Let's talk buildings

salty mud

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Buildings in Civ IV seem rather polarising - some (granary) are must-haves whilst others (bomb shelters) are basically worthless.

I'm always slightly disheartened to read from advanced players that "buildings are pointless" and very rarely, if ever, worth building. Is that the sign of a balanced and well-designed game? I personally disagree, though I am far from a top-tier player, hovering around Monarch/Emperor level. I find uses for granaries, monuments, barracks, forges, courthouses, libraries, lighthouses and occassionally religious buildings like temples and monasteries. The beauty of Civ IV, that Civs V and VI haven't come close to replicating, is the strategic choice each city requires - what should I build where and when? City specialisation, especially when mixed with wonders, is an extremely rewarding part of the game experience.

Are buildings underwhelming in Civ IV? Do buildings have different worth on higher difficulties? How do you use buildings effectively?
 

TheBirdMan

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Jun 5, 2018
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I consider CIV4 with it's most needed mods to be interesting for emperors and higher levels only. They might not be very interested in buildings - or they might. I simply don't know. I know I did play the original version many years ago, but...... I can't recall any details.

In the [BtS] expansion, I had to think twice. IS this building needed now, or should I wait - or should I let it go. Again, I say it depends on your skills and playing-level - and of course the map, number of AIs and a lot more. I remember I made most of the buildings in every city - not because I did think I really needed them, but it was easier just to accept what the game-engine proposed was best.


But after choosing to play the R:I mod only.... I can surely tell you, that you have to value each and every building (naaahhhh, not every - but close to) before you put it into the building queue. And you have to be prepared to changed that queqe as your nation develop.

When "we" have a building, that someone thinks might be useless or outdated (maybe because of other changes), it is most likely to be discussed in the R:I forum.

And in this matter - as well as in nearly every other matter talking about this mod - our "Court Painter" (as he call himself) do listen, before he makes his choice.


And Bomb shelters isn't the worst thing to have if you reach the modern era in the late game...........
 

georgjorge

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Speaking as a deity player, your list of buildings with regular uses seems pretty accurate. However, reduced cost (from traits) aside, the only ones I'm going to consider for more than one or two cities with special needs are Barracks (cheap, and war is always necessary) and Granaries (though not as much as Barracks - sometimes, there's only so much food to go around).

I think the buildings in the game are fine as is - up to the Renaissance, there are very few you are never going to build in any game. Theatres can have their uses, Stables get built occasionally, Walls are good for choking points (and cheaper than a single unit with Stone or Protective). University in main research city can be fine, Harbor if you get a lot of mileage out of intercontinental trade routes (or Great Lighthouse).

So we have a few very good buildings, a lot of situational buildings, and some GTFO-buildings. Seems well balanced to me. I think the overemphasis of higher-level-players on not doing buildings also comes from the bias of newer players towards buildings without evaluating the cost. After Alphabet, there's always an alternative to having a building, namely Research (and then Wealth), and that gets overlooked a lot in the beginning.
 

Bibor

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Well, most buildings are about city specialization. If your city has 3 hammers to work with, it's hardly worth building a factory (except if you're still whippin'). Banks fall into this category as well. No point in building them if you're "working gold" and putting the slider to 100% science (except in corpo/holy cities).

I'd say the value of building increases with game length in turns.

For me, the following simple math is as far as I go:

If you're at T220 and aiming to win at T280, you have 60 turns to work with.
If a customs house would add 8 GPT to my empire (very generous estimate) and it takes 180 hammers to build, if my city has 60 turns to work with and produces 20 hammers per turn (9 turns to build the customs house), I can choose between 51 turns of 8 gold (408 gold) or "hammering gold" for those 9 turns, which would yield me 160 gold.
The difference over 60 turns is 1428 gold vs 1200 gold. So the customs house is profitable. Provided AIs don't switch into mercantilism (which they have a tendency to do) or you finish the game earlier.

Most buildings are worth building in most games if you stack modifiers. The short-lived monasteries are probably worth it in a city with 10 cottages. Temples are usually a no-brainer with spiritual. Etc. This is also true if it's a tight race and you really have, say, 3 real (pop 16+) cities to work with. If you can't spread every single space race component or unit spam across 15 cities (in which case longer build times are okay to live with), you need every bit of "per city" multiplier you can get.

Special buildings like Bunkers and bomb shelters really make sense only if you look at the game at its "full capacity". Meaning starting the game in later eras (as well as scenarios), where air combat and nukes might be a thing from the get-go. In a regular 4000 BC game, you'll either be on the receiving end of aerial attacks or most often vice versa.
 

BornInCantaloup

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I started writing a long post and then I gave up so :
I'd say the value of building increases with game length in turns.
Yes. When people say we only need 1-2 Libraries, the implicit thing is that they have a conquest victory in mind (or low tech Domination).
People going for conquest and a cuirassier sweep are willing to turn down research, in the same way you would going for a Culture Victory after acquiring the key tech. Few turns after, size 10 cities drop to size 4 and... victory is in the bag, with the strike lurking in.
I don't think it's elegant but low tech victories can be very efficient and, well, drastically reduce the use for buildings.

For the record, one of my favourite things is an early HR+OR switch. I want those buildings and, if I go to Dom, I want knowledge of Electricity and Levees and more.
 

sylvanllewelyn

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Special buildings like Bunkers and bomb shelters really make sense only if you look at the game at its "full capacity". Meaning starting the game in later eras (as well as scenarios), where air combat and nukes might be a thing from the get-go. In a regular 4000 BC game, you'll either be on the receiving end of aerial attacks or most often vice versa.

Thank you.

Game settings (including single or multi player). Map situation. Victory condition. Most city improvements have some use.

If someone likes playing great plains, then yes, the drydock is not great.

Walls are used in nasty deity difficulty games. I would just quit. Some like to play it out.
 

PPQ_Purple

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So if I understand this right the TLDR is that buildings are not useless but that they are situational and you should not just spam every building in every city thoughtlessly just to clear out the build menu?
 

pigswill

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As BiC said buildings are of relatively low value when going for early conquest, granaries to enable faster whipping are regarded as essential, other buildings are compared to the relative benefits of another HA/Cuirassier this round. Ever since Futurehermit convinced the civ community that land is power early conquest has become the foundation of victory.
 

Bibor

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So if I understand this right the TLDR is that buildings are not useless but that they are situational and you should not just spam every building in every city thoughtlessly just to clear out the build menu?
Civ4 asks you to know how to stack modifiers and re-invest: Past investments should yield several turnovers (multiple profit points), as your game progresses.

I treat worked terrain in the city as the base yield, while also considering future projections. If my city is growing from size 3 to 6 in 20 turns and I want to eke out the maximum out of that new 3 population, I better make sure to have... ... specialist slots, improved terrain or something important to whip.

On top of the base yield, modifiers are crucial, especially the big'uns like Oxford, Ironworks, National Epic or Bureaucratic capital (the +100% ones). But they still rely on the base. Having Oxford in a city with 2 cottages is no good.

I usually decide on a per-city basis what modifiers (i.e. buildings) I stack, if any. If I designate a commerce city, I go all-in. Chops, whips, whatever is needed for libraries, universities, perhaps monasteries. I tend to found production cities post-Music so I usually skip on everything except food & production buildings. The only exception I usually make is if my leader has half-priced non-production buildings.

The same is true for further city specialization. One city will get a drydock for sure if naval is going to be a serious thing.


The turnover thing is also important. The fist warriors will scout, then fog bust, then go back into cities for (monarchy) militia, then maybe turned into pikes to counter those sniping knights the AI is so fond of. Turning yields into beakers, then turning those beakers into sold techs, using that money to re-invest into tech or upgrade units. The more times a single hammer, commerce or beaker can be turned over – the better.

The best players I've seen on YT are really stingy with new investments: settlers and workers especially. If you can make the AI build them for you... that's far batter (although AI settling decisions are one of the universe's persistent mysteries).

EDIT: I'm writing all this mainly because of the "neither here nor there" buildings like Marketplaces, Groceries etc. If I really struggle for health and my resources will grant +4 health, and that 4 health can be really turned into productive citizens I wouldn't otherwise have, then I bite the bullet and build the damn Grocery. If not, I don't.
 

lymond

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Buildings in Civ IV seem rather polarising - some (granary) are must-haves whilst others (bomb shelters) are basically worthless.

I'm always slightly disheartened to read from advanced players that "buildings are pointless"
I'd say that is an oversimplification of the advice. Generally, advanced players give such advice to newer players to get them out of the habit of just sitting around building stuff without focusing on important mechanics in the game. (Granted, if folks want to play that way that is fine but advanced players gear their advice toward moving up difficulties, optimizing, and being successful in achieving goals. I think the general advice is more along the lines of - with exception of the granary - "buildings are situational". This means that it depends on several factors but mainly the type of game one is playing and what one is trying to achieve. For example, many advanced players are typical warmongers so buildings will be streamlined and focused to achieve timely and effective domination or conquest. Some libraries will be built. One might build a forge in City A as it can best make use of it while City B really does not benefit from one. A well-designed HE city may never need a forge, as well as an NE city. However, if one is going for a Space Victory you will see a lot more buildings in cities for hammers, happiness, and health as growth is important.

So, with the exception of a few very useless buildings like said Bunker and some rather underwhelming or irrelevant UBs, buildings overall are fine in the game. It just depends on how you play it. Not everyone wants to be a pro.
 
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ArchGhost

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I play expansion heavy in broad strokes at Immortal level -- I want X amount of cities so I have X amount of unit pumps, X research and gold builders, so much of the map controlled in my culture, etc. So I tend to have dim views of lots of buildings unless they can provide a wide benefit, which generally leads to me evaluating the cost in hammers/opportunity of a building compared to whether it improves my empire's standing.

A big factor in viewing a building favorably is cost reduction from traits as well, so I'm sorta of a mind with georgejorge and I do agree with what that poster says regarding the early stages --after you get Alpha/Currency there is little consideration for most buildings for a good while unless you are doing something specific (this coastal spot needs a lighthouse) or are warring earlier than later, though my cut-off point is even earlier...I don't consider building anything higher tech than a forge or courthouse until it's time for the Factory-driven hammer economy, build wealth and GPP generation is just too powerful before that stage of the game.

A run down of the stuff I actually will build might look look something like:

Granary - important, every city eventually needs one though your +food surplus and whipping frequency modulate how early you really need one. Getting a granary as your very first build slavishly in each city is actually ignoring a lot of what might be a better option at the time (unit for fog busting? Monument for necessary border pop? need another worker while Cap works on next expansion? etc etc), especially if it doesn't really help that city (lots of food surplus) or that city isn't being whipped hardly at all --paradoxially, this can be because the city is weak in food surplus like a +2fpt city growing on cottages

Monument - always worth it for a CHA leader in the first 50% of the game, no question --they can be 1 pop whipped for no net happy loss, and provide a border pop and net +1 happy 10 turns after that. Otherwise not great and situational to the city site. Sometimes 100% necessary for border pops (offshore fish, etc) where waiting on an AI religion or Library (sometimes Writing can be delayed) is not feasible. In any case, waiting on Code of Laws or Music to pop your borders is a WAY worse option, and I view Mysticism tech in the same way as Wheel -- it is much better to get it sooner when you can afford to research it than later when you have need of it and can't!

Lighthouse - always worth it in any city with a fishing resource, I don't care what those hardcore players who are way better than me say :p +1 food an a tile you ALWAYS going to work is huge boon -- see settling on a Sugar resource, or the Supermarket. Also, as I tend to econ crunch before Currency in most of my games, coast tiles are preferable for short term digging out of the hole to non-river cottages (especially when I am stretched on worker turns!), and a Lighthouse is necessary for this. ORG or FIN leaders have even more bias towards them.

Library - very situational if you are not CRE. Libraries are expensive and take a good amount of productive resources (3 pop or chop + 2pop!) in the very early phase, while the greatest benefit they give (allowing you get to GS early) is dependent on the food surplus of their city site. They go in strong locations that can afford to whip them before the Alphabet > Build Research cutoff. If CRE, they go in pretty much any spot up until about Currency as they just blanket increase your tech rate, but they still aren't worth giving up Build Wealth turns for. CRE civs can also use them for border wars quite easily, which may even be necessary if you get unlucky with a pushy CRE neighbor.

Barracks - if you are AGG these are amazing for handling your barb problems with Cover/Shock/Woodie 2 warriors super early. Otherwise I tend to build them later during the phase when I am whipping war infrastructure all at once -- Forge + Courthouse + Barracks in each city. If I am Cuir attacking, I'll already be in Nationhood too, which makes them even more valuable on a mass scale for their +2 happy.

Stable - specifically for cuirs attacks, I'll whip these in all mature cities (small pop or weak island spots skip it) so the cuirs come out with 2 promos -- 3 promo cuirs are extremely effective and 5XP gets them halfway there. They are also really good for generating a lot of overflow into either the 1st cuir, or to complete the barracks before it.

Forge - this is first thing I whip going into war mode in every city that can actually grow. Try to get it down to a 3 pop whip, though 4 is okay if you get full (~30) oveflow. These make the subsequent infra whips much more manageable, grant you some extra happy (pretty easy to have at least one of the resources through expansion/trade by this point) and create the opportunity to chain-whip even expensive things like Cuirs with just a few turns waiting on regrow/getting over the 2pop whip threshold. After war they improve your Build Wealth yield!

Courthouse - especially important in the mid-game war phase, though typcially too expensive if not ORG or Gilgamesh to bother with before then. You cannot Build Wealth while producing units, and large empires gained through conquest are EXPENSIVE especially since the AI sucks at its developing land before you take it. The courthouse reduction not only stands in for the typically similar amount of Wealth gold per turn, but reduces your static costs across the empire even as you whip the entire thing down or gain more cities. Having courthouses already in place when the warring ends makes it considerably easier to recover too, and are good first whips when captured cities come out of revolt.

Factory and Coal Plant - no brainer once it's time for the hammer economy. In lots of games I just Build Wealth until Assembly Line after the war phase, whether that's done with Axes,HAs, Elepult or Cuirs. In games where I can peacefully(ish) expand into most of my surrounding land I may even just build Wealth from Currency until AL.

Health buildings (Harbor, Aqueduct, Grocer, Supermarket, Public Transportation) - these become necessary as you implement Factories + Coal Plants and you have the additional unhealthy from power and coal/oil. Without them, your cities start to hit a wall on growth as they start to get larger. Fortunately, once you have Forge + Factory + Coal Plants, these builds become pretty easy.

After that, the only other buildings I may build are Laboratories for space part building, assuming I go Space and not Modern warring.
 

Fippy

Mycro Junkie Queen
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It's mainly tech trading that allows skipping some buildings.
If i cannot sell techs for lots of gold, and have to research everything myself, i will start thinking much more about stuff like CHs.
Markets and Grocers are often underwhelming when they arrive, unfortunately no setting or goal will change that.
 

Bibor

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Courthouse - especially important in the mid-game war phase

In my recent (space) games i tend to go for super-early communism and I must say... courthouses are no longer my top priority, except in high commerce cities. I usually wait till chemistry workshops to get them done.
 

AspiringScholar

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Interesting thread. I certainly sympathize with OP's statement that buildings in most cases being suboptimal as a category at high levels of play to be disheartening, since they ostensibly should add plenty of depth and certainly contribute towards the feeling of building your own empire and curating its growth.

In Realism Invictus, there's no way at all you could get away with neglecting so many of them like you can in BtS, while they are also costlier amid a generally more aggressive and challenging military game. I'd really like to see a deity player try the mod and see what their impression is, since it seems to me that success at that level is very dependent on exploits which have been rendered impossible or hardly feasible.
 

qouigv93027

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I wonder whether the issue is the buildings themselves, or the absurd situation that "high levels of play" create. Civ4 tends to be a little bad about that, in that there aren't multiple viable strategies. To counteract the AI's insane starting bonuses, you need to optimize the one play - Bronze Working, chop-whipping axemen, and constant war tempo. So then otherwise reasonable game elements become lacklustre due to the need to pursue a very specific approach to deal with the situation.
 

AspiringScholar

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I wonder whether the issue is the buildings themselves, or the absurd situation that "high levels of play" create. Civ4 tends to be a little bad about that, in that there aren't multiple viable strategies. To counteract the AI's insane starting bonuses, you need to optimize the one play - Bronze Working, chop-whipping axemen, and constant war tempo. So then otherwise reasonable game elements become lacklustre due to the need to pursue a very specific approach to deal with the situation.

I get and agree with your main point, but doing the exact same play tends not to work in all circumstances in the vanilla game. There's still a lot of number crunching and weighing specific individual moves against each other, but yeah, strategically speaking there are entire layers of the game which basically get ruled out unless you're just having fun RPing or playing at a low difficulty level. The prevalence of no-brainer choices that you should be making 90% of the time (like running slavery as your labor civic straight until emancipation) means that the dynamic of strategic choices isn't particularly rich, even if the tactical side of the game certainly is.
 

pigswill

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Grocers are useful if you're running a full-on late game hammer economy with factories and power plants: +4 health = +4 food = faster growth or +2 specialists.
 

aieeegrunt

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Interesting thread. I certainly sympathize with OP's statement that buildings in most cases being suboptimal as a category at high levels of play to be disheartening, since they ostensibly should add plenty of depth and certainly contribute towards the feeling of building your own empire and curating its growth.

In Realism Invictus, there's no way at all you could get away with neglecting so many of them like you can in BtS, while they are also costlier amid a generally more aggressive and challenging military game. I'd really like to see a deity player try the mod and see what their impression is, since it seems to me that success at that level is very dependent on exploits which have been rendered impossible or hardly feasible.

90% of the “Diety level 4D chess” advice I see, for every civ title boils down to exploits trying to out cheat the crazy bonuses the AI gets.

Nothing about that appeals to me so I play at a lower level with house rules

Trying out Realism Invictus now, this could be the best Civ has ever been
 

AspiringScholar

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It's fantastic, though actually significantly more difficult than the base game at the same level, so it's typically recommended to drop at least a difficulty level from what you're comfortable with normally. It also plays at a much slower pace, but you might find that desirable. (A BtS game normally takes about 3-5 hours for me, and these usually go about 20-25.)

The difficulty stems much more from the cohesive interplay of actual game circumstances which are dynamic, malleable, and clearly derived from decisions made rather than from aiming to work around flat bonuses the AI gets. More to the point of your comment, though, I find the strategic challenge to be much more rich (even when it already was to begin with, admittedly) and rewarding, because you're simply not able to neglect certain things to the extent that you are in BtS.

Rant, spoilered out of propriety for this section of the forum:
Spoiler :
Think all buildings but the precious and cherished OP 50% guaranteed rebate on instantly converting food into hammers are all but rarely not worthless? Of course, I'll just grow my cities up with surplus unhappy and unhealthy population and convert them to instant hammers later like rolling a ball uphill, and I'll just let go when I'm ready. Other than a few turns of lost productivity for storing some firewood, there's no penalty for this. Only skilled players can see to play the game this way. Well, have fun watching your empire roil in plagues which reduce production and commerce and kill your people anyway, because you thought it was strategically obvious to neglect infrastructure. Lol, I'll just let my cities be unhappy while my stack is forcing 3 capitulations in one march while my WW goes through the roof. I have enough failgold from wonders and conquered cities to pay for the lost commerce, and I'm going to win the game with my stack anyway. Whoops, my noncore cities have seceded and my angry population has rioted and destroyed my buildings. Yes, there's challenge, timing, logic and math to timing your whips or your chops, and how large to make your stack relative to tech, etc., but it's sine quo non in nearly every game with very limited alternative, and you can't get away with half the things which are necessary in high level gambits. (Also, have fun trying your failsafe 60% siege army composition SoD for a near-guaranteed conquest. It's not going to work. :) ) While a more immersive and realistic feel isn't everyone's priority for this game, a lot of stuff in Civ 4 feels really cheesy, and it really doesn't at all in this mod.


I would read the whole manual or at least the quick start guide before diving in. And, with about a solid year of regular play in this mod under my belt now, a few things which aren't immediately obvious from both which you might want to know to look out for, if it helps...

Spoiler :

- If you go with the last official release of 3.55, IIRC barbarians are excruciatingly difficult. Like, worse than raging barbs in vanilla. Beware if you go worker first! Unless you can defend whatever improvements you build and the worker himself, they're likely going to get pillaged and he is going to die. Unless you start on a narrow landmass, you likely won't even have enough hammer output (or it won't be worthwhile, at any rate) to try and fogbust. Realistically you're going to have to fight a brutal early war against the barbs, so use your grace period when it's just animals and they can't enter your borders wisely to prepare.

- Karadoc AI was merged in to this mod, so be prepared for it to be a lot more competent. If you select "AI plays to win" it basically just erases leader personalities entirely and they will become complete psychopaths. I don't recommend this setting, as things like predictable behavior and leader personalities (fully detailed in the pedia, by the way) will cease to matter. Be fully prepared for someone to rush you in the bronze age. Also, no more "Lol, you can't DoW me at pleased! " (Or even friendly! If you're weak and lucrative enough, there's still a good possibility that you'll get attacked, though it is still less likely at higher relations, and I'm not talking about just the Catherine bribe.):backstab:

- No more colonizing your production city(ies) with great generals for ridiculously powerful units right out of the gate. Instead, you found military doctrines and traditions to access special promotions which are unlocked with techs and eventually expire with their era of warfare. It's overall much less overriding of the individual units' intended functionality.

- Until gunpowder, siege exists strictly to reduce city defenses and provide a small stack aid bonus when attacking them. Even with gunpowder, collateral damage is initially significant but not overwhelming. (Also, starting with bombards, artillery is able to do ranged attack barrages at adjacent foes.) Heavy cavalry also inflicts small amounts of collateral damage in the pre-gunpowder era. Don't expect to just be able to build 40 siege weapons and then wipe out your target with anything else you happen to mix in as a mop up force.

- Nukes are really devastating, but also a lot harder to get. With separatism, use them very cautiously as WW (especially with liberal late game civics) from them will generate a lot of domestic problems. You have to have a nuclear silo to launch them from cities, you have to spend a GS or a GE to establish nuclear expertise, and you have to have assembled rockets and refined nuclear fuel. Manhattan project was changed to "first nuclear test" which unlocks them subject to these requirements for everyone, and gives the founding civ a silo in all cities.

- Cities with a high enough threshold of culture have a percentage chance of generating partisans when an enemy attempts to walk into them after defeating the garrison. When this happens, the city's culture is reduced somewhat and one population unit is drafted into an irregular unit. The percent odds of this happening are displayed in the pre-combat menu. Also, all successful battles generate a small amount of culture for the victorious civ. This system slightly levels out the culture disparity in newly conquered lands, so that if you have a huge army taking down a major enemy city, your victory will likely entail that you have cultural dominance in some of the surrounding tiles, making complete conquests not often necessary for individual cities to be worth taking. Take note, though, that if you do decide to completely kill an opponent, it doesn't eliminate their culture as it does in the base game. Those formerly patriated citizens will keep their national allegiance until they get weeded out by your own culture, and can secede and reform the previous civ if you don't keep them happy enough or can't suppress their desire for independence.

- Until the renaissance/industrial era, specialist slots are fairly hard to come by more than one or two of, and the opportunity costs of running them are greater. Caste system does not let you just spam all the specialists you want anymore. Also, a new specialist has been added, which appreciates significantly in value by the time of the industrial era: the craftsman. It is like an engineer, but its yield scales with industrial infrastructure and it does not generate GPP. This way, production is not strictly tied to hills and watermills, etc., such that an industrialized civ generates a strong core of production from its cities themselves. Electrical power is not just a flat production boost for factories anymore, but a strict prerequisite for many critical buildings in the late industrial/modern era. Force someone into a blackout, watch them suffer. :devil:

- Transports cannot enter enemy territory and unload troops on the same turn. Prior to this, interturn landings were possible; but now, you have to properly escort an invasion force or the enemy navy (provided that it is within range) will have the chance to intercept (just as it is with air units). As it worked before, you could just sneak in and drop of an invasion force with zero challenge from the enemy navy, however strong, as long as you had enough move points from the DoW to being able to hit their shore, which is totally silly.


These are just a few things that come to mind off hand and which I wish I'd known before starting which aren't clearly detailed elsewhere. The real meat of the changes are in the manual. Hope it helps, and that you enjoy the excellent mod.
 
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