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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. LlamaCat

    LlamaCat Emperor

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    great idea... two leaders came to my mind when reading this: Charlemagne for being protective and better courthouses; and Giglamesh for EARLIER courthouses and earlier access to Pottery and cottages via The Wheel. Will have to try it sometime. I love this idea of helper cities working cottages for the main cities... I hate working cottages until they grow.
     
  2. BurN

    BurN Prince

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    Well I'm glad you agree there is some military risk. At least now I don't have to blame my incompetence. :lol:

    I think you make some valid points. And I think I made the obvious mistake that comes with trying a new approach: everything is situational. I had three bordered civs (kublai, monty & nap). So I should've realized it was suicide trying to build peacefully and maybe restart to give it another try with more suitable land. Diplomacy can only do that much. You shouldn't make soup when you only have a fork. :old:
    However I was performing quite well in techs and score before getting wiped of the earth, despite of having the luck to be in a big chunk of tundra.
     
  3. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    I'd say this strategy works best when the filler cities work farms or to be more accurate the tiles that only they can work are farms. They can help large commerce cities by looking after their cottages while grocers or universities are whipped in. That way the commerce city gets its science and gold multipliers early in the game without losing out on cottage growth.

    However, I think the main gain from this strategy occurs when Nationhood is first adopted, so again it really favours a SE as that is often its end game civic, while a CE really wants to run FS.

    Nationhood is arguably the most powerful civic in the game :eek: Think of this, it gives +2 happiness, +25% EP boost and it can inject 219 hammers per turn into drafted units. How can that be true? Well, a drafted rifleman costs 110 hammers to build and 1 pop to draft, and 1 pop is worth 37 hammers if whipped in a city with a forge, so drafting a rifleman effectively costs 37 hammers. So drafting saves 73 hammers and you can do it 3 times per turn which is 219 hammers saved per turn. And unlike Bureaucracy which can also inject a few hammers Nationhood has zero civic upkeep. Used at the right time and in the right situation it is the most powerful civic.

    What is more, these so called junk cities are better for drafting from than your well established big commerce cities. A typical small drafting city might be size 8 and with a forge, marketplace and barracks could easily have 14 happiness under Nationhood. That means you can draft 3 times in the first 10 turns (with some growth) and then again on the 11 th turn. Having 5 drafting cities prepared for this moment is like having 20 riflemen in about 15 turns and that is enough to overwhelm many AI's still using longbows. Your established commerce cities are large and close to their happiness limit so 1 draft per 10 turns is the best you can expect from them without hurting output. So as a way of kickstarting a drafting strategy these "junk" cities are 3 times as good as a "normal" city. And like any other city they can still draft and whip once every 10 turns in the long term.

    It's not just drafting that can benefit from this strategy. Whipping is also more efficient. Assume you are going for a cavalry rush and want to generate cavalry quickly as soon as it is researched. Say you have a size 8 junk city (normally working grassland and plains farms) between two size 16 commerce cities. Just let the junk city borrow a pig tile from one city and a wheat from the other and it gets a big increase in food income. A cavalry costs 120 hammers and that's about 3 pop whipped with a forge. Whipping 3 pop from a size 8 city down to size 5 costs 15, 16 and 17 food (= 48 food) to regrow which means whipping once every 5 turns needs about 10 food per turn. Again the size 8 city can keep this whipping spree up for many turns since it has significant happiness headroom. Note that it is more efficient in resource terms to use the small city for whipping as a size 16 city would need 23, 24 and 25 food (= 72 food) to regrow from a 3 pop whip so loaning a good food resource is more efficent than doing the whipping itself.

    Of course the whipping and food loan trick can be used to exploit all sorts of military technologies and is only limited by the amount of spare happiness the filler city has.
     
  4. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    UncleJJ, thats definitely food for thought. I typically have run farms in the mini cities only to the extent required to help them work mines and once I have sushi often remove these farms and grassland mines and convert to cottages.

    Your logic makes a lot of sense - at least up until the point you are committed to a peaceful spacerace when switching to cottages in the minicities should give a better result. I think I will try this in subsequent games - the higher production that farms will buy me pre-Democracy will be appreciated.
     
  5. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    I agree with this while your empire is medium sized and you aren't fully populated with towns. Late game the US/FS combo beats it IMO. If you are running 150 towns thats 300 extra commerce before multipliers and 150 extra hammers. Assuming +100% on gold and +50% on hammers thats 225 hammers and 600 commerce produced. If you keep your science output the same and put the commerce into gold then you can rushbuy 2 additional units a turn without dropping your science rate, plus the extra production of 225 hammers which should make at least one further additional unit a turn.

    You don't sacrifice population to do this and you can drop your science to zero to build many more units a turn. Best of all you can build them in cities that are close to where you want to use them, or which are the right religion to get the theocracy bonus. And rushbought units have full XP.

    Anyway it doesn't change your point that Nationalism is a great civic. To me its perfectly positioned in the tech tree as a useful stage between bureaucracy and free speech. Bureaucracy being best overall when your empire is small. Nationalism being best for a medium sized empire gearing up to becoming large. And Free Speech being best for a large empire with lots of cities and towns.
     
  6. lilnev

    lilnev King

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    Nationalism can make sense into the late game if you have a strong food corp. A Mech Inf every 10 turns is like 20 hammers/turn, and a size 11-14 city only requires ~+7 food surplus to handle the regrowth. Compare to Mining Inc, which would have to supply +9 or 10 hammers before multipliers (and no one says you can't run both corps!).

    Or more relevently, compare drafting to FS and rush-buying plus engineers from the +7 food surplus:
    2 commerce/town * 5 towns/city * 200% multipliers / 3 commerce/hammer, + 3.5 engineers * 2 hammers/engineer * 200% multipliers = 20.7 hammers/turn per city.

    So 5 towns/city (empire-wide) is about the point where FS + rush-buying + engineers breaks even hammer-wise with drafting mech infs, if you have a decent food corp (although the former allows more flexibility to produce things besides mech inf, plus they start with full XP; the latter allows you the flexibility to "surge" at the cost of your economy for a time-sensitive fight).

    peace,
    lilnev
     
  7. A_Hamster

    A_Hamster Small Furry Animal

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    There's been mention of how Sid's Sushi really makes this strategy take off in the endgame. For those of us who don't have BtS, how viable is this strategy without the corps?

    As regards the leader traits, does Imperialistic have a place with its half-cost Settlers, or is it by the time your empire can afford these fill-in cities a hundred hammers for a Settler isn't a big deal?

    I do like the sound of this though, especially with the use of these tiny cities to produce little things like Missionaries. It's a bit annoying to have to waste a couple of turns in a production powerhouse to produce a minor but important unit. Being able to delegate those tasks would be great.
     
  8. Bleys

    Bleys Deity

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    Does the AI in Warlords have the same "settle behind you" crap that Vanilla has, because thats what I find hurts the most when I try to pull this off. Its much more difficult in Vanilla, if you give them a few tiles, they will drop a city in there every time.
     
  9. A_Hamster

    A_Hamster Small Furry Animal

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    It hasn't changed from what I've seen. The AI will even try this near high culture cities and then the start-up gets swallowed up by the culture of my Wonder farm. In the early game though ... I've been axe-rushing more. "Okay, Isabella, enough with the annoying little cities blocking my roads and no Open Borders!"
     
  10. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    I find they keep their cities contiguous more than they used to. I do keep an eye out for AI settlers to make sure they don't creep in. Also watch out for barbarian cities. I like to keep a couple of axemen sitting by the barb city if I think the AI will go for it. I can pick off any barbarians leaving the city and let the AI suicide some units then take it for myself. If its just defended by warriors I can take it myself but if its got archers on a hill, I'd rather let it develop a little and not pay the maintenance for it.

    Edit: Oops just realized you are talking Warlords. BTS is much better at this. Warlords was just as bad as Vanilla.
     
  11. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    With the Industrious version of this (building religious wonders) I had Sids Sushi but few fish and it still worked. I suspect it could work fine without Sids Sushi if you simply lower the difficulty level. The Corps really help me compete in the late game with the AI at immortal - which I doubt that I could do in warlords without corps. And founding the Corp brings a double benefit - you get the benefit of the Corp and you can selectively deny this benefit from the AI, or grant the benefit for a cash stream from them.
     
  12. BurN

    BurN Prince

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    No need to explain the usefulness of nationhood to me. ;) I was just wondering what he exactly meant with "fill all land". And it seems it was less dramatic as I thought, I was actually visualizing huge overlaps and many cities without any workable resource. (3 out of 21 cities w/o resource is not that bad)

    Well as said I gave it a try and I think you can make it work. However it comes at a greater risk. AI will settle behind your land so you need to spam settlers/workers to grab as much land as you can. In bts you can just sttle aggressive and back fill whenever you feel like it. Vani/warl it will result in very weak military + high maintenance for quite a while cause you need to spam settlers even faster. Unless you get lucky geographically where you can block of the land with 2 cities or something and close borders. (crea helps)

    I used Frederick (crea/phil) and ran a SE with 1 cottage city. Two scientists in all cities to keep up research while at 0-20% slider and bulb techs to trade/keep up till you recovered from your expansion. It should give you a well running empire once you overcome the maintenance, unless you get declared on like what happened in my game. Should give it a try sometime, I had fun while playing the game even though the fun didn't last for long. :lol:

    I think in vanilla/warlords it's a bit too risky. I would prefer a solid early empire and head to war as well if I really want to win. ;)
     
  13. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    I agree that FS and US combined can be exceptionally powerful in the late game. They are a good way to exploit a huge advantage you already have in technology, infrastructure and resources. But look at the requirements needed to make that happen. You assumed 150 towns and markets, grocers and banks (total of 500 hammers) in each city. Say we have 15 cities with an average of 10 towns each, then that's 7500 hammers invested in infrastructure that the Nationhood option doesn't need. That many hammers can make a sizeable army before we start the comparison between the FS and Nationhood options. Quite apart from that, it takes most CE cities a long time to produce 500 hammers as they are generally low production before US is available and they don't whip much as their priority is working cottages. And they need quite a few other important buildings besides (library, university, forge, barracks and so on) So expect a big delay in getting ready to use US and FS effectively to generate hammers from gold.

    Perhaps a weakness in your assumption was that you can make war with US and FS. Late game wars are bloody and WW escalates at absurd rates. After a few big battles you would be forced to adopt Police State or to make peace. Is the combination of PS and FS as strong as PS and Nationhood in war - even in the very late game? I suppose FS could be useful to provide gold to upgrade older troops but that is expensive (3 gold per hammer plus 20 gold) and they lose experience (over 10 exp). So it would depend on the size of your army and if you had many obsolete troops left you wanted to upgrade.

    Summary: In the run up to war and if you had already invested heavily in infrastructure in your cities then yes FS with US is better than Nationhood. But if you want to prepare for war earlier in the game (without the infrastructure) the efficiency of US and FS is severely curtailed. If you want to have a long running intensive war you will have to lose the US civic and FS loses its major attraction. With those qualifications I agree with you ;)
     
  14. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    Some advantages US/FS has over Nationalism:

    - You can rushbuy more than three units a turn. In a really big empire that already has conquered an opponent or two, three units a turn may not be enough production for victory.

    - You can rushbuy in any city you like - very useful when you are invading another continent and want your new troops appearing there.

    - You are not limited to drafting infantry type units. In particular you can rush artillery, armour and bombers. And most especially you can rush Nukes! If I am going for a conquest/domination win the science slider usually drops to zero once I research fission. The first turn after the Manhattan project is built usually gains me around 10 nukes and 3-4 each subsequent turn.

    - War weariness is a dilemna. With Police State you can eliminate it, but you can't rushbuy. If I'm going for global domination I usually have a lot of happiness resources by this point in the game so I can run for quite a few turns before it becomes overwhelming. Fortunately there is a solution when this happens - Cristo Redentor. I can run police state for 3-4 turns amassing cash, then switch to US for a single turn (with the culture slider cranked up) to rushbuy spending all that cash. That does decrease the hammer output slightly.

    Infrastructure is less of a concern - often the towns you have captured come from the AI and have a lot of infrastructure. And even with no infrastructure a +7c1h tile is pretty good. And some cities will have more infrastructure due to national wonders so the average balances out. At least 6 of the cities will have universities and at least six banks by this stage - and often those cities are running 15+ towns so thats 90 of the towns I need concentrated in just six cities where I can rushbuy any infrastructure I need. But usually there is enough time between gaining US and reaching the modern age for the hammers from towns to fill in any missing infrastructure.

    Conclusion: Nationalism for renaissance and industrial age wars (not enough towns anyway) and US for modern age wars.
     
  15. lilnev

    lilnev King

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    It's not a question of Nat or US. It's a question of Nat or FS. Is the +2 commerce from FS better than the ability to draft? If you have a lot of towns, most of your infrastructure, and you're able to be in US, then maybe yes. If you have minimal food surpluses then probably yes. But if you're forced out of US, PS+Nat will give you the most production. Or if you have a substantial food surplus (corps) and not so many towns, then maybe you belong in US+Nat; rush-buy or hard-build the tanks/artillery/nukes and draft the infantry.

    peace,
    lilnev
     
  16. Bleys

    Bleys Deity

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    I went back into some old mid-game saves to see if I could apply this technique to any of my old games, and I gotta say, even when your not aiming for it out of the gate, its a powerful strat. I basically settled any spot I could find where I had no more than 4 or 5 shared tiles, slammed out a granary/courthouse + cottages, and it was noticeably significant, let me tell ya. Even the SE games saw a huge jump in cash flow. I just dont like the "Yang" look my empire takes on, LOL.
     
  17. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    This is a good way for people to test this strategy. Take a savegame from the middle of an old game, around 1000 AD perhaps, and look for tiles that will not be worked by existing cities. I find a drafting/whipping city only needs about 6 flatland tiles that can be farmed outside other cities' BFCs. They don't need any resource tiles of their own but it is good if they can share one or two high food resources from the neigbouring cities for a few turns to kickstart their growth. Basically they need enough food to grow to about size 8 (pre-Biology) without taking resources from other cities.

    Take a city with access to say 3 grassland farms and 3 plains farms and maybe a desert hill. That is perfectly viable and a useful asset that will quickly pay for itself. It will develop quickly and provide useful output under Slavery. With a granary, courthouse, barracks and forge it will be able to churn out cheap military units with a 10 turn whipping cycle. Once you adopt Nationhood is is a perfect drafting city and can give you 3 janissaries or riflemen in the first 10 turns as long as its happiness is about 14 at that time (forge and barracks both give + happiness). After that it can supply a further draftee every 10 turns and perhaps a whipped unit as well. A small investment that gives a big return.
     

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