Pottery first?

ownedbyakorat

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So yesterday I rolled a random game, Monarch, epic, standard size, fractal, random civs, and drew Tokugawa (Agg/Org, starts with Agriculture and The Wheel). The starting location was inland, on a pretty nice piece of land with gold, corn, and about 10 flood plains tiles.

Well, when I see flood plains I think "cottage that right up". Now while I had gold, it's hard to get to work that tile very early without a food surplus... thus I knew I needed either to farm the corn or to work at least 2 flood plain tiles to effectively work the gold. I chose to cottage the flood plains first, rather than farm the corn, because early in the game, research is a higher priority than growth (as growth is quite limited early in the game).

So, ignoring all other considerations, I clicked on Pottery as my first research, queued up a worker as my first unit, and started exploring... I found Julius Caesar to my northeast, ocean to the east and south, Monty to the west, Mao to the southwest, and Catherine to the northwest. It didn't take me long to figure out that Caesar was on a peninsula and I was in between him and the rest of the map...

After Pottery, I researched mining to pop open the gold hill, then BW, only the find no copper in any convenient place. My second build in my capital was - get this - a granary... because I planned to take advantage of slavery to pop rush some sort of military presence. While the granary was completing, I picked out a second city site just north of the capital, which had ivory (I was aiming for happiness resources, as you need them more and more the higher level you play). Archery was cheap (5 turns) after that, so I completed the granary, pumped out 2 archers (one for home base and the other for the new city site), and set to work on the settler. JC very nearly beat me to the 2nd city site with his 4th(!) city - he was beelining for me, he had no choice given his location - but luckily he chose to put his city 3 tiles east of my chosen spot rather than closer.

I established my second city there, set it to produce a worker, and pumped a couple more archers out of the capital, while I pondered what to do about JC. I had just finished researching AH, finding no horses under my cities, and I found that Iron Working was all of 11 turns away. I got IW before JC did, found iron next to my capital, pop rushed a barracks and a couple of swords, and proceeded to clean him up (just in time, as he had both horses AND iron... he had mined the iron but not yet made a road when my swords appeared next to his 2nd city).

While I was cleaning up JC's mess (aka his civ), I researched writing and put a library in my capital. Now I could research Mysticism and Priesthood in 4 turns each... which then put me 19 turns away from researching Code of Laws outright. Which I did, and founded Confucianism. Inexplicably, the Oracle had not yet been built... so I built it in my capital, taking Civil Service as my free tech. Along the way I built a 3rd city to my south to grab fur and stake out a claim to a winery. So there I was, still quite early in the game with much unclaimed land to my west, and all I needed to do was research Metal Casting (11 turns) and Machinery to be able to pump out Samurai, before AD 0! Which I did, and rolled up Mao and started to kill off Monty when I went to sleep.


The point of this story was to ask if anyone has had any similar experiences, going for pottery first on a flood plain start and capitalizing on that to gain other techs much faster. I realize the gold resource had a significant impact on the research, but I have had that resource before without having such great success in climbing the tech tree so much faster than usual. Without making the calculations, I believe that by the time I hit Animal Husbandry I had made up the initial 14 turns researching Pottery and was ahead of where I would have been had I not researched Pottery until after AH - my cottages were villages already, making each flood plains tile 3F 4C.

The odd thing about this is that it is a major departure from my usual style, which is to pump out a few warriors to explore and secure the immediate area, then immediately seek to establish a second city rather than build up the capital first. It worked so well in this instance that I have to ask: has anyone else tried this approach, and what results have you had doing it?
 

acidsatyr

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it would've been even better if you went for mining first , farm FP and work the gold.
 

topcatdk

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I've done this with Cathy on a floodplains start as well (I think I had 5 FP and a few hills, a bit of grassland with forrest) so I went for Bronze Working to get to slavery, put out a worker and used a mix of whip and chop to get 2 settlers while researching Pottery. This was on Noble difficulty, but the game ended much later with the highest score I've ever gotten in Civ4
 

Zombie69

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Flood plains or not, i would do like i always do : bronze working first, switch to slavery, build an army with getting pottery, add a granary and cottages, keep whipping until the end of the game. In fact, flood plains are great for whipping.
 

Sisiutil

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Very cool story. If I find myself in a similar starting position sometime, I may have to give that a try.

I'm finding that one of the ways to leverage your chosen or assigned civ right off the bat is to take advantage of their starting techs to get a jump-start on other techs. In your case, since you started with the Wheel, you were able to get Pottery early. (BTW, Toku starts with Fishing & the Wheel; it's Egypt and the French who get Wheel/Agriculture.)

This is similar to going after BW when you start with mining, but in your case, a little less risky, since you can pretty much always plant cottages near your start, but finding copper is less certain.
 

Zombie69

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Finding copper may be less certain, but bronze working is worth it just for slavery and chopping, which are two sure ways to dramatically increase your production.
 

Armorydave

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Zombie69 said:
Finding copper may be less certain, but bronze working is worth it just for slavery and chopping, which are two sure ways to dramatically increase your production.

Strong agreement. Bronze working is still the most important early tech IMO because of the slavery-chopping-potential for incredible military advances benefits. I might go for a religion first depending on the game and my civ leader but otherwise I pretty much B-line to Bronze working.
 

ownedbyakorat

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To follow up, I played a bit more of this one today... as of just before 1400 AD, I've wiped all five of the civs that were on my continent off of it; Cyrus and GW share a smaller continent to the east, and there are two large islands northeast and northwest (reachable by galley) that host Mao's last city, Monty's last city, and five Russian cities. Cathy declared war on Mao, too, which gave me a laugh. I have founded Confucianism, Taoism, and Islam, and conquered the holy cities for Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity. Most other cities on the continent have been razed; I may have to put up one or two along the coast to prevent new AI cities from appearing. I've discovered Liberalism, Nationalism, and am about to discover Chemistry; meanwhile Cyrus and GW keep trying to trade me Optics for Paper (how cute)... Optics is a 2-turn research for me now, so I will let them spend their own research on Paper. Without ever making a caravel I've managed to circumnavigate the globe first, thanks to maps surrendered by Mao, Monty, and Cathy. Caesar, of course, never made it off his peninsula. And I've got a half-dozen level 7 samurai with CR3/Combat 3 just in case anyone gets uppity.

I guess at this point I have a choice of any type of win I want... I may just do space race as conquest/domination requires too much unit micromanagement, and invading the other continent with grenadiers and cavalry to mow down longbows is too easy to be satisfying.
 

clinton

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I'm a big pottery first fan, if there's plenty of worked squares to cottage. Pottery first allows you to reach bronze working in short order anyway, due to the extra commerce. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, if I'm surrounded by forest, for example, but I think pottery first is often a good play, as those cottages become villages, hamlets and towns 20 turns earlier than they would if you researched pottery later, that tech advantage continues for quite some time.
 
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ownedbyakorat said:
So yesterday I rolled a random game, Monarch, epic, standard size, fractal, random civs, and drew Tokugawa (Agg/Org, starts with Agriculture and The Wheel). The starting location was inland, on a pretty nice piece of land with gold, corn, and about 10 flood plains tiles.

Do you have the autosave of the initial position? It might be nice to experiment.

One of the things I've found, when playing the "optimize the opening" challenge, is that my instincts suck, and simple outperforms complicated. So I don't trust my instincts. I'm also not certain I fully appreciate the implications of 10 floodplains (wow. Super GP farm? Production megaplex? Super Science center? All sorts of options, none bad) That said....

Lets see, 5 happy, 6 with connected gold. -2 Health from the floodplains, and a base of 4 - those floodplains tiles are going to turn into grassland rivers right quick unless you've got some trees you didn't mention.
I suppose it is the right play. The cottages are ready when the next pop point comes, you're going to pop rush the granary anyway. You don't need the health until the happy bumps up further. Heck, you might even be pop rushing the granary before you hit the happy cap, so don't need to connect the gold immediately. You may want the corn farmed/connected before you start the settler, but otherwise it looks like a pretty good play.

Weird, but good. Assuming you don't get stomped because you didn't invest your early hammers in some defense, of course.
 

obsolete

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Pottery is a great first tech in a floodplains start. The drawback is your expansion won't be as fast, so you have to start fighting early.

Nonsense, just wip out setlers, no need to fight. With pottery you can whip to your heart's content.
 

ownedbyakorat

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Having revisited the game, I overestimated the number of floodplains a bit - there were actually seven FP tiles in the capital radius, not ten. I'm afraid I don't have an opening save, all I have is a 1055AD save early on in my war with Monty, and a 1376AD save where I've taken all the AIs off my continent... I only save if I'm going to stop playing for a while and pick it up later.
 

Andrei_V

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Did you check the "auto" subdirectory for the file "AutoSave_Initial_BC-4000"? The game automatically generates the start file, and it remains there until you start a new game.
 

cabert

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ownedbyakorat said:
Having revisited the game, I overestimated the number of floodplains a bit - there were actually seven FP tiles in the capital radius, not ten. I'm afraid I don't have an opening save, all I have is a 1055AD save early on in my war with Monty, and a 1376AD save where I've taken all the AIs off my continent... I only save if I'm going to stop playing for a while and pick it up later.

unless you deleted it, you have the 4000BC autosave in the autosave directory
In the same situation i would have gone for mining first, since at since from 2 you could have worked the gold mine, and still have grown.
After mining, it's a somewhat harder choice, and pottery is as good as an other, maybe better because of the granary.

The gold mine would have been a bigger shot in the arm, plus happiness too.

But you would hit the health not so hard cap soon, because of those FP. Thus needing agri, or a lot of pop rushing. 7 FP call for at least pop 7.
not really easy to get there.
 
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cabert said:
In the same situation i would have gone for mining first, since at since from 2 you could have worked the gold mine, and still have grown.
After mining, it's a somewhat harder choice, and pottery is as good as an other, maybe better because of the granary.

Given that an early granary is part of the intention here, I think Pottery (14 turns) before Mining (11 turns), is right, because you can start the granary immediately after the worker (23 turns). Mining will come in just as your worker reaches the hill (if you choose to take care of that first), possibly having stopped along the way to put in one turn on a cottage.

If you have settled on a plains hill, the worker comes in 18 turns, and the choices are a bit different.
 

ownedbyakorat

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OK I do have the save in my auto directory... how do I post it for people to play around with?
 

ownedbyakorat

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OK that was easy... see attached
 
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On a plains hill, so the worker is due in 18. Happy cap is currently 5. 6 health, thanks to the fresh water and trees, but -2 from the floods. So you start running into health issues at size 4 without the corn, 5 with the corn, 6 with the corn and granary.

(Wow - too bad you are cottaging all of this. It would make an awesome Ironworks site. Though Ironworks + Oxford is a nice combination, if you are willing to tear down the towns later).

My feeling, given this layout, is that the fastest approach is going to be Mining, Agriculture, Pottery. Gold and Irrigated Corn, both on a river, are huge tiles; the tricky bit is picking the sequence. It looks to me as though if you mine the gold, then farm the corn, you are always ahead with your improvements, whereas if you farm the corn first, you are always behind (every time you grow, you end up working an unimproved tile).

But "fastest approach to what?" is an important question to ask.
 
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