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How good are Pyramids and Representation, really?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by eben, Jan 16, 2006.

  1. eben

    eben Chieftain

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    i play on monarch, and usually make pyramids a big priority. now i'm questioning it, and wondering what i could be saving my chop-rushing forests for instead. is representation really all it's cracked up to be? i think it boils down to a couple of considerations:

    - from what i've read, high commerce and a financial trait with cottages outweighs specialist researchers, even with representation. this would seem to negate the bonus of research for specialists (since you wouldn't be using them)

    - how hard is it to keep your cities happy? is the representation bonus still worth it if you've got happy-making resources?

    - how valuable is the GP bonus for engineer? is this, perhaps, the biggest argument for pyramids?

    if anyone has a good argument for a different early wonder (or saving the forests for a later one) i'm all ears.
     
  2. Grogs

    Grogs King

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    I think that, especially for a financial civ, cottage spam is the stronger method in the end. However, it takes a while to develop those cottages, and until you start getting to late-game technologies (printing press) and civics (free speech) they're not nearly as good as they will be. There are also lots of times when you'll be running specialists anyway: when you're at your health/happiness limit, when your city is 20+, when you're fighting a culture war and need artists, when you've got a civic/wonder that gives you free specialists (Great Library or Mercantilism for example.)

    On emperor games, I've found this to be one of the biggest challenges in the early game. Most of your happiness resources don't become available until Calendar.

    There just aren't many ways to get early Great Engineers. However, I don't find this one to be incredibly useful though. The pyramids are either one of many GP sources in my GP city, in which case the chance of a GE is small, or they're in another city entirely, in which case it may never produce a GP at all.

    My single biggest argument against the pyramids is the cost. That's a lot of units/improvements/other wonders you could have built with all those hammers/trees. I'm generally leery of trying for the pyramids on higher levels unless I have stone or I'm industrious. Other good wonders, in my mind, are the Great Lighthouse (this one is HUGE if you've got a lot of coastal cities & foreign trade routes), the Oracle (CoL/CS slingshot), and the Great Library (2 free scientists are great in the early game - and you'll get GP points towards a Great Scientist that can then build an academy there.)
     
  3. cleverhandle

    cleverhandle King

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    Short answer: Extraordinarily good, if you play them properly - not the answer for every single game, but a very strong strategy.

    You're sort of right. Taking citizens out of the fields and specializing them is not the point of early Representation.

    You tell me. On Emperor, it's pretty damn hard - your capitol is limited to 4 people. Unless you're extremely fortunate with resources, you're probably going to max out at 6 or 7 in your regular cities without Representation. And the happiness limit is what brakes your economic development in the Classical Era.

    I've never had enough luxury resources early on to grow freely without either Representation or a beeline to Monarchy or Drama. And both of those techs are not cheap and are a ways up the tree. They're options, but I'd rather build the Pyramids when I can.

    It's huge, and it's huge because of all the synergies that fly around after the Pyramids. The Engineer should arrive just in time to build the Great Library, which gives you two free 6 beaker specialists, which (usually) pop out a Great Scientist in another 25 turns, which you build an Academy with, which pushes the GLib up to 21 free beakers per turn. Oh, and then Literature (which you need for the Great Library) also just so happens to enable National Epic. Build that in the Pyramids/GLib city and you've got yourself 18 GPP per turn without actually running any real specialists. By the middle ages, that city will usually push more beakers than the rest of your empire put together.

    As you've probably guessed by now, I'm solidly in the Pyramids camp. I don't try to build them without Stone (unless maybe if I'm Industrious) - they're just too expensive. And if the only Stone is in a horrible, horrible spot that I can't possibly hit with my second city, then I'll let it go. But I've played dozens of different Emperor starts in the last few weeks using a variety of strategies - the Pyramids starts are consistently stronger. Again, not 100% all the time, but pretty close.
     
  4. FratBoy

    FratBoy Chieftain

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    Dec 18, 2005
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    As has been pointed out the cost of building Pyramids is what concerns me most. Without stone you could get 4.5 settlers instead (or 4 settler-warrior combos), with stone it's 2.25 (or 2 settler-warrior combos). So basically it's worth 2-4 cities during the early land grab phase. I only try to go for pyramids if I have settled all the available land, and on the higher levels (I currently play on emperor) I will almost never get it. Even with all the land occupied (so no need for more settlers) I will often save forests to chop other things such as Great Library.

    It's also a bit of a gamble, since you can sometimes have Pyramids finished to 75% or so and the AI finishes it first. Sure you get some money, but you don't get the Pyramids OR those settlers OR have the trees left to chop other wonders. This is basically the worst thing that can happen IMO.

    I also think the best part about Representation is the extra happiness, not the science from specialists.
     
  5. Rain

    Rain Marquesa

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    I agree that the happiness bonus can be much more important than the specialists. Other than that I have found there have been moments when it has combined with mercantilism to be useful (free spec every city). Though this depends a bit on your degree of development and trade options. In essence I think it has a place as a transitional component of a strategy until you can move to a cottage based research structure completely.
     
  6. Strobe

    Strobe Warlord

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    I also like this aspect with pyramids being so early. It means I can really push commerce and production powerhouses from my first few cities which is where I need it in the early game.

    In most games I also rely on the GE to build the GL which takes care of my science for a while.

    Now the problem.... I am only playing prince at the moment so I can get pyramids everytime whether I have stone, industrious or not. Can higher level players comment on what level this becomes impossible as I might have to wean myself of it if I am to progress.
     
  7. Rain

    Rain Marquesa

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    Its not so much that you cant get them a high percentage of the time. The issue is what sacrifices are you making to get them. On lower levels you arent sacrificing as much relative to the ai's growth speed. Your time and use of wrkers and forests comes under increased presssure to make the most effcient use of them. What may have been a feasible idea at a lower level where you can afford a little luxury in taking the time and resources to build them has to be examined in the context of the particular civ you are playing and the availabilty of resources/forests; distance to them - how much time is this costing you/ is stone around and conveniently located/ how much tech do you need to beeeline for to build them/ versus what techs do you need to work the bonus tiles around your city. In my observation the compatability of starting locations and starting techs decleins with level and it is simply much harder to build something like the pyramids without sacrificing a lot of things more central to the growth of your civ. Even a good chop rush takes significant time and workers and those forests are often needed for other things.
     
  8. atreas

    atreas King

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    I think you tend to forget that, if you dont build the Pyramids, they will not "evaporate" - someone else will build them. And, unless you are terribly lucky (in higher levels, I mean) he will experience this boost in city size and all the goodies from the GP for some thousands of years. That's probably a luxury you cant afford to give to an opponent in, for example, Emperor level (where I usually play). Of course, there will be the times where you will lose the race (not so dramatic, it wiil afford you some earlier city build with 100% science), but there will also be the (not so few) times where you will win. And you will win just because the AI tends to build so many and many stacks of military units.

    As for the settlers + warriors that you lose, this also is very unreal, especially in higher levels. Even if they gave you those settlers, I bet that you really wouldn't want to have 4 cities at about 1000 BC (you know, the money problem :sad:). So let's examine what else could you really build instead: the choises (due to the shortage of very important buildings at this time) is usually some military units plus some workers, and maybe one settler only. Now the equation is much improved: I think that the Pyramids are a clear winner (considering they last FOREVER).

    Still, you mustn't overdo with it. Of course you shouldn't even think of the Pyramids before building the 3rd (minimum) or the 4th (bot not later) city. But that is about the only real precondition. As for the stone, it is very rare (in my experience) not to have stone in either of the 3 cities that you have built. That gives me a timeline of starting the Pyramids not in their "historical" date, but somewhat later.

    P.S. We all like cottages. But cottages are really better when the city can grow very big and work on many of them - and Pyramids complement cottages, they dont compete with them.
     
  9. Smirk

    Smirk King

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    Couple other things, you don't have to worry about the tech path to get Suffrage which can be useful in many games long before you could research it, with the added benefit that you can be reseaching other things instead. And thats not the only useful civic, Hereditary is also handy in some situations with emperor difficulty and above (with more than 5 cities naturally), again without needing to research its normal tech.

    In games with a spiritual leader I get it without question, switching in and out of suffrage to rush is a great benefit. In a science game the pyramids to get an engineer then rushing the great library is pretty powerful as mentioned above. In culture games the pyramids to get an engineer and rush sistine's chapel is powerful as well. Both strategies obviously require specialists so needs to be balanced when considering a cottage spam strategy.

    With the right conditions it might be a good choice for domination and conquest games to allieviate the reduced slider due to high maintenance costs. Say you are running Caste for merchants this allows you to maintain some research for free.
     
  10. cleverhandle

    cleverhandle King

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    Good points, too. For these very reasons, I actually find early wonders much more compelling at Emperor than at lower levels. When I go for the Pyramids, I always start them right after my second settler (for the third city) goes out. And like you said, at that point there's really nothing else I want to build. A Library is really only any good in your capitol that early. The AI's aren't interested in attacking yet, so I don't want to be paying upkeep on a whole lot of troops. Granaries are pointless, since the cities are still so small and the happiness cap is so low anyway. That pretty much leaves an extra worker or two, which never hurts, but a well-picked Wonder can do a lot more for you.

    edit: One other decent early build possibility that I've never really played around with would be missionaries. 450 hammers would buy you about 10 missionaries (depending on civics and monasteries) - that could easily be enough to have an impact on global diplomacy for the rest of the game. I think there are probably very sophisticated religious/diplomatic strategies that nobody's really explored yet. Obviously, these would be a notch above "found every religion and spam missionaries" like most of us tried in our first, low-level, Civ4 games.
     

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