[GS] Are Dams worth it?

Are dams worth it?

  • Yes, all of the time

  • Yes, most of the time

  • Situationally

  • No, not often

  • No, never


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The dam is an interesting infrastructure district with many strengths and weaknesses. While I always plan my floodplain cities using dams and seek them out for extra Industrial Zone adjacency, their high production cost and resulting long build time makes me wonder- are dams worth it? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.
 
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Tech Osen

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And what would those be?

(I only now realized I typed "flaws and weaknesses" when I meant to type "strengths and weaknesses" :crazyeye:)

But, these are what I find to be the weaknesses of dams:
  • "their high production cost and resulting long build time"
  • Reduced food yields from floods
  • The more a river floods, the more useful a dam will be. Simultaneously, the more a river floods, the better its tiles are. The most useful dams are also the ones that crush the best tiles.
(Admittedly the last one is thanks to my bias toward yield porn... crushing a 6 food tile pains my soul...)
 
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Vargas1

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Short of having Great Bath (in which case you wouldn't want a dam anyway), Etemenanki, or playing with a high disaster setting, I don't find floodplain yield to be so powerful that I worry too much about reducing it. The most important benefits of the yields are likely to be early in the life of the city anyway, before a dam is up. By the time a city is developed enough to build a dam, losing a handful of food per turn (maybe) isn't going to matter much.

As mentioned, using military engineers can help speed the build time. Even without though, I usually end up building a dam once a city has already grown to mid-size (5-8 pop), and have some other districts already built there. So otherwise I'd be building buildings or units or secondary wonders, so not much of lost by spending the time on a dam instead. And the housing and amenity come in useful for growing cities further (plus the IZ adjacency).
 

Alaindor

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Worth it only if I go for long-lasting games, they require much production that I could otherwise spend on other stuff. But a well-placed dam (on a river which flows through two or three valuable cities) is worthwhile, and in the long run can produce green power on hydroelectric.
 

Dotsworthy

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The additional +2 to IZ always makes Dams worth it in a science game. Culture victory you can probably get away with it and just power through getting your tourism buildings.

  • The more a river floods, the more useful a dam will be. Simultaneously, the more a river floods, the better its tiles are. The most useful dams are also the ones that crush the best tiles.

Even then, Dams have a benefit because they prevent tiles from being pillaged. It's a pain to get builders out to fix those tiles.
 

kaspergm

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The dams are worth it for me. Not for the yields or whatever, but for the annoyance factor of the floods blowing up my stuff every ten turns.
This. The annoyance they save makes the frequently worth it in itself. On top of that, the saved production from not having to repair pillaged districts and buildings can also pile up. And finally, having a source for a fair amount of clean energy can also be valuable.
 

MrRadar

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are dams worth it?
Are they worth it for what purpose and under what starting conditions (difficulty, map type&size, game speed, modes, etc.)? The question is too vague. If you go for a fastest finish for any victory with any Deity standard start, I tend to believe that RV would win most of the time up to and including the standard size map, and in such case dams are (nigh on) irrelevant, with IZs to keep company.

Military engineers.
They need an Encampment, a 1t building and an Armory. That's quite an investment, unless you capture or flip one.
 

Kotofei

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I usually place them as soon as I can, then put more important stuff ahead of them in the build queue. They get built eventually. I feel like their benefits are mostly later in the game so there's no hurry to get them done.
 
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Dam construction worths the investments. so many times deluges are too stinging to ignore. too bad dams are available in Middle Ages and not Classical (The first known dam was in China, built sometimes in Zhou or Chunxiu Zanguo period. but i can't remember its name but it still stands today and China prouds of, purposedly built to regulate river flows, preventing deluge and irrigate farmlands.) F'xis's choice to introduce dam construction at Medieval Era was due to the project proposals by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the Fatimid Capiph reigned 14 October 996 – 13 February 1021 where he summoned Alhazem to study dam construction feasibility (or even possibility), his field works however yielded unfavorable results so he convinzed the Capiph to shelf the project) but i'm not sure if there were any successful medieval dam construction projects in Medieval Europe or if the purpose was somehow different as to provide continious workable water for waterwheels upstream as well as to irrigate farmlands and prevent deluges?

Another advantages are
1. freshwater access so building aqueduct is easier
2. stronger production (and maybe commerce) adjacency bonus than usual.
 
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Tech Osen

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Socrates99

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Are they worth it for what purpose and under what starting conditions (difficulty, map type&size, game speed, modes, etc.)? The question is too vague. If you go for a fastest finish for any victory with any Deity standard start, I tend to believe that RV would win most of the time up to and including the standard size map, and in such case dams are (nigh on) irrelevant, with IZs to keep company.


They need an Encampment, a 1t building and an Armory. That's quite an investment, unless you capture or flip one.
A dirt cheap investment. You won't build many encampments, generally one, so it'll get the "few districts of this type" discount. It also has the card that reduces its building costs.

Just build it in a big city where you have extra slots and high production. Engineers are super useful and underrated. Especially judging from this thread and the one on canals. Those benefits aside they're especially awesome if you have a lot of mountains to build tunnels in. You can massively speed unit logistics with a few good tunnels.
 

MrRadar

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A dirt cheap investment. You won't build many encampments, generally one, so it'll get the "few districts of this type" discount. It also has the card that reduces its building costs.
It depends, if it is dirt cheap. If you only build one, the tech for the card that reduces its cost is boosted by building an Encampment. So if you only build one, because you need it, you're probably building it without the card, and the card would only come for the buildings at the earliest. That is unless you capture one already done.

If the question is 'is the Dam worth it' without any other specifics, I'm leaning to think that one wants to reach the victory screen - any victory screen that is - and as fast as possible, under 'standard' game speed and map size. And then we must consider which victory can be achieved the earliest and are dams any help for it.

The fastest victory is probably the religious one. Religion can be established pretty reliably with just two cities, HS is one of the earliest districts, you can get very nice pantheons and beliefs, on Pangea you can just roll, on anything else you'll need Cartography and probably more embarked movement techs and possibly the golden Exodus dedication, but still, I believe that a dedicated RV attempt will bring you to the victory screen the fastest most of the time. How Dams and an Encampment would help you to reach it faster? I don't see a lot of possibilities, unless the city and the HS is in a huge flood zone that keeps flooding every other turn for some reason. Putting there a respectively promoted Liang would probably be more efficient. Therefore, most of the time building a Dam and Encampment is just a waste of time and production under such circumstances. You're better off running prophet projects for faith.

Just build it in a big city where you have extra slots and high production. Engineers are super useful and underrated. Especially judging from this thread and the one on canals. Those benefits aside they're especially awesome if you have a lot of mountains to build tunnels in. You can massively speed unit logistics with a few good tunnels.
Considering what's above, the world will probably be converted to your religion long before mountain tunnels will be of any help. Although Steam Power may be doubly useful, as it grants both better embarked movement and railroad building, although the first will probably be much more useful than the latter.
 

Socrates99

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It depends, if it is dirt cheap. If you only build one, the tech for the card that reduces its cost is boosted by building an Encampment. So if you only build one, because you need it, you're probably building it without the card, and the card would only come for the buildings at the earliest. That is unless you capture one already done.

If the question is 'is the Dam worth it' without any other specifics, I'm leaning to think that one wants to reach the victory screen - any victory screen that is - and as fast as possible, under 'standard' game speed and map size. And then we must consider which victory can be achieved the earliest and are dams any help for it.

The fastest victory is probably the religious one. Religion can be established pretty reliably with just two cities, HS is one of the earliest districts, you can get very nice pantheons and beliefs, on Pangea you can just roll, on anything else you'll need Cartography and probably more embarked movement techs and possibly the golden Exodus dedication, but still, I believe that a dedicated RV attempt will bring you to the victory screen the fastest most of the time. How Dams and an Encampment would help you to reach it faster? I don't see a lot of possibilities, unless the city and the HS is in a huge flood zone that keeps flooding every other turn for some reason. Putting there a respectively promoted Liang would probably be more efficient. Therefore, most of the time building a Dam and Encampment is just a waste of time and production under such circumstances. You're better off running prophet projects for faith.


Considering what's above, the world will probably be converted to your religion long before mountain tunnels will be of any help. Although Steam Power may be doubly useful, as it grants both better embarked movement and railroad building, although the first will probably be much more useful than the latter.
Not sure why you're straw manning me by funneling the game into one VC. I just pointed out that compared to other districts the encampment is quite cheap. Engineers are a tool in your kit that allows you to shift production from a big city to a small one. Not something to write off and never use.
 

Alaindor

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The fastest victory is probably the religious one.

I certainly disagree with that! Play Marathon, Deity and Huge continents maps with 12 civ's, I've only won RV once and that was a long drag...
 

MrRadar

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why you're straw manning me
I had to look up this expression, did not know what it meant :)
No, I don't try to 'straw man' you or anybody else, I just find that the question is too undefined, too open, and I'm trying to find some frame of reference, some criteria, whereby it would be possible to judge the 'worth it'ness. And I've listed them:
any victory screen that is - and as fast as possible, under 'standard' game speed and map size
As for 'funneling the game into one VC', it is again, because OP question is very open and without any other conditions listed, I think that usually the fastest one under selected game speed and map size should be considered. If you take a look at the HOF subforum, RV seems to be a quite clear winner as far as fast victories go, followed by domination.
So my conclusion is that a game on a standard size map and standard game speed will probably end the fastest with a RV and in such a game you won't have time even to think about Dams, IZs or Military Engineers.

They could be useful in SV games, where you'll probably want an IZ and and Encampment in your main Spaceport city, however the real 'worth it'ness still remain doubtful. If you let your game go past t300, then yes, you get some value back, but mostly it is fun value, fun from building a nice looking empire for yourself, not that you really need all those shiny things, including railroads and tunnels. I've spent countless hours laying railroads across continents myself, only to move nothing good over them, as my game cut short by some Diplomatic victory. But good players get their SV well under t200 on standard speed, and then when every cog counts, very few things are 'dirt cheap' to be built without regard of whether you really need them or not.

I certainly disagree with that! Play Marathon, Deity and Huge continents maps with 12 civ's, I've only won RV once and that was a long drag...
I'll requote myself on that:
I tend to believe that RV would win most of the time up to and including the standard size map
under 'standard' game speed and map size.
 
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