Rapid Expansion Optimal Early Strategy Post Patch?

Discussion in 'CivBE - Strategy & Tips' started by CivScientist, Dec 10, 2014.

  1. CivScientist

    CivScientist Warlord

    Nov 7, 2005
    So it seems that, given the updates to health penalties, that the optimal strategy early on in the game is to continue to spam cities so long as one's health remains above -20 :health: (-15 :health: once Computing is discovered and espionage becomes a threat). Basically, send out as many settlers as you can without going below -20 :health:. In each of the newly settled cities, build clinics, cytonurseries, and pharmalabs to offset the health penalties from cities (each city has a -4 :yuck: before population is added), and then start another round of settling & conquering. Once you've progressed enough along technology wise and picked up several virtues, concentrate on restoring your empire's health and building up. Along the way one should also setup trade routes to bolster one's economy.

    I'm hard pressed to see why this strategy would fail to be near optimal (although, I confess I haven't fully tested it yet). Health penalties at various levels of health are:
    • - 5 :health: one suffers a penalty of -10% :c5food: to growth
    • -10 :health: one suffers a penalty of -20% :c5food: to growth
    • -15 :health: one suffers a penalty of -30% :c5food: to growth and -5% :c5science: to science
    • -20 :health: one suffers a penalty of -40% :c5food: to growth and -10% :c5science: to science
    There's a penalty to culture as well but that seems less important early on and easily recoverable later in the game.

    The penalty to science will never outstrip the marginal utility to building a new city. If you have N cities, that N + 1 city will add -9% :c5science: (-5% :c5science: per city + -4% :c5science: for health penalty) penalty to science not including the population the city will add to your empire. Assuming that new city is comparable to the previous N cities in terms of its science potential, it's only a matter of time before that new city is generating more far science than that -9% :c5science: penalty.

    The growth penalty is a bit more problematic but I still think the marginal utility of a new city outstrips the cost. Each new city dramatically increases your empire's growth potential, all else equal. The first city you build after your capital roughly doubles your growth potential, the second city increases it another third, and so on. Granted, your cities will be nothing more than large towns in the early game as you constantly build your empire out. However, any penalties your city generates sans population (-8% :c5food: to growth due to the -4 :health: penalty) will disappear once one builds a clinic, cytonursery, and pharmalab.

    The end result is, early in the game, the penalties an empire realizes due to health degradation per city will be equivalent to that of an empire with only one heavily populated city. Come mid to late game, however, this empire will be growing in leaps and bounds faster than the tall empire with few cities. And none of this takes into account other game mechanics that scale exponentially with city number such as trade.

    So, am I missing something here? Is my math somehow wrong? Is there any reason early on that you would want to be more conservative in the expansion of your empire than the strategy I detailed above? Are there any more conservative strategies (in terms of early expansion) that would theoretically generate equivalent or better results? I can't help but conclude even after this latest patch that rapid expansion is still the best way to go.
  2. ZHONN

    ZHONN Chieftain

    Feb 19, 2009
    The buildings only allow removing health malus based on population. The base health malus of an extra city is -4, which is recovered by buildings only in cities with high population. The only other option is virtues.

    For example, a city with 4 population and three health buildings giving theoretically six points of health, ends up with: -4 - 0,75 * 4 + 4 = -3
  3. Lucius_

    Lucius_ King

    Dec 3, 2012
    Yeah I think your thoughts on health and health buildings are off. Every new city will be a drain on health until they reach pop 16.

    Overall though, I think the strategy is fine, though I think -20 is too much. To stay over that, I think 5-6 would be the max cities. After that you will battle with health for probably another 50 turns, depending on affinity. Purity can do better than others thanks to the fairly easy to get gene gardens.

    Virtues, I'd suggest 3 Prosperity than Industry to Magnasati. Or 3 Prosperity, 3 industry, then Prosperity to Eudomonia.
  4. Strategist83

    Strategist83 King

    Dec 30, 2005
    Browser ate my post so here's the short version: Yes, your thoughts on this are off. You are badly underestimating the impact of the food malus. -40% growth is not something you want. That's going to mean staying on a smaller number of cities for longer. You don't want to push that -20 health limit like you are suggesting. Patch has indeed killed off REX/ICS.
  5. KrikkitTwo

    KrikkitTwo Immortal

    Apr 3, 2004
    Your stats are off

    • - 5 :health: one suffers a penalty of -10% :c5food: to growth and -10% outpost growth
    • -10 :health: one suffers a penalty of -20% :c5food: to growth and -20% outpost growth
    • -15 :health: one suffers a penalty of -30% :c5food: to growth and -5% :c5science: to science and -30% outpost growth
    • -20 :health: one suffers a penalty of -40% :c5food: to growth and -10% :c5science: to science and -40% outpost growth

    So those outposts will be waiting a while (noticed you mentioned the culture penalty)

    normal Outpost-city time=18 (13 w virtue)
    -5 :health: =20 turns (15 w virtue)
    -10 :health: =23 turns (17 w virtue)
    -15 :health: =25 turns (18 w virtue)
    -20 :health: =30 turns (20 w virtue)

    That means a lot of useless turns

    and as mentioned, your best sources of health are a High population city (with health buildings/biowells) .. with a lot of low population cities you will be stuck at low health for a good long time.
  6. Xenotitan

    Xenotitan Prince

    Oct 30, 2014
    Even at -40% you can completely overcome that outpost growth penalty with a single trade route and end up at +10%.
  7. ShagVT

    ShagVT Chieftain

    Nov 24, 2014
    Two other things not considered: (1) with each new city, science and virtues become more expensive; and (2) to get your health buildings established takes a fair amount of time and they have an energy cost.

    So you have x turns after building the city when you are weaker, waiting for your health, etc., to come along, and then these other variables. You've considered a lot, but there are still more details.
  8. Lucius_

    Lucius_ King

    Dec 3, 2012
    Maybe you could overcome the growth problem in your capital, but it'd probably require more than one trade route. Everything after the 3rd or 4th city would be useless for a very long time considering trade depot must be hard built and you probably would want to prioritize health buildings to keep expanding.

    I think the one question I have is how many cities is the OP expecting to plant in this REX stage? If it's only until -20, it won't be very many.

    Honestly, I think the best approach is getting 4 cities, stay above -10. Once health is stabalized (through virtues or biowells) have a second REX phase founding 3-4 more. Health should recover quickly after these and you can do another phase or start pumping health up into the positive bonuses. I think this would be better long term than dropping 7 cities from the start and struggle for the next 100 turns.
  9. rredding

    rredding Chieftain

    May 20, 2007
    You also have a problem with local health in cities with low populations. Each city is capped at providing max health based on the population. Even with 3 buildings providing say 4 health if the pop of the city is 1 then the city will only provide 1 health. This is further compounded by the slow growth.
  10. Xenotitan

    Xenotitan Prince

    Oct 30, 2014
    I was talking about overcoming the outpost growth penalty. The other growth penalty is indeed a problem.
  11. CivScientist

    CivScientist Warlord

    Nov 7, 2005
    I did forget that local health bonuses are capped by the city's population. Figuring in for that health cap, however, I still don't think the -8% :c5food: penalty in growth per city is as overwhelming as it may at first seem. An empire with 6 cities will suffer a -40% :c5food: penalty to growth compared to a single city empire but it will also grow 6 times faster then the single city empire by virtue of it having 6 cities.

    If my math is right, I think the marginal utility of one extra city continues to increase despite growth penalties up to the 7th city. After that, your growth starts to drop with each additional city. Assuming no city has a population of 16 and the growth rate of each city is comparable regardless of city size and city placement:
    • 2 cities * (1 - 1 cities * 0.08% growth penalty) = 1.84 times growth rate of 1 city
    • 3 cities * (1 - 2 cities * 0.08% growth penalty) = 2.52 times growth rate of 1 city
    • 4 cities * (1 - 3 cities * 0.08% growth penalty) = 3.00 times growth rate of 1 city
    • 5 cities * (1 - 4 cities * 0.08% growth penalty) = 3.40 times growth rate of 1 city
    • 6 cities * (1 - 5 cities * 0.08% growth penalty) = 3.60 times growth rate of 1 city
    • 7 cities * (1 - 6 cities * 0.08% growth penalty) = 3.64 times growth rate of 1 city
    • 8 cities * (1 - 7 cities * 0.08% growth penalty) = 3.52 times growth rate of 1 city
    In reality growth rates will vary from city to city where later cities tend to be a little behind the curve. And you still probably want to keep your health above -15 :health: to -20 :health: to avoid problems with your production and whatnot.

    That said, it seems perfectly reasonable to build 5 to 6 cities (as recommended by Lucius_) in rapid progression in the earliest stages of the game if you can find 5 to 6 plots of quality land to settle. At this point, growth stalls until some cities reach a population of 16 and become health neutral and other sources of global health are acquired. All in all, however, I don't think this slowdown is longer than what is found with a smaller empire nor is the larger empire put in an extended period of risk. In fact, this larger empire with 6 cities and -15 :health: health might soon outpace a smaller empire with the lower health penalties.
  12. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

    Feb 11, 2005
    I think it depends on which Virtue path you take. With Mind Over Matter granting an additional +7 Global Health, I'd be inclined as Supremacy to build a few more cities. However, Purity has access to both Gene Gardens and a whole lotta food to grow cities fast. It feels like it'd make more sense to power those up with Industry. Refugees also help new cities grow up and use tiles very fast - this will allow cities to reduce their Health footprint much faster than otherwise.
  13. TLHeart

    TLHeart King

    Oct 15, 2005
    I have found that after the first 50 turns and getting your first 2 cities established, then a new city every 20 turns works great... allows cities to grow, but still provides 1 small city to send trade routes to to get massive production and food.

    20 turns, is about how long it takes to plant the colonist, get it to a city, rush buy the recycler, and build the trade depot. The city will have grown, and you send a trade route to the new city to boost production. Keep stations around until you need the space to plant a couple of new cities...

    With the new spacing of stations, they take up room for 2 cities, if you are spacing your cities at 4 tiles between. And since I have never seen a city with much over 20 population, no need to space farther apart. Plenty of tiles and specialist for the citizens to work.
  14. Karmah

    Karmah Emperor Supporter

    Mar 3, 2011
    And ...we are back into playing tall.
  15. Acken

    Acken Deity

    Sep 13, 2013
    QC, Canada
    Not really no.
  16. Kaitzilla

    Kaitzilla Lord Croissant

    Jun 21, 2008
    Maybe. :crazyeye:

    If you are playing peaceful, then tall seems pretty attractive now.
    If you are playing purely for domination, wide still seems best.

    -100% City growth?
    Take AI cities with 13 pop and spam Manufactories.
    Forget ever growing your cities, just keep them from starving.

    If you have endless room to expand and are playing African Union, consider putting 5 points into Prosperity for Settler Clans.
    The synergy bonus gives +10% city growth, and African Union gives +10% city growth, so even with the full -100% penalty you will only experience -80% city growth I think.
    Starting at Size 3 and with +10:c5food: surplus (from trade routes? biowells? Vivarium?), you will grow 2:c5food: per turn and should only need 80:c5food: or 40 turns to limp to Size 5.
    The wonder Gene Vault would also help here give another +10%:c5food: growth, so you could limp to Size 5 in 27 turns.
    A fair amount of special conditions to do all this to have endless amounts of Size 5 cities.
    Best just to enslave AI cities. :D

    -100% Outpost Growth?
    Two trade routes offsets this penalty.

    -50% production?
    Military Industrial Complex, Integrated Arms, and Repair Facilities will keep you making units.
    Spoiler :

    Can't build buildings? Labor Logistics and Standardized Architecture can once again offset the penalty to a large degree.

    -50% science?
    If you went down the Might tree, Adaptive Sciences and Martial Meditations help offset slower teching with more Affinity levels.
    If you are playing Supremacy, getting 6 spies to steal:c5science: isn't hard.

    -50% culture?
    Not gonna lie, this is a real pain. :sad:
    Winning the game with 13 or 14 virtues seems possible though.
    Can buy important tiles.

    +100% Enemy Intrigue?
    Surveillance Web in capital takes care of this.

    In theory you could play an Energy economy.
    Even at -100 health, there is no penalty to :c5gold:

    Xenomalleum wonder makes generators give +2:c5gold:
    Organics tech on the way to Bioengineering gives +1:c5gold: to generators.
    Solar collectors gives +1:c5gold: to a bunch of tiles and +20%:c5gold: in the city.
    Can get +10%:c5gold: from 5 Industry virtues.
    The Liquidity virtue makes units cost -20%:c5gold: to buy.

    I think a Harmony unit can be upgraded to pillage like crazy for energy and HP.
    If you play PAC and reach -50% worker speed with Helping Hands virtue and Recycler, pillaged tiles can be repaired in 1 turn instead of 2 if you capture the city.
    Generator would take 3 turns to build too.

    And finally, there is no penalty to combat strength of units for being unhealthy.
    So conquer away I'd say! :ar15:
  17. ardchoile

    ardchoile Chieftain

    Dec 21, 2014
    Here is my main problem with the proposed strategy: It's Not Much Fun. That's all.
  18. CraigMak

    CraigMak The Borg

    Jul 24, 2013
    Wide is still best. You want to plant at least 5 - 6 cities early. you will go into double digit negative health but will dig your way out and be a huge sprawling empire that is tall and wide. Once you have industry or prosperity health virtues you will be positive and far stronger than if you never went unhealthy.
  19. DarkestOnion

    DarkestOnion Prince

    Jul 27, 2014
    1) Build 3 Cities asap (via Free Colonist)

    2) Ignore Health, yes even post patch.

    3) Pump out Soldiers/Gunners and Push Affinity to get your 2nd or 3rd Unit Upgrades before anyone else (AIs or human opponents.)

    4) Conquer the planet at a time when the penalties no longer matter as you don't need to build anything else to win.

    Early expansion and early Domination. Happy holidays indeed :)
  20. Zenstrive

    Zenstrive Ocean King

    Sep 24, 2010
    Who can control more than 5 cities early on anyway? I stick to 3 for a while until I upgraded all military units twice, then add more cities.

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