This article is intended to determine the optimum strategy for maximizing production in the first 40 turns of the game. My intention is to quantify the advantages of chopping down forest and to compare different tactical paths in the early game. Tactics to be discussed include the relative advantages of growing your initial city, building workers, improvements, founding your second city, chop-rushing, and queue shuffling. I chose a 40 turn window because in this time it is possible to have two solid cities, with workers improving both, and to be in position to develop a third city if you desire. Over longer periods the mix of tiles, external threats, and other priorities (such as road building and military development) complicate the situation. I’ll contend that the following general conclusions apply for normal speed games: 1. Building worker/worker/settler is optimal for early growth. 2. If you can either build a mine or farm a special resource before chopping you end up equal to straight chopping at turn 40. This implies that you do not need to research Bronze Working first (but do need to have it completed by turn 20). 3. Limited chopping (3 trees) is a key to getting your initial cities set up. 4. Growing your city to size 2 before building a worker carries a significant production penalty. 5. Queue switching will be discussed in a followup post, as will the develop-one-big-city first approach. Commerce is omitted here, but I contend that is actually reasonable, since significant commerce usually requires worker improvements and thus typically takes off later than this period. As you will see below, any commerce advantage from early growth would have to be balanced against the rather substantial production disadvantage. I’ll begin with some basics. A size one city has 3 free production and each additional population point (PP) can generate 3 more production (if there are forests or flood plains) before improvements. Each PP uses 2F. Before improvements, this means that A size 1 city has 4 production Growing a city by one PP adds 1 production Chopping trees yields 30P (at normal) and takes 4 turns including travel time. Costs for a warrior, worker, and settler are 15, 60, and 100 respectively. I’ll discuss epic speed separately, but tree-chopping is even more favored there (45 yield for a forest, workers and settlers are 75 and 125 respectively). Farms and mines improve basic production, and building them takes a minimum of 5 turns including travel time. Wheat and corn (with agriculture) and copper (with BW) add 3 production. Mines add 2 production, as do deer camps (but the base is low on tundra and build times are longer). However, mines clear forests, so the maximum production from a mined tile without a special resource is 4 (gain of +1 over a forest or flood plain). Normal farms add 1 production - but only on base 2 production sites or flood plains. Creating a farm on a flood plain also takes longer. For this reason I’ll only include the +1P (floodplain+farm and grass/hills+mine) and +3P cases for improvements. You can already see from the above that starting a second city adds much more production than growing the first city, and that the best improvements are almost as valuable in the short run as founding a second city. Normal improvements increase total production modestly, but only on certain tiles. No growth cases: in this model the first city build is a worker, usually coupled with researching bronze working. On turn 15 the first worker appears. I then compared the following strategies, all ending with 2 workers, and one settler. I also compared the lucky +3 production improvements and the more typical +1 production improvements. Here are the cases: A. Chop worker 2, both workers chop settler, improve B. Chop settler, chop worker2, improve C. Improve city(+3), chop worker 2, chop settler D. Improve city (+1), chop worker 2, chop settler E. Improve city (+3), settler with no chop, worker 2 with no chop. F. Improve city (+1), settler with no chop, worker 2 with no chop. Here are the results. Worker turns is the number of turns that you would have workers available to do things by turn 40 other than chop settlers/workers and build the first improvement: EDIT: Overflow was incorrectly calculated, thanks to junior7 for catching this. Was 16, should be 8. Case A: Worker2 T23, Settler T27, Imp T32, 21 worker turns, 8 overflow (12 x 4P + 120 from 4 trees = 168) Case B: Settler T25, Worker2 T31, Imp T36, 13 worker turns, 24 overflow (16 x 4P + 120 from 4 trees = 184) Case C: Imp T20, Worker2 T24, Settler T28, 24 worker turns, 6 overflow (5 x 4P + 8 x 7P + 90 from 3 trees = 166) Case D: Imp T20, Worker2 T24, Settler T30, 24 worker turns (5 x 4P + 10 x 5P + 90 from 3 trees = 160) Case E: Imp T20, Settler T32, Worker2 T40, 15 worker turns (5 x 4P + 20 x 7P = 160) Case F: Imp T20, Settler T36, Worker2 T48, 7 worker turns (5 x 4P + 28 x 5P = 160) Now, to put these all onto a common metric: The earliest completion of all workers and settlers is T27. After this point the main city can grow. Later starts are penalized 10P per turn of delay (4P in direct cost and 2P in delayed production from population points 2,3,4 each). Beyond that point the happiness and health limits can be relevant. The earliest settler is T25. Later starting cities are penalized 10P per turn of delay for the same reason. Every worker turn that is available after the base tasks above are completed is worth 7.5P (chopping trees; could also be improving for future growth, but that is tile-dependent). Production overflow is credited to each case as available. EDIT: Corrected yield for Case A Case A: +145.5 (4 trees) Case B: +81.5 (4 trees) Case C: +146 (3 trees) Case D: +100 (3 trees) Case E: -87.5 ( 0 trees) Case F: -307.5 (0 trees) EDIT: There is also a difference in the improved city production after the workers and settlers are produced. This is significant for cases A, B, C, E (where there is a good special available). These cases get stronger production released after turns 32, 36, 28, 40. When this effect is accounted for, Case C (improve a +3P special before chopping) saves a tree and gets the highest yield. Cases A and C are thus very close). Chopping is strongly favored, and building a second worker before a settler is favored. Improving a special resource is a wash with chopping first, and building a 4 production tile before chopping is disfavored. You don’t need to clearcut for a solid start. What about growing first? If you have the right tiles available you can grow to size 2 and put out a warrior by turn 10. How does this compare with building a worker first? We’ll focus on Case A above (worker/worker/settler), as it doesn’t rely on a handy wheat or corn. In this case: Size 2 turn 10, worker 1 T22, worker 2 T28, Settler T34, Imp T37, 10 worker turns, 20 overflow. In all the other cases we assumed the city would start growing on turn 27, while in this case 10 turns of early growth went to the city+unit and it is free to grow again after turn 34. As a result, I give this case 30 extra production for a growth head start (it gets 10 turns of growth by turn 34 while the other cities get 7), and add 24 for the extra production in turns 11 through 34. In effect, the worker-first cities catch up in size while the grow-first city is catching up in workers and settlers. This setup has a rating of +36, e.g. significantly worse than the build-worker first case. In terms of the land grab, it also postpones founding the second city by a potentially crucial 9 turns. An early delay in building workers (without growing to size 2) costs 25 production/turn: a one turn delay in founding a city and two lost worker turns chopping trees. I hope this is useful; comments/questions most welcome.