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What is a Specialist Economy?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by UncleJJ, Jul 25, 2006.

  1. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    In this thread I’d like to discuss at what point it is accurate to call an economy a Specialist Economy (SE) as opposed to another type. Most often people talk about specialist versus cottages as though it was a simple distinction. I suppose if you contrast the two extremes of cottage spammer and a fanatical extreme specialist (see below) then the distinction is clear but there is a lot of room for less extreme use of specialists and cottages that make very good strategic sense in many situations. And I feel that in general a mixed form of economy blending commerce with specialists and their GPPs is a more robust solution in most games, depending on your starting traits, the map and your AI neighbours.

    Let’s describe what I think is the most obvious and extreme form of specialist economy and use that as a strawman ;) In the Industrial age you can have all the technologies to run the following civics, tile improvements and wonders.

    Biology, farms give +1 food (if irrigated) so grassland farm becomes a viable way to run one specialist. Floodplains can now support 1.5 specialists.
    Caste System, allows a city to run any number specialist Artists, Scientists or Merchants.
    Pacificism, adds +100% GP points from specialists and wonders
    Merchantilism, gives one free specialist in each city (equivalent to +2 food, + 1 happy and + 1 health)
    Representation, adds happiness in largest cities and +3 base beakers for every specialist
    Ankor Wat, priest specialists gain +1 hammer
    Statue of Liberty, gives one free special in all cities on that continent (equivalent to +2 food, + 1 happy and + 1 health)
    Drama, can adjust the culture rate to give more happiness.

    Other technologies give bonuses to health and happiness which help build a bigger economy with larger cities but they don’t affect the essential character and I want to keep the scope of the discussion as small as practical.

    Most people will agree that any economy with the above improvements and wonders and who is running the Civics is a Specialist Economy. Further if the culture slider is being used to boost happiness to high levels (turning much commerce to culture) you might call it an extreme Specialist Economy. But for a Cultural Victory that might be just what is needed to finish fast.

    Having set the scene, my question is this,
    How many of the above features are necessary for it to be a Specialist Economy (SE) as far as you are concerned? I expect several different opinions so let’s take some examples.

    For instance:
    a) Would merely running Mercantilism and Representation before Biology and without the Caste System or Pacifism be a SE? There might be many cottages used but GP points are being generated in many cities.

    b) Would running, Universal Suffrage (to buy stuff), Free Speech (100% Culture), Caste System, Environmentalism (health and happiness), and Pacifism be a SE?

    c) Would running, Universal Suffrage, Free Speech, Emancipation, Mercantilism, Pacifism with many towns and many specialists and great people be a SE? Or is this a mixed economy?

    d) Would running, Representation, Caste System, Mercantilism, Pacifism, and having the Statue of Liberty, Ankor Wat and keeping the cultural slider at 50% or more (for happiness) for 100 turns be an extreme SE?

    Please feel free to add your own examples of what you consider a SE and perhaps what you consider is not a SE despite having some specialists. Where would you draw the line?

    My own favourite at present is the use of specialist based economy to support a domination victory. I’m using Alexander for his aggressive trait for conquest and philosophical trait to help with research and to fund the expansion. I have my doubts whether some people would consider that I am using is really a SE but I certainly do have many of the characteristics. In 1850 I’m running Representation, Free Speech, Slavery, Mercantilism and Organised Religion and I am on my way to the 17th great person. Pacifism makes little sense as I have a huge army and the costs would be too high.

    What do you think?
     
  2. futurehermit

    futurehermit Deity

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    Why use cottages? Use caste system (it comes before mercantilism) to run at least 3 scientists in a city. Combined with representation this will give you 18 beakers per turn for 4 pop. Four cottages would have to be at size 5 to be superior. Unlikely at this point in the game.

    I would say no, because the crux of a SE imo is representation. Without it, cottages are more easily superior to the beakers produced by a science.

    I would say this is pretty much a cottage economy, with a gpfarm. If you choose to run a bunch of specialists in addition to the free one provided by mercantilism then it might be a mixed econ. However, a specialist econ imo does entail representation.

    I don't see why you think Angkor Wat has anything to do with a SE. Why are you running priests? A SE is about *scientists*. Also, why do you need the culture slider at 50%+? I only use it to combat war weariness. The extra happiness could be used to grow your cities I guess, but I would rather have my money go towards maintenance so I can capture more cities.


    This thread kinda goes with my hunch that a lot of the resistance to my specialist econ threads comes from some ignorance about how to effectively run a SE.
     
  3. futurehermit

    futurehermit Deity

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    I guess I should say what I think a specialist econ is:

    1) Getting representation early

    2) Maximizing the number of scientists you're running in your science cities; using caste system, irrigation, and mercantilism to do this.

    3) Maximizing the number of science buildings in your science cities

    4) Running science at 0% to pay your mainentance costs; general neglect of cottages

    5) Getting the great library and statue of liberty, in addition to the pyramids, to maximize your scientists

    6) Getting as many great scientists as you can. First one builds an academy in your GL city. The rest are settled for uber beakers in your GL city.
     
  4. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    with all respect due to your other threads, futurehermit, i think you're going overboard with your definition.

    My definition of a SE is simple. It's when you get more beakers+gold+culture through specialists than you get through tile working.

    I's simple, casual and straight to the point.
    However, it's a tough one to apply :lol:. It implies counting everything city by city!
    And then you realize you didn't factor in the bonuses :eek:

    For example, a single city with a farmed river, size 8, with a market and a library (i said simple right?).
    You work 4 farms =12 food before biology +2 food from city center, you're down 2 food. let's say there is rice somewhere so you have a food bonus (still growing with 4 specialists).
    This way, you have 4 scientists = 24 beakers from specialists, 5 commerce from tiles. It's a specialist economy all right.

    If instead of 4 farms and 4 specialists, you work 4 farms, a gold mine and 3specialists, you have 18 beakers from specialists, 13 commerce from tiles. It's still a specialist economy? i'd say it's mixed.

    If instead you work 4 farms, a gold mine and a copper mine, and 2 specialists, you have 12 beakers from specialists, 13 commerce from tiles. It's not a specialist economy anymore. It's mixed.

    Say you work 5 cottages, a river rice farm, and have 2 specialists, you have something like 12 beakers from specialists, and 22 commerce from tiles (hamlets/villages). It's a cottage economy? well, for me it's still mixed.

    Say you work 7 cottages and river rice farm. You have no beakers from specialists, and have 30 commerce from tiles. Cottage economy all right.

    this post became longer than i expected, but this artificial separation between SE and cottage is going nowhere. Most games will be mixed. You WILL work the gem/gold/silver mines.
     
  5. Araqiel

    Araqiel Prince

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    Exactly cabert, in another thread future advocates pillaging towns in his target cities to get the cash. Then farming to run specialists after he takes the city. This seems to be putting form over function. You should have some cottages and you certainly should work gems, gold, silver, and calender resources.

    No reason at all for it to be a binary system.
     
  6. gdgrimm

    gdgrimm Prince

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    It's an interesting thread, trying to determine what a specialist economy is.

    I've always considered an economy a 'specialist economy' by the way it effects the game play. Specifically, if changing the research/tax/culture sliders have only small effects on your research rate and gold generation, than you are running a specialist economy. This is, BTW, the primary symptom of the specialist economy -- i.e. you can use the slider to add "touches" to whatever you're currently trying to do, whether it's research, cash, or happiness.

    A cottage based economy, OTOH, is completely controlled by the slider. Shifting it makes a huge impact on research rates and cash flow.

    Now, to be competitive, a specialist based economy will likely need to spend most of it's time in Representation. Without it, to keep up in research, you'll need to keep the slider high on research, which puts you in the same boat as cottage based economies.

    The other Civic and Wonder choices improve the value of the cottage based economy, but I wouldn't consider them 'necessary'. It's similar to the way Printing Press and running Free Speech make a cottage economy stronger, but I wouldn't say it's not a cottage economy without them.

    So, in general, I agree with cabert's post -- "if you're getting most of your research/gold from specialists, than it's a specialist economy. If not, it's a cottage economy".

    But I'll offer a possibly easier way to measure it than having to count up all the city stuff.

    Compare the number of turns to research a tech at 100% research, with the number of turns to research a tech at 0% research. Those are easy numbers to get.

    If they are within a certain range -- say a factor of 2 (e.g. 8 turns at 0%, 4 turns at 100%), then you have a specialist economy (i.e. you're pretty much free to do whatever you want with the slider).

    If they are very different (e.g 25 turns at 0%, 4 turns at 100%), then you have a cottage economy and your research is hostage to the slider's settings.

    Now we only need to try to reach some agreement as to what 'close' and 'very different' mean.
     
  7. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    good method gdgrimm
    and factor 2 is good IF all your specialists are scientists ;)
    You just miss the merchants, priests, artists :lol:
    I don't count engineers into this, since they (except representation) don't give you any commerce (be it beakers, gold or culture)

    To be exact you must check how much beakers and gold (not culture, since it's not the point of the SE AFAIK, and you have the buildings that makes everything wrong) you get with 100% science and how much beakers and gold you get with 100% gold.

    Say 500 beaker, 10 gold with 100% science
    8 beakers 410 gold with 100 % gold gives you
    8 beakers, 10 gold = 18 worth of specialist economy
    and 500 beakers OR 400 gold (something you could have with libraries everywhere, and no markets), so 450 worth of tile economy.

    That would be exact (well, not including the happiness from culture slider effect and the culture generated isn't exact, but see above)
    but i must say the 2 moves calculation with a factor 2 to apply to the research turns with/without tiles is better (because it's doable :lol:)
     
  8. gdgrimm

    gdgrimm Prince

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    Well, as mentioned in my post, I feel a specialist economy WILL be running Representation most of the time. So evaluating research DOES include engineers, priests, artists, etc., etc., etc. And it's the most effective way to measure how successful one is at separating research rate from commerce and tiles -- the whole point of a specialist economy.

    BTW, I did think of one other 'quick' check. If most of your cities are being run completely by a 'governor', then you are definitely NOT in a specialist based economy. :lol:
     
  9. Pantastic

    Pantastic King

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    I ran a fun setup as Gandhi in a recent game where I built Hagia Sophia for representation (I swapped its effects with pyramids in my games), and Angkor wat for +1 hammer to priests. I wasn't running that many scientist specialists, but just about every city had 2 priests adding 4 hammers, 2 gold, 6 research (my capital had something silly like 8 of them helping to pump out wonders). I don't think my economy was getting most research from specialists, and certainly not most of my gold+science (2 holy cities + Spiral Minaret kept me at 100% science even with expansions), but it was definately a significant power boost.
     
  10. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    Thanks for your replies futurehermit, they correspond very much with the thoughts you've expressed in your several other threads. What you advocate is one type of SE but I can't agree that it should be considered the one and only sort or even that is necessarily the best sort. Specialists are very flexible and have many uses besides merely producing science beakers, they can also produce gold, hammers and GPP (and hence all the things GP can do) and even food (from the Merchant GP) and there are differnt sub-strategies that can make use of them.

    Priests with Ankor Wat provide one of the best sort of specialists it is possible to run in many cities. I can't agree with your assertion "a SE is about * scientists * " Specialists are flexible and have many uses (see my comments above)

    Consider Madrid in my current game which is the Buddist Holy City. It has Wall Street and Iron Works and is a gold and production powerhouse, due in part to running priests with Ankor Wat. In 1860 it produces 112 beakers, 276 gold, and 140 hammers plus 52 GPP every turn. It is running 7 priests (from food,mercantilism and SoL) plus 3 G Prohets and 4 G Merchants settled and they give 42 base beakers from Representation. As I'm currently trying to build the Three Gorges Dam there (which would be a huge boost to other cities) it would definitely be a mistake to run scientists instead of priests and slow down its construction and possible risk losing it.

    On your final comment... I don't think many people can be ignorant of your opinions as to how a SE should be built. There are however many people who can see the strengths of alternatives that you have never shown to be inferior your own particular favourite. I see the Pyramids route to early Representation that you advocate as a gambit. In this gambit you trade a lot of early expansion and development potential for an advantage in the middle game. You will be seriously behind a conventional start at the stage Pyramids have been biuilt. Depending on the availability of plenty of pre biology food sources you might be able to run enough specialists to catch up and overtake a more conventional start to a specialist end game. Obviously once the conventional start has researched Constitution the main advantage of the Pyramids gambit has elapsed. Will your gambit be ahead by then? It could be but that will depend on the particular map and AI opponents and it is probably a lot harder to pull off at higher difficulty levels.
     
  11. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    :) cabert and gdgrim, thanks to both of you for your constructive comments and ideas :)

    I think cabert has the basis of the way we could define what a SE is when he says:
    This is a fair way of judging the "commerce equivalent" output from specialists and only misses the contribution of hammers from specialists such as engineers, priests and settled scientists (which give 1 hammer and 6 beakers). At present I can't see an easy way to measure the hammer output so let's put that aside for now.

    Specialists also give GPP points and from these GP. The GP can be settled for extra commerce equivalent output in the SE. But they can also be cashed in for various one off effects. Some effects like lightbulbing for a tech (or part of a tech) have a direct commerce equivalent while others like GE going for wonder has a hammer effect and the GA can have a cultural effect. These once off effects can be very beneficial but are hard to measure as a part of the SE. All we be sure of is that a cottage economy will not have as many of these one off GP effects as it will generate less GP.

    Cabert gives a worked example for a single city which is a useful illustration of comparing specialist and cottage outputs but that is a lot of work to calculate on an empire wide basis. :( My current game has 29 cities and that is not particularly high... I have another 40 to capture ;). These cities are in various stages of development so I'm certainly not going to work through those deciding the total output. The cities advisor does have totals for beakers, gold and culture for each city but there is no easy way to separate commerce output from specialist output.

    This is getting long... I'll post now and reply to gdgrim's ideas later :)
     
  12. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    hammers isn't commerce, is it?
    in a tile economy you have hammers too..

    It's not about production/commerce, it's about tiles/specialists.

    If you generate science by using priests, it's like generating commerce while working a production tile (mine, workshop). You may have some, but you're not going full commerce.
     
  13. futurehermit

    futurehermit Deity

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    i don't understand how you're going to keep your tech rate up if you're mainly running priests for your economy. furthermore, what do you do early in the game if you're not getting the pyramids? surely, you must be using some cottages since specialists are inferior w/out representation...
     
  14. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    my understanding of a SE is :
    definition : more "commerce" aka gold+beakers+culture from specialists than from tiles
    needs : pyramids, philosophical leader, writing tech early, food ressource> commerce ressource, GS are priority, and get attached to a science city

    caste sytem isn't needed all the time, but it's a good indicator that you use a SE ;)
     
  15. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    Well my tech rate (in 1860) is very healthy thanks due to the 90% Science rate and Representation that every late game SE should run IMHO :p The other 10% is going on culture to keep my cities happy in War but that will go up to 20% soon. The gold from the priests help to keep the Science rate high and gold from conquests sure helps too :D I am currently teching every 3 to 4 turns and only Ghandi is still with me... and he will soon be meeting my army.

    Early on I get a significant tech lead over the Pyramids Gambit by building a few cottages in my capital city and then with a library I make a GS that becomes an academy by 900 BC. Other cities produce a couple of other GS that get settled there, and of course when Bureaucracy comes along the commerce from palace and villages (by then) gets a 50% boost. More than 50% of the beakers come from my embryionic Science City. Add the Great Library there if you can get it for more beakers and particularly free science GPPs.

    The other 3 to 5 early cities are building up as fast as they can using more farms than any simple cottage strategy. They all have a library and some commerce. The high food output gives fast growth and allows Slavery to whip out axemen and catapults for an early conquest. Once they reach the happy limit some pop are turned into scientists to make more GS to settle in the Science city. So I turn food into buildings, troops or GS and don't need to run specialists all the time (stunting growth in food poor cities). I have no qualms about building a few cottages or working Spice tiles for commerce.

    Overall a simple and robust development strategy that can easily get me through the early and middle years without needing Pyramids or relying overmuch on cottages / towns. I feel that the early SE / cottage debate is largely irrelevant since you can't win by Domination (which is my sole aim here) until you have all the essential techs in place and that especially includes Biology. By that time you have researched Constitution and can run Representation in the Domination phase... Incidentally, I emphasise that you can't win easily by Domination until Biology but there is no reason not to expand earlier and get a good start.
     
  16. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    I agree, but you missed hammers from your original definition that I quoted. Your comments have set me thinking and I now would like to examine the differences and similarities between tiles and specialists. The detail is very basic but needs to be clearly stated and hopefully I've done that.

    1) Cities have a population that needs to be fed by 2 food per pop. Population grows by accumulating excess food. The whole economy is driven by food supply.

    2a) The population can be used to work tiles inside your fat cross and cultural boundaries unless another city is working it or an enemy unit is occupying the tile.

    2b) Or the population can be assigned as various specialists, depending only on certain buildings on the Caste System civic.

    3) Working tiles can give food, commerce and hammers and a few special resources, strategic (e.g. Horses) , or happiness and health

    4) A specialist can give beakers, gold or culture which can be treated as commerce equivalents and hammers. The Sistine Chapel, Ankor Wat and Representation can boost specialist output. Specialists also produce GPPs that can accumulate into a GP (adding to those from Wonders).

    So where does that leave us? Let's look at the similarities and the differences.

    Hammers: Both tiles and specialists can produce hammers. So in that sense they are equivalent.

    Commerce: Tiles produce commerce that can be assigned to beakers, culture and gold at a global level using the sliders. Specialists produce beakers, culture and gold according to type regardless of the sliders.
    Note gold and beakers apply to the whole Empire while commerce is turned to culture locally. Base gold, beakers and culture (from commerce or specialists) all receive the bonus multipliers of the city before being applied. So here there is a sort of equivalence since a beaker is a beaker regardless of whether it is from commerce or a specialist, but it is somehow different.

    Food: Only tiles produce food in significant quantities. This is the central part of the debate. Normal specialists always cost 2 food and so can only be used in cities that have a good surplus. Some tile improvements can produce excess food that be used for other tiles, while others notably grassland cottages are food neutral.

    GPP: Only specialists and Wonders can produce GPP and hence GP. These are an important resource that form the basis of some strategies.


    ----------------
    Similarities: The ability of tiles and specialists to produce hammers and commerce can be directly compared. This is where the analysis can use numbers and be quantified.

    Differences: Only tiles can produce food and hence support growth and increase the city's population. But tiles can't produce GPP. So these differences cannot really be compared numerically.
    ----------------

    Essential Differences in tile working
    Having established the basic differnces between population working tiles or used as specialists it seems to me that the argument really centres around how your economy intends to improve 3 basic tiles in the game. The tiles are simply floodplains, grasslands and plains and the improvements are simply farms and cottages. Other special resources can be assumed (for the moment) to be worked in the same way in a CE and SE.

    Cottages versus Farms: This has been discussed a 1000 times before ;) But the basic farm early in the game just gives +1 food to the tile and the cottage only gives +1 commerce that over time grows into + 4 for a town. It is simply a food for commerce trade off.

    Technologies change this picture to allow farms to give +2 food (Biology) and for towns to get +1 (Printing Press) and +2 commerce (Free Speech).
    Farms also need a source of freshwater which means that some tiles will not produce extra food until Civil Service allows chaining and also that in some situations there is no source of freshwater.

    Floodplains: These are great tiles for both cottages and specialists economies and can always be farmed or cottaged at any stage of the game for various reasons in both economies depending on the cities need for food or commerce. Early on the choice is between 4 food and 1 commerce and 3 food and 5 commerce (eventually). Later that becomes a kingly :king: 5 food and 1 C or 3 food and 8 C... I find that a hard choice to make at any stage of the game ;)

    Grassland: These are squares that a cottage economy can use effectively early on as they produce as much food as they consume so they can chain-feed growth. They are not very useful for a SE early on since it takes 2 farms to support 1 specialist. But with the advent of Biology things change and grassland farms become a valuable way to run large numbers of specialists with one specialist per worked farm. A useful way to boost your civs population and hence final score ;)

    Plains: These are the poor mans tiles often worked last. Cottages can be used effectively on them if there are sufficient other food sources in the city and the hammer plus commerce can be useful in the long term and can be viewed as an investment that will eventually pay off nicely. They are useless as farms for supporting an early SE and only provide a net 1 hammer per pop. Biology allows 2 plains farms to support a single specialist and give 2 hammers.

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

    My experience of working a SE shows that early on many tiles are not worked and this is due to grassland and particularly plains squares being poor food producers. That tends to spread specialist cities out since they need high quality tiles and leaves gaps that can be filled later by smaller cities that have low growth until technologies make it more worthwhile. Has anyone else experienced this?
     
  17. Pbhead

    Pbhead Hail the Byzantines

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    you know... if you keep typeing so much, you will get hand problems...
     
  18. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    :lol:

    Thanks for your concern but I'm doing fine at the moment...it takes me a long time to think of the stuff I write ... so the typing speed is slow.

    Anyway it's a consolation to me that it is not a problem you'll be suffering anytime soon :p
     
  19. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    :lol:
    i like the way you put things, even if it IS long.

    The whole debat (SE economy vs cottage economy) is somewhat vain without hammers, i agree.
    One thing i don't agree with, is the ability of specialists to give hammers.
    a mine is 4 hammers, an engineer is 2 hammers. The GPP matter, for sure, but building through specialists is only useful if you don't have any hammer tiles.

    My early post was about economy. And in my understanding, economy is what you get from the slider = gold, beakers and culture. Including hammer considerations is good thinking for a particular game, but hammers, just like culture, is local not global, so the whole calculation thing isn't easy (nor useful) when you factor those in.

    Futurehermit got tired of those mathematical posts AFAIK, so there is no more "SE is best in every situation" poster, and i will leave it this way : mixed economy is best in most situations.

    A few things i have in mind :
    * non philosophical leaders shouldn't go the SE's way, if they don't have a very good reason (like stone in the fat cross, masonry from a hut, forests everywhere around)
    * financial leaders shouldn't go the SE's way even with a good reason
    * pyramids are the one and only key for a successful SE = not possible on higher levels (which i don't play, so not a big deal ;) )
    * specific situations can be handled by a good SE (going for cultural opens 2 options of those : lots of artists in the 3 big ones, or 100% culture slider and lots of merchants and scientists everywhere)
     

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