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An Anti-Cottage Economy? (ACE) a.k.a. My culture slider is bigger than yours...

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Kulbara, May 15, 2009.

  1. Kulbara

    Kulbara Chieftain

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    Obligatory Introduction Thingy

    Hello all. I've been lurking around for about a week now, doing my best to inhale all the strategy goodness and playing a few games while at it. =P Just in case it becomes relevant, I own Warlords and BtS. I'm not entirely new to Civ; I've played CivII a while, but a long time ago. My last prince game was a great victory in my humble opinion, so I tried being DANGEROUS and going straight to monarch. So far it's going very well. ^^

    What is the meaning of this?

    I've tossed the advantages and dis-advantages of a CE vs. SE in my head at great length, resulting in some conclusions and questions for all the strategists here to (hopefully xD) look at.

    Alright, basically I contend that a good way to look at specialists is that they in function “replace” what the science/gold sliders do; how many specialists are run decides to what extent the sliders are replaced. Early game, cottages/hamlets are about even in value with the amount of specialists being run. Once hamlets grow into villages and eventually towns they are more valuable than base specialists; conversely, if representation is run, specialists gain early advantage. Towns do eventually become 1-2 commerce more valuable than even a representation specialist, and the tiles it would take to support them... However one musn't count out the GPP specialists produce.

    All things considered, specialists vs. cottages can produce nearly the same net results, and either is a viable strategy, depending on your leader and civ's UB. (Financial obviously will want cottages in most cases; philosophical will probably want an SE) It's like I said in the first place: specialists as far as I can tell replace the function of sliders. Scientists replace the science slider. Merchants replace the gold slider. Spies replace the espionage slider. Artists replace the culture slider....

    Wait... Do they really?!?

    Remember Entertainers from CivII?

    The culture slider produces something that no other slider or specialist can: Happy Faces! Certain buildings make happy people for every increase in the culture slider, and most of said buildings are fairly cheap, especially the theatre. In addition, every addition to the culture slider will pop your new city borders faster than a 15-something pops zits, and will help maintain your already existing cities' culture equilibrium with any neighboring cities that might be near. The greatest advantage possible of this, however, would be... Seeing as how scientists/merchants/spies replace the science/gold/espionage sliders, and can hold their own with cottages in most cases, and produce GPP... one could really run 0% in all the sliders except culture quite easily. Furthermore, the culture slider doesn't require ANY commerce to be worked in your civilization for it to give it's culture and (more importantly) happiness benefits. Basically, if you run a CE, running the culture slider is going to take away from your teching and funding. Running a pure-SE makes the culture slider free, and with few drawbacks, afaik.

    And that would be the point of an anti-cottage economy, or an ACE. The general gist of it would be to build as few cottages as possible, so that one relies very little if at all on any of the sliders save culture. Theatres at the least would be required for any benefit, yes... but they're dirt cheap and add +1 happiness for every 10% culture alone. That's easily +9-10 happiness for every city without much work. Think off all the luxury resources you could trade away for cash? Think of how much longer you could deal with war weariness whilst smacking ghandi? And that's not even adding in the effects of coliseums and later, broadcast towers.

    Qualifiers, Thoughts, and More Text Wall

    I know that representation really helps specialists keep up with cottages/towns, especially late-game. Early-game, it propels an SE to almost overpowered levels with the pyramids, imo. It's not a bad civic at all, and nothing in the government civic column completely outdoes it. Representation is great for any SE, don't get me wrong, but I don't think it's vital, especially if one is running caste system.

    The thing is, in order for specialists to keep up with a CE, (especially without rep.) you need a lot of them. Just running specialists off buildings might be enough for a while, but when cottages finally DO become towns, I really think one would need the unlimited specialists that caste system provides in order to compete. The main disadvantages to this would be the inability to run the shiny civic of slavery... :( But... I propose the specialists provided by buildings actually would be enough for early game, until cottages mature and C.S becomes more necessary. This means everybody gets their precious whip for early game, which is mostly when whipping is used anyways. The other possible civic complication to this mess would be once other civs start running emancipation. It's mostly a moot point though... The culture slider will probably be able to devour the unhappiness caused by lack of emancipation easily. (nothing like distracting unhappy people with theatre plays and a savage bloodletting at the coliseum! ^^ )

    To run such a specialist-heavy economy, and to put as little commerce into the sliders as possible, I literally wouldn't build a single cottage. Farm as much as possible, and build mines/workshops/mills/preserves everywhere else. Another couple hidden advantages to farming everything would be that your populations grows back crazy fast for whipping, and also that farms are easier to rebuild than towns in the case of pillage. (although this is less of an issue in BtS..)

    In Conclusion

    Unless I'm missing something, or somebody is financial, (and even then, it's only a bit more commerce...) why would you build a single cottage? D: By not doing so, you're essentially letting the culture slider produce 10+ happiness nationwide, for virtually free. This is how I played my last prince game which, without sounding arrogant, was too easy. I'm doing this on a monarch game now, and so far so good. I'm in 1st place on the score list, am out-teching everybody, conquering, and foresee nothing that is going to imminently destroy me (and that's saying a lot considering Montezuma is next door. :p ) Of course I'm playing as the romans with Augustus, but it IS my first monarch game after all. ^^;

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. AlienSexFilth

    AlienSexFilth Chieftain

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    You are new to civ so welcome!
    I think that what you are talking about is a specialist economy, which is a well known, respected and very viable strategy -especially for Philosophical leaders!

    The Culture slider is indeed a great way to deal with happyness issues (especially post construction, with Coloseums and post Drama with Theaters. But the Culture slider should be used for only 2-3 reasons :
    1)Negating temporary unhappyness from Civics (We demand emancipation, We cannot forget your cruel whip and HELL NO WE WON'T GO)
    2)Negating temporary unhappyness from War Weariness
    3)Getting a cultural victory by turning commerce into culture, which is a very strong tactic combined with Free Speach. In the latest strategy, you will utilize cottages...

    If you seem to like this economy, my advise would be to get to know of Caste System, Representation, Mercantilism and Pacifism as well as give your next go with a Philosophical leader.

    There are some excellent guides about Specialist Economy in the forums (use the forum search engine with SE Guide) which I advise you to read them as well..
     
  3. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    I'm sure someone will come along soon and point out that the significance of trade routes on the economy is not to be ignored. Especially if playing as Hannibal, but more generally if you have many coastal cities or have a lot of trade routes, turning these into culture via the slider can be a bit of a drain on the economy. A large part of any empire's commerce can be coming from trade routes (not cottages), even in the relatively-early game.
     
  4. kingnorxis

    kingnorxis Chieftain

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    I completely agree with Aliensexfilth on the use of the culture slider, I do the same in my games. Now a few points:

    I am pretty sure that your cities will require commerce to gain the cultural benefits of the slider - even on 100% if I build a city in the middle of the desert, it will only gain 1 culture/turn unless I get commerce from working tiles or trade routes.

    I also tend to find that trading resources to the AI provides me with very little benefit (diplo aside) and large benefits for them. 5-6 gold for me to enable every city in their empire to grow larger seems like a damn good deal for the AI.
     
  5. Crusher1

    Crusher1 Chieftain

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    Everything is situational ^^, especially on the map. It's not even necessary to run a SE to maximize GPP with a philo leader, especially if the map is low on food. It can be as simple as building the Oracle, picking COL and if you have a decent early city with 1 6F and 4F tile immediately running 4 scientist and then settle the 1st GS and after Alpha/Math bulb Philo and run pacifism, scary!
     
  6. vanatteveldt

    vanatteveldt Chieftain

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    Like PieceOfMind said, your cities will have commerce regardless of having cottages, from special resources (gold/marble/fur etc), rivers, palace, and trade routes. This commerce will most often be non-trivial, around late classical/medieval times (which you are talking about for theatres anyway), you can easily have 4-6 trade commerce, 0-10 terrain commerce, 0-8 palace commerce, say average 10 per city.

    By pushing the culture slider to 100% you are giving up two things:
    1) the ability to meaningfully improve the land to increase commerce (ie build cottages)
    2) 10 commerce per city (assuming the culture has little value)

    You are gaining a LOT of happy faces, I thjink 10 intrinsic, 10 form theatre, 5 form colosseum = 25 happy?

    What are you going to do with those happy faces? I sometimes need some more hapiness, say 5-10, but if you have some happy resources, some repr hapiness, etc, you will be hard pressed to grow your city to the population required to consume 25 hapiness. Most cities will never reach this mark, even if you sell away all your happy resources, don't build any happy buildings etc.

    So, in conclusion, I doubt that your trade-off is worth it.
     
  7. DaveMurray

    DaveMurray Chieftain

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    I didn't read your post in-depth but I skimmed most of the paragraphs. Anyways, there's a few things in your strategy that I would caution you don't get in the habit of doing every game. First thing would be to not always go for the pyramids. Yes it's a very useful wonder and yes early rep is incredibly powerful but being able to obtain more land is paramount to whatever economy you decide to run. If building the 'mids means losing a couple great city spots to the AI then it's not really a great idea to have them in the first place.

    Second thing would be to not always be forced to run a particular civic. Diplomacy becomes increasingly important the higher in difficulty you go and coincidentally a lot civs have their favorite civic in the left column. Even more importantly a lot of civs seem to like hereditary rule. Don't get stuck in an economy that forces you to run a particular set of civics in order to keep tech parity with the AI. The most important thing in civ is to be flexible.

    Lastly, you have to remember that the only resourceless terrain that will be able to feed specialists in the early game is grassland or flood plains which may or may not be plentiful given the map and your starting position. Often times in food poor areas, cottages will yield the best investment. Also, growth caps aren't unlimited and you may find yourself wasting unnecessary amounts of commerce on a high culture slider. Why have your culture slider at 70% when only one city in your empire would ever be able to grow that high, not to mention it won't happen for another 100 turns or so. There are plenty of ways to keep people happy in this game and keep cities growing all the time. Aggressive trading of resources and planning builds ahead of time will keep your cities growing throughout the game, leaving you to spend your commerce on more worthwhile pursuits such as more research or paying the bills.
     
  8. Kulbara

    Kulbara Chieftain

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    Thank you kindly for responding; the advice really helps, as I'm likely trying what is recommended here later in my current game. ^^

    AlienSexFilth:
    Yup, I'm pretty much talking about a SE, and I've read some of those guides you mentioned. Most of them recommend building at least some cottages; I'm proposing minimizing the amount of cottages built to an extreme level, so there's less of a "penalty" for running the culture slider as high as possible. Except for that, everything you said sounds like good advice; I'll try it out.

    BTW, what a name you have. :D

    PieceOfMind:
    Eep, you're absolutely right; I did kind of skip over trade routes in what I said. << Partly because with this style of play, mercantilism seemed pretty fitting, for both the free specialists and taking away trade routes so again, there's less penalty to running culture. I'm not sure how viable running mercantilism permanently is, however, especially for BtS. I know I couldn't FOUND a corporation when I was in mercantilism, but it only says ingame that this civic blocks foreign corps. I'll have to check.

    I don't know if running the culture slider is a good idea with trade routes. That IS an awful lot of commerce...

    kingnorxis:
    I admit it. :( I am unsure how much commerce affects the gain of culture through the slider, but my contention was that the happiness benefit from the culture slider is what is most desired, and I'm certain the happiness bonus in itself is not modified by commerce. You're right though; it'd be a bad idea to run the culture slider FOR culture itself, if it is indeed reliant on commerce for that.

    As for trading, I can sometimes eek out 15gpt+ from civs with subsidizing and such, but I don't trade anything that will help them too much. Unless either I need a resource desperately, or I'm about to crush them anyways. = P

    Crusher1:
    :eek: I'm going to have to try that with Abe! I wonder how early one can get tanks...

    EDIT:
    People posted while I was writing the reply. :p I'll get to responding to vanatteveldt and DaveMurray individually later (it's 3:00am here) but a common consensus seems to be that happiness isn't as big of a problem as I was suspecting it to be. *shrug* perhaps I was fearing the jump from prince to monarch too much. ^^
     
  9. btgwynn

    btgwynn Chieftain

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    The post seems to place more emphasis on happiness than is needed. When trying to max out specialists, health has always been the limiting factor more than happiness. In my experience the culture slider is a temporary fix to overcome war weariness rather than a permanent means to pacifying my citizens, who, while not at war, are usually content with resources multiplied by markets, forges or both.
     
  10. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Chieftain

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    I highlighted the real strategy that is winning you Monarch games.

    I'm glad you are having fun despite neglecting a key element of the game.
     
  11. Negator_UK

    Negator_UK Chieftain

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    Feed them, whip them, draft them, de-emancipate them....

    The OP does seem to have had a reasonable idea imho, but I suspect, as Dave implies above, that if the strat was viable it would have been discovered by now.

    Still, something to play with I s'pose - should give it a try with a leader that would leverage the strat, like expansive (for the health bonus, you'll need it) or charismatic (for even more happiness)
     
  12. Shurdus

    Shurdus Am I Napoleon?

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    Subtle as always I see. :goodjob:

    You are proposing minimizing the amount of cottages built to an extreme level...

    I give you all some time to let that one sink in.

    ...

    :coffee:

    ...

    So basically what you are saying is that you try to not build cottages everywhere, but rather that you try to maybe build some where they seem appropriate and leave it at that? Do you mean you are advocating that the player should not build any cottages because you claim raising the culture slider will result in better yields?

    One of the benefits from raising the culture slider is also that you produce more culture. From lowering the amount of commerce you can generate by not building cottages, you also lower the amount of culture the culture slider will generate for you.

    You become more dependent on specialists by reducing dependency on cottages. In the sideline you also increase the culture slider in order to raise the happy caps - which happens to be something that you should not be required to do after trading and grabbing happy recources aggressively.

    It sounds to me like the same old thing with a bit of an unorthodox solution to battle happiness issues. :dunno:
     
  13. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    This could be useful in a warlike environment where cities will change owners all over the place. The non-original owner will start with no culture, and you might gain many cities by flipping.

    In the late game, it might be worth considering with food corporations. A typical CE has the problem that any more food than is needed to cover the world in towns prettey much goes to waste. A typical SE is likely to be limited by growth caps; unless health is an unsurmountable problem the culture slider is going to help a ton (and food goiing to feed unhealthy specialists with Representation still gets a better exchange rate than food going to feed healthy specialists without Representation).

    All that culture might also speed up several victory conditions other than culture... domination will benefit from flipped cities, diplomacy also from your vastly inflated population.
    On the downside, doing this in the late game means you're taking the trouble to spread corporations AND giving up trade; simply going for State Property instead and win normally might be faster.

    *

    While it seems a niche strategy, I don't see anything wrong with it in principle.
     
  14. Shurdus

    Shurdus Am I Napoleon?

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    Typically when going for a culture win you will push back the borders of neighboring cities. When doing this you may very well flip a city or two, but gaining 'many cities' is an overstatement. Even going for the cultural win you will not flip cities so easely, and once they flip their cultural output will not be enough to domino-flip all over the place. The AI core cities are therefore pretty much immune to city flipping even if the border ones are not.
     
  15. Jet

    Jet No, no, please. Please.

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    Using the culture slider with specialists has been discussed here for a long time. It's unfortunate that the extant SE articles don't say enough about it and you had to spend a lot of time reinventing it. (Unless you prefer the no-spoiler approach. Nothing wrong with that.)

    I agree with others that other factors limiting pop are important:
    - health
    - food
    - irrigation
    - production (if you want early Caste and aren't Spiritual)
    If you use the slider you might run 20%, 40% in peacetime. No doubt, if 20% will take your cities from size 8 to 12, that's great. But you can run 20% with cottages.

    When the slider shines most of all is when you want to push unhappiness from whipping, drafting, and war weariness.

    Paying all your costs with Caste merchants is easier said than done. You probably don't have a ton of food for them, and you might want Slavery or scientists instead. Usually you'll have to lean on commerce, plunder, trading/begging.
     
  16. noto2

    noto2 Chieftain

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    Kulbara - you really need to try the strategy to understand it. You've missed a million points. There are times when I have ran a pure specialist economy, such as playing as Pericles of Greece and going for a cultural victory, but these times are rare. It's often difficult to do and won't perform as well as using a variety of economic options. Specialists are nowhere near towns in economic output. A city would need to be size 40 to get anywhere near a towned city of size 20. How do you get that big? Before biology, how do you even have that much food? Even with biology, how do you have that much health? Do you run enviro? What do you do before it? Not to mention, your strat depends on caste system. What do you do before caste system? Also keep emancipation unhappiness in mind. Thus, you've locked yourself into REP, Caste, and Enviro. Not very flexible.
    In almost all situations I run a mixed economy. I use towns for commerce, watermills/mines/workshops/windmills for hammers, farms for food, etc, and I use specialists for GPP. Sometimes I use specialists for their own output, but that's in specific situations, like a very small empire, the philo trait, nabbing the pyramids, etc. It's very situational.
     
  17. MkLh

    MkLh Chieftain

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    In Prince/Monarch it's possible to win also without hiring a single specialist or touching the culture slider - just spam cottages and remove all unhappiness with the Hereditary Rule. It will probably need less micro too.
     
  18. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    Counterpoint to noto2's complaints: I tend to go for relatively pure economies; with tight city spacing (probably also trying to take advantage of per-city bonuses like religious wonders, free specialists, eventually corporations) there are many maps where tile efficiency matters rather than population efficiency.

    The usual bread-and-butter specialists are actually the least efficient; if we make culture an angle, we have the prerequisites and we can deal with the health issues lategame farms supporting specialists can get some rather impressive outputs:

    2:hammers:1:gold:3:science:2:culture: from priests
    4:espionage:4:science:2:culture: from spies
    4:science:6:culture: from artists.

    If only health is an issue and we solved our happiness problems, chain whipping with the Kremlin is also sort of nice... whipping would make a farm give effective 90(city size+10) hammers, 3 at size 20. One benefit: we can grow to the high heavens for economic yields, then whip every 2 turns for quick mobilisation.
    Continuous drafting is even more impressive, but less sustainable and cuts into our culture if we're actually doing something useful with that (Nationhood = no Free Speech).

    I see fewer issues with using a high-culture SE than the investment needed to make it shine. How big a problem this is depends on whether the prerequisites will further our main victory plan.
     
  19. noto2

    noto2 Chieftain

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    oh yes - Iranon is right - I forgot to mention whipping. The only other time I'd recommend going pure specialists is when you're utilizing a whipping/drafting strategy in combination with them. That can work too. Still, I've found that it's far easier to rely on a mix of things, like trade routes and cottages as well as specialists and hammer improvements. A town even without US and FS still produces about the same research output as a late game scientist. For exmaple, I'm playing a Rome game right now and I built 4 commerce heavy cities at the start of the game. I cottage spammed them. That's because every other city in my empire (except for the GP farm) became a workshop/watermill city. Captured cities get workshopped/watermilled. I knew I needed some commerce and building commercial cities early on lets you mature the cottages. Remember, one of the biggest problems with going pure specialists is the early game. How exactly can you compete with cottages early game?
     
  20. Kulbara

    Kulbara Chieftain

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    *yawn* 0_0 Just woke up; lotta posts :eek:

    I'll respond too everybody individually, but after skimming over most of the replies, I'd just like to say it was an IDEA only, not an end-all be-all. What intrigued me in the first place was the ability to manufacture happiness regardless of outside conditions (excepts terrain, which so far for me I've at least had decent food terrain in all my cities... I'm still new though), like the availability of luxury/trade resources, civics, etc... Basically farm everything possible, which except for tundra/desert starts is possible most of the time. Again though, just an idea; something to try maybe, since it seems most here have already played the game most standard ways.. <<

    vannataveldt:

    Well, I seem to be able to find a way to use them. XD Drafting 3-5 times in a row in every city maybe. Whipping too. Plus, with this "strat" one doesn't need happiness resources of course... not saying they're all that difficult to get at all in the first place, but not relying on them or anything else for happiness wouldn't be a bad thing, would it?

    As far as city size and total happiness, you are correct if we're talking about the full 25 smiley faces possible with the slider, but most of the time it won't be that high... more like in the range of 8-15. With no cottages, there's going to be that many more farms, and that much higher a pop in every city. Granted, health would still be a limiting problem, a *huge* problem to be specific, but to me the losses from unhealthiness aren't unlivable at a reasonable level.

    DaveMurray:
    You're absolutely right; the 'mids are highly situational and aren't something to expect every game, and I'm guessing even less so at higher difficulties. I didn't build them this game; it's not killing me.

    The only civic I said was probably essential was caste system, and even that's not set in stone. The larger the empire, the less c.s. appeals. Hopefully a player would be able to still adapt for diplomacy, especially if the government column is free.

    Can't argue with the terrain argument. If you don't have the terrain for specialists, you don't. No need to try and force some strategy that cannot work.

    btgwynn:
    You're right, there are other sources of happiness, and health does limit. Usually I can live with a little unhealthiness in moderation, but unhappiness is crippling no matter what. What this idea does though, is remove the need for auxiliary happiness buildings and happy resources. Yes, one would still want markets for their +25%, but there'd little need for jails or temples, though they still have uses.

    And one can't say that there'll be luxury resources every game, just as one can't say they'd have ample food tiles to support an SE every game. I never said any of this was not situational. Every strat is.

    DaveMcW:
    LONG LIVE CAESAR! :D

    I've played a few prince games with other leaders, such as babylon and portugal, and won, so meh. I DID say I was only playing as rome because I was jumping up to a higher difficulty, right? D:

    Also, my start in my current game is on what appears to be some forsaken peninsula of the planet with no opponents' cities in sight to "liberate" with lolpraetorians. *cries*

    Negator_UK:
    Exactly. Just something to play with.

    Shurdus:
    The increased culture itself, ironically enough, would not be the main draw of raising the culture slider in this idea. :crazyeye: It's more like having a luxury slider from CivII again, or entertainer specialists.

    The happy resources are never a guarantee, and I think it's doubtful there'd usually be enough to match the sheer amount of happiness the slider can produce. And virtually for free to boot, since one isn't losing anything in the process. The problem with trading for resources is you have to give something to get something. The diplo-bonus for trading resources alone often isn't that great imo.

    Iranon:
    Thanks. Corporations would only amplify this strategy, as they did in my last prince game, where I admit I was letting the game go on a long time to try stuff in the modern age. ^^ One of the positives I can think of is this "strat" would work at any time in the tech tree, and with any terrain that isn't rubbish. Farms are always there to fall back on.

    Jet:
    It hasn't been to difficult to cover expenses with merchants once I reach cs. Usually until I do that, I'll actually work a few cottages if needed, or preferablly a high-commerce resource, and switch to farms ASAP. Actually, it's easier to keep up finances than science. O: Early/Mid-game there's only libraries and universities in most cities, for +50% science, whereas there's markets, grocers, and banks for +100% gold total.

    noto2:
    First, I have tried that strat and am still trying it at higher difficulty. Second, this isn't an argument for a SE, as much as it might seem like one. This really is in essence an observation of the culture slider's ability to produce happiness regardless of commerce put in to it, and how viable it would be to incorporate that singular ability into any other strategy.

    Maybe nobody in their right mind NEEDS that much extra happiness in all situations, but... perhaps having all that happiness available might open up new strategic avenues, no?

    MkLh:
    IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT WINNING!!! <<

    Hey, I'll try it. :p Unno how it'll work on monarch and above until I do try, however. Sounds quick and efficient.
     

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