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ICS - a thought exercise

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Iranon, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    One of the most reviled feature of earlier Civilization games was the Infinite City Sprawl, which didn't stop until your part of the world was covered in concrete. Before the aera of corruption/global maintenance, dystopian hellholes were usually the best way to run things... if you didn't mind the sheer drudgery.

    I'm wondering if the concept of founding cities as many cities as close together as the game allows still works, as there are a few things that apply benefits on a per-city basis:

    - Free specialists (Statue of Liberty, Mercantilism)
    - Trade (probably inferior to Mercantilism since it scales)
    - Corporations. A Food corp and possibly Civilized Jewellers may be necessary (the latter because of Maintenance Hell)
    - Religions, complete with shrines and wonders like the Spiral Minaret.


    I'd like to try this out some time, but I could use some advice first:

    - Which leader? Organised or unique buildings that cuts maintenance seem helpful. Any building that grants something that isn't percentage-based - like more free specialists - seems strong. Philosophical might help in the long run unless being so spread out ruins the whole Great Person aspect of specialists. Creative should allow some pretty ridiculous tricks.

    - Will this work in time to be relevant? Whether this approach is totally unfeasible or only becomes available under circumstances when you have the game as good as won, maybe the whole concept doesn't work.

    - Even if it works, is there a difficulty cap? I expect so since maintenance becomes in increasing problem.

    - Has anyone tried this already? If so, I would love to hear about it.
     
  2. Nkot

    Nkot Chieftain

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    Its an interesting idea I suppose. However, the question is that will benefits per city outweigh the city maitenance. If so, statistically it would be better.

    I think the answer is probably yes, assuming you got the right wonders (Statue of Liberty, Spiral Minaret, University of Sankore, maybe Great Lighthouse). Just from those your probably looking at ~12 :gold:. Most cities with a courthouse don't come even close to that. However, this is under a normal level of cities and would change if you had twice as many cities in your empire.

    So let's just say that it is (hypothetically) better in that it outputs more than it costs. There are also other factors that would make this worse in practice.

    For one, many of these "per city" benefits come late in the game, so in the early game, you would be severly hindered in terms of maitenance.

    Second, all of your cities would lack production. You could somewhat compensate for this with Apostolistic Palace, but you would still lack strong production areas.

    Third, each city would require its own bank, market, library, etc. to equal the tile output normally, and the sheer raw amount of hammers that need to be invested empire-wide would at least double. So, in other words, you basically need to build twice as many buildings with half the :hammers: per turn.

    Fourth, most players place their cities to grab a combination of resources that usually provide some sort of synergy. This sort of sprawl you are talking about seems a lot more formulaic and would lack the flexibilty otherwise to get hard to reach resources.

    Fifth, I don't know about other Civ games (I've only played Civ III and wasn't very good), but in Civ IV you have to have two tiles between each city. While you would probably have about twice as many cities, I don't know if this would truly create this "infinite city sprawl" as you described.
     
  3. Cam_H

    Cam_H Deity

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  4. reknaw

    reknaw the Hopeless

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    Maybe Egypt with Ramesses II, rush out Stonehenge and run preists in every city. You won't have a chance to get the early religions (maybe Judaism, but you'd have to neglect worker techs and BW), but with so many Great Prophets you should be able to nab all four of the later religions through bulbing. Shrune up your holy cities, then settle the rest in a Bureaucracy Wall Street Capital (hopefully also a holy city).

    Just an idea, I haven't the slightest clue if it would work or not.
     
  5. bestbrian

    bestbrian Just this guy, ya know?

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    This is like my old REX strat from Civ II: settle city, count five tiles in each direction, settle another city. Probably be best to try this on a Huge Great Plains map (room to move in each direction and to keep the symetry). Organized would be a good trait and Financial would add some nice synergy. Interior lines of communication are going to be a bear before railroads; marching troops from the production cities to the borders will take forever. So, your maint costs will be very high, and you'll have to maintain a large army on your borders. Some sort of hybrid CE/SE would work best, I would think.
     
  6. Verge

    Verge Let's hug it out

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    The difference between Civ 4 and its predecessors is that, in general, city quality > city quantity.

    That is why city specialization is one of the more frequent strategy topics on this website. I'd be interested in reading about an ICS strat, of course, but off of face value, I can't imagine it being all that viable.
     
  7. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    My Saladin game at the moment has a lot of these characteristics:

    - SoL + Mercantilism
    - UofS + AP + temples + monastery in every city.
    - Lots of cities - I rarely raze because of the incremental gains I get with even a rubbish city.

    Its not quite infinite city sprawl - the cities aren't any closer together than normal. Whats different though is that I get insane production and good research even with the culture slider at 50%. If I had managed to get Spiral Minaret then it would be even better. The insane production comes from the freedom to not care how badly I whip or draft any city. Even if I whip it down to size one (which has happened) it still produces for me. When the wars abate a little it grows back becoming more productive and storing up production for when I need it.

    It has a nice synergy once it gets going - the economy looks after itself while you concentrate on the warring. With three holy cities I can expand my empire almost at will - each city I capture brings:

    - After three missionaries from my three holy cities, whipping two quick temples and a monastery, and two priests running.
    +10 gold (3 gold multiplied to 6 in my holy cities plus priest gold. Would be +14 with SM)
    +10 science (from representation bonus two free specialists + two religious buildings)
    + 8 hammers (two priests with Ankor Wat and two religious buildings)

    Thats pretty good for a baseline. Certainly enough to cover maintenance and help the empire without considering the production of the actual citizens of the city.

    I doubt that starting with an ICS would be worthwhile. But it might be worthwhile to go back and add in a lot of microcities to fill in holes on poor land once you got the key wonders established. In fact I have a few settlers lying around - a couple of cities on that northern ice might be just the ticket...
     
  8. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    I actually envisioned something a lot more compact than that... in fact on a featureless plain I'd settle in a grid with 5 spaces between each city, which allows me to fill in the gaps once I run out of space.

    If we allow unrestricted rulers, the HRE seems excellent thanks to a great UB and Mysticism. Atm I'm mostly interested in general feasibility (as far as such is possible for a dedicated lategame strategy) and willing to give this any possible edge.
     
  9. Morgrad

    Morgrad Attack Rodent

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    Which is why I think the concept is interesting.

    With things like Mercantilism and Statue of Liberty, I can run Caste System and have a brand-new city that can't work anything but it's base tile running 2 priests, scientists, or merchants, which would likely cover it's own cost and add *something* to the empire each turn. If that something ends up as 1gpt with 2 merchant specialists until a courthouse manual builds and then 3-5 gpt - multiply that by 10-15 crap cities just like it and it's certainly worth doing.

    My gut tells me you'd be much better off making quality cities and filling in crap cities as oposed to packing everything in as densly as possible - but I'm definitely interested in someone else doing all the work to test it. ;)
     
  10. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    If you settle normally at first and then come back and fill in gaps with cities that can only work a handful of tiles then thats probably the best starting strategy. Normally I try to settle on sites where I can claim multiple specials which often leaves holes I never bother to fill. Since you aren't filling many of these cities until you have several wonders your initial game will be normal.

    Then once you get the final wonders you rush out settlers and fill in the spaces. I might try and see if I can rush in another 8-10 settlers into my current game to see what happens.

    I think an industrious leader might be good - together with organized. Thats Roosevelt I think. You don't need early religions - since you are going to go for first to Theology and Divine Right anyway. A super industrious capital with lots of settled GP (don't crowd the capital) and a mix of 50% good cities that get good land and 50% mini cities that work only a couple of tiles but give you the city benefits could be really powerful. The mini cities could be easily whipped for production or work cottages for the good cities when they are too busy to do so.
     
  11. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    Very interesting replies. InvisibleStalke, I believe I'd shoot for something very similar with the only difference that I'd settle the initial cities with the prospect of squeezing more in eventually in mind... possibly as soon as the religious wonders are worth it, possibly only when there is a food corporation available.

    ICS would be the end result, I see no reason to space everything every losely together right from the start when we can leave gaps to fill later. I think I'll try this in my next game; since I'll pursue this goal quite single-mindedly even when other opportunities present themselves I think I might drop the difficulty to Prince though tailor my civ/leader combo to it.

    I'm fairly sure I want the HRE and the Organised trait... not so sure about the second one.
     
  12. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Deity

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    There is a big difference between breaking even on maintenance (easy with trade routes and/or free specialists) and recovering your initial investment (settler, missionary, buildings, etc).

    If you compare all the startup costs, it's often cheaper to buy buildings in your existing cities instead of more settlers.
     
  13. Morgrad

    Morgrad Attack Rodent

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    OK - I did as much work as I'm willing to on it, and it has potential. I'm not going to go as far as saying it's viable, but it has potential.

    Without any maintenance reducing trait, I slapped down 30 cities packed in a grid 3 squares away from each other. A size 1 city with SoL, Merc, and 1 pop can work 3 merchants for 9 gold at stagnation (giving 10 beakers with Representation).

    Without courthouses the civic costs kill you - neg 45 gpt per turn from the get-go. This jumps well into the positive with courthouses in each. With the Spiral Minaret, a shrine, a temple, and a courthouse, each city can grow normally (using just the two free merchants) generating the following:

    6 science from merchants.
    9 gold - 4 upkeep - 1 more for a guardian = 4 gpt.
    Whatever the worked tiles generate.

    Well.... at a glance that looks way better than the initial maintenance deathtrap I suspected it might be. With 30 packed-in cities that's 180 beakers (which sucks) + 120 gpt (doesn't suck) + whatever commerce gets you. Turning 1 merchant into a scientist per city reduces the gpt to +30 but increased science by 270 per turn, to 450.

    With a super-science city adding to it, it's certainly viable as far as math goes.

    Is it worth doing? It seems like an awful lot of work that my gut tells me would be better spent abusing your neighbors. With the hammer investment of 1 settler + 1 temple + 1 courthouse + 1 missionary, 24 times over, I'm thinking you're better off with 6 nice cities and 24 settlers, temples, courthouses and missionaries (plus the Spiral Minaret) worth of hammers invested in military.

    I bet you could take 24 quality cities from your neighbors with that many hammers. :trouble:
     
  14. Morgrad

    Morgrad Attack Rodent

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    Agreed. My quick WB goof-off showed the investment to be trivially easy to pay off given enough turns to slow-build a temple with a net increase in science very quickly and hammers eventually. If you already have SoL and are running Representation, Mercantilism and Caste System, your only investment needed is a settler and possibly a missionary.

    You break even until your temple is built, then can re-invest the new cities hammers into whatever you need while making a tidy profit, while getting a science benefit from the get-go.

    I still don't think it's worth it - but if you're set up for it, the investment per new city is very small and quick to regain.
     
  15. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

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    Well, considering that not razing in domination victories will sink your economy into the trash, it would only be worse. The maintenance can get enormous.

    Trade routes: Problem 1: their start to increase much more when you're above size 10, which will be difficult. Problem 2: If you have 4 trade routes, once your number of cities > 25% of total cities, your empire as a whole will only net domestic trade routes.

    I think overlapping is best for heavy cottaging, so they are constantly worked.
     
  16. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    Very interesting, In fact the circumstances sound realistic enough, and that the maintenance isn't totally crippling hints at potential (after all, the early game will be standard with a modified dotmap to allow for a second generation of cities). Moreover, with the right civics and wonders the token cities don't seem to wreck your economy even if it will take a while to recoup the investment.

    My guess is that the filler cities wouldn't work many decent tiles in the fat cross of others; they will have smaller multipliers than the established ones and initial investments are already fairly high.

    I actually find your numbers fairly encouraging; that the whole thing is inefficient rather than crippling without corporations or Organised or Rathäuser is better than I would have expected.
    Since corporations are actually more efficient with small cities, I believe it's possible to create a ridiculous lategame economy this way, albeit at a high investment that might be more troublesome than 'just winning' in a non-degenerate way.

    Still, it'd be funny to see if we can break the game... definitely trying this next.
     
  17. Morgrad

    Morgrad Attack Rodent

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    Cool - post your results once you do!

    I don't have BtS yet, so can't comment on corporations - but I'd definately like to see the results of this.
     
  18. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    I think it works. It may not be better than other strategies. Essentially we are considering a normal empire which:

    - Has built four key wonders - SoL, AP, UofS and Spiral Minaret - or at least 3 of these. Ankor Wat is also good.
    - Settles good cities normally.
    - Doesn't raze AI cities unless they are really really far away.
    - Fills in later with mini cities - almost as many mini cities as real cities.

    The hammer investment to set this up is not as bad as it appears - since with AP the mini cities themselves generate 4 hammers plus the hammers of the free GP. The mini cities should build the settlers and missionaries to build further mini cities with just an investment to get the first couple up and running.

    Trade routes aren't an issue as we run mercantilism. Its at least two free commerce per city though which further helps the equation.
     
  19. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    Well, I tried it and it rocks.

    At least with Roosevelt. Playing on Emperor I managed to get the AP, UofS, Spiral Minaret and Statue of Liberty. I was lucky in that I was the only one to found a religion on my continent, so we are a big happy Christian family. I don't have a lot of land - probably 25% of a continent of 3, so my neighbours are larger than I am. But I packed in the cities as much as I could and am far and away the tech leader - and teching faster than I probably have before.

    With the priest income, spiral minaret and a great holy city I am running at 100% science.

    Now it isn't just a city-spam strategy. I have an industrious capital that builds all the wonders and settles Great People - that gives a lot of science. And I have filled the land with cottages (at least on green tiles).

    I have founded mining inc and sids sushi - next thing to try is what is the effect of spamming them throughout all my cities. I have a lot of size 3-5 cities that don't have much land in themselves. Will the extra specialists and ability to work cottages on plains cover the cost of spamming the corporations? I suspect it will in which case my science and production should shoot up another notch. It should be a safe cruise to space except I will have to raze a couple of Ghandi's cities at some point to stop a culture rush.
     
  20. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    I finished my test game, as Roosevelt of the HRE, and many things went quite similar. Apart from the vey start, I played mostly peaceful: Napoleon was nearby, and I don't like him. Poor starting techs mean any excuse to Zerg Rush will be jumped on anyway.

    I got pretty much all the useful wonders (including all religious ones... Industrious + Civil Service for the win), and fortunately Confucianism was adopted by pretty much anyone.

    Under Mercantilism, the token cities pulled their weight but were largely unexciting in comparison to what happened later. It was with Corporations that everything went nuts. I also went with Mining.Inc and Sid's Sushi and spammed them throughout my empire, although in retrospect this was less than ideal; the 4-corp combo might have been better with Civilized Jewellers at least spread all over the world.

    Even as it was, I had the most ridiculous economy I have ever seen in civ... modern-era techs research instantly while not knowing what to do with my gold kind of ridiculous. I eventually won a domination victory, trying to see if there was a critical mass after which my economy would collapse; didn't seem to be the case.

    Since fairly minor cities supported mostly by corporations demonstrated their viability, I really wonder if global warming could be abused - turn the world to ash in a nuclear holocaust, watch what's left of their empires starve while you munch on some seafood.
     

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