Much of the early strategy discussion in Civ4 revolved around comparing the cottage economy (CE) to the specialist economy (SE). There were dozens of discussion/flame war threads on this topic. In many cases people didn't even agree on the definitions of the terms. Over time, the picture got muddled further as people began to explore more facets of the game, and terms like trade route economy (TRE), espionage economy (EE), wonder economy (WE), settled specialist economy (SSE), shrine economy (SE also?), hammer economy (HE), and food economy (FE) became vogue. Ultimately the meta moved to a point where people realized what was important was the synergy between tile improvements and supporting civics, and that really dictated what kind of "economy" (economy as the primary source of and ) you were running. For example, you could build mostly cottages and run free speech/universal suffrage/emancipation--known as FEUSS--or you could build mainly farms, buffed up by pacifism/representation/caste system, known as PARCS. Early on, there was also a lot of discussion of city specialization. The Civ4 developers had stated that the days of infinite city sprawl were coming to an end, and players would be rewarded for building fewer, better cities focused on a specific purpose instead of small lousy ones. Experimentation by players like UncleJJ (who also posts here), Iranon, and Invisiblestalker challenged those statements, and revealed that unspecialized, closely-packed cities were very viable. Essentially, their strategy revolved around accumulating as many per-city bonuses as possible, and building as many cities as possible. I love to explore different mechanics in a complicated game like Civ4, and try to push the envelope in developing new or unconventional strategies. I spend a lot of time reading strategy threads as a result, especially old ones from the forums to see what is already out there. One of the things I realized over time was that a lot of the aforementioned economies are really misnomers--they are just sources of gold or beakers, and many of them are not mutually exclusive. Indeed a lot of them are complimentary, as demonstrated by UncleJJ/Iranon/InvisibleStalker's experiments with ICS. After reading their threads I wanted to see if I could apply these concepts to FFH. What did I find? ICS absolutely works in FFH and in some respects is more powerful than its BTS version, but as with all things in FFH, it depends on using the right leader and civ. ---- Let's start by figuring out all the per-city bonuses we can stack. In Beyond the Sword: 1) Trade routes/Great Lighthouse 2) Spiral Minaret/University of Sankore/Apostolic Palace+religious buildings 3) Espionage buildings (they generate raw in the form of espionage, while most BTS buildings provide multipliers) 4) Corporations 5) Happy/healthy caps* 6) Free specialists (Mercantilism, Statue of Liberty, Industrial Park, Research Institute UB) 7) Shrine/corporation HQ income *I didn't originally think of happy/healthy caps as per-city bonuses. I just thought of them as an empire-wide limit. It took me a while to realize that these really are per-city bonuses... if you add a sugar resource you don't get +1 empire-wide happiness, you get +1 happy in each city connected to the sugar. For example, consider a happy cap of 10 per city. You have 30 tiles of land available. You can build 2 cities and leave a bunch of tiles unworked, or you can build 3 and have more total happiness to distribute over the same number of tiles. In FFH: 1) Trade routes/Great Lighthouse (GLH is more expensive, but doesn't obsolete) 2) No equivalent in FFH other than the Infernal palace 3) No espionage buildings, but plenty of buildings generate raw and , including mage spells 4) No corporations, but Sacrifice the Weak is effectively a food bonus 5) Happy/healthy caps (overall less of both, so smaller cities are better in FFH) 6) Free specialists (Mercantilism, Liberty) 7) Shrine income (with some civs you can be almost certain to get a specific shrine in your capital, unlike BTS) 8) Wonders that provide free buildings in a city (Grand Menagerie, Catacomb Libralus, Nexus, Guild of Hammers, etc) 9) Certain powerful UBs that give per-city benefits, such as breeding pits/governor's manors and especially Planar Gates (!!) At first glance, most of the benefits are actually stronger in FFH, like GLH not obsoleting, commerce-producing buildings and free specialists easier to acquire. Moreover City States almost wipes out distance maintenance and reduces # of cities maintenance significantly--like a very early State Property. But, in FFH you don't have the two strongest options--the SM/UoS/AP combo and corporations. So what's the strategy?