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Specialist Economy - are you guys really buying this?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by bassist2119, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    Well I was mostly commenting about the suggestion of just modding the happiness level, which wouldn't have that large an effect on the viability of CS slingshot. The issue at emperor is the far greater tech pace and construction speed of the AI. As to playing the whole test at emperor, I'm dubious I could guarantee a win for both the CE and SE. While I usually play at Immortal now, Shaka is frankly one of the weakest leaders, and in the case of the SE I rarely play that style. I've also no idea how Wodan would feel about playing at that high a level.
     
  2. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    do you need to win, for the test to be of enlightening value?
    I don't think so. It's about tech pace and global comparison.
    Win or lose isn't an issue IMHO.

    I'm not complaining since you gave yourself a task, and i'm not contributing to this, so feel free to disregard my post.
    BUT
    Yes there is a but.
    I can tell you the test won't say anything to me if it's run at prince level.
    Prince level and emperor+ levels are 2 different worlds.

    At prince i hardly ever notice the WFYBTA effect, and if i want to, i can avoid most of the tech trading.
    On Emperor, the only way I know to stay in the tech race is trading, and you really need to beware of the trade limit.

    So all this has a big effect on the Tech bulbing from specialists.
    IMHO, SE has only marginal benefits on Prince, while it can be a lifesaver above emperor.

    my 2 cents
     
  3. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Deity

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    I disagree - it gives you important feedback about the test, identifying testing issues.

    If you can convice yourself that the test is actually telling you something interesting about the contrast in play at the prince level, you then start dialing the test up to higher difficulties to determine if the results change.

    That's the approach I would take, if this was my apple.
     
  4. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    I agree with you. We are essentially testing the economic potential of the SE versus the CE and I expect that will not vary much with differing levels of game difficulty. However, other aspects of a higher difficulty (diplomatic, religous, and military) game could greatly influence the games and hence complicate interpretation of the results, as well as make it difficult for both the main players to gain consistent results with playing both a SE and a CE.

    Since we are testing the economic potential (beakers, gold and hammer) of the CE and SE in controlled circumstances it is best to remove, or reduce the effect of, other variables. The Prince level therefore seems an ideal difficulty level to me.
     
  5. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    i won't argue further, since i'm not one running the test, i just want to outline the need at higher levels to have one tradable tech in order to catch up (favouring the GP bulbing) against the need at prince level to outtech the AIs and trade for "leftovers", (which favours steady teching = raw beakers).
     
  6. Qwack

    Qwack The Poopman

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    I am inclined to agree with Cabert here. I believe emperor level would provide better results than prince.
     
  7. uberfish

    uberfish Immortal

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    I don't think the lightbulb-trading catchup really skews things, it is easy for a primarily CE to generate a couple of GPs somewhere for this purpose if it wants to.
     
  8. Eqqman

    Eqqman Walrus

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    It's interesting to have the hard numbers, but I don't see these numbers having any value if they weren't generated under the serious pressures of trying to win a game. It doesn't matter to me if method A gives me twice the output of method B if I'm left vulnerable and won't win the game. I think most of these SE/CE discussions focus too much on the math and not enough on how you get a quick victory.
     
  9. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    Did you see my comment that it is still possible to slingshot even w/o a GP-generating wonder or Oracle? All you have to do is assign a priest or two in one of your cities instead of scientists. Might take you a few turns longer and cost you a couple of beakers, but the slingshot is still possible, even on Emperor+. So, I don't buy that there's any "odds" to getting a slingshot or not. A player might play risky and try to get a slingshot faster (via Oracle), but you can play safer should you choose to do so, and thus eliminate the "odds" against you.

    Frankly, I think it's a bad idea. It will put pressure on surviving and winning, rather than on testing the comparative situations.

    In general, I think that a player gets a winning strategy. She either develops it herself, or reads about it. She refines it, gets better, and plays on higher and higher skill levels. Great, she's a "good player".

    So what happens when she tries a new strategy on the high level? It's unrefined, and performs sub-par when compared to the tried-and-true one. She could drop in level and spend the hundreds of hours to refine that strategy, and at that point it might, might, be possible to perform an effective comparison between the two at high skill level. But, even then, mere slight differences in the random outcome generator in the game can have a huge difference. She would have to play dozens or hundreds of games on multiple maps before she could have anything remotely resembling a good comparison.

    So, here we are. Play on Emperor? Since I for one don't have the fortitude to play dozens or hundreds of games, two on each map, keeping careful logs and game saves, then I will vote against it.

    Anyone who wants to play on Emperor is welcome to join the test. There's nothing wrong with having more than I and MrCynical doing it. We can have as many people as are willing to contribute their time and intellect.

    Of course it is. How do you have a comparison if one or both of your games is dead?

    Unless we just compare the early games. Our goal, however, is to compare as much as possible, even up to the modern era if we can. Almost all games on Emperor are either won or lost far before then.

    Nonsense. And I say that even though you're de-facto arguing in favor of SE. :D

    The very comparison you just did is proof that the results can be viewed in light of higher skill level. If you personally place more value on specialists and lightbulbing, then you can look at the results which say "CE is better during X. SE is better during Y." and skew them because of the power of lightbulbing.

    In fact, it might be a good idea to do this in our new thread... please stick around and when we're done post your thoughts in this regard... I'd love to hear them.

    Agreed.

    As I mentioned, aspects which are different on another skill level, higher or lower, can be judged their effect when we do our post-test analysis.

    The same is true of any other differences between games. We might as well complain about our decision to play on Standard size maps. Won't games on Huge maps have just as many (if not more) differences than playing on higher skill level? Heck, with the emphasis on empire size and conquest, I would think a Huge map would have more of a difference than Emperor.

    Regardless, this is all something for post-test analysis, no more, in my opinion.

    In part, the answer to this will depend on your personal definition of "how you get a quick victory". If that's lightbulbing, or an early war, or what have you. For the most part, whatever your answer is, I think you could view the results in that light.

    Part of me thinks you have a good point. This is basically the difference between "laboratory science" and "practical application". On the other hand, practical application is always based on lab science. Without the research, it's difficult to dive into the field and know what you're doing.

    In addition, I think your very premise isn't realistic for us to tackle. For one, who's to say a "quick victory" is the goal of all games? That depends on the personal preference of the player, doesn't it? Also, who's to say a quick victory is a superior win to a slow, drawn-out victory? Many might say the latter is a truer test of staying power and skill.

    Even if we agree on what's a "better" win, how do we agree on how you achieve that victory? "You" not being you, Eqqman, but each and every one of us. Just because one person can achieve that "best" victory using a slingshot, doesn't mean another person can't achieve that same victory using faster tech research, while a third does it using tech trading.

    We can't control all that, nor should we try. All we want to do is give some data which will enable each person to ask themselves, "ok, I am going to do X, what's the best way for me to go about it?"

    Wodan

    ps Am working on the 1st post. Will have a draft to post here, later today.
     
  10. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    The level is up to you, and I shall probably join in the test at whatever level you decide on. I shall just put in my thoughts that a lower level is likely to favour a cottage ecconomy, for the following reasons;

    If you have time to build a lot of good cities before the AI takes all the space, you will need lots of cottages to pay maintance costs.
    If you can grow your cities bigger, whipping is MUCH less powerfull.
    If you can grow your cities bigger, it is much easier to max out on scientist specalists.
    Wars are likely to be shorter so the culture slider will not be as important.

    However, as Wodan seems to be our resident SE expert, and he says go for prince, I am happy to accept his decision. It certainly will make the games quicker (in real time).

    BTW, do you usually build your national epic in your super science city?
     
  11. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    wodan, i do believe in SE on higher levels, because i saw it in good SG games, so it's not against my will that i argue in favor of SE ;)

    But i really didn't want to generate any difficulty. I said so already : since you're with MrCynical running the test, you're the ones that have to agree on what you do.
     
  12. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    MrCynical, I think we need to log whip hammers too. Not the exact turn, but in our every-20-turns report, just give the total whipped during those 20 turns.

    Wodan
     
  13. uberfish

    uberfish Immortal

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    I really don't see why you need to play on emperor. The main 'skew' on lower difficulty levels is that it's easy to get wonders, but from the viewpoint of a comparative game like this, perhaps it is better if people can build the wonders they want for their strategy consistently.
     
  14. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    I implied it but I guess I didn't say it outright:

    If you join, I think you can probably play at whatever level you want to. There's no problem me and MrCynical doing Prince (as baseline) while one or more other people do Emperor or whatever.

    If you use cottages to pay maintenance costs, then you are moving the slider down. This has the same effect as assigning a couple of specialists to be merchants instead of scientists.

    Unless you're talking pre-Marketplace.

    However, pre-markets or post-markets, SE has a better capability to whip commerce-enhancing or maintenance-reducing buildings.

    Agreed. However, the fact that you CAN doesn't mean you HAVE to. I don't know about you, but when running a SE I almost always assign specialists way before I reach city size limits.

    This seems like it's in favor of SE on Prince, not CE as you were arguing.

    On the other hand, bigger cities means more cottages per city overhead (maintenance plus hammers for buildings), which favors CE.

    Probably a wash.

    Hmm. Again, seems like this favors SE. On the other hand, SE is better able to whip happiness buildings so that reduces the negative effect of this on higher levels.

    Hardly an expert, but I guess I've got as much experience with it as most anyone.

    I build it in my GP farm, which may or may not be the same as my super science city.

    We aren't building wonders, not in that sense. Part of the constraints are that we simply aren't doing any strategies that depend on a wonder.

    Wodan
     
  15. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    I shall probably play the same level as you, to make comparisons easier.
    I am talking pre markets. When I have played the GOTMs on lower levels (I have started more than I have finished) I frequently spam cities and cottages and just about break even at 0% tax rate. I try to get CoL before this point, but may have to use the oricale for that.
    Perhaps I am not clear. You need only pop of 4 to have a stable city with 2 scientists. You then cannot increase the scientists without caste system until astronomy. You can have as many cottages as you can have pop. Is this more clear?
    I see a big advantage of the SE is that you can have (say) 100% culture (for happiness) and still have gold and science coming in. The chance of requireing these high levels of culture are much lower on lower levels.

    BTW, I am only making my points clear. I am quite happy to play on prince, and I am sure we shall learn a lot from it.
     
  16. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    That seems fine to me. It might give a little clarification as to how much more effective slavery is in the SE than CE. Running through my original list of suggested values to record, I notice I've also failed to mention recording how many GP are produced. Fairly obviously that should be recorded, since it's one of the major differences between the SE and CE.
     
  17. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    Okey dokey.

    Whipping Harbors will help.

    If you're already doing that, then I guess my next suggestion would be to build military instead of spamming cities and getting into economic trouble. For the price of a Settler, you can build 3 Axemen. Wait a few turns until you have markets or courthouses, and THEN expand. You conquer a city and probably have Axemen left over as a bonus out of the deal.

    Anyway I'm sure you know all this.

    Ah, yes. That is an advantage for CE on lower levels, I agree.

    Two thoughts. One is that it's hard to make this comparison. CE has much higher actual commerce coming in, so a small movement of the slider has a greater effect on the economy. In pure net terms, this could easily be (and probably often is) greater than a SE in the same situation.

    On the other hand, benefits such as Theatre (+1 happy per 10% culture rate) and Colosseum (+1 happy per 20% culture rate) don't give a hoot what the actual commerce coming in. You could have 0 commerce and set the slider at 0% and you're going to have +15 happy. Meanwhile, the CE can have a million commerce coming in and set the slider at 0% and is going to get the same +15 happy.

    No worries.

    Wodan

    ps I've got the draft done but I want to review through the pages of this thread to get minor notes such as the one you just did, MrCynical. I'll try to do that this afternoon and post for review tonight.
     
  18. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    All --

    Following is my draft of the instructions. It's a little jumbled right now but I'm too close to it. So I'd appreciate anyone who cares to take the time to give feedback on tightening it up. Also, anyone who spots something I missed, by all means speak up.

    Also, I've got the Excel file started and will post it later on. It's pretty straight-forward.

    Wodan

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    DRAFT

    FIRST POST

    This thread will be the arena for a comparison between a non-Pyramids/non-Philosophical SE (Specialist Economy) and a non-Financial CE (Cottage Economy).

    As many people as care to donate their time and intellect are welcome to participate. However, there will be post-test analysis, which will eventually become the second post in this thread. In order to participate in the test, please view the next post to see if the test is still going on.

    Definitions

    A CE (Cottage Economy) is based upon using cottage cities as the primary source of a civ’s research, and having the research slider at as high a percentage as possible.
    -- A cottage city is one with as many cottages as food will permit.
    -- Some cottage cities start with a farm or two to grow population faster, but those farms are usually later changed to cottages.
    -- A CE is not prohibited by any means from running specialists, and frequently does. However, as a general rule a cottage city does not want any specialists at all, not even a Engineer. Production comes from Slavery or Universal Suffrage.

    A SE (Specialist Economy) is based upon using science specialists as the primary source of a civ’s research. Farms are used in most cities to provide the food needed to support the specialists.
    -- Some SEs run the research slider at a high level, to increase research by what commerce is coming in. Other SEs run the research slider at a lower level, to supplement gold or culture (happiness); this is not as much of a negative for a SE as a CE because the primary source of research from specialists is not affected by the research slider.

    It may be counter-intuitive that an economy is defined in terms of research. This is because of several reasons. One is that research is so critical to gameplay, while money (gold) is a necessary evil in many respects (primarily maintenance). Two is that there are very few alternate sources of research (e.g,. Great Library) while alternate sources of gold are more plentiful (e.g., religion shrines).

    Background

    The inspiration for this test came about during discussion comparing the relative benefits of CE and SE. There are many possible situations where a comparison might be relevant:
    -- prior to Liberalism/Democracy with Pyramids
    -- prior to Liberalism/Democracy without Pyramids
    -- after Liberalism/Democracy
    -- modern era with many new cities by conquest
    -- with or without Financial

    While straightforward to simply compare CE commerce income to SE research income, this does not take into account many other factors. It was therefore decided to perform a live test, logging several different measures of civ performance, to get a real baseline. This baseline could then be used to evaluate how a CE or SE will perform with different parameters than those used on the test.

    Each tester will play two games with the same game start. One game will be done using a CE, and the other game will be done using a SE. Testers will be using the same play style for both of their games. It should be kept in mind that comparisons will be made between the two games for each player, but not between players except in a general sense.

    Baseline Parameters

    The parameters which were chosen are:
    -- Warlords v.2.0.0.0.
    -- Continents
    -- Temperate climate
    -- Medium sea level
    -- Standard world size
    -- Shaka as leader
    -- Prince difficulty level
    -- Normal game speed

    (Some testers may voluntarily choose to modify one or at most two of these parameters, at their option, to provide additional data points. Wodan and MrCynical, however, will strictly adhere to them.)

    Each of these parameters could be argued and has its own pros and cons. Without going into extensive divergent details, these are simply the ones that were chosen.

    It is encouraged to view each parameter as simply the baseline from which to start an analysis and discussion, rather than as an excuse to ignore the test results.

    Test Setup and Logging

    Each tester is to create a new game using the parameters as given, and then will play out that game twice. 20 turns will be played as CE and saved, the previous SE save will be loaded, then 20 turns will be played as SE and saved, and so on.

    The tester should store the following every 20 turns:
    -- Game save, named “Player AD-XXXX CE” or “Player AD-XXXX SE” (e.g., “MrCynical BC-0200 CE”)
    -- A simple Excel file (link), named “Player CE vs SE Comparison” with a new row listing current civ-wide demographics (see below).

    In addition, a game plan (text file) will be composed. This will be a SHORT description of that player’s starting thoughts and goals for both games. This game plan should be supplemented periodically, with modifying thoughts based on game progression.

    Finally, a cumulative game log (text file) will be kept, listing any of the following events as they occur by the civ (don’t list things accomplished by AI civs):
    -- whip hammers (list the # of hammers and the city)
    -- wonder completion
    -- civic change
    -- declaration of war by or against the civ
    -- tech researched
    -- religion change
    -- shrine being built
    -- GP (great person) disposition: settling, lightbulbing, etc.

    The Excel file will store the following:
    -- Commerce percentage for research (available from F2 Financial Advisor), allocation to research, percentage for culture, allocation to culture, percentage for gold, allocation to gold
    -- Income from taxes, net foreign income (F2)
    -- Expenses: unit cost, unit supply, city maintenance, civic upkeep, inflation, total expenses (F2)
    -- Civics: government, legal, labor, economy, religion (F3)
    -- Demographics: GNP, production, crop yield, population (F9)
    -- From the game log: Whipped hammers, GP (Great People) Generated

    Game Start

    To make things easier, the very early game can be just one set of logs and saves. There is going to be a point where the player makes a conscious decision to perform the first action to become either a CE or a SE. This might be as simple as clicking on a worker action.

    Up to that point, the player should keep just one set of logs and saves. They should be named “Player AD-XXXX” and so on.

    As soon as the decision point is reached (which will come soon for some players, later for others), the dual saves and logs should be started.

    As a side benefit, the vagaries of hut-popping will thus be the same for both games, since most huts will be gone by the time the decision point is reached.

    Gameplay Guidelines and Restrictions

    The two games by each tester should parallel each other as much as possible, except for decisions based upon the CE or SE situation. For example, if building up and declaring an early war, it should be done for both the CE and SE games. As an example to the contrary for a SE game only, it makes sense to prioritize Civil Service to gain the irrigation benefit (possibly even doing a slingshot); but even in this case the CE may want to prioritize it also in order to get early Macemen.

    Tech research paths should parallel each other inn the same fashion.

    Wonders should be avoided where they will have a big impact on gameplay, unless the wonder is able to be achieved by both the CE and SE games. Some wonders, such as Chichen Itza, don’t have a big impact on gameplay but might be beneficial for GPP points or such. Others, such as Hagia Sophia, do have a big impact; even though not directly related to the question of CE vs SE, if one of the games has the wonder while the other does not, then this could skew the results. This situation should be avoided.

    Furthermore, esoteric strategies should be avoided, such as Globe Theatre high-frequency whipping/drafting. While they won’t bias the test per se, they are beyond the norm and will place the test outside the area of a “typical game”. The goal is to have the test as baseline as possible, to facilitate each player comparing the test to his or her own playing style or goals in a particular game.

    Play style should be kept the same between the two games for a player. If doing a “relaxed, builder game” for the SE, that should be done for the CE as well.

    In addition, the following general restrictions should be considered to be in force:
    -- Both CE and SE games may have any number of “production cities” (cities with little to no commerce generation and/or specialists).
    -- CE should have a minimum of 50% cottage cities within the “core empire”. The core empire can be considered roughly all cities built or captured before Liberalism/Democracy.
    -- CE may not manually assign specialists in the core empire, other than “free” specialists (e.g., Mercantilism), or when population surpasses city size limits. If using citizen automation, specialists are permitted but no “forced” specialists are allowed; however, note that the citizen automation feature often assigns a specialist that may not be desirable to the CE player.
    -- CE may have a “GP Farm”, including all farms, running caste system and/or assignment of science specialists, as desired.
    -- SE may have up to 25% commerce cities in the core empire, including cottage usage in those cities.
    -- SE should have a minimum of 35% specialist cities in the core empire with farms and no cottages.
    -- For both CE and SE, cities captured after Liberalism/Democracy (i.e., not in the core empire, by definition) may either be transformed or kept as is (in effect changing the CE or SE to a hybrid economy).
    -- At no time may WorldBuilder be loaded.
    -- Reloading to return to an earlier point of the game (to undo some outcome) is not permitted.

    To a large extent, this test is “on your honor.” Players should adhere to the spirit of this program. This test has not been exhaustively set up, and therefore it is likely that one or more gameplay loopholes exist. However, any kind of shady behavior or rules lawyering to find a loophole will surely be discovered, invalidating the test and all effort that went into it. There are no winners or losers here, and it is expected that all testers behave as adults and stand up to the challenge, as well as the possibility of having previous beliefs proved to compare unfavorably. In fact, the honorable thing to do would be to point out the potential loophole as soon as it is discovered, so that discussion may take place.

    The “SE -> CE” Switch

    One or more testers may opt to do a switch from an pre-Liberalism/Democracy SE to a CE. This is optional. If done, this should be a third game tracked in the same way as the other two. Logs, etc. should begin on whatever turn there is a decision point, and saved games should begin at that time.

    Critique

    As mentioned, post-test analysis will be done primarily between each tester’s CE and SE games. Comparisons between testers will be in a general sense and avoid the trap of comparing play styles. Play style will not be critiqued, nor should it, except in observation of how it impacted the comparison of CE vs SE.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    SECOND POST, version 1

    When the test is completed, this post will be edited and the results will be posted here.

    In the meantime, the test is accepting new participants. Please indicate your desire to join by posting below or by sending a private message to Wodan.

    Following are the current test participants:
    MrCynical (founding tester)
    Wodan (founding tester, thread editor/secretary)

    MrCynical and Wodan do not expect others to join, but are willing to allow them to do so. The more participants, the more data points will be available, and the better the resulting analysis will be. Please realize that participants must be committed to finishing their games in a timely manner, under the constraints posted earlier. Those who cannot commit to this should not volunteer. Discussion following the test will be open to everyone, of course!

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    SECOND POST, version 2

    When the test is completed, this post will be edited and the results will be posted here.

    The test has been closed to new participants. The current testers have progressed and are near to completion of their games. Allowing new participants would thus unnecessarily delay the conclusion of the test.

    Following are the test participants:
    MrCynical (founding tester)
    Wodan (founding tester, thread editor/secretary)

    Discussion following the test will be open to everyone, of course!

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    SECOND POST, version 3

    The test has been completed. Following are the test results!

    Please note that discussion has continued in the thread (below) while the test has progressed. To skip to the post-test discussion, please start with message # on screen #.

    [results will go here]

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    THIRD POST

    [Reserved for instructions on how and where to upload saves and logs]
     
  19. acidsatyr

    acidsatyr be water my friend...

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    why prince again?
     
  20. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    Looks good. I can comit to playing this.

    As I said before, I think the CE should be allowed to assign a priest in 1 city (probably the oricale city) and a couple of scientists in another for the first 2 great people. The low GPP cost of these makes them so much more worth while than later ones, and I think it would be a significant handicap for the CE to not be allowed to do this

    Perhaps the rule could be changed to one of;

    The CE is only allowed to use specalists where the GPP are the aim rather than the beakers.
    After the 1st 2 great people the CE should only use specalists in their GP city other than “free” specialists (e.g., Mercantilism), or when population surpasses city size limits.
    The CE is only allowed 1 type of specalist in 1 city, ie. scientists in 1, preists in another, an enginner in another.

    Of course if you think this is making it a hybid ecconomy we shall stick to your rule.
     

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