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"Harvest Resource vs Remove Feature" or "Instant Boost vs Long-Term Benefit"

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Wit, Nov 15, 2018.

  1. Wit

    Wit Chieftain

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    Long time player & reader here, just joined.

    This started as scratch notes to help organize my thoughts, but I felt it may be of use to others so I cleaned it up a bit to post here. My hope is that this starts a constructive discussion and perhaps even helps you decide whether to harvest/remove or not.

    Terminology

    Harvest Resource: A builder can use a charge to harvest a resource to provide an instant significant but one-time only boost to the city that owns the tile, removing the resource in the process. Only bonus resources can be harvested. [Footnote: The term harvest can be confusing because it is often used to refer to the act of improving a resource (like with farm or plantation or similar), rather than removing the resource for a one-time gain.]

    Remove Feature: A builder can use a charge to remove a terrain feature to provide an instant significant but one-time only boost to the city that owns the tile, removing the feature in the process. Only three terrain features can be removed.

    The type of boost the city receives when a builder harvests a resource depends on the resource:
    • Bananas, Cattle, Fish, Rice, Sheep, Wheat yield food.
    • Deer, Stone yield cogs.
    • Copper, Crabs yield gold.
    Similarly, the type of boost the city receives when a builder removes a feature depends on the feature:
    • Marsh yields food.
    • Woods yields cogs.
    • Rainforest yields food and cogs.
    Everything stated below applies to these two builder actions on these resources and tile features only.

    Instant boost vs long-term benefit dilemma

    The question at hand is: should you opt for an instant significant one-time boost (henceforth called “instant boost”) at the cost of losing the benefits of the resource/feature & possible improvements (henceforth called “long-term benefit”), or should you not?

    Let's get a few things out of the way off the bat. Sometimes there are specific reasons why you want to choose one or the other:
    • You need the tile for a district/wonder.
    • You need the tile for a different improvement (for example to create three adjacent farms).
    • You want to keep a resource / feature because a wonder you intend to build requires it (Stonehenge, Temple of Artemis, Mohabodhi Temple, Chichen Itza, Mont St. Michel).
    • You want to keep a resource / feature because a district or wonder benefits from it (harbor, industrial zone, Temple of Artemis, Chichen Itza, Great Zimbabwe, Ruhr Valley).
    • You want to get a eureka or inspiration.
    • Timing constraints (for example, you need to harvest/remove right now to rush that wonder).
    • Tile appeal and adjacency bonus concerns.
    • Other modifiers such as your pantheon or Civ/leader bonuses.
    Looking at this far-from-exhaustive list, it becomes clear that the instant boost vs long-term benefit decision is a very complex one (and this complexity is a big reason why we all love this game!). Even without any specific reasons, choosing one over the other is quite difficult: the former can help you to get your empire off the ground fast but at the cost of leaving your lands barren; the latter can make your empire lag behind with a lot of catching up to do.

    Given this complexity, quoting exact figures is a futile attempt. Statements like “you remove a feature for x cogs at the cost of y for the builder charge, thus leaving you with a benefit of z=x-y...” attempt to quantify the trade-offs in a very simplistic manner. They fail to take into account how much of an impact this action has on your empire (for example, perhaps it helped you churn out two quick warriors to tip the scale and capture that neighboring city, which otherwise you would not have been able to, losing the benefits of that city, and snowballing from there).

    Rather, a better approach is to list recommendations or guidelines, with brief explanations. Some of these make a stronger case than others, so they are ordered in decreasing order of conviction. You can divide these into tiers, if you prefer. This list assumes that you do not have any specific reasons as outlined above, because there will always be situations that warrant exceptions.

    Guidelines
    1. Harvest/remove before building a district/wonder -- The resource and/or feature is removed automatically and the potential instant boost is lost otherwise.
    2. Establish Magnus in the city when choosing to harvest/remove -- This doubles the boost.
    3. Pursue ways to acquire builder charges cheaply -- Harvest/remove comes at the cost of a builder charge, making them very valuable (Pyramids, Liang, China LUA, Serfdom / Public Works); also applies to free builders (e.g., Aztec Eagle Warrior).
    4. Take advantage of production overflows -- When a builder performs the harvest/remove, the resulting instant boost reflects the benefits of active policies (for example, you may have Maritime Industries active, complete your galley instantly, and apply the remaining / overflow production to build a wonder/district next while benefiting from the additional 100% boost for the galley).
    5. Remove marsh and rainforest features -- They provide just +1 food without any options to improve upon (and also -1 appeal).
    6. Remove hill features and resources -- Hills can be improved with mines for +1 cogs (+1 with Apprenticeship and another +1 with Industrialization, plus other potential benefits) thus allowing you to reap the instant boost and offset the long-term benefit loss of the resource or feature with the long-term benefits of the mine improvement.
    7. Harvest/remove even if you already improved it, if warranted -- For example, you may have improved a hill stone tile for a eureka; once this is achieved, you can remove the improvement (no builder charge) and then harvest/remove. Yes, this incurs and additional builder charge because of the original improve and the eventual harvest/remove.
    8. Choose the Pantheon “Goddess of the Harvest” -- It provides faith equal to the boost gained.
    9. Choose the Dedication “Monumentality” -- The synergy with “Goddess of the Harvest” is just plain beautiful [In one game, I had Pyramids, Liang, Serfdom, and churned out over 40 builders on consecutive turns each with seven charges (I play at Marathon speed), and still had over 20,000 faith left when done (I even churned out six settlers in the process)! Needless to mention that I choose “Exodus of the Evangelists” the following era.].
    10. Place your cities closer together (like 4 or 5 tiles apart rather than 6 or 7) -- You may be left with swathes of barren land otherwise (unless you have access to UIs, see next point).
    11. Pursue options for Civ/CS specific UIs (Ziggurat, Kurgan, …) -- Harvest/remove provides an instant boost but leaves barren land behind, and these offer options to put the barren tiles to use (much like mines do for hills). UIs are in general not too spectacular (in my opinion), but still better than nothing.
    12. Treat flat land woods and flat land bonus resources case by case -- These can be improved with lumber mill, farm, mine, quarry, plantation, camp, pasture, or fishing boat, each providing various different yields (some combination of cogs/food/gold). Since they are on flat land, there is no obvious improvement you can place on the barren tile (unless you have access to UIs, see #9). [Personally, I harvest most flat land bonus resources, except possibly some food yielding ones if the city needs food. I tend to keep some river flat land woods and improve with lumber mills (they provide up to +3 cogs, and I retain the option of removing the forest later on - flexibility is important).
    13. Consider changing your game start settings -- When starting a game, consider choosing Resources - Abundant (more resources), World Age - New (more hills and mountains), and Rainfall - Wet (more woods, rainforest, and marsh). This makes for a much more interesting gameplay where builders become much more valuable.
    14. Performing all harvest/remove actions on the very last turn is the optimal situation -- The instant boost you gain increases as your Civ progresses, so this maxes the instant boost; and the long-term benefit loss is zero, so this would be the optimal time. This is listed here just for completeness, of course, and just to get the message across that delaying harvest/remove improves the instant boost to long-term benefit loss ratio. And this is, of course, just from a simplistic point-of-view.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
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  2. Iberian

    Iberian Prince

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    I don't like the mechanism. It basically leads you to chopping everything. There is skill involved in the timings but I think they are outside of what the gameplay was supposed to be and chopping is far too powerful. Chopping shouldn't be the primary force in your empires production. We should be building a Civilization to stand the test of time not pillage the map and win before any consequences are felt.

    Outside of chopping too many things have terrible ROI and not worth building, especially for standard speed games. There needs to be some serious balancing done and probably some work on pushing back the ability to win so fast. Someday when pigs fly the AI will help create a challenge to winning past turn 50.
     
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  3. Tech Osen

    Tech Osen Emperor

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    I chop very carefully planned most of the times. If I know I'm going to build a district or wonder then I usually clear it first. I like building national parks and resorts and stuff so keeping up appeal is also on my list. Very much dislike treating civ as an arcade game and just aimlessly chop everything in sight but that's just me.
     
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  4. legalizefreedom

    legalizefreedom Inefficiency Expert

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    One thing worth mentioning is a hill / woods / river with a lumbermill is the way to go if you find that combination.

    Is there a list anywhere that shows the benefit each feature and resource has? This would make the decision easier to make in general.
     
  5. shaglio

    shaglio The Prince of Dorkness

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    On a slight tangent, I miss the EUI mod for Civ 5. When you hovered the mouse over a tile, the pop up would tell you the exact values for each improvement you could place there. So many times I wish I had that in Civ 6.
     
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  6. Wit

    Wit Chieftain

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    A river hill woods tile with a lumber mill outproduces a mine tile by 1 cogs, but you do not get the instant boost which really helps to get your empire up and running, so I favor the instant boost (as opposed to river flat land woods where there is no good alternative to put the barren tile to use).

    The Civ wiki lists terrain/feature yields and resource yields, and also tile improvement yields.
     
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  7. FearSunn

    FearSunn Warlord

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    Still, it would be nice if someone with economics or financial background would care to provide more elaborated analysis with figures and numbers.
     
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  8. Tech Osen

    Tech Osen Emperor

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    I think one of the issues for weighing the short term benefits vs the long term benefits is that you don't always know how long the long term is. Short term is easy, if you see a hord of warcarts coming your way there is no reason not to chop...
     
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  9. FearSunn

    FearSunn Warlord

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    Right, but in such cases experts consultants use different models and different scenarios to present to the client.
     
  10. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    That sounds a little up my alley. It can be done, but you have to make a lot of assumptions.

    The biggest issue is it is almost impossible to properly value the time benefit of getting something done right now since that depends on what it is and whether or not you have to chop to to secure it. (Information you rarely have.)
    And this really is best looked at from a production harvest standpoint, since food means city growth which then depends on the tiles being worked and whether you unlock a district slot.
    If you use a specific example - the race for wonder XYZ- then it would be a much easier time.
     
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  11. FearSunn

    FearSunn Warlord

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    This is brilliant. Must read for everyone.
     
  12. Wit

    Wit Chieftain

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    @Sostratus: That is great, thank you.

    So, if we add Magnus into the equation, the intersection would move from turn 100 to about 20 or 30'ish (just redrew the blue line in my mind to start at 50 and end at 500). This would mean that by the time you get Magnus you basically have reached the intersection point and the instant boost is superior.
     
  13. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    yes @Sostratus did as good an analysis as you can really do. Chopping is quite case by case as @Wit is stating also. Just chopping alone on totality would take many many pages for a guide to fully appreciate.

    here is some points that add to the confusion.

    I will certainly chop for population now and that is not on the list above. Just to annoy though, sometimes I will not chop because I do not want the pop.
    I will leave a crab all game and chop it near the end as you say but the benefits are not just say 5-8 gold from the tile but the adjacency to harbors is huge and thats the real reason I will leave in place.
    Do I really want to chop those 8 resources in that city where great zim would work so well?
    That jungle where the campus gets to +3 adjacency?
    That forested hill that makes a great defensive position.
    Builder cost goes up and do you have pyramids? -How many resources do you have to chop?
    The chop is not so much about turn time as techs/civics researched, that is what gives you benefit.
    Maybe you need to save some chops for later wonders or a wooden spaceship.

    Bottom line, at feudalism your builders are much much better value. Also once you have feudalism there is a few small civics you want to research fast to mercenaries so research them and other small ones while creating your builder chop army and at this stage you will maybe around T80-100 anyway... so the right time to chop like crazy and perhaps leave a few left for special jobs later when builders get even cheaper to compensate for their now very high price.
    ....
    However chopping early can really ramp your game up if say chopping in Oracle or that first ship to get +3 era points or that first theater to ensure you get all great writers.

    @Wit have a look at this link Chop Example & Tables
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
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  14. Wit

    Wit Chieftain

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    @Victoria That is great info, thanks. Your table and post reinforced a lot of what I "kinda knew or suspected." Also, I did learn one new thing I had never heard of before: completing the Pyramids adds 1 charge to existing builders. Wow, I've build the Pyramids so many times (probably my favorite wonder) and I surely had workers in play on many of those occasions, but I never noticed they gained a charge. This is great to know.
     
  15. legalizefreedom

    legalizefreedom Inefficiency Expert

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    That's fair. The purpose of this is to tout the benefits of chopping, but I'm very selective in what I chop for more reasons than just what the numbers say. It doesn't take much to talk me out of chopping, particularly since it is so overpowered atm.
     
  16. Mesix

    Mesix One of Porg

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    Picture a city planner coming to the ruler in a classical era city:

    Planner: "Sir, we have a plan to boost our commerce by building a dedicated district for merchants and bankers."

    Leader: "What is the benefit?"

    Planner: "We should be able to realise a gain of 3-6 gold per turn, which will increase to as much as 20 gold plus an additional opportunity to trade with our neighbors for the additional investment of a market and bank."

    Leader: "So the market and bank are not part of the project?"

    Planner: "No sir. The market and bank are optional additions which we can add once the district is finished."

    Leader: "So the district is dedicated to the merchants and bankers?"

    Planner: "Yes sir."

    Leader: "And where do they operate."

    Planner: "In the market and the bank, sir."

    Leader: "Which are not included in the district."

    Planner: "That's right, sir."

    Leader: "How long will it take to finish this district?"

    Planner: "About 25 years sir."

    Military Adviser: "Ahem..."

    Leader: "Do you have something to add?"

    Military Adviser: "Our scouts have seen these commercial districts in two of the cities of our neighbor."

    Leader: "So if we also build a district, then we could both benefit from the trade?"

    Military Adviser: "Or we could just take theirs."

    Leader: "Do we currently have the forces for this?"

    Military Adviser: "No, Sir. But we could produce four ranged units, two melee units, and one cavalry unit in a third of the time that the district would take to build."

    Leader: "Our neighbor could also build units."

    Military Adviser: "He could, but he isn't. Our scouts see that he is currently building a wondrous Pyramid structure out in the desert."

    Leader: "Why would he do that?"

    Military Adviser: "Apparently his workers will be motivated to continue working and retire at an older age if they believe there to be an afterlife."

    Leader: "What do we do about this Pyramid?"

    Military Adviser: "We can take that too, sir."

    Leader: "Is there any way to speed up the production?"

    Planner: "Of the district sir?"

    Leader: "Of the military units."

    Planner: "We can send out workers to chop down the nearby forest. With the help of Magnus, the action of chopping down three hectares of forest should shorten the production of our military to only one year per unit."

    Leader: "Who needs forests? Send the workers to chop them down!"

    Planner: "At once, sir."
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
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  17. Denkt

    Denkt Reader

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    The reason why this is the cases is because districts and buildings have no relationship with population and produce raw yields instead of amplifying productivity of the population. There is no cost to having cities which mean even the realistic worst cities help your economy and stuff such as 1 pop campus cities make alot of sense in the civilization VI economy model.
     
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  18. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    We've been able to chop in Civ games for a while, although this is the first time it was extended to resources.
    The mechanism doesn't lead to scorched earth, the balancing does. In an ideal world I'm sure the devs envision players thinking "these 2 stone are the backbone of Meiertown, but if I don't harvest them, there's no way i can finish the Statue of Sid before my rivals! It will really hurt to lose those stone, though!"

    District costs and chop yield scale on the same parameter, which is a factor of 10 between turn 1 and future tech/civic. Terrain with improvements scale by ~3. Districts and most buildings scale by 1.5-2 if you slot the cards. Except the only buildings without cards are the production ones in IZ & Encampment, and only the IZ has adjacency. Your citizens don't ever get more productive per capita past the industrial era, but chops and costs scale until the end of the game.

    TLDR Chops scale ~3x faster with tech than terrain (aka population) do.
     
  19. bbbt

    bbbt Emperor

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    I'm sure they did a math model of chopping versus not chopping as part of the game design, but I suspect they used a 'turn time' baseline longer than is reality for a lot of faster players (probably the same issue with the district/chopping scaling per tech). That chopping is part of the production bonus cards (and overflow) massively exacerbates the issue as well. They added things like 'old growth woods' boosting appeal to try and give some balance, but appeal doesn't do a lot and can be boosted significantly in much other ways.

    I like the idea of expanding the bonuses for the resources, whether through buildings (even Civ 5's much lamented Longhouse might work better in 6 with it's fewer percentage bonuses) or adjacency bonuses (as Victoria noted - probably not chopping the sea resources giving your harbors bonuses, and I doubt Germany is chopping the resources around its Hansa). I'd really like a lot more map interaction like that in general (more improvements that get bonuses near resources as well, maybe things like unique cultural improvements giving adjacency bonuses to cultural districts).
     
  20. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    I'm not so sure about this. If there's one thing the numbers of civ6 do, its strive for clean looking progressions. I refer to it as the "1-2-3" system.
    Chops, districts, units, follow a 1:10 production scale, units gain 10 strength per era, techs have a linearly rising cost for the most part (excluding a small bump in the renn, until the information era, it's very close to a line of the form y=mx+b.)
    District buildings themselves follow yield progressions like 2-3-4 or 3-5-7 and have their cost based on whichever tier they are from in the tech tree.

    There's a hitch with this. It's pure, its clean, its something you'd find in a board game manual- but costs (chop, districts, buildings, wonders, units) have no internal tie in to terrain and yield (terrain, improvements and buildings specifically.)
    If you look at the resource page, one thing is made very clear for bonus and luxury resources:
    There is a very clear standard for what different yields are worth compared to each other.
    1 science = 1 culture = 1 faith = 3 gold.
    1 food = 1 production = 2 gold.
    All luxes* are valued at 3 gold equivalent, all bonuses yield 2 gold equivalent. *Except sugar and citrus, which should be 1.5 food but are 2.
    Now, elsewhere we see that food and production are considered equal and also worth twice what gold is (chop jungle vs forest, same total yield, even though jungle is split. Chop sheep, deer, and copper: sheep (food)=deer(prod), copper provides 2x the amount in gold.)

    But, then, everything goes to crap when districts come into play. In the world of districts, food, production, science, culture, and faith are considered equal, and worth 2 gold. Look at specialists: they all follow the rule of 4 gold under this measure. Everyone provides 2 yield, which is worth 4 gold here, except merchants who give 4 gold outright, harbormen who give 1 science and 2 gold (valued at 2 gold + 2gold) and military dudes who give 1 production and 1 culture, valued at 2 gold each for 4 gold total.
    Buildings are even more disparate. Production and culture buildings give 2/3/4, science gives 2/4/5 (close to 2/3/4, but there's probably a reason here*) and gold gives 3/5/7.
    What this looks like is someone started with 2/3/4 for everything else and 4/6/8 for gold, then they tuned it so there was -1 gold on each building and they boosted science a little. Remember that on release, a citizen gave more science than culture (0.7 vs 0.5) whereas now they are equal; after release they stated that the game was progressing too fast. So internally they probably had, at one point, felt that science was moving too slow compared to culture and nudged it up a bit.

    Religious buildings are an incomplete set, but support the more egalitarian valuation. One can get a building that yield a base 3 faith plus: 2 food, production, or science; or 1 housing, or 1 amenity; or 3 faith. Whether this is supposed to speak to the value of housing and amenities seems to be unrelated; they probably just wanted clean looking numbers and this is a flavor exercise.

    The "chop model" was probably that a chop should equal a certain fraction of a district's cost, and that was that- it's an elegant looking rule, isn't it?. There's no basis in the yields system for the fact that chop & district scaling should continue throughout the game.
    When we imagine districts as bonuses for having 3 pop increments, and thus providing a "bonus" to the yield generated from the worked terrain, we can see why science and culture districts are so incredibly valued compared to gold and production districts. The terrain itself places them as significantly more valuable than districts do, so a campus is "cheap" science. An IZ is comparatively expensive production. Chopping is the only output that scales the same way as cost does, so terrain becomes comparatively less productive over time.

    Thus, the invisible hand of the civfanatic tends towards chops and campus spam.
     
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