The Horse Economy

Discussion in 'Civ6 - Strategy & Tips' started by alpaca, Oct 30, 2016.

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  1. alpaca

    alpaca King of Ungulates

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    The Horse Economy: what is it?
    Selling (disbanding) units provides you a lot of money, far more than it did in previous games in the series. While I fully expect this to be patched out in the near future, for now, you can have a bit of fun selling horses. All you need to do is research Military Tradition in order to take the Maneuver policy (or a more modern equivalent):

    +100% production toward Ancient and Classical era heavy and light cavalry units

    Buying a building or unit with gold costs you 4 gold per cog. Selling a unit gives you half that, 2 gold per cog. But if you get a +100% production modifier, each primary cog will get you 2 cogs progress toward the unit. The obvious result: build a horseman or chariot with Maneuver and you can buy a cog for every cog you use.

    Why is this useful?
    At first glance, producing horses for a cog and selling them in order to buy a cog elsewhere may not seem all that useful considering it blocks a policy slot. But, as so often happens, such a first impression would be wrong. The key point that one might be missing is the power of flexibility.

    I'm a big fan of flexibility in any strategy game. The ability to adequately react to any situation that might come your way is powerful in itself, even if it does not provide "raw" resources. By channeling your cogs through gold, you gain flexibility in several different ways:

    Produce anywhere
    By channeling your cogs through gold, the city churning out the cogs need not be the same city that is building stuff. If you have a few cities where you otherwise could not be building anything very efficient, using their production to create something in other cities will provide tremendous gains in productivity.

    Bring new cities online fast
    This is really a corollary of the above, but it bears mentioning independently. You can buy a monument (and possibly a granary or water wheel) immediately on founding a city, which can start producing a district right now instead of doing something else first. This will allow you to get your new cities up to speed much more quickly.

    Store of value

    Cogs can't be saved up, but gold can. This allows you to keep an emergency buffer to buy a few units in a pinch if you have to, and, more importantly, you can save up some money so that you can immediately buy a bunch of buildings once a key tech rolls around (Factories, I'm looking at you).

    Smoother production
    By pooling your cities' resources rather than each city working on its own, you get a smoother production output, aka you when building expensive things like settlers, you get them much earlier. For example, imagine you had 4 cities each producing a settler that currently costs 200 cogs at 10 cogs per turn. Assume the cities don't change their cog output during the build period. You get your first settler after 20 turns (in one of the cities), then another one on turn 22, another on turn 24 and another on turn 26, for an average of 23 turns.

    In contrast, if you pool the cities' resources, you get the first settler after 5 turns, the next after 10.5, then 16.5, then 23, for an average of 14 turns (in reality, this will be a little slower because settlers take a citizen out of the city). This will allow you to settle more territory faster, hooking up even more cities that can now support production in all your other cities, contribute to science and culture, etc.


    Free hit points

    Units always provide the same amount of money, no matter how damaged they are. So if you build a fresh horseman, you can quickly run it to the frontline, attack a unit or absorb a hit, then delete the unit rather than deleting it immediately. This has a surprisingly large effect on your combat power.

    Multiple attacks

    You can disband a unit even after it attacks, so you can use your throw-away horsemen to attack through a narrow path multiple times during the same turn, while denying your enemy any xp gain (by deleting your unit before they can counter-attack).

    Always prepared
    Since you are constantly churning out units, you will always be ready for barbarians, and even dedicated enemy invasions will have a hard time making headway against all of your horsemen. Never get caught with your pants down again!

    Scythia
    Of course, no discussion of the horse economy would be complete without talking about Scythia. I read a post today that ranked Tomyris in the "good" camp, tier 3 of 5 or so. The author of that post could not be more wrong. Scythia is the best civilization in the current build, bar none. She is so way over the top insanely good that she can't even touch the top with a ten-foot pole.

    And the reason is the horse economy: for, you see, Tomyris gets a second horseman whenever you produce one for free. So if you go for the horse economy, each cog you use for producing horses will give you two cogs towards buildings or units somewhere else. That's right, Tomyris produces twice as much stuff as any other civ. Well, except when building districts and wonders. But still, that is a gigantic boost that easily dwarfs anything that Frederick the so-called great could muster with his Hansa building. Not that Frederick is bad, he is likely #2 on the power scale, but his candle is completely drowned out by the blinding radiant sun that is Tomyris.

    A safety tip, though: avoid Divine Right until you get cavalry. Once you get Chivalry, the game immediately blocks Maneuver, and Chivalry only works for Medieval units and above. With normal civs, getting Knights is not a big deal, but Scythia's goodness only works for light cavalry.

    Wrapping it up
    I hope that if you weren't convinced before, I could give you some reasons why channeling your cogs through horses is a powerful play. Of course, you cannot use it for everything: you still need to build districts the hard way. But considering that building a factory on a new industrial district will cost you 530 cogs, being able to immediately buy that with gold instead, you will get the benefit of +3 production in every city in range of it much more quickly, growing your budding snowball to truly epic proportions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
  2. avpavlov

    avpavlov Chieftain

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    > Produce anywhere, Bring new cities online fast, Store of value, Free hit points, Multiple attacks

    Well, game has some exploit and you found it - but what is the point to use it? It just ruins the game. I see no difference with editing save file and adding billion of gold.

    > The author of that post could not be more wrong. Scythia is the best civilization in the current build, bar none.

    Author does not take cheats into account because he plays for pleasure.
     
  3. mice

    mice Moose

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    It about understanding the game mewchanics fully at the time of posting. As he said , it will be patched and when it is we can all understand exactly the implications.
    Just like investigating ICS and its viability .

    BTW Alpaca , candle drowned out ? mixed metaphor ? Only kidding becasue the rest of your writing is so brilliant , and I'm a fan of mixed metaphors
     
  4. KrikkitTwo

    KrikkitTwo Immortal

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    Its also about pointing it out so it will be patched. If noone knew about this bug, they might not see it as significant, but if its revealed as a major exploit, they might patch it (might)
     
  5. CaiusDrewart

    CaiusDrewart King

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    Good post OP. I hope this will be nerfed soon.
     
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  6. rpgalon

    rpgalon Warlord

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    +100% production towards cavalry should be 50%

    +XX% Production cards should reduce the cost, not increase the production.
    This way you fix a bunch of overflow problem (like chopping woods to build horseman and getting 2x the chop value in production overflow because the 100% card) and also make these cards useful for Faith and Gold yields, making production a little less the only yield that matters.
     
  7. Martin Alvito

    Martin Alvito Real men play SMAC

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    I can't emphasize how good this is.

    If you'd asked me in any previous iteration of Civ if I'd wanted to be able to export production from core cities to the frontier without penalty, my instantaneous reaction would have been, 'Sign me up!'. I can't stress enough just how broken this is, and how necessary it is to nerf disband profits to the point that it no longer makes sense for Scythia to solely produce units in core cities.

    It's imbalanced enough that it will be at the top of the devs' hit list because it has to be. It makes locally optimal idiocy like Warrior rush and Babylonian GS beelines from CiV look trivial by comparison. Doubling your cogs as Scythia AND having the ability to move those cogs wherever you want, whenever you want is just obscene.

    There are certainly broader problems in the Civ VI vanilla release like Archer rush and the AI's inability to fight wars, but any attempt to bring the game into balance has to start with shutting down the ability to turn disbanding units into costless cog exports and, in the case of Scythia, into a means to costlessly double one's output of cogs.
     
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  8. MyOtherName

    MyOtherName Emperor

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    These are things that you'd want to do anyways -- the "exploit" is that you can eliminate the cog/gold cost you'd normally have to pay. This is much closer to "don't rush the AI with archers; they can't handle it" than "don't edit the save file to give infinite money".

    And one doesn't get much pleasure from making deliberately bad moves because things are too easy if you make the good ones.
     
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  9. Marvinlegend

    Marvinlegend Chieftain

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    Nice Write-up, but one thing: I wouldn't criticize Tomyris ranking because of the horse economy, since her capability plus Maneuver is very probably an exploit and not WAD and will therefore be fixed (but tbh I'm not that familar with Firaxis patch-policy, at PDX it would be patched out the next patch).
    On the other hand, I still think ranking Tomyris as good (when there is great and god above) is wrong, since even without Horse Economy her capability make her one of the most powerful Civs in the players hands.
     
  10. MyOtherName

    MyOtherName Emperor

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    Also, it may be worth noting that there's a 100% shipbuilding card, and it's even more conveniently located in the civic tree. Ships aren't as flexible as horses, but they're still a good alternative for a coastal start that has a reason to get sailing early.
     
  11. CornPlanter

    CornPlanter Emperor

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    This is strategy and tips forum for talking best strategies and ways to play. Not roleplaying advises. Calling optimal strategy cheating is only OK if used figuratively, only to emphasize how crazy good a strategy it is.
     
  12. mehukatti

    mehukatti Chieftain

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    Damn it. Building things this way feels super dumb, but it works. This exploit makes multiplayer basically unplayable. It doesn't feel like Civ.

    So which would be better solution: nerf +100% unit production policies, or nerf gold for selling units. What would be sufficient nerf - make the policies +75% or +80%?
    Does this exploit work with defensive buildings and limes?
    Tomboy needs a to have her money for selling light cavalry and ancient ranged units halved anyways.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
  13. MyOtherName

    MyOtherName Emperor

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    The real question is what intention the developers had with regards to selling units and in regards for how well they thought you should be able to convert cogs into gold
    Being able to trade one cog for two gold isn't terribly unreasonable.

    One fix would be to adjust the sale price of units to match the actual cost you spent to acquire them. Although that has bad features too -- having some units with a different sale price than other identical units is going to cause some annoyances.
     
  14. alpaca

    alpaca King of Ungulates

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    I heartily recommend using a house rule about not exploiting this, but where people draw the line for what is an exploit and what is legitimately good play is very subjective. It certainly is no bug, it might be an oversight where the devs failed to predict how certain balance decisions would interact.

    As for the ranking, we need to rank civs by how the game rules work, not by some arbitrary set of house rules. Sure, you can play with a house rule that you never disband units, or something more complex, but the game rules are what is implemented by the devs (barring exploiting bizarre bugs, perhaps), not some handicap you impose on yourself.

    Yeah, I was getting pretty tired toward the end. I was trying to write something oxymoronic with funny grammar to lighten the mood a little bit, but I failed rather abysmally ;)
    Indeed, this was an important motivation for writing this post. Increasing visibility and providing a description of the many ways in which the current game systems are imbalanced so that the devs are more likely to see that there is a serious problem here.

    I will amend the OP with an additional point that came to mind: your production gets smoothed out by pooling your cities' resources.
     
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  15. KrikkitTwo

    KrikkitTwo Immortal

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    The proper bug fix is change disbanding units from 2 gold/1 production to 1 gold / 2 production (a minor bit of consolation, rather than a reason to do it)
     
  16. slitherrr

    slitherrr Chieftain

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    I was playing around with this, and found out that it keeps doubling through corps and armies. That is, when my cavalry were selling for ~532, a cavalry corps sold for 2134, and a cavalry army sold for something around 4806 (lost track of the exact amount).
     
  17. Pysethus

    Pysethus Chieftain

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    Production overflow mechanic in Civ 6 makes this really overpowered. It's most broken in fastest game speeds. Horseman costs 40 production in online speed. If your city has let's say, 80 production, it is transformed to 160 production when building horsemen. They only cost 40 so your city basically gets 120 production - 40 free production because of overflow kicking in. If you keep building horsemen every turn, you will eventually build wonders or even space projects in 1 turn as soon as you unlock required technology. This flaw in game design is less of a problem in slower game speeds.

    Horse economy makes Scythia and Sumeria best civs. Scythia for obviously powerful free 2nd horse. Sumeria because their unique horse unit is easier to exploit for production overflow because of lower production cost and 0 upkeep.

    As a side note, Galley economy can also be overpowered in a similar way because of +100% naval unit production civic but naval units are situational for military use.

    Mutiplayer community is using a mod which removes the ability to sell/disband units as a placeholder nerf that'll be changed eventually when we find a better solution. Some players are also banning +100% production civics.
     
  18. Karlking

    Karlking Chieftain

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    Just one comment, the potential of this feature is really far more than your imagination, when considering the combination with the overflow and cutting trees. Chinese players have achieved the science victory in 99 turns and domination victory in 57 turns with Scythia in standard deity games, just using this feature. In fact, it is not only op. IT IS A BUG.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2016
  19. CaiusDrewart

    CaiusDrewart King

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    Why does there need to be any consolation prize for disbanding units at all? What's the point?
     
  20. MyOtherName

    MyOtherName Emperor

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    The feature has existed in various forms several previous civs, so it is fairly normal for it to exist. It is also reasonable to have a cog -> gold conversion mechanism, as well as cogs here -> cogs elsewhere conversion mechanism.
     
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