1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Rack em and pack em gambit - how denser city packing got me to Immortal

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by InvisibleStalke, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    Messages:
    1,329
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    A few weeks ago there was a thread on ICS - infinite city sprawl. Its not really possible to do in Civ4 due to the distance minimums, but it did challenge me on what would happen if I packed cities in tighter together. Previously I've been playing games where I packed cities something like this:

    CITY - cottage - cottage - cottage - cottage - CITY

    And because I was so picky about city sites, as often as not I ended up with dead tiles in the middle:

    CITY - cottage - cottage - plains - cottage - cottage - CITY

    My average distance between cities was probably around 5.5 tiles. And I thought this was optimum, going for quality cities over quantity. The thread on ICS challenged this assumption and I tried a few experiments where I would deliberately try and pack as many cities in as I could.

    The end result would be something like:

    CITY - cottage - cottage - CITY - cottage - cottage - CITY

    Aiming for a distance of 3 tiles, although in practice terrain features like sea and mountains mean that the average was probably around 3.5.

    I've also tried experimenting with wonders that help this strategy.

    Option 1) Great Lighthouse. Getting +2 trade routes per coastal city is huge if you have a lot of them. And one of the ways you pack more cities in is building more coastal cities. I've started to think of the sea two tiles out as part of my land - my job is to put it all to use. I like this wonder because I can reliably get it even when I tried on immortal.

    Option 2) Apolostic Palace+UofS+SpiralMinaret. This is a very potent combination - free hammers+science+gold x lots of cities. It is probably a challenge at the highest levels and really requires an Industrious leader.

    Option 3) Statue of Liberty - much more potent when you have many more cities.

    Option 4) Religious Shrines - spamming your own religion to more cities means more gold.

    So what are the advantages of this approach:

    1) The fill-in cities act as helpers to the good cities, preworking their cottages resulting in faster towns. My capital rarely works a cottage - when it has an extra population point a fill-in city hands it a preworked village or town.

    2) It takes a long time into the game before you are working all the tiles around a city. Size 12-13 cities can sit side by side fairly easily. Its only when you get to size 15-20 cities that you really need all the room and start to squeeze out the smaller cities. At that stage the smaller city gets compressed a bit , but it still has a few tiles it can work and contribute more than enough to cover its costs and more.

    3) You get the per-city bonuses of certain wonders as mentioned above.

    4) When you get Sids Sushi (which is important to this strategy so save that Great Merchant), then you can increase the food of each fillin city enough that even if its good tiles are taken away, it can run specialists and continue to support the economy.

    5) The economy is strong in wartime as more cities can generate more hammers. It is particularly strong in the renaissance when a size 8 city means three free riflemen in store. With more cities to draft from you can draft more riflemen. And you don't care too much if the fillin cities are hurting a bit from overdrafting for a while. Also because you aren't having to but up against the happy cap to get lots of tiles worked you are less damaged by war weariness than a civ that concentrates a lot on a few big cities.

    The downside would appear to be the maintenance right? But I don't think it needs to be.

    Phase 1 - early game.

    Get your capital and a couple of helper cities nearby working. The helper cities can work cottages for the capital while it is building wonders (good time to built the Great Lighthouse or do an Oracle jump for Theology), borrow its high food tiles and take some of the defense/settler building pressure from the capital. I like having a couple of helper cities for the capital because it is your most powerful city for a long time.

    Phase 2 - land capture

    After the initial cities are up and you want to expand to capture good city sites, proceed as normal except leave a little more space so you can fill in cities later. You will bypass some of the spaces you intend to fill in because you want to push your borders out and capture some good sites. At this point you are expanding much as you always do being careful not to overexpand before COL and currency help support your empire.

    Phase 3 - fillin

    Once you reach your natural borders with the AIs, its time to fillin. I do this as I am able to - continuing the same kind of expansion rate as before but doing it inside. Effectively its like continuing to expand your borders outwards if the AIs weren't there. So maintenance increases no faster than it normally does. In fact the fillins are closer so you pay a lot less maintenance than if you took that same number of cities off the AI.

    At bureaucracy I find I can increase the rate of fillin quite a bit. Also the wonders coming online more helps. 50% is my rule of thumb - if I can keep the science slider above 50% I can afford another city. I needed to get used to the slider being lower than I am used to - but because more cities are online my total science output is still very high.

    Phase 4 - march to victory

    Usually once I have nationalism and rifling I can switch this empire onto a total war mode and draft a very large army quickly. Then its time to expand through conquest and we can take over our continent if its rifles vs longbows. Hopefully it will be because if you have as much land as the AI but are managing it more effectively your science rate should be higher.

    Failing that and you can compete for a space race with as much land as the AI. In fact with denser packing I've competed with less land than the AI - filling in both Sids Sushi and Mining Inc made my densely packed land more than competitive. I'm usually taking 3-5 turns per tech in the space race and need to switch some of my commerce cities to production as I am raking in so much cash.

    I've tried this on Monarch, Emperor and won my first game ever on Immortal using this approach. It suits financial leaders and cottage economy, but Industrious and Organized are both strong too. I have not tried with a specialist economy - one variation I've been thinking about is to run specialist cities off the food tiles and then fill in cottage cities around them.

    So I'm all for racking and packing my cities in tighter...
     
  2. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,710
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    France
    seems promising

    Not 100% new, as many (including me) advocate some overlapping to be beneficial, but pushing it to some kind of extreme makes it a reliable strat.
    :goodjob:
     
  3. mice

    mice Moose

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Messages:
    2,180
    Location:
    tundra
    Very interesting that you can use drafting with the commerce econ , simply because you have more citizens than you would with conventional city placing.

    Organized would be good because civic cost is based on population I think.

    Darius springs to mind.
     
  4. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Messages:
    2,226
    Location:
    London
    Well written Invisiblestalke :) , this is a concept I've advocated for a long time. I usually have filler cities in my SE or HE games making use of a few odd tiles that wouldn't otherwise be worked. My version tend to be farm based rather than cottages as food is more productive. They really take off with Civil Service due to chain irrigation.

    I call them "drafting cities" and that is their vital role when Nationalism is researched. As you point out due to their small size they can usually be drafted 2 or 3 times before getting close to the happiness limit. Before drafting is available they make great whipping cities (early units have low hammer costs) and can produce a stream of catapults or missionaries while the main cities get on with doing the real research and GPP.

    The great thing is they only need a granary, barracks and courthouse since culture is taken care of by the other bigger cities near them. That means their hammers are dedicated to output instead of being invested in infrastructure like markets and universities. I usually build a forge in them if it's possible to make whipping more efficient and for the happiness boost which helps later with drafting unhappiness.

    I agree with your list of options and I particularly favour the AP+UoS+SM one. If I get the AP religion spread to me (perhaps 50% of games) then that is enough for me to try to exercise this concept and build extra filler or drafting cities. The AP boost to temples and monsteries make it worthwhile along with the need to maximise AP votes. Once committed to that economic strategy then either the UoS or SM become obvious bonusses and I try to grab one of them or both. I also like the Sistine Chapel if possible as the +5 culture per temple and monastery gets to be very powerful in border cities for stealing tiles and for overcoming Motherland culture in conquered cities.

    I would add two more late game options to your list and you should add corporations which you mentioned as well. One of my options that benefit this concept are the full set of espionage buildings of courthouse, jail, securtity bureau and intelligence agency which combine nicely to add a significant amount of passive EPs (44 EPs per turn) in exchange for 520 hammers since you'll have a courthouse anyway. The other option is to build a factory and coalmine for an extra +75% production once Biology boosts farm production. The small city size means that the usual health problems of building factory and coal are minimised and few if any health buildings will be needed.

    So I would extend your list of options:
    Option 5) Corporations giving food and hammers, Sushi and Mining being favourites

    Option 6) Espionage buildings (courthouse, jail, securtity bureau and intelligence agency) for passive bonus

    Option 7) Factory and Coalmine to boost production (especially good with either SP and workshops or FM and Sushi)

    You are entirely right to point out that this approach greatly increases your output in terms of research and hammers from a given land area and should allow you to compete at one or two levels of difficulty higher that your normal game. But it comes at a cost of extra micromanagement effort (more cities and more closely managed) and games take longer to play. For me its worth the cost but I guess it's not everyones cup of tea.
     
  5. troytheface

    troytheface Deity

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2002
    Messages:
    3,262
    reminds me of old civ3 multiplayer games. If war is your game then pack
    them close and build towards your victem.

    (although once on multiplayer an online ally wrote "let them build towards you"- while you build troops-)
     
  6. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Messages:
    6,954
    Location:
    New York City
    This is a very interesting strategy. I have often had these fillin cities and noticed they mature quite fast, becoming very useful in a short period of time. I never thought it out as well as you have :goodjob:

    I would think organized helps alot with this idea as the civic maintenance cost reduction helps keep up with the expanding number of cities.

    Actually sounds like a very good idea for a RPC game, particular Asoka!!
     
  7. ungy

    ungy Deity

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Messages:
    2,908
    One more point to add in terms of the filler cities: assuming your capital is cottage spammed and Oxford bound, early on if you have some overlap other cities can work cottages that get turned over to the capital when they grow.
     
  8. futurehermit

    futurehermit Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,724
    Very interesting. I usually try to avoid overlap, but that means a lot of good tiles going to waste over the course of my empire and also that my good cities spend a lot of time growing cottages. I'll have to try it out, thanks!
     
  9. Sjaramei

    Sjaramei Prince

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Messages:
    510
    You need Sushi for this to work properly, it's not worth wasting effort on this early. Late game I've been doing this all the time when i want to optimize my empire fully. (Sushi+Mining inc makes all those filler cities good and worthwhile)

    Sushi+Representation makes lots of cities awesome :)
     
  10. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2002
    Messages:
    6,489
    Overlap is definitely better than never using a tile at all.

    I normally leave holes in my city placement where there are lots of plains, then fill in those areas post-biology.
     
  11. absimiliard

    absimiliard Warlord

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    235
    Location:
    boston
    Oh noes! Not Asoka, Mao.

    If you're going to Hive you should go with the leader closest in feel to Sheng-Ji Yang.

    I'd say a tightly packed RPC should be Mao and focus on maximizing land usage, oppressing your people's unhappiness, and serious defence. Thus, Yang, err, Mao.

    -abs
     
  12. Bleys

    Bleys Deity

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,573
    Location:
    Upstate, NY
    I have been trying to do this in Vanilla, but I cant get around the maintenance, its just too high, even if the cities are all closely packed near your capitol.

    I purposely play Cyrus in Vanilla a lot because of his EXP/CRE traits, in an attempt to find a better way to REX. There does seem to be a point in many games where you can easily add a bunch of cities without too much impact overall, but that certainly isnt the first half, at least not in Vanilla above Prince.
     
  13. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    Messages:
    1,329
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Darius is excellent at this - mainly due to traits though. The UB doesn't get to shine much and you'll get less use from the UU.

    Thanks - I'm encouraged to see it working with non cottage strategies too.

    This is a good point - the filler cities need very little infrastructure. I generally rush in the granary and courthouse and then the rest get built slowly or may never get built. After the granary and courthouse they often take over building things that your empire needs - eg if they have good food and hammers they will be building units, missionaries, settlers, workers etc. If they are purely commerce they will build libraries etc - just very slowly.

    I like this too - but I've never been able to pull it off as well.

    All good - thanks.


    Thanks. They surprised me too as to how quickly they came in. Organized and Financial both do well with this. I haven't played so far with a leader that didn't have either organized or financial - since it seems to tie in well with those leaders. But it would probably also work well with Charlemagne (drafting with protective bonuses, Rathaus to cut maintenance, Imperialistic for fast settlers since you will build more of them). Probably also work very well for Shaka. And Asoka would be great.

    Yes - this is very important to the strategy. I get a lot of benefit out of this as my capital rarely works an unprepared cottage. With bureaucracy I see much more of a boost than I am used to.

    I disagree - usually all of my filler cities are in place before Democracy and helping me a lot.

    But I agree on the value of Sushi - I have tried for this every game.

    I find I can add a lot more cities after civil service. But I have concentrated my wonders on ones that will help the strategy and chosen leaders that fit with this strategy. It may not be as good with Cyrus:

    - Creative is less strong since for many cities you don't care about culture.
    - Expansive is less strong since with denser cities health is less of an issue.

    I think you might find it works better with other leaders. Heres my thoughts on the traits:

    - Imperialistic - B+ due to settler production bonus getting a lot more use.
    - Financial - A+ due to more cottages worked.
    - Aggressive - B - some synergy with better draftees
    - Charismatic - B - always a good trait but doesn't synergise with this strategy
    - Philo - ? - not sure - possibly an A- since you can run specialists in some cities while other cities work the hammer tiles or cottages.
    - Industrious - A - helps you get wonders you need. And the capital can run max settled specialists giving you a super capital as well.
    - Organized - A+ - civic maintenance adds up and cheap courthouses in the cities are great.
    - Expansive - C - makes a poor trait worse
    - Creative - B- - good for your land grab but less useful as you can fill in a city to solve border growth problems.
    - Protective - B - some synergy with better draftees, also you will run nationalism for longer if not organized. Also may help you protect yourself while running the strategy - cheap walls in all your border cities is good.
    - Spiritual - A- - I think this will work well - esp with representation.
     
  14. Sjaramei

    Sjaramei Prince

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Messages:
    510
    Well, we probably play the game differently :p I'm domination addict and expands through AI's most of the game, so i don't have time to develop a lot of cities except if I'm on a hemispheres map etc. Thats why i only do it after corps, the effect is more immediate then :)

    (And Democracy comes late in my games, need Rifling quick! :p)
     
  15. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    Messages:
    1,329
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I'm usually going for Democracy first to get the SOL which is pretty powerful with lots of cities. But thats a gamble based on the thought that I have time to do both. You need nationalism and printing press anyway, so its two extra techs. The golden age from Taj Mahal means I can race through the other rifling techs and get free civics switches to Nationalism/Emancipation/US. And then I head to steel to try and have some cannons to accompany my rifles army. Usually these are built by upgrading trebs that I had ready and by the time I have steel I launch the onslaught.

    But I agree rifling is a priority and if I wasn't confident of reaching rifling first I would give up democracy.
     
  16. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Messages:
    2,226
    Location:
    London
    It is somewhat strange to hear that anyone would build these cities after having discovered Rifling. I build them well before so they are ready to draft as soon as Rifling is researched. Each of these cities can give me 2 or 3 rifles in the first round of drafting and then another draft every 10 turns. I call these filler cities "drafting cities" as that is the main reason for having them.

    It is obvious that Sushi could make these cities more effective but what specialists would you run in a brand new city with Sushi so late in the game? You would need to run either Caste System for unlimited merchants and scientists, or build a whole lot of buildings (using Slavery or tons of gold and US).
     
  17. Sjaramei

    Sjaramei Prince

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Messages:
    510
    Well, when you have decent cities pumping out elite units and almost only are losing siege during your wars, drafting is overkill. (and hurts your research rate if you do cottages) I upgrade CR maces to rifles and slaughter everything (that is left ;))

    If you are building empire peacefully up until Rifling i could see why your strategy would be good.

    Oh and mining inc lets you build enough infra to get proper specialists.
     
  18. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    Messages:
    1,329
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    They aren't brand new cities by the time I get Sushi - they are probably at least size 6-7 with a few buildings.

    With the extra food I will:

    - Convert windmills and plains farms to cottages - I can now affort the -1 food.
    OR
    - Convert every tile I can in a city to workshops. Convert windmills to mines. OR
    - Run more specialists - depending on infrastructure. Eg +8 food is +4 merchants. If it has a couple of good food tiles it might make a second GP farm.

    The usefulness of the last depends on what sort of economy I'm running. If I'm running representation these will be very useful. However if I'm running democracy I'd rather have more cottages.

    If the city won't be able to contribute more then it won't get Sids Sushi - eg if the extra tiles it could work are desert and it doesn't have the infrastructure to run specialists.
     
  19. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Messages:
    2,226
    Location:
    London
    I agree Invisiblestalke, my drafting cities like yours will have been founded for over 100 turns by the time Sushi is available. My question that you quoted was for Sjaramei who advocates not bothering to build filler cities until Sushi is available, which I see as too late.

    I was asking how he managed to run a lot of specilists in a new city. He will have a significant build up time that you and I won't with our existing cities.
     
  20. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,214
    Location:
    Germany
    Link to the thread InvisibleStalke is referring to:
    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=255450

    Before I read about his successes (including a thread I can't find at the moment :( ) I had neglected the military applications; assuming that our quickly expanded and then backfilled empire wouldn't need wars of conquests before the game was well in hand.


    Your economy will be stronger than a less dense empire way before Sushi and even the Statue of Liberty. Those are the finishing touches that allow you to go absolutely nuts, but the earlier things are enough to make a densely packed empire more powerful than a conventional one.
    If international trade is lacklustre, I'd like to point out that Mercantilism is also a very strong option, although not quite as essential as I had assmed at first.

    I very much like Organised and Industrial for a peaceful approach. Anything to reduce maintenance is helpful. Early forges in the minor cities will pay off in the long run and the help on key wonders is also welcome.
    If Industrious isn't needed and for a stronger emphasis on warfare, Asoka would be very very good at this thanks to effortless switching in and out of wartime civics.
     

Share This Page