these buildings are worth the same, no ?"

    My answer is : do the math during the game. When you are about to build a new building, take a quick look at the costs and weigh your alternatives carefully. By doing so, you'll understand the mechanics of the game better, and make better strategic choices, and, like me, you'll probably end up building no courthouses.

    Your thoughts ?

    As a conclusion, let's make it look like a paper on computer science :

    Babibo has been a strong Emperor player for many years. Thanks to his research on the relative effectiveness of buildings [32], he has recently passed the Immortal degree.
     
  2. Jet

    Jet No, no, please. Please.

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    My thoughts are yeah, of course do the math. Unless it's more fun for you not to.

    The savings are a little more than you see, since costs are multiplied by inflation. Plus, with 8 you can build the Forbidden Palace.

    And of course not everyone will want to ignore the 2 espionage and not run spies.
     
  3. hellwitch

    hellwitch Chieftain

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    :eek: no courthouses. I build lots of them because i expand(warring mostly) very fast and my economy will crush without them. I'ts hard to support 10-12 cities+ big army around 0 AD you know. This situation is common if you are after domination. In BtS they are vital because of corporations maintenance. City with 2-3 corporations on other continent can have - 60-70 gold maintanance in later stages. So the -50% is hudge. Lots of players even beline Col or use Oracle for it.
    And when you have a nice big city just captured with lots of red faces the courthouse is good way to use 5 angry citizens :)

    Also their effect grows with city pops. Personaly i build them in cities wth 6 maintanance or more.
    For the hammer cost. You compair them with earlier buildings. You must compair the with markets, grocers...
     
  4. xxamonxx

    xxamonxx Chieftain

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    Don't forget that courthouses contribute to EP
     
  5. Genv [FP]

    Genv [FP] Website Moron

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    If you don't build courthouses, you're going to be losing a lot of money, and EP points.
     
  6. Honkoid

    Honkoid Honk of the hill

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    Courthouses also indirectly cut inflation costs. They are negligible in the early game, but shouldn't be forgotten. Just cutting out :espionage: is a bit cheap ;). You won't even be able to see the graphs for the other civs, if you completely ignore courthouses.

    Your calculation seems somewhat flawed to me. If you have at least 8:science:, even in your worst city, you probably have a high science slider, let's say at least 50%. The library maybe the better investment then. But if you rex hard you might find yourself far below that and I doubt your worst cities will even give you 4:science:. In such situation, even two courthouses might allow you to increase your science slider and double your research (which still won't be a good rate, but hey). In your production cities a court might be the single best economic improvement for a long time, since they won't have any serious commerce to multiply and in those cities a courthouse is built fast.
    The real alternative to a courthouse is the market imo. You run low on the slider -> most of your commerce goes to gold -> markets are far stronger than libraries. And as bonus you get more :)
    Now in many cases the courthouse is available earlier to rescue your economy and it is a bit cheaper than a market, so I don't think they're a waste.
    The economic value of a harbor is only interesting, if you already have some :science:/:gold: multipliers in your city.

    If you don't expand that fast and give your cottages time to grow/have enough specialists at hand, yes, they may not be a high priority, but to me they're valuable. It seems they just don't fit your playing style. Try to expand faster next time ;)
     
  7. kazapp

    kazapp Chieftain

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    Babibo, how large empires you you build?

    A Courthouse might not be the most efficient building, but that only means you should build it after the more efficient ones, not that you shouldn't buy it at all.

    In the end analysis, saving 3 gold is saving 3 gold.

    Whether that costs you 12 or 120 hammers is only relevant if you have a choice: if there's a building that gives you that kind of saving for 12 hammers, obviously that gets first choice. And you're probably right that a library provides more than enough science for you to be able to lower your science rate to compensate the loss of gold (the 3 gold) and still walk out ahead in science.

    But this doesn't necessarily mean it will be a bad idea to build the 120 hammer building too!

    Obviously there are tricks that might garner you enough gold without shoring up your expenses, but you haven't told us enough about the alternatives yet.

    So, assuming you're right, let's stop building courthouses. What do you propose instead? :)
     
  8. siggboy

    siggboy Monarch/Epic

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    Guys, what's the point of these replies? "Without courthouses you're going to lose money", "your economy will crash", "they give you EP". The OP has addressed all this, what he was trying to say is that there are alternatives in early to mid game, which are cheaper to build, and economically more profitable than the courthouse.

    I always look at the actual maintenance of a city when I'm considering a courthouse, and if it turns out that, say, building a market would net me more cash than I would save with a courthouse, I build the market. And so on. I will build the courthouse(s) later on when the essential infrastructure is in place.

    Now, the espionage points are nothing to scoff at, especially if one is pursuing an espionage game anyway.

    Finally, and it has been mentioned already, you can not build the Forbidden Palace without enough courthouses, and the FP saves you a lot of gold compared to what it costs to build (it also produces culture which can be important for those border fights, especially since you'll often build it close to enemy lands).
     
  9. Babibo

    Babibo Immortal

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    Yeah, I must admit I don't like espionage... So I don't count them. Maybe I should.

    Good point. I'll take it into account in my next games and see if I still build no courthouse...

    Corporations, however, aren't vital. Although I found some at times, especially when running a cottage economy, I run a food economy in most of my games, which can be turned into a state property economy very well without spending great people and lots of production on spreading your corporation.

    I'm warring a lot too, but I don't seem to run in the same problems as you. I think the difference is that I don't go to war before my economy can support it. Sometimes, I overexpand, in which case I chop/whip libraries everywhere, and run 2 scientists in all my cities. Like this, you get sufficient science to discover important sciences like Currency or Civil Service.
     
  10. Jet

    Jet No, no, please. Please.

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    You know the alternatives. There are many. Build a Market. Work cottages. Build a Forge, Barracks and units. And more. There's no point making a specific proposal and expect it to apply to different games, is there? The game is too well balanced for that.
     
  11. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

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    OK, I saw the title and laughed expecting to post some sarcastic remark about you not liking courthouses. Then I read what you posted and it's written pretty well, plus since your opening it for discussion, let's talk realistic

    Courthouses are pricey, 120 hammers!!! We know, that's the worse part.

    Now what does a courthouse get us? For argument sake, let's not bring State Property into the equation

    1) Early on they save 2-5 gold in cost, not trivial early on. If you ignore building them the costs increase over time. However, if you want a vast empire the costs are NOT trivial 2-5, more like 10 gold savings.
    2) Off continent. They are not trivial but absolutely essential. No self promotion, but take a look at my Joao RPC game, no courthouses are a distater there.
    3) They open up the forbidden Palace which is a CHEAP national wonder. This is critical to maintaining a large empire
    4) Espionage is a critical part of BTS, so you cannot ignore the only early espionage producing building. It's also the only way to run a spy specialist until constitution.
    5) They are needed to reasonably run corporations, although to be fair they are fast to build at that time period.
    6) Whipping courthouses in newly conquered cities. Often the best way to get rid of excess population in a large conquered city which would be loss to unhappiness anyway, while drastically reducing the costs.

    My views on courthouses has changed a bit, and I sometiems delay them. I definitely prefer Currency to CoL because of the fast fix and immediate gold trades with the AIs.

    But are courthouses worth it? You bet they are, and sooned than later.
     
  12. Babibo

    Babibo Immortal

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    Thanks for your support :)

    Concerning the Forbidden Palace, I don't know. In my last 2 won Immortal Games where I warred a lot, I never built it. By the time my empire got big enough that it became interesting to build it, I was in State Property :). Ok ok... I'm too fond of this FE strategy. I've been trying cottage economies with financial leaders in my last (lost) Immortal games, and I was crushed...
     
  13. siggboy

    siggboy Monarch/Epic

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    How about: Library, Market, Grocer, Bank, Harbor, Customs House? In established cities, either of these buildings often yields more gold/turn than a courthouse would. Yeah I know that a Library doesn't produce gold, but it allows you to lower the slider for the same effect, so in a way it does produce gold.

    The courthouse is most likely more bang for the buck in newly founded cities, where it will give the full savings right off the bat, while any commerce building won't be worthwhile until the city has grown to a point where it's generating good trade income and commerce from cottages.

    In a pure production city, things look differently. They are often low on commerce for the entire game, but luckily building a courthouse there is not a problem (it's in a production city after all).
     
  14. Babibo

    Babibo Immortal

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    :) By the time I have built all the buildings I consider more useful than a courthouse, it's time for war, I prefer having 3 axemen to a courthouse :)
     
  15. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

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    Not to veer off hte thread, but I wonder if a lawyer free RPC game, NO courthouses would be an interesting idea??? Let Anarchy rule, we need no lawyers, nor Lawyers. Perhaps an ORG leader. I would be real interested to see if one could play out this style game!!!
     
  16. Dirk1302

    Dirk1302 Chieftain

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    On immortal you need courthouses bad after an early rush. And if you don't rush early you won't rush at all, at least not with axes on this level.
     
  17. Babibo

    Babibo Immortal

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    Hi madscientist,

    What about a "no espionnage" game ? Even with no espionnage points, the AI isn't too troublesome.

    Concerning your RPC with Joao, I concord. You can't settle a new continent without courthouses. By the way, I tried to play such a game at Immortal level because I don't like Joao and I don't manage to use his Carrack well. The result was a big big loss. My conclusion is that at Immortal level, don't settle on the new world. Settle on the old one, and build no courthouse :)
     
  18. siggboy

    siggboy Monarch/Epic

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    It could be part of the rules, but if that would be the only rule it would be very boring, even if the leader is not "organized". In my second Joao attempt, I haven't even built the Forbidden Palace (I did have state property before that). The only courthouses I built where in the old world, and it was only two of them because I didn't have more cities there ;-).

    The OP says he's winning on Immortal without building any courthouses, and I believe him. Disallowing them doesn't add much of a challenge to the game in my eyes (one can do without EP, without corporations and without the Forbidden Palace; even if you don't want to run State Property you can still build Versailles, with a Great Engineer for example, I've done it more than once).
     
  19. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

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    Of course it's only a starting point on an idea. I like the idea of no espionage as part also. No Courthouses/jails/agencies/bureaus. No spy specialists, no GSpy wonders. I agree there needs to be another angle which I haven't figured out yet, but some despotic King of old (Not Louis). Perhaps even Hammarabi, sort of an anti-historial RPC!!! Maybe forbidding Hammarabi from ever teching CoL!!!

    Regarding my comments, always remember I am a Marathon speed Monarch difficulty player. I don't speed for Immortal and only say at emperor I typically lose!!!
     
  20. Babibo

    Babibo Immortal

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    Man, you didn't understand anything about the economy. It doesn't matter to lose money on lost production as long as you make more profit :)
     

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