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The Overcouncil Strikes Back: Drafting for Fun and Profit in FFH2

Discussion in 'Fall from Heaven Strategy & Tips' started by akatosh, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. akatosh

    akatosh Prince

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    Some of you may remember these posts from the Civ4 war academy. It got me thinking, is drafting any good in FFH2? After some experimentation on normal speed, my answer is yes.

    1) How drafting works

    Like slavery, Drafting is a mechanic that helps you convert food directly into production. Unlike slavery, drafting only produces military units, and only units from a specific list. On the other hand, drafting is much more efficient at converting food to production than slavery is in most cases.

    Drafting lets you sacrifice 1-3 population in order to immediately produce a melee/archer unit. The side effect is +3 unhappiness in the city for 10 turns on normal speed. The unit you get depends on the techs and buildings you have in the drafting city. In order to draft, a city must have 5 population left over after the draft is finished. So you need a size 6 city for an axeman, a size 7 city for a longbow and a size 8 city for an arquebus. Drafting is powerful because it typically gives good food-->hammer conversion ratios.

    In order to draft, you need either military state or Overcouncil. Each civic lets you draft 3 units, empire-wide, per turn on a standard sized map. If you are running both civics, you can draft up to 6 units per turn.

    The civic requirements mean mean that civs that synergize with Undercouncil will have a hard time using drafting effectively, as their only option to draft is Military state, which shares a category with Apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is vital most of the time because it lets new units start with mobility 1.

    Optimizing drafting requires the right selection of civics, along with fast population regrowth and high happy caps.

    2) What drafting gets for you

    Based on my testing, you can draft the following units if you have the required techs, buildings, and religions in the city:

    Warrior - 1 pop
    Archer - 1 pop
    Axeman - 1 pop
    Freak - 1 pop (Balseraphs only)
    Radiant Guard - 1 pop (requires Empyrean)
    Longbowman - 2 pop*
    Champion - 2 pop*
    Nightwatch - 2 pop (requires Esus)
    Arquebus - 3 pop

    *Includes unique units other than golems. Ogres can be drafted and require 3 pop.

    Warriors are probably not ever worth drafting. In EitB, with the hammer cost reduction to Archers and Axemen, they are not as efficient to draft as they used to be either. The higher-tier units are still probably worth drafting.

    Based on my testing, the following units cannot be drafted: any mage unit, any priest unit, any recon unit, any horse unit, drowns, Stygian guards, Soldiers of Kilmorph, paramanders, crusaders, pyre zombies, or any type of golem.

    However, with upgrades, some interesting tricks become available. The main one is drafting Nightwatch--with Council of Esus religion, if your alignment is neutral, you can actually be a member of the Overcouncil. You can draft Nightwatch and upgrade them to an Assassin with Esus religion for 5 gold, which can then use hide and mask. This means you can essentially mass-produce invisible, hidden nationality assassins. This trick is even better if you have an assassin UU, like Amurites or Sidar. Drafting assassins is doubly useful because melee/archer units really need to start with 2 xp in order to pick up Mobility 1, but assassins already start with 2 moves so starting xp is less necessary. Moreover, guaranteeing that your recon units start with Esus religion is probably worth quite a bit by itself.

    Note that Elohim can upgrade Nightwatch to Devouts, which can then upgrade to a variety of priests. This means Elohim can basically draft priests for 10 gold and a 2-turn delay. This option is best used in a modmod where Elohim have spiritual, so their priests get Mobility 1 for free and you can easily switch between Council of Esus and other religions. Elohim can also draft various UUs with Tolerant.

    Radiant Guards can also be drafted. This is the most hammer-efficient option, costing you 1 pop for a 90 hammer unit. If you have ingenuity, RGs can then upgrade to champions for 33 gold, meaning you can draft champions at a rate of 1/turn out of the Tower of Complacency city. RGs also upgrade to Rathas, perhaps useful if you have a lot of gold to spare and want more mounted units. Axemen can also upgrade to chariots.

    Freaks are an interesting drafting choice. In EitB, the axeman/archer hammer costs are reduced but Freak hammers are not. With drafting, the food cost is the same, so there is no loss--you are essentially paying 5 gold for a free mutation. Freaks can also upgrade to recon units. In a city without a freak show, you can draft the freak and immediately pop the freak show, lowering the happiness penalty to +2.

    3) How to manage happiness, population, and XP

    Drafting presents three problems: unhappiness, regrowing pop, and reduced xp.

    Regrowing Pop: Regrowing pop is easy even with the nerfed granaries/smokehouses in FFH2. This is because food-rich sites are plentiful in FFH2. If you have a granary, a smokehouse, and a modmod that includes growth-boosters from the Creation mana sphere, you can regrow from 5 to 6 pop every turn using 5 aristofarms and no special resources. If you can find pigs or fish, you can chain-draft even without agrarianism.

    Reduced XP: In most games, apprenticeship is critical so 1-movers can buy mobility 1 with their first promotion. Since drafting cuts starting XP in half, you need a second XP booster to start with 2-movers. If using a modmod that merges GCs and GGs, having a command post in a dedicated draft city becomes easy. Organized helps if you are going to cycle draft through a bunch of different cities, as does Theocracy.

    Conquest is tough because you typically need Agrarianism to regrow population, but if you get some rich sites, you can get away with this as well. Of course, Form of the Titan solves a ton of problems. This combined with Organized lets an Undercouncil civ draft using military state, for example.

    Finally, there's unhappiness. The main drawback of drafting is the +3 unhappiness for 10 turns. In BTS, this penalty was managed by drafting in newly-conquered cities or in the Globe Theater city. In FFH, both food and happiness are easier to acquire, so drafting is potentially easier and more powerful. How do you manage happiness?

    a) The Tower of Complacency. Functionally identical to a Globe Theater draft city in base, although it's easier to find adequate food in FFH2.
    b) Unyielding Order. Available through Priors, Sphener, or Druids upgraded from Confessors. This last option means you can follow any religion and still have unyielding order. These are late-game options (excepting maybe Sphener.)
    c) Guardian of Nature. In my experience, drafting with GoN and Overcouncil is very powerful.
    d) Gambling houses. Getting the reduced production requires Undercouncil, so either you have to 1) build them at full price 2) use Military state or 3) use Undercouncil for a while and then Overcouncil.

    This means the best religions for drafting are Leaves, OO and Order. Empyrean and Esus offer special draftable units. RoK and AV are the worst religions for a drafting strategy.

    4) Who should draft


    Civs that don't get much from drafting:

    Infernals - don't draft away your precious manes!
    Illians - can't join the Overcouncil or use religions to deal with the happiness problems.
    Grigori - same. Have a champion UU they can draft in a captured Tower of Complacency city, though.
    Doviello - have a strong synergy with the Undercouncil, and can already produce units very cheaply through gold. If following AV, they will probably want Guilds anyway.
    Sheaim - want to follow AV, and therefore won't use Overcouncil. May not have much spare happiness thanks to Sacrifice the Weak. Typically want to use Guilds in the Labor category. If following AV, the only units they can draft are archers and longbows.
    Clan of Embers- Drafting an ogre costs 3 pop, and only gets you 1 unit. Warrens already get you massive production. Best religions are RoK and AV. If they capture a Tower of Complacency city, they probably want to use it as a GP farm rather than a draft city. Indifferent between the councils. If you really want to sacrifice food for production, Slavery is much better for the Clan because slaved units are multiplied by Warrens, but drafted units are not.
    Bannor - Favor cottages, so regrowing pop is hard. They already get massive free production from cottages+crusade, so getting even more low-xp cannon fodder from drafting isn't really necessary. A Tower of Complacency city can still be useful for them if it isn't farm/agrarianism dependent (e.g., has seafood, floodplains or pigs.) In modmods where Crusade is a membership civic, they can't use the councils anyway.
    Khazad - favor the Undercouncil for the gold boost. Best religion is RoK and Arete is a good civic for them. Already have tons of hammers to produce units straight up, so don't need to draft anyway.

    The Maybe civs. These civs have some points in favor of drafting and some against:

    Kuriotates - Reasons against: Drafting is best done in mid-sized cities. Can't draft centaurs. Probably can't dedicate a city to drafting anyway. Even a Tower of Complacency city will take a long time to regrow pop if it grows very large. Reasons for: Still, if you have some citizens working crappy tiles you could consider drafting them. This is one of the few ways Kurios can get more than 3 units/turn, the others being Guild of the Nine and Slave-->Lunatic.
    Balseraphs - they have higher happy caps thanks to the slave cages, and moreover they have 2 draftable UUs (Freaks and Mimics), 3 if you count Nightwatch-->Taskmaster. Problem is they have very strong synergy with Undercouncil and the Slavery civic. If playing Terkhen modmod you could consider drafting out Taskmasters while following Esus and running Overcouncil during a period that you have the Slaver trait.
    Sidar - they generally want to maximize XP, and with wanes, they have infinite production anyway. On the other hand, they can use GoN to run large cities with a lot of extra happiness since they are not dependent on tile yields for commerce. GoN requires you to give up Conquest, however...
    Lanun - Great for drafting! They like OO and their cities tend to be food-rich. Problem is, they strongly favor the undercouncil for the smuggling ring resolution. They may also like to use slave-->lunatic. You can still make it work by running Military State, but you give up the free xp from Apprenticeship by doing so. GoN in half-forest, half-coast cities is also an option to boost happiness for Lanun. Finally, Boarding parties suck and drafting them sucks too.
    Luchuirp - they can't draft anything but warriors and slingers! (and eventually Arquebus, but who ever gets to Blasting Powder) On the other hand, they are the civ with the easiest time building the Tower of Complacency. They generally want OO anyway in order to upgrade their early warriors to higher-tier units. If you are going this route, adopt Esus/Empyrean as your religion later on and draft tons of RGs and Nightwatch. Another idea is if planning to play as Basium, start as Luchuirp and rush both the Tower and the Mercurian Gate. As Basium, request your Luchuirp allies to give you the Tower city and draft away to your heart's content.
    Hippus - Not sure about these guys. They can use both Esus and Empyrean well, and they can benefit from either council. Don't have any particular use for Slavery (other than to sell the slaves) and can't draft Horselord units. Join the Overcouncil and draft if you get a Tower of Complacency city, otherwise stay in Undercouncil. Overall they are a pretty vanilla race when it comes to economics.

    The civs who love to draft! These are mostly Overcouncil civs. For most of them,
    getting the Tower of Complacency can really help:

    Mercurians - drafting a fodder unit is fine, because when it dies, you get an angel anyway. It's like drafting 2 for the price of 1. Problem is that Mercurians don't have any special way to deal with happiness problems, and with Basium, using slave-->lunatic from Undercouncil is also a great (possibly better) way to get cannon fodder. Consider drafting if you're using Order with Basium, however.

    Malakim - they strongly favor the Overcouncil with their hero, so it's good to figure out a drafting strategy. They can't build assassins anyway, so little use for drafting Nightwatch, so you can skip Deception entirely. Otherwise they are pretty vanilla. Using Spiritual to build a lot of temples can help manage the happiness issues, and you can use a strategy of drafting circularly throughout all your cities rather than having a dedicated draft city. Their hero is unlocked at Blasting Powder so you can use drafting to pump out Arquebuses.

    Elohim - If spiritual, a lot of the same strategy as Malakim applies. They are the civ that can get the largest variety of units out of drafting, thanks to the
    Nightwatch-->Devout-->lot of different stuff upgrade path. Tolerant cheese also
    applies.

    Ljos/Svarts - Brilliant at drafting! Overall, I think the elven civs will get the most out of drafting in a normal game that doesn't depend on wonders, extreme late game tech, getting Bareke even to rush the Tower of Complacency, etc. The reason for this is that GoN gives just massive amounts of spare happiness, and if you have a mid-sized empire, there are always cities under the happy cap. For cities on the edge of your empire or in undeveloped areas, drafting away a citizen or two every few turns makes a lot of sense. For example, consider an elven city that has a few water tiles in the BFC--drafting a citizen working a 1 :food: 2 :commerce: tile makes a lot of sense.

    Moreover, neither elf civ has strong synergies with the Undercouncil. Neither civ is truly reliant on Necromancy mana, nor do they have much use for slaves or extra happiness from gambling rings. Overcouncil makes a lot of sense for them. For Faeryl, however, she has to find a way to get to Neutral in order to join the Overcouncil though. Also Organized+Apprenticeship+Drafting actually gives people a reason to use Rivanna the Wraith Lord.

    Amurites - excellent at drafting. In EitB, Firebows are the best unit that any civ can draft. Bowyers is a real slog to get to and Amurites don't tend to have strong production, so being able to draft out a ton of Firebows the moment you get the tech is an excellent option. Moreover Valledia is Organized, and in EitB/Terkhen, she has Ingenuity to boot. Combined with not having a strong religious preference, Amurites are really free to pursue any council / unit drafting strategy they choose.

    Calabim - in MNAI, the undisputed kings of drafting as they 1) get extra production from unhappiness and can feast down unhappy pop 2) they get unlimited XP, making the XP penalty from drafting irrelevant and 3) regrow population the fastest of any civ. EitB nerfed them so that vampires can no longer be drafted. Still, a variety of other units still can, and Calabim can still use drafting as a supplementary strategy. Problem is that Calabim strongly favor AV, so they will have to use military state for their drafting. That means any Moroi or Longbows they draft will probably start with zero XP unless you build command posts, in which case they start with 1 xp.

    ---

    So in closing, drafting is a very powerful mechanic that can really help you ramp up your production for a big midgame war. In order to abuse it though, you have to plan a bit in advance with most civs.
     
  2. [to_xp]Gekko

    [to_xp]Gekko QCT junkie

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    your posts are always awesome :)

    one mistake I've noticed is that Malakim CAN build assassins.
     
  3. Qgqqqqq

    Qgqqqqq Emperor

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    I agree that I love your posts :)

    Disagree, aside from the cases named, none of which are paticularly easy or general to acquire.

    A point about Calabim synery is also a) how awesome vamps are as units, and b) how expensive they are in pop versus hammers (can't remember numbers).

    I believe the gold boost from UC (and possibly the OC drafting ability?) are EitB additions and not in the base game.

    I also think the synergy of war traits is important, as say Basium is strongly favored to follow a melee (and therefore potential drafting) strategy.
     
  4. akatosh

    akatosh Prince

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    @Gekko -- Really! In the FFH2 manual it says that Malakim can't build assassins unless their state religion is Esus and they use the worldspell. I assumed it was true so I've never tried building assassins as Malakim...

    @Q -- good points about the synergy and changes to the councils. Admittedly it has been a while since I've played MNAI so some of my knowledge is mixed up in the changes between EitB, MNAI and Terkhen modmod.

    To your point on food and happiness, I would say food is definitely much easier to come by in FFH2 than it is in base. In Civ4 there's advice about how planning your city's food surplus at size 20 is important, and counting the number of tiles and all that. In FFH2 with sanitation and agrarianism any city can get enough food to work its full fat cross.

    As for happiness, I actually haven't played Civ4 in over two years, but I seem to remember being happiness-constrained a lot. Hereditary rule is easier to get than Social Order, true, but getting a lot of religions is conversely easier in FFH2. It seems to me that happiness is pretty plentiful in FFH as compared to Civ4 base. I mean, people make actually make sad arguments like "Pick ottomans because their UB gives +2 happiness" as a reason to pick a particular civ. Can you imagine anyone saying "Play Perpentach because he has a UB that gives +1 happy, +1 culture, and a bard point?"

    That of course is a function of the sadness/lameness/boringtude of the game they are playing (Civilization 4) compared to the awesomeness of the game we are playing (Fall from Heaven.)
     
  5. Qgqqqqq

    Qgqqqqq Emperor

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    Ok I forgot I'd copied the food bit - that is definitely easier!
    A big reason to play Balseraphs is the plentiful happiness! (at least in MP, in SP I wanna muck around with mimics :heart:).
    But those people who say that are playing on outdated metagame, +happy buildings are generally bad unless maya, and then only really creative.
    Once you get into the Renaisance, happiness is generally prettty easily plentiful, between happy doubling buildings and what not. Hereditery Rule is a pretty good solution earlier too. Its just my experience of course.
    +1. Did I just spend a paragraph discussing vanilla :(
     
  6. [to_xp]Gekko

    [to_xp]Gekko QCT junkie

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    yeah, assassins were added to the Malakim in one of the latest FFH patches, after the manual stopped being updated :)
     
  7. akatosh

    akatosh Prince

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    @Q - LOL ... I'll take your word for it regarding vanilla, I don't remember a lot about it :)

    Anyway, you guys should try out drafting with Overcouncil in your next Ljosalfar game. It is really strong, you basically get a bunch of free units for very little cost.

    Also I think it is strong enough that any civ that gets the Bareke event should save it for the Tower of Complacency if they don't want the Mercurian Gate.

    If you had a wonder that produced a free 120 :hammers: unit every 2 turns, would you say it's one of the best wonders in the game?
     
  8. scutarii

    scutarii King

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    my only complaint, speaking of overcouncil - it forces liberty civic...huge WW penalty...
     
  9. [to_xp]Gekko

    [to_xp]Gekko QCT junkie

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    only if that resolution passes though. that resolution is also the best way to win a cultural victory.
     
  10. scutarii

    scutarii King

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    Calabim may be the king of drafting but it's complicated. As you say - their best religion is AV - and evil alignement excludes overcouncil. It means - only military state civic for drafting and therefore cannot use slavery at the same time. And switching through military state and slavery (to get rid from too many :mad: to avoid starvation) is not worth a shot.

    unyelding order or ToC - no :hammers: from :mad: citizens. Therefore questionable path for pursuing.
     
  11. Qgqqqqq

    Qgqqqqq Emperor

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    I don't think slavery is a good option for the calabim, and certainly not worth giving up the ability to draft vampires.
    If the city is starving while unhappy...then you're only losing 1hpt. And if you have worries with excess population...that's what vampires are for ;)
     
  12. akatosh

    akatosh Prince

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    Yeah, I would not use unyielding order or the Tower of Complacency with Calabim. Governor's manors and feasting are good enough to manage the unhappiness, along with the quick regrowth from StW+Breeding Pits+Granary+Smokehouse.

    As for Slavery vs. Military State (in MNAI), in my games with Calabim I have found that it doesn't really matter that much. Both are very strong. Calabim are so freaking overpowered in so many ways that you can do almost anything and still win.
     
  13. scutarii

    scutarii King

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    drafting with amurites:

    1. do NOT build training yards . Ever. In drafting champions are preferred over firebows ( WTF?)

    2. do not build gunpowder until you're ready to upgrade your firebows to arquebusers. Needless to say - in drafting arquebuses take over...

    3. Therefore: the best approach for late game: raze your gunpowder. Draft firebows. Build gunpowder. Upgrade your firebows. Raze gunpowder, etc.
     
  14. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    I have used drafting in 3 games I played a long time ago. Unfortunately I've not played FFH2 for a couple of years :blush: but I looked at some old save games to refresh my memory. I don't think this aspect has changed much in the interim.

    In BTS drafting was often one of my key strategies, enabling me to draft muskets and later rifles to accompany the cannons and galleons I used on continent and archipelago maps I preferred. That was excellent when accompanied by heavy use of espionage (Nationhood gives +25% espionage). So I was keen to try it when the MNAI came out and found it very useful in some cities and circumstances.

    FFH2 is very different from BTS in terms of the way food and granary interact and so needed some changes in the way drafting is used. akatosh has produced an excellent article here that summarises and expands on all that I found :D I do remember being surprised that I could draft radiant guards for only 1 pop and that became a central mid-game strategy, once I researched Empyrean and spread the religion. That meant a small newly founded city with a good food supply could contribute very useful troops without much infrastructure. So running Military Strategy for long periods of time means that the -3 happiness can be worked off as the city continues to grow.

    I also found Conquest to be a useful civic for Hannah and the Lanun, that enables another way to control happiness in high food cities and also turns food to hammers, (very useful for building workboats needed for seafood and pirate coves) and that meant building bronze warriors for local defence was easy. Later when running Empyrean as the religion the food to hammer from Conquest was another useful way to build more Vicars for spreading it to the next new city, while drafting a radiant guard and a starting workboat. Each new coastal city needs a settler, vicar and workboat and starts to build a lighthouse which can be rush bought at some stage to speed up growth. That makes a Domination victory easy on a map with lots of water where the problem is getting enough land area under control.

    I found that using mutate on the drafted radiant guards and any warriors built in the new cities was helpful. Then depending on how lucky the mutation was they were upgraded to better troops or left as garrisons or cannon fodder, upgrading to boarding party (and eventually Berserker etc) or ratha and to archer / longbow for the warriors for those with the right mutation promotions. As they only had 1 exp I usually stacked these drafted troops with some catapults and carried the 1 move troops together on some ships, then dumped them next to a city I was at war with. Next turn the catapults reduce the enemy strength and the 1 exp troops finish off what's left getting at least 1 more exp and then take the movement promotion. Once they have 2 movement they're ready to join the main stack.

    I also used a similar drafting strategy with the Balseraphs and again radiant guards were the mainstay and again I used mutate on them. They were much better in general that drafting a freak or mimic directly. Keelyn with her double turn puppets wants to play a very magical game but you still need a stack of solid troops to finish off some opponents. Again I found new cities to be useful militarily by building warriors
    and drafting radiant guards and then both would be mutated and upgraded accordingly. This time if they were ordinary or even bad after the mutation then then were put through an arena battle to get more exp or die.

    So my overall experience with drafting in FFH2 is mainly based on the radiant guard which is undoubtedly the best value draftee. I found I only drafted regularly in maybe half my cities and these tended to be the smaller newer ones with less infrastructure. Older more developed cities usually had better uses for the food and were working non food tiles or running lots of specialists for the GPPs and they're closer to the happiness threshold anyway and the food to hammer trade off is much less attractive in big cities.

    JJ
     
  15. doktarr

    doktarr Warlord

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    Another option with Elohim is to keep them as Devouts or Nightwatches until you get to Mobility 2, and only then then promote to Priests. Then you get mobility 2 priests with hidden nationality.

    The best religion to use with this approach would probably be OO. AV requires you to run Military State, FoL isn't a great choice for the Elohim (and the summoned tigers aren't HN anyway, I don't think), and RoK/Empyrian/Order priests aren't useful in large numbers. Fighting undeclared wars with Cultists and Nightwatches sounds awesome to me.

    EDIT: Oh, rereading now, I see you're saying that you need Esus as state religion or you can't draft Nightwatches. Yeah, you kind of need spiritual to abuse that, then. You could just play a Spiritual leader on unrestricted, or you could play a modmod where the Elohim get spiritual leaders or the spiritual trait for the civ. Looks like I might download extramodmod and fire up a game with Einon.

    If you are spiritual, it's potentially fantastic to cycle back and forth between Esus and OO. If you are riding fairly close to happy cap and can't handle stacked unhappiness, then you can draft a Nightwatch immediately when you switch to Esus, wait the mandatory 10 turns to switch to OO, and draft a Nightwatch again just before switching. The minimum religion switch duration lines up nicely with the drafting unhappiness.

    Nice. Especially nice if you summon the Mercurians. Unfortunately Ingenuity isn't available for any of the civs that really want to run Empyrean and promote to champions, except for Basium. That said...

    Yeah, this won't shake me loose of the Lunatic-spamming Mercurian strategy, which has definitely become a favorite of mine. However, if I switch to Empyrean to grab Chalid, then this is an obvious value-add.

    Order isn't bad for the Calabim, though.
     
  16. doktarr

    doktarr Warlord

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    Oops, I just realized that my Nightwatch->Devout->Ritualist/Cultist spam concept doesn't work, because Devouts can only upgrade to the priests of the three good religions, and leaves. The only one of those that's any good en masse is the Priest of Leaves, but I like them a lot less than Ritualists and Cultists, personally.
     

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