The Power of the Worker

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by blitzkrieg1980, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. blitzkrieg1980

    blitzkrieg1980 Octobrist

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    I've decided to start a discussion that will, hopefully, teach us all about the power of the worker. This may be obvious, but I feel the need to start this discussion anyway.

    The worker is, arguably, the most powerful unit in the whole game. Over-shadowing Praets, Immortals, Modern Armor, workers are the spine of the empire. Of course, I'm not talking in attack/defense strength (since civilian units like workers don't have such strength). I'm talking purely in the power to effect the entire game.

    This all came about from my last 4 games. My previous build order was generally warrior/warrior/warrior/worker/chop worker/settler. I'd use the 4 (including the initial) warriors to kill whoever was close to me and take their capital. Obviously, this is only effective on levels Prince and below... or is it even effective there?

    My recent games have gone worker/warrior/worker/warrior/settler/worker and I've never had more powerful games. Every game where I start with an early worker and then chop out a second shortly afterwards, I notice a superior tech pace, better land (peacefully even), larger military, and an overall stronger empire. I've also noticed that, in general, when I have an average of 2 workers per city, my games are usually smoother and I can concentrate on how I can best win instead of how I can best keep up.

    I understand this is probably obvious (more workers = more improvements), but I feel like, perhaps, the worker is the more overlooked of units for those of us who play levels Prince and below. Defense matters, but defensive units obsolete. Workers never obsolete.

    So I end on this assertion, and please feel free to challenge me: The worker is the most important single unit in this game bar none.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  2. kossin

    kossin Deity

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    Worker first is generally the way to go, as working non-improved tile is subpar.
    And as mentionned by most top-tier players:
    "Build more workers"
    About 1.5-2 by city (if there's jungle) is a good number.
     
  3. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Bah, workers are so overrated.... :D

    J/k ..... I guess most players would need a game without workers to fully realize how important they are. We in RR2 pretty much struggled badly until we captured justinian cap and the jewish shrine.... and we also let justinian to capture a barb city on the other side of our empire just for him to build a road through our land :D .

    The truth is that improved( and worked ) land is power in Civ IV and you can't get it without workers or fast workers, yours or from the other civs
     
  4. blitzkrieg1980

    blitzkrieg1980 Octobrist

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    Nice SG, r_rolo1. I'm at work and can't read the whole thread without getting caught :D. So I'll take a look when I get home. It's amazing how overlooked workers are for those of us Prince and lower (at least from what i've seen/read). I feel like I could jump up 2 levels with the scores I'm getting on Noble now with a heavy emphasis on workers. Tonight, I'm about to win a domination in the late 1200s (which is the earliest I've ever gotten one besides a Rome/Pangaea map).

    Of course, I won't be skipping Prince (yea me on Monarch is :lol:), but I think I'll be holding a much better hand when moving up tomorrow.
     
  5. Joshua368

    Joshua368 Warmongering builder

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    Yeah seriously, worker first. Very rare for you to want to do anything different, except occassionally workboat. (for the same reason)
     
  6. futurehermit

    futurehermit Deity

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    If land is power, then workers are your power lines.
     
  7. brianb1974

    brianb1974 Warlord

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    At higher levels, you aren't going to kill neighbors with warriors--they start with archers. However, if you play a high enough level that the AI starts with a worker, you can build warriors to steal workers rather than building them yourself.

    So you build the warrior, find an AI, and sneak attack him to take a worker. Then you attack some animal or scout with the warrior. If it lives (65-70% chance), give it woodsman1. Then wander around forests and let yourself get attacked by a couple more animals (which is nearly completely safe except against the occasional lucky bear) to get woodsman2. Then go back to the AI city and steal every worker he builds.

    The end result is that
    1) you get a bunch of free workers--which you reasonably argued are the most powerful units in the game.
    2) you severely stunt the AIs growth. He may not get a second city out

    Point (2) is a mixed blessing. It opens up more room for you to grow, but depending on the geography, it may allow another AI to develop faster. Sometimes you can settle your own 2nd and 3rd cities in a way to cordon off the vacant land. (The barbs will settle it if you don't fogbust, but who cares about them). Sometimes, it's actually not entirely bad to have a powerful neighbor if you can get up to friendly--the two of you can trade with each other to run away from the competition, and eventually make it a two-man game.
     
  8. budweiser

    budweiser King of the Beers

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    I find that sometimes 1 worker can handle my capitol and then move on to city 2. So the happy cap can be a factor on how many workers you need, also the lay of th eland and the total turn number of the improvements you need to make. You should spend as few turns as possible in building the worker because that stops city growth. Whipping/stealing your workers may be the way to go for some civs.
     
  9. TabascoBob

    TabascoBob Chieftain

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    Does this build order hold true in all circumstances (understanding the work boat exception)?

    worker/warrior/worker/warrior/settler/worker

    My question is, do you always have enough worker techs to make two workers in the first three builds? I guess by building two workers, you are in a better position to chop a settler and hook up the second city if it's not on a river or coast. There's nothing I hate more though, than having a worker with nothing to do, with no bronze working and no wheel and a dead warrior out there in the fields...
     
  10. CynicalMagician

    CynicalMagician Chieftain

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    No, it doesn't. Generally you want to grow your capital into working the best high yield tiles before putting down a settler, but like everything in civ, it depends. If your capital only has wheat and sheep but your first new city will have pigs and corn, get the settler out earlier (because corn/pigs are probably higher yield than the 3rd resource your cap would work). Ultimately you want your empire to work the best tiles it can as soon as it can, so your build order will change depending on the map around you.
     
  11. babybluepants

    babybluepants Deity GOTM Staff

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    I usually play on quick and normal, where I obviously start with a worker or two. Generally, I agree with budweiser - due to the happy cap, my first worker can usually pull double duty, especially on quick. I also don't think you necessarily need to tech Bronze for chopping right away. I find that quickly improving a pig or corn plus a FP or hill is just as powerful in boosting settler and worker production.

    Lately, I've been trying marathon a bit, and I seem to get better starts with warrior / warrior / worker; I mean, growing before I build a worker. Do any of you more experienced players have thoughts on this? I'm way too lazy to do careful math, but there's something about early tech pace, builds and worker actions that seems a bit off comparatively.
     
  12. TabascoBob

    TabascoBob Chieftain

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    The switch from normal to marathon and the jump from noble to prince are the two things that are giving me trouble with that early build order. Building units relatively faster than buildings on marathon compared to normal (and having roads take 6 turns) makes for a rough adjustment.

    After reading up on the differences between marathon and normal, and how the scaling is different, I have been tweaking my build order and research paths. I have come to the conclusion that beeling Poly or Med with the intent of founding an early religon will leave me with idle workers if I stay with the worker/warrior/worker initial build order.
     
  13. SlipperyJim

    SlipperyJim Prince

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    No challenge here. I agree with you completely. As others have commented, one of the most-quoted tips from experienced players to the n00bs is: Build more workers.

    In fact, I have read arguments that India's Fast Worker is the most powerful UU in the game. It's an upgrade to the standard Worker, which is already a critical unit. It never goes obsolete, and it doesn't require any special resources to build. Fast Workers FTW! ;)

    I'm not sure that I agree with the Fast-Workers-Uber-Alles argument ... but then again, I've never actually played India.
     
  14. blitzkrieg1980

    blitzkrieg1980 Octobrist

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    Well, i never go for an early religion unless I have a high commerce tile / FIN leader. Regarding the build order, I wasn't suggesting that it was done that way EVERY time. In fact, that's often sub-optimal with regards to growth and working improved tiles. However, the settler and 3rd worker are often chopped/whipped and with all the food improvements, the city grows extremely quickly. So, if I have floodplains or several food resources, I'm more likely to go with the worker/warrior/worker/warrior/settler/worker order since the city will grow into itself relatively fast.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  15. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

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    Workers are by far the best build at the beginning unless you have seafood and the fishing tech.

    With that said, let me point out that neither regular workers, nor the overhyped Indian Fast Workers, are satifactory in defending your empire from leaders such as Shaka!

    Trust me on this :D
     
  16. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    A key thing to remember about marathon is that workers are effectively 2/3 the cost on normal, 120 hammers versus 60 hammers. Therefore it is quicker to build you own workers and that means your capital can resume growth quicker. The lower relative cost of workers makes stealing them less effective on marathon.

    Furthermore it takes 3 times as long to improve a tile but workers still only lose one turn moving onto a hill or into a wood. So to improve a hill in normal it takes 1 turn to move onto it and 4 turns to mine, while on marathon it takes 1 turn to move onto and 12 to mine for a total of 13 turns instead of the 15 turns you'd expect from scaling up the normal turns. That's a 14% reduction in time taken and that effect escalates as the worker finishes one job and then starts the next one sooner and finishes that job even quicker. This means you can get away with fewer workers on marathon to do the same amount of improvements. So they're cheaper and you can use less of them.

    Concerning reasons not to build a worker first. Here are a few ideas when you might want to diverge from the normally strong worker-first strategy. If you start with hunting building another scout can be effective and then you'll need a warrior to guard you capital or maybe steal a worker (to slow down a neighbour's development). If you go for an early religion or two (say Izzy on a lake) then growth might be prefered especially if going for a double holy city where a second lake tile would speed up research.
     
  17. brianb1974

    brianb1974 Warlord

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    Uncle JJ--So workers are effectively 2/3 cost on marathon. But it takes much less time (relatively speaking) to steal them and bring them home. So if anything, I think worker stealing is MORE effective on marathon. I usually declare on 2 neighbors and turn their capitals into worker farms. I rarely end up having (due to isolation or some quirk of geography) to build any of my own. In fact, I often end up executing some captured workers if I have to maintain the choke for a really long time and my empire hasn't grown enough to support the maintenance cost of more workers.
     
  18. blitzkrieg1980

    blitzkrieg1980 Octobrist

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    I thought civilian units were still 3x the normal speed :hammers: cost :confused:
     
  19. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    The problem I always seem to have on Marathon if I build a worker first is that I either have nothing for them to do when they're built (teching takes longer in comparison) or it will take too long to get to the second thing they can improve.

    Frequently the start BFC is almost filled with trees and without Mining as a starting tech it seems to take forever to reach BW. I'm not very used to Marathon but when I tried it recently I practically found myself needing to spam archers and rush another AI just so I could lose some unit costs! I even start with a barracks and granary if possible but it still always comes down to spamming units as they're all that's left to build.

    With marathon, I'm guessing the optimal starting strategy will usually involve working tiles that provide any commerce at all. I've found myself considering 1:food:2:commerce: tiles pretty reasonable at that early stage.
     
  20. blitzkrieg1980

    blitzkrieg1980 Octobrist

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    That's exactly it. Working a 1:food: 2:commerce: tile has you popping your worker at an ideal time with respect to getting that tech.

    BFC aren't always filled with trees. But the worker-first tactic usually is best used when combined with already having a useful tech and resource in your capital BFC. For example, agriculture and having corn/wheat/rice in your BFC. You definitely want to get a worker ASAP. Gems/Gold/Silver is another resource in your BFC that you'll want to get a worker first especially if starting with mining. Even if not, mining is a cheap worker tech and you'll probably get it before getting the worker.

    EDIT: Some start tech/BFC combos make worker first a silly move, though. Like Hunting/Mysticism with no Phants/deer/fur/etc in the BFC. In this case, I'll probably go warrior/worker to let the city grow a bit while teching whatever worker-tech is smart for the resources in the BFC. Any civ starting with the Wheel is worth building a worker first IMO, since if there's absolutely NOTHING for him to do, he can at least start building roads to the resources while you tech towards getting them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009

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