Food-based Economies in the late game

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Iranon, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    Inspired by another thread here, I thought long and hard about the viability of farm-based economies for the late game and tested some half-baked assumptions instead of blindly spamming cottages after the Liberalism Race unless I could win with what I had. Keeping a food-based economy sucks when those GP stop coming and towns get ridiculous, but on the other hand the period of change is no walk in the park either... a period of near economic collapse that only becomes more harmful if one spreads it out because then one cannot run ideal civics.

    I finally bit the bullet and did it, with someone I considered suitable for a late-game cottage-free economy: Peter I, Philosophical to nab more GP and Expansive to make those bloated farm cities slightly less smelly, on a tropical shuffle map (generally production-poor, lowering the temptation to ignore economic progress and take over the world before the late game takes place). Well, it ended up one of my better games. Since I am more interested in the theory behind it all than individual choices, here a few observations/conjectures that survived testing.


    ***


    First, let us look at the tile output, with the following assumptions:

    - we are using fully buffed improvements, having researched all techs and running all civics that give bonuses
    - specialists likewise get all available bonuses, namely Representation, Angkor Wat and the Sistine Chapel
    - we are just looking at the net gain of the improvments, ignoring that the terrain might not feed itself or that there might be food-poor but valuable tiles we wish to support.
    - we are also ignoring Great People Points for now, just looking at the output that has an immediate use. By now, they might not matter much anyway.
    - finally, we assume there is no restriction on growth but the availability of arable land



    Towns provide a flat 1H7C, which is very efficient if somewhat inflexible.

    Farms support a full specialist, which can be the equivalent of 2H4C (priest), 6C (merchant or scientist), 8C (spy) or a whopping 10C (artist. I did not count the Sistine Chapel bonus for the other types since at this stage of the game, one either does not care about culture or wants to go all-out). If we use the surplus to subsidise otherwise unworkable tiles, the output might be higher but this is likely to favour production over commerce.

    Watermills under State Property add 2H2C outright, and two will support a specialist so the output per tile could be 3H4C (priest), 2H5C (scientist or merchant), 2H6C (spy) or 2H7C (artist). Incidentally, they also make plains cities without noteworthy food resources useful production sites: Each cottage or workshop there needs a farm to support it -> 3H7C or 6H for 2 squares. Straight farming would require 2 farms per scientist -> 2H6C. 2 Watermills would be food-neutral as well and provide a respectable 6H4C.


    ***


    This is a rather simplistic way to look at it thought, and several other factors need to be addressed:

    - Health
    - Happiness
    - Population
    - Flexibility



    Past the health cap, towns have the same output of 1H7C at a deficit of 1 food per tile worked. The other improvements suffer because each additional food will only support 1/3 of a specialist instead of 1/2. For pure science output, this would downgrade farms to 4C and watermills to 2H4C.
    In this situation, farms look unappealing... and it gets worse. Since towns are more population-efficient (remember, our initial numbers only cared about tile-efficiency), food-based economies will reach their health cap at a lower total output.

    Happiness is exactly the same only very different, and much more difficult to compare. During peacetime, the Food Economy player might have to adjust the culture slider (larger cities, possibly a penalty for not running Emanicpation) while the Cottage Spammer can rake in gold and beakers. When there are external causes of severe unhappiness anyway (defying resolutions unacceptable to either, war weariness) and burning commerce on culture is inevitable, the FE can easily take abuse that would cause a CE to crash.

    Population itself has advantages and drawbacks... more clout in elections and better trade routes, but more maintenance.

    Flexibility is also a little tricky. Under Universal Suffrage (a civic more favoured for cottage economies), pretty much any local problem can be solved with gold, but it is rather inefficient - especially since it does not benefit from production multipliers. The whip and drafting favour a food-based economy though; Nationhood is actually a decent option for a steady state (bad pun intended) FE.
    On an empire-wide level, a food-driven economy can efficiently sacrifice economic progress for production, another factor that makes it shine during war.


    ***


    Some slightly informal conclusions:


    Overall, farms can in fact keep up in the end; they are close enough in efficiency that their greater flexibility can make them an equal or even superior option to cottages. However, they get their huge boost later in the game.
    Depending on the overall state of one's economy and whether one blew one's specialists on lasting or immediate benefits, muddling through until that happens might be impractical.

    One of the biggest problems of a late-game Food Economy is health. Its cities reach the cap earlier and are hit harder. Hence, getting Biology and possibly Communism is not enough to catch up to towns everywhere; one also needs to clean up the industrialised cesspools. Unless, of course, arable land is the limiting factor and health is no issue. This usually happens thanks to bad land or very tightly packed cities.
    For similar reasons, huge tracts of flood plains call for cottages rather than farms.

    Watermills rule. Even for straight science output, they can give farm-fed scientists and towns a run for their money if one takes into account that they get the relevant infrastructure up more quickly. They can also easily become production monsters and make otherwise bad land useful. The only question is: Are the blessings of State Property worth giving up corporations?

    Artists are highly efficient and flat-out beat towns channeling culture. Moreover, when going for a culture win they make it possible to have the rest of the economy produce things that are actually useful. When going for a late - and probably unplanned - cultural victory, it seems advisable to farm over even fully developed towns in the 3 culture cities. Other cities can keep running cottages everywhere though.

    In a hybrid economy that runs Representation despite plenty of cottages, spy specialists beat the espionage slider especially after Scotland Yard is built in the Intelligence City. Caveat: this might not apply to a pure espionage economy where beakers are considered perfectly useless.

    While factors that crop up earlier might matter more, the ideal lategame economy seems to depend on the victory type desired: Farms for military, cottages for space and at least some farms for culture.
     
  2. SnowlyWhite

    SnowlyWhite Emperor

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    since when are artists anything else then 1b4culture? 6 with sistine... Mind you, if you're gonna say free speech, then the town is also 14 culture

    and the problem is lack of flexibility, nigh on impossible raising cash for mass upgrading units(that's in the end the whole problem - representation gives you 3 beakers, however, there's no representation #2 which would give you 3 gold instead of 3 beakers when you need them...), eating emancipation penality which has to be paid(pay less, since the slider is smaller, but still it's paying), eating possible defy resolution and worst of all being a mamoth that can't rush buy anything, doesn't have the whip either(since you're probably in caste) and generally is very not so hot unless spiritual. And the main problem is that, tops, you might get... close to a ce; but still below. A specialist is still 6, while a town is still 7(and a hammer)...

    bio coming later(though not at all necessary) can be the equivalent of waiting for your cottages to grow.
     
  3. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    I assumed that the research bonus from Representation is still relevant - culture wonders to unlock, an army to keep up to date etc. I should have stated that explicitly like I did for spies. There is nothing that prevents one from running Free Speech for an Artist-fueled culture victory either.
    Something that is awkward though is the order... instead of a 4:6 split of culture and science all along one would rather have all science to unlock whatever one wants, then all culture to win the game.

    For the military side of things, there is drafting and simply cranking up production... both are easier for a FE and more efficient than rush buying. Upgrading is often still attractive and harder, true. However, the whole process of upgrading and cranking out units and waging the planned war is easier. When on the wrong side of a sneak attack, drafting is probably the superior panic button.

    On the infrastructure side: Rush buying is certainly more convenient than switching to Slavery and pop rushing; not sure about more efficient. Getting an underdeveloped city to a reasonable output by spending money requires a huge investment; repeated whipping only uses resources that are not put to good use at the time anyway. In practice, sometime the only problem is that it makes timing golden ages more of a hassle.

    I already addressed the happiness concerns... unhappier when times are good and happier when times are hard is a trade-off that many would prefer.

    I never doubted the sheer efficiency of cottage economies. They do, however, have a tendency to run very smoothly when all goes as planned only to falter when a big problem presents itself.
    When going for culture, they have the sweet advantage of eliminating all happiness concerns (and coming online earlier)... but if one has to worry about not losing rather than winning, the culture cities make little progress towards their goal. Food Economies can muddle through without putting their gameplan on ice.
    When going to war, they tend to sacrifice most of their output to pacify the population or to compensate for their lack of production with inefficient gold rushing; both digs into their output. They can war well enough or research extremely well but not both.



    On the other hand, I found the time gap to matter quite a bit. Biology comes a lot later than Printing Press and Liberalism, and then there is still the health problem to tackle before farms become efficient again.

    ***
     
  4. ese-aSH

    ese-aSH Prince

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    "It is said that in Ulthar, no man may kill a cat" :)

    one more thing, a FE running State Property can be easily mixed with a HE.
    I thing that helps the transition to biology / medecine. you do have health problems with factories and plant coming around, but you may also switch farms into workshops and build research for a while.
    a HE does not need more pop than a CE, and alows you to build infra very fast. another good point is that they both need State Property and Caste System.
    With a spiritual leader (and tons of workers) you can manage several switch from one to the other (SE : pacifism + nationhood + representation ; HE : Organized religion (or theo) + police state + vassalege (or buraucracy if theo is on)), just have to switch some farms/workshops.
     
  5. Tonifranz

    Tonifranz Warlord

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    Have you tried using corporations with FE? I can imagine using, for example, Sushi to boost food even more, and Mining Inc to boost production?

    Although they arrive late, I imagine they can significantly boost FE or any other kind of economy for that matter, providing you have enough resources.
     
  6. Ibian

    Ibian King

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    :yuck:

    And another :yuck: on account of the minimum character limit.
     
  7. SnowlyWhite

    SnowlyWhite Emperor

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    honestly, I don't think so; cultural victory in my book always assumed a very safe diplo environment(not necesarily being loved by the ais, but each of the non backstabbers ones having someone else to hate more). Usually, after the US period in which I rush buy whatever is still needed, culture slider at 90% or whatever I can afford, "end turn" ad nausseum(that's what I hate at both cultural and space victory... I press so many times that button without doing anything)

    traditional cranking up production has nothing to do with ce or se...

    you have 2 gas... 3 if you get taj. Saying gas can compensate for lack of spiritual is abit overdoing imho... gas help, but still flexibility ain't there.

    an early war doesn't really imply ce since a ce at that date doesn't really exist... ok, you planted cottages in other cities beside your capitol(though I think it's perfectly ineffective, but that's another story), but they're so far from maturity it doesn't really matter; at most, you can talk about a bureau capitol ce till democracy. The rest of the cities are hardly relevant, so they can as well go somewhere... I draft/whip and they can cry till the end of time as far as I'm concerned.

    And exactly to counter this part when planning a ce and subsequently going bureau/academy/oxford capitol, I found very effective(even if somewhat unefficient) to pair oxford with globe. That way, the city that matters can support a war as long as needed. And the he and eventually other production city I get, I try to keep them small by working the most effective tiles; that way, you'll lose probably ~15-25% production, but you'll be relatively immune to ww.

    After that, jail/rushmore/police state and you can war as much as you want under a ce. Sure, you lose the hammers from towns, but that's why you have dedicated prod. cities. That's the 2nd drawback that made me sneeze at post demo fe - losing US for police state is unpleasant, losing rep. for police is downright dramatic(or the alternative route of raising the culture slider and replacing many of the scientists with merchants, so, even with higher slider, you can still pay your bills). Police over US means losing production in some cities which were never really intended to be serious producers; police over rep. or more merchants means effectively losing research; and the best way to win a war is having infantry when the other side sports rifles, so research is king in my book(in SP ofc., as the ai is so clumsy with his units even if he has the numbers to stomp you ten times).

    The other major problem is pollution.

    The game I just finished half an hour ago - playing mehmet(so expansive), had the health event, so another +2 health, had all the health resources beside the 1-2 of the guy who declared(duh, obviously), was playing a ce(biggest city at 21). Ok, didn't get tgd, so had to eat coal plant pollution; after the initial strike and pillage of my harbour resources, all cities were starving due to pollution. I don't want to imagine how it would've been with another +4-6 pop. Basically, instead of having happiness problems that are supposedly harder to counter under a ce(though I don't agree and anyway, they can be countered by paying... afterall being rich has it's advantages), you'll be facing pollution problems(which you can't really counter by slider or anything until you seize control of sky and sea - both things requiring non draftable units). And the other major problem of late game fe, is that - on paper it's better for warring, on the other hand, with the new bts pollution, you need to go lower side of the tree to counter pollution, which unfortunatelly doesn't have anything useful military wise. So either you give up factories/coal plants(which probably makes you sensibly lower production even to a production poor ce) or you give up tanks/battleships and all the other goodies needed for war and situated in the upper side of the research tree.

    And one more time - less money. Late game, bribing with techs is poor unless there are tactical reasons in it; otherwise, you'll usually pay 2-3 times more then what the ai sees as fair price for a declaration/embargo/whatever. It's much more effective to slider 0 a couple of turns and pay cash.
     
  8. brades

    brades Warlord

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    I'm a monarch player, with 4 wins on emperor. Ramesses II twice, Justinian, and Saladin. I usually play a production heavy economy (which is very similar to the FE) focusing on farms early, however, as I progressed through monarch, which I feel I can beat with any leader, I found that forcing your economy into any one specific type is not the best route to go. What someone pointed out earlier is that, regardless of your economy choice, you need dedicated cities.

    My capital tends to be my GP farm, where I settle all my specialists. I usually shoot for the pyramids, but if I dont get it it isn't huge because the specialist economy doesn't really take off until you have a few settled specialists anyhow. I won the saladin emperor game without getting any of my normal wonders (pyramids & GL). This city should be producing the vast majority of your beakers for your empire, somewhere in the 500+ range when you get oxford in the city. I usually put the national epic here, 10 settled scientists are monstrous. This city usually tends to be a production monster too from settled engineers, priests, and the mined hills that are usually in abundance in the capitals bfc.

    Your 2nd most important city is your production city. In this city you build farms, mines, workshops, lumber mills, or watermills. Eventually Ironworks, and Heroic Epic as soon as you can. Ive had cities producing more than 500 hammers, building ICBMs in a couple of turns. If this city is productive early settle your great generals here, however your capital will most likely be your production site for most of the game so a few settled there early is the route I usually take.

    Your last dedicated city is the one you plan on having wallstreet in. If I have a holy city its obviously this one. Hopefully this city has some gold, gems, etc. so it can be productive early without towns. If it doesn't have good commerce resources I will put down cottages. I would like to farm this site up initially to work any of the hills to build infrastructure, but after that this city will run merchants and work cottages.

    For my remaining cities I usually build them as I see fit, if its a production heavy site ill farm and mine it, adding workshops later. if its on a river i might cottage it depending upon the empires need.

    The important thing is to specialize a few cities to the point of micromanagement because these core cities wil drive your empire. Because on the upper levels you need land to complete almost any victory, which at a bare minimum means defensive wars if you've managed to secure enough land in the early REX. And most often means late game crusades to stop cultural victories, space ship launches, or just to wipe out an annoying Suleiman to your north.
     
  9. KrikkitTwo

    KrikkitTwo Immortal

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    Given the strong health penalties, and the fact that SP is limited to Watermills in its benefit... I'd actually say Environmentalism is more useful. Domestic Corporations are still supportable, and you get an effective +8 health (6 base+ 2 Mass Transit)

    8 health allows almost 3 extra specialists, (if you are deep into unhealth)... it also raises the 'Health cap' by 8


    For a Health analysis (no Happy cap) it is fairly simple, the maximum output of the city is
    # Tiles + Health - Unhealth from things other than population +/- Basic Food surplus/Deficit
    x
    Output amount

    for Cottages (1 unhealthy Farm supports 1 unhealthy cottage) [cottage/2]
    0.5 H 3.5 C
    max=2* tile #

    for Specialists (3 unhealthy farms support 1 unhealthy specialist) [specialist/3]
    2/2.66/3.33 C (Sci+Merch/Spy/Artist)
    0.66 H 1.33 C (Priest)

    max of 3* tile number

    so Health is Vital for high output Specialist Economies
     
  10. Calouste

    Calouste Deity

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    You can kind of rush buy in a food economy. Just bring the stack of workers you have around anyway to the city you want to improve and pave over the farms with workshops. If you have Chemistry and Caste System, but not Biology yet, you get 4 :hammers: instead of one specialist. 5 workers can flip a tile from farm to workshop or vice versa in one turn.
     
  11. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    I think that the biggest enemy of the the late FE is not the late CE efficiency or the Emancipation anger, but the UN.... the UN as it came from Firaxis is clearly CE biased ( never understood why the UN can't vote for universal Representation or caste system... ) and it can wreck a SE to pieces in some turns. When I try a late FE I also try to control the UN, mainly because if gives me the power to not choose certain votes.

    FE also has a nice plus in terms of resilience to enemy actions and that is fairly visible when we get to the planes and guided missiles time... a town pillage to cottage will take a lot of time to recover, regardless of the civics.....if your enemy decided to carpet bomb or to launch a missile rain on your lands, this can mean heavy trouble if you're relying on cottages. Farms are more easily replacable and don't need to mature....
     
  12. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam If A implies B...

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    Yes the UN can just BLAST some FE's with forced resolutions (or make the happy cap unbearable).

    I can't agree with caste being votable though...what modern economy gets by strongly with even remotely happy people using a caste system? Representation I agree with though. There are quite a few successful governments running some form of that today, it seems kind of ridiculous the world could think a nation under rep a villian.
     
  13. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Deity

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    South Africa under apartheid.
     
  14. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Off topic

    Technically the USA are a Representation regime ( just see how the president is elected... ). I'm trying to imagine the UN forcing the USA to do a universal Sufrage (one head, one vote ... without intermediates ) for President....

    /Off topic
     
  15. Ibian

    Ibian King

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    It works better. No real ability for legal manipulation of results.

    Also off topic, in the recent election in my country the christian party got less than 1% of the votes. Somehow that just makes me feel better about the whole thing.
     
  16. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    @ SnowlyWhite: I wasn't referring to early and planned cultural victories... hard to beat beelining for Liberalism and milking the newly-gained efficiency of cottages there. Absolutely no objections. I was referring to late revelations along the lines of 'turtlers and spymongers... screw that, I'm going culture'.

    Cranking up production has something to do with it. I'll gladly build workshops over farms if I need production for a while (at lower caps, I might have a reserve of them anyway). Bulldozing villages or towns hurts.

    I found your opinion on the trade-offs when war civics enter the equation interesting, but we seem to play too differently to have a direct comparison. I often accept that my economy will stagnate for some time when circumstances demand it - for example, if I feel forced to switch to Police State I'd mourn the bonus on the settled Great People; everyone else gets sent to the mines, (when not needing more units, there's still infrastructure). If there is no useful 'hammerspace' left to work, I might draft excessively.
    All in all, I'd much rather give up research than production during wartime.

    Unless I'm using many cottages to consolidate my peacetime output, cranking up the culture sliders is often more effective than a civic change. Golden ages don't grown on trees and 2 whole turns of idleness is a pricey.

    ***

    Well, unless they are my lackeys I get a savage pleasure out of burning down the UN anyway. If it was that easy IRL, someone would have done it by now.

    I said time and again that health is a huge restriction. Not so much in river cities where watermills will get a decent output at a lower population and there's a freshwater bonus anyway, but elsewhere.
    Krikkitone, many thanks for adding those numbers. The depressing inefficiency is the reason why I'm usually not even trying to grow quickly past caps I have no hope of raising in the near future (the reason why I gave equivalent numbers for a food deficit of 1 per worked tile).
    It uses up too much land for too little gain; I'd rather have 3 workshops for infrastructure or units... or, heck, even commerce-lyke-stuff.
     
  17. SnowlyWhite

    SnowlyWhite Emperor

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    yeah, basically I usually go to war with either an era advantage, or with veteran pinch/cr3 units... so production, as long as I can provide the garnison troops and the siege lost(the siege is usually done by he, the others by 1-2-3 cities or so) I'm good to go...

    but yes, as a general line, I seldom win wars with numbers, hence my strategy is more focused on research(as you need quality to compensate) then on pure production.
     
  18. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    While the values you've given for priest, merchant and scientist can be justified, the ones for spies and artists can't. This is simply because espionage and culture are not freely convertable into gold or science. You can under some circumstances be able to steal tech or gold, so you might be able to come up with a commerce value for an espionage point, but it really isn't going to be 1:1. Culture cannot be converted to anything else, and so cannot be compared to culture (hence you're overvalueing artists. They are great for culture victories, but rather useless for powering an economy).

    Even commerce: gold: science being 1:1:1 is rather dodgy, but more justifiable with deficit research.

    My usual answer to that would be; no. A good food corporation can give 20+ food, and you're not going to get anywhere near +20 food from state property watermills. Unless you're pushing the domination limit (and there it's maintenance that's the reason for SP), I'd stick with corporations. There's nothing topping you running watermills there as well, though they don't look quite as good relative to towns without the extra food. Enviromentalism is seriously worth considering for the extra health (and commerce from windmills - which can be worth it in a food based economy).
     
  19. BalbanesBeoulve

    BalbanesBeoulve Emperor

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    How much would the corporation payments be with that much of a bonus? Like 200 per town?
     
  20. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    Pretty high, I can imagine. I can actually zero my gpt with enough corporations online, and it takes some doing to do that late game if you had a sound economic plan midgame.

    I confess that I don't like State Property myself, since I prefer to go with Environmentalism to boost the health caps on my huge fish-fed or cereal-fed populations. The commerce outputs on trade routes with cities that huge are fairly significant, and the watermill bonuses help, too. With a high enough pop limit on the happiness, it's actually cheaper to run Environmentalism with 2 or 3 corporations than Free Market. Weird.
     

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