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Caravans - food or science?

Discussion in 'Civ5 - Strategy & Tips' started by 59saintdane, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. 59saintdane

    59saintdane Warlord

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    If I'm not in great need of gold at the time, I usually prefer to send my trade routes internally for that great growth bonus. I'm wondering, is it generally better to send the first couple to an AI for a nice beaker boost, or internally for food? Like I said, I prefer food: although the early-game science boost is nice, it's temporary, while population growth gives a permanent bonus to science, and also helps with production and gold. But I've heard a lot of talk about sending routes to the AI for science early game, so maybe I'm wrong?
     
  2. joncnunn

    joncnunn Senior Java Wizard Moderator

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    Difficulty level & coastal / non coastal start dependent:

    On Deity you actually do want the science boost first from trade with major AI and might even build a caravan for this purpose even if you have a coastal start due to caravan having fewer hammers. (Skip if that's Shaka that's your closest neighbor though, he'll be DOWing you soon if he's that close)

    On Emperor and below if going Tradition you'll always want food to your capital first. (Preferably cargo ships, but if inland then caravans.) For a Liberty start, you'd still want food but wide empires tend to want to have the food kick starting a new city and moving on to some other city when it expires.

    On Immortal: If coastal, you'll want food cargo ships first. (To your capital if going tradition / to new cities if going Liberty) For an inland start, the initial AI science boost is actually about equal value.
     
  3. 59saintdane

    59saintdane Warlord

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    But why do those 30 turns of extra science, maybe 150 beakers in total on Deity, matter more than the potential extra citizen or two that you'll be getting from a food trade route? After all, those extra citizens are going to be producing food, gold, hammers and science for the entire game.

    Also, in a Tradition game, is it better to send all food to the capital, or to spread it out amongst your cities?
     
  4. amphreded

    amphreded Chieftain

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    Early trade route also makes AI likely to DOF you more as well. Early science is pretty crucial. Allows you to get NC earlier, or rush to Petra and such. Pop is good, yes, but food from caravan isn't that great and cargo ship is a lot of hammer investment for early game.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. crabe

    crabe Chieftain

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    It depends where there are unworked tiles or specialist slots that you want to work, but you prefer the capital obviously because Landed Elite and Monarchy make 'apples' spent there go further.

    edit: not just the policies, but also for the National College and many other things. You want to grow your capital as tall as you possibly can.

    The beakers are worth more at the start because finishing techs like philosophy (for NC) and civil service is more important than just growing, and because early on those beakers represent quite a large fraction of your total science output.
     
  6. renton555

    renton555 Warlord

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    This is one of the few things that are balanced well within the game IMO, I'd guess that the expected value of an early trade route versus an early food caravan is quite close. My personal policy is that if close to two civs, I research sailing asap and send them two trade routes. If only one civ, i do one trade route and one food caravan, because the value of the second trade route is significantly less (less gold because its a worse route, and no diplo bonus, plus greater risk if he dows).
     
  7. Gustavus Rex

    Gustavus Rex Prince

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    I often do them for gold to upgrade my units for the first early attack!
     
  8. tetley

    tetley Head tea leaf

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    Camels do science. Ships do food, in my book. Not too long after workshops I want to switch to hammers, anyway.
     
  9. rover68

    rover68 Chieftain

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    I hate using TRs internally, aside from 1 food to my capital early to mid game, and possibly 1-2 to a "new" colony city.
     
  10. Moriarte

    Moriarte Immortal

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    Due to snowballing and, hopefully abundance of cash when you reach Education. Mix the two wisely and you can rush a couple of universities 5+ turns earlier than otherwise. On top of things, caravans allow for a faster NC. Faster NC leads to earlier civil service, which means you'll probably make up for the food you lost. Etcetera.

    The ideal mix for me is 1 caravan to AI, another one - food to the Cap.
     
  11. Iberian

    Iberian Prince

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    I love cargo ships, hate how much they cost early game. I have found myself rush buying them a couple of times. The gold comes close to paying for itself and you get science. If one dies to a galley I cry.
     
  12. 59saintdane

    59saintdane Warlord

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    Well, why don't you send them internally? Caravans can still do science and you get tons and tons of food, and you don't have to worry about losing them.
     
  13. Soronery

    Soronery Prince

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    Early trade go for science. No question. The science boost is pretty big.
     
  14. joncnunn

    joncnunn Senior Java Wizard Moderator

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    The main key to using Cargo Ships (or Caravans) is clearing out the barb camps along the path they'll take first.
    Once you've done that the food provided by either of them will more than pay for itself (the Cargo Ship will do this faster due to the 2X bonus even if the destination is on the same landmass)
    That early on though the gold bonus is likely to be minimal, but if on a high enough difficulty level then the science bonus will pay for it.
     

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