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My own Civilopedia: Settlers

Discussion in 'Civ1 - General Discussions' started by Osvaldo Manso, Apr 23, 2020.

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  1. Osvaldo Manso

    Osvaldo Manso Warlord

    Joined:
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    I decided to start quite a project: to write my own Encyclopedia of Sid Meier's Civilization.

    My first entry is about Settlers.
    I would like to hear your comments on this.
    You may also wish to contribute - if possible I would like to work with someone who could review my drafts and add some important info I might have forgotten.
    My intention is to write at least two or three entries a week.
    Anyone interested?

    SETTLERS

    Settlers are one of the most important units in the game. They are available at all the time (from 4000 BC onwards), i.e. you don’t need to discover any technology to build Settlers and they never get obsolete.

    In fact, they are so important that they are the only unit you start your game with.

    The value of Settlers: Settlers are the only units in the game to perform the following actions: found new city; build road; build mine; build irrigation; change to (some terrain types to others); build fortress; clean up pollution; build railroad; add to city (population).

    With the exceptions of found new city and add to city, every action can be performed an infinite number of times without consuming the unit. However, some actions are not available from the beginning but only after certain scientific discoveries have been made (the option to build fortress is only available after the discovery of Construction; the option to build railroad is only available after the discovery of Railroad; the option to clean pollution is only available when there is pollution to clean).

    Settlers can also perform other duties as any other units: establish contact with other civilizations; defend cities (although they are quite ineffective for this purpose); pillage.

    As all other units, Settlers can also be assigned to a new city (which can be helpful if the unit is a burden to the city), moved using the go to command, disbanded, wait (for orders), (put on) sentry, or given no orders at all.

    Although Settlers are not a real military unit in the sense that they are useless to attack and quite lame to defend, they are indeed capable of some military actions like capturing an enemy city or destroying it (if city size is 1) which Diplomats or Caravans can not.



    The problems with Settlers:

    1. When completed, Settlers always decrease the population of the city in which they are formed by one point (eg. Size 2 city becomes size 1) – this can be a serious problem if your city is only size 1 because the completion of a unit will cause the disapperance of the city.

    2. Every single turn, Settlers require food for maintenance (the amount depends on the type of government – 1 for Despotism and Anarchy; 2 for all the other types of government). This means that the amount of food available for the city to grow will be reduced, causing the city to grow slower. Sometimes, food produced by the city could be insufficient to maintain its population. If this is the case, Settlers will be lost when food storage is empty even before city population is decreased.

    3. Settlers have no military use so they will likely be destroyed when attacked[1].

    4. Many of the tasks Settlers perform take several turns to complete (affected by the type of terrain). This makes them even more vulnerable to enemy attacks because they can be occupied performing some tasks when an enemy attack occurs or is imminent.

    Note: in this situation, you are advised to make the Settlers abandon the task and move the unit to a safer place (usually a nearby city or unit).

    5. Unlike Caravans and Diplomats (the other units without strict military use), Settlers cannot move to tiles adjacent to enemy units (even if both civs are in peace).

    Suggestion: Use Diplomats or Caravans (Diplomats are cheaper to build) to occupy the tile you pretend to move your Settlers to and then you can move the Settlers even if an enemy unit is in an adjacent tile.



    When to build Settlers?

    Settlers are a key unit for every city. Once a city is capable of defending itself (let’s say it possesses at least one military unit, preferably a Phalanx or better), and capable of supporting one Settlers unit, build them right away. As a general rule, build a new Settlers unit whenever the previous unit is consumed in the act of founding a new city.

    Priorities in the use of Settlers:

    1. Clean up pollution – Pollution is like a cancer that will grow if not properly addressed and in the long run will damage your civilization significantly. If a city square is affected by pollution, clean it as fast as you can.

    2. Found new city – If there’s a good location available for a city, the top priority should always be to found a new city (with the obvious exceptions of being at war and occupied by enemy units or threatened by barbarians, besides the previous point about pollution).

    3. Build road – Roads are essential to link cities and to boost trade. Link all cities as early as possible.

    4. Build irrigation – Irrigation of grasslands, plains and rivers is important to boost food production so they allow cities to grow. It’s useless to irrigate rivers when your government type is Despotism. Don’t rush to irrigate everything. Irrigate as many tiles as your city population needs. After one or two irrigated tiles, switch to build mine if adequate.

    5. Build mine – Mines are important to boost industrial production. Unfortunately, only Hills and Mountains are worthy of mining (with some exceptions namely for deserts/oasis).

    6. Build railroad – Railroads are vital not only for linking cities and making the movement of land units incredibly easy but also for boosting food and industrial production.

    7. Change terrain – Turning swamps or jungles into grasslands may take forever but it is worthy especially when your city seems to be unable to grow on population or produce more.

    8. Build fortress (this option is only available after discovering Construction) – Fortresses are useless except under very specific conditions. First they take too much time to build. Second they require a strong defensive unit to guard or they will be ineffective. Furthermore, fortresses can be easily avoided by enemy units by going around or by using air or naval units. However, if located on a montainous isthmus they can be useful to block enemy land units behind the fortress. Their effectiveness will always be limited in time because, sooner or later, the enemy units will find another way or they will simply make it through with a little luck and using some tougher attacking units.

    9. Add to city – The most useless of all options. There’s always something for Settlers to do. And when there is not, it’s a good idea to keep them on sentry in case some pollution appears. A good ideia would be to have at least one Settlers unit for every 4 cities on the same land mass (more Settlers if pollution is uncontrolled). Besides, adding the Settlers to city might cause some problems in the city generating unhappiness and pressing for the need to build more expensive buildings for maintaining order in the city. On very specific conditions, however, add to city might be an interesting option to consider (e.g. when a city is unable to support Settlers and assigning the unit to another city is not viable).

    Conclusion: Settlers are the single most important unit in the game. Everything comes from that early Settlers unit you start your game with. They perform unique features that can not be performed by other units and they are quite resilient – they never get old. They represent the spirit of Civilization: Grow, Colonize, Develop.


    [1] They are not totally helpless since they have a defence value of 1 point. If they are located on hills ou mountains they have a fair chance of surving when attacked by a weak opponent.
     
  2. divec

    divec Chieftain

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    Hi Osvaldo,

    What an ambitious project! What you've written so far looks good. I have a few small technical points; I understand you may not want to include some of them in a guide if is supposed to be easy to read.

    - At chieftain difficulty level, a city of size 1 will not complete a settlers unit. The shields will just keep going beyond 40 until the city grows.

    - At every other difficulty level, if you only have one city, then you can build a settlers unit at size 1 without losing the city (i.e. without any population decrease).

    - If your city disappears because you build a settlers unit at size 1, then that unit has its home city set based on proximity. It seems to be the same rules that apply when you bribe a unit or find a "friendly tribe of skilled mercenaries". In other words if the closest city to the unit belongs to your civilization, then it becomes the home city, else NONE becomes the home city and the unit costs no food/shields to maintain. This gives a practical way to convert a maintained settlers unit into a NONE settlers unit.

    - Irrigating grasslands is the same as irrigating rivers.

    - Technically irrigating grasslands/rivers can be useful in despotism, as if you have a "we love the emperor day" (0 unhappy citizens, and happy citizens ≥ content citizens), then the land production behaves as if you're a monarchy, so irrigated grassland/rivers give three food units.

    Good luck with your writing!
     
    Osvaldo Manso likes this.
  3. Valen

    Valen TWAYF Builder

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    This is indeed a very ambitious undertaking. For a start, you have taken on the most complex unit in the game. A few notes if you can fit them in:

    Like almost any other unit, AI settlers can be bribed. The cost to bribe a unit is based on the production cost and distance from the enemy capital. One exception is settlers. The bribery cost is based on double the production cost. They cost the same as armor at the same distance from the capital. That tells you how valuable a settler unit is.

    Also, they have the defense value as militia, cavalry, legion, chariot and catapult. They are more vulnerable because they can't fortify for defense. The "F" command tells them to build a fortress.

    I must concur with your assessment of fortresses. If you want to defend a strategic choke point, build a city and put up walls. For an isthmus, that provides your navy a passage that your enemies will not have. This is just a side note - applicable only because is it a settler that builds the city.
     
  4. tupi

    tupi Chieftain

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    You also get 1 food bonus from irrigation under despotism in grassland/river square if you have a railroad in this square.
    only RR: 2*1.5 = 3 minus desp. penalty: 2.
    only irrigation: 2+1 = 3 minus desp. penalty: 2
    RR+irrigation: 2+1 = 3 3*1.5 = 4.5 (rounded to 4). minus desp. penalty: 3
     
  5. Osvaldo Manso

    Osvaldo Manso Warlord

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    Thank you very much for taking the time to read and also add some important "technical points" as you call it.
    The note about building settlers on a city with size 1 is very important - I always play "King" so I was unaware (well, I knew it but forgot it) the city would not disappear.
    I haven't consider that making a city disappear under certain conditions could be a useful way of getting Settlers from NONE - I will add this note to my text as well.

    Maybe we play different versions of Civ, because in my version (CIV Dos version 474.03), I get no benefit from irrigating rivers when my government is Despotism (not reffering about the "We love the emperor day"). Could you please clarify this?

    Now, I'm going back to my text and then I will move on to Militia.
     
  6. Osvaldo Manso

    Osvaldo Manso Warlord

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    Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment.

    I plan to write a separate text about some concepts of the game, maybe that will be the case for bribing units. Besides, the act of bribing is actually performed by Diplomats, so I will certain discuss it in the Diplomats entry. However, your note about the cost of bribing Settlers is definetely worthy.

    Yes, Settlers are vulnerable because of their defense point of 1 (although they are as tough as many units as you pointed out) combined with the fact of not being able to fortify (I will add that reference) and also because they can not attack (well, they can but they should not) in anticipation of an enemy attack. Furthermore, they are not as quick as Diplomats (2 movement points) so escaping the enemy unit is not that easy.

    I'm glad to see you agree with my opinion on fortresses.
    There are so many different ways of playing that sometimes I'm afraid I'm writing something which others will not agree.
     
  7. Osvaldo Manso

    Osvaldo Manso Warlord

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    Thank you for reading and for your comment.
    I think I will leave this issue for government types entries - those will be very hard to write, I guess, but for now I'm focusing on units and I will try not to get too technical. Anyway, thanks for clarifying!
     
  8. Posidonius

    Posidonius Civherder

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    Second-most powerful unit on the board is the Settler Of None. When your Diplomat bribes away another civ's Settler, and it happens far enough away from your own cities, then you get a free Settler forever. Don't use it to found a new city, millennia of development instead.
     
  9. Osvaldo Manso

    Osvaldo Manso Warlord

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    You're right! Besides bribing, there are other ways to get Settlers from None: on certain occasions you get two Settlers instead of one from the start. It is also possible to produce Settlers from None when disbanding a city (building Settlers on a city with size 1) if the nearest city is from another civilization, as divec pointed out above.
    In fact, it doesn't need to be far away from your own cities, all it matters is the nearest city (I wonder how the computer will handle this when there are two cities, one belonging to your civilization and the other to another civilization, at the same distance).
     
  10. divec

    divec Chieftain

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    Sorry, just realised I never clarified this. What I meant is, grassland and rivers *both* provide 2 food units when unimproved, and 3 food units when irrigated. So under Despotism, irrigating *either* is useless (unless you railroad too as tupi points out).
     
  11. Osvaldo Manso

    Osvaldo Manso Warlord

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    No problem! You're right.
     
  12. Tristan_C

    Tristan_C Emperor

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    This is definitely key to using the settlers efficiently in the beginning. In despotism, the only thing a grasslands needs is a road. That means it is really cheap and easy to improve. Lay roads on all the shield grass and maybe some of the regular grass, and only after then does it make sense to start improving plains. Prioritize settlers because this improvement scheme is cheap.

    ShieldGrass.png
    The shieldgrass pattern that every civ1 player will carry to his deathbed

    There was a lot of emphasis in this thread on NONE settlers, but you cannot count on getting these early. I think it is okay to run a lot of homed settlers. I home them to cities where further growth is, for the time being, just blackshirts. That way, the city stops growing and making blackshirts. It is way more worthwhile to maintain a settler than to build an expensive building to pacify a stupid blackshirt.
     

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