Mid-game Recession...


May 25, 2006
I typically run a very expansive civ that tends to colonize as much of my immediate surroundings as possible at the beginning of the game.

Right after getting into the classical era and the costs for buildings and workers -- and most importantly, an army -- begins to take its toll, I find myself devoting more and more gold away from technology, sometimes to the point of my civ going on strike. My current game had me at -22 gold per turn, and I was forced to start selling resources (not spares) as soon as I could...

Historically, one could easily draw comparisons to say, the Byzantine Empire. While this is probably the most extreme example of this "mid-game recession" I've encountered, it seems like it's typical in every game at Noble or better.

Short version: How the heck do you get around the mid-game recession? Fewer cities? Quickly get a specific wonder or tech? Just looking for strategies or ideas to ride out the storm...
Courthouses, sell resources that you don't need from the start, do not expand into worthless territory.


What you want is in and out as fast as possible. Usually with superior numbers or technology, grab what you can/want, then re equip and build up newly conquered land.

Set cities to gold if you have to.
That's precisely what happened in the last game -- long war wiping out a neighboring civ, no courthouses, and a lot of undeveloped land.

Greek phalanxes though... gotta love 'em!
You should prioritise code of laws, currency, calender and monarchy. The first two will give you money, COL through the courthouse, and currency through markets and trade routes. The second two will give you happiness. If you have lots of plantation resources, go for calender..... if not choose monarchy and use heriditary rule.

To build a decent economy after early expansion, you want at least two of these techs as early as possible. One of the money ones (I usually go for COL first) and one of the happiness ones (usually monarchy unless you've got lots of plantation resources).
Does the number of cities tend to have much of an impact on your economy early on in the game? Or do you find this number to be rather meaningless, so long as you can quickly research code of laws, currency...

This is great stuff. Much appreciated.
I agree that code of laws and currency early on are important. But equally important is building cottages, which will expand and provide significant income to support your expansion. Also, it seems like I usually have common food resources early on, extra fish and corn, etc., which for some reason AI civs will pay a huge amount of money for, so I just sell them off unless I have serious unhealthiness problems. Also, if you are at war, send in some folks behind your main force to pillage--that raises a bit of money, too.
Great advice so far from everyone.

Make sure you have open borders with a few friendly civs too. This will increase trading and get you some income this way. Also prioritise building money raising buildings like markets/banks etc. These may not do much in one or two cities on thier own but added together throughout your kingdom they soon add up to that negative 20 you have.
My only problem is that I seem to run into problems long before I get to research markets... by the time I get to currency, my economy is screaming for help (and usually markets come to the rescue just in time).

Sounds like setting the workers to automatic isn't a common theme either... which may be an inefficiency I need to get rid of fairly quickly.
Yeah, automatic workers generally don't do what's... good... hehe.

Perhaps overexpansion is your problem? If you're getting major minuses in gold before courthouses, then you either have a way too big army (in which case, invade and raze one of your nearest rivals to give you more land later when you get the economy to support it and make you lose some troops), or too many cities (I'm a fan of REX (rapid early expansion) but it can be taken too far...).

A strong army and a huge empire won't be very good if you're facing enemy riflemen with longbowmen cause you couldn't keep up in science. So just balance things out, don't let one need of your civilization get out of hand with the rest.
Does the number of cities tend to have much of an impact on your economy early on in the game? Or do you find this number to be rather meaningless, so long as you can quickly research code of laws, currency...

This is great stuff. Much appreciated.

The number of cities is pretty much the only thing that has an impact on your economy early in the game. The number of cities you have and the distance each city is from the capital determines how much you pay for city maintenance. The total number of cities and your total population determine how much you pay for civic upkeep. Together, these two expenses are going to suck up the lion's share of your money...at least until hyper-inflation and corporation costs kick in during the Modern Era.

Check out the Financial Advisor (F2) to see where your money is going. You can hover your cursor over the City Maintenance and Civic Upkeep entries to get a further breakdown of costs.

In this sort of situation, your top priority tech should be Code of Laws. This allows you to build Courthouses and run the Caste System civic, which in turn lets you run Merchant specialists in your food-rich cities...basically, trading in production and science for enough gold to keep your economy afloat.

But your main problem appears to be overexpansion. It's true that land is power, but only if you can work it. If your upkeep costs are causing your units to go on strike, you're slowing down the rate at which you can effectively work (and defend) your new territory. More importantly, you're choking off your tech rate, which can only hurt you in the long run. It takes longer to discover the techs that allow you to build courthouses, markets, and grocers, which ******s your economy, which hurts your tech rate, and so on. It's a vicious cycle, and on the next continent over Mansa Munsa is quietly preparing to bring civilization to your primitive people at the point of a bayonet.

I'm probably on the conservative side when it comes to expansion, but I never build more than three or four cities. Unless I'm forced to go to war for horses or iron, or if somebody builds a tempting wonder or shrine near my border, I don't go to war until at least catapults and swordsmen, more often trebuchets and macemen. I almost always control my entire continent by the time I discover Astronomy, but by concentrating on my infrastructure in between wars, my economy doesn't suffer.

If you want to continue your current habits, one or more of the following is absolutely essential:

1. Playing an Organized or Financial leader will give you some wiggle room in your economy. To get the most out of the Financial trait, though, you've got to spam cottages like nobody's business.

2. Get religion, son. Founding a religion or nicking somebody else's Holy City are equally valid options, so long as you can generate the Great Prophet to get that shrine up. Shrine income goes directly to your treasury, so its importance to an expanding empire can't be overstated.

3. If you can't get your hands on a shrine, you can rig up a poor man's version using an enemy capitol. Capitols tend to be food-rich, making them perfect Great Person Farms. Maximize the city's food output, switch to Caste System, slap up the Globe Theatre ASAP, and run nothing but Merchant specialists. Settle any Great Merchants that appear. The cool thing about this city is that Great Merchants provide +1 food to whatever city they settle in, allowing it to grow larger, allowing you to run more merchants, giving you the cash you need to take over your next neighbor. It's like a perpetual motion machine of filthy, filthy lucre.

The Civ IV economy is an extremely complex animal, and a number of very smart people on these boards are still debating it. You might try keeping it small in your next couple of games and see how that treats you. Otherwise, that's about all I got.

Edit: Wow, that post sort of got out from under me. Apologies for the textwall, and feel free to ask for clarification on any semi-coherent, rambling point.
Good advice! I am a huge fan of REX... but I usually go for archers first, then religion (whichever one I can lay my hands on first), then currency.

Need courthouses... much thanks, everyone!
just dont go beyond lets say 5 or 6 cities before you got CoL and have started building 2 or so...then expand further.
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