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What to do with Idle Workers

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by Geremy, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. Geremy

    Geremy Chieftain

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    Hello everyone. I've had Civ IV for a while now, but only recently have I really started studying articles and browsing forums for tips, and really getting into the game. Anyway, I see most people advocating for 1.5 Workers for City, which works great for the early to mid game. However, as the industrial era winds on, I often find I have a large number of workers who simply don't have anything to do. Sure, sometimes I get a tech like Replaceable Parts and suddenly they're all busy building Lumber Mills, but for the most part they have nothing to do.

    In the past, I've had them building Automated Trade Networks, however, the better I get at the game and the more wars I get into, the more I see why people say this is a bad idea. The only other thing I can think to do is to send them to my capitol and sleep them, but then I tend to forget they're around when I need them later.

    So any solutions to this? Am I doing something wrong to have a time frame in which I have no real use for workers? And if not, what do people do with their workers when they've nothing to do.

    For the record, I mostly play on Noble these days, BTS.
     
  2. Bluebags

    Bluebags Warlord

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    Personally I don't follow the 1.5x rule, but that's probably got to do with the fact I often don't expand as quick as others. If I feel I am going to need an additional worker, I build one.

    If I've got ice/tundra/desert in my territory I'll often have my workers build shortcuts or alternate routes through them if they need to be kept occupied before the next worker tech or until I get some new territory.

    If you really have nothing for them to do, then you can always just sleep all but one of them and just hit the spacebar every turn for that one worker until you've got a job for them. That'll save you from forgetting about them.
     
  3. karadoc

    karadoc AI programmer

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    I don't follow the 1.5x rule. I follow something like if the number of citizens working unimproved tiles is more than the number of workers, then I need more workers.. (it's bad to be working unimproved tiles at all, but there isn't much point building new workers to improve them if they are already being improved by your current workers...) Often that is around about 1.5 worker per city for the first 3 or 4 cities. But after that, those 6 workers are often enough for most of the game. The thing is, building a new worker becomes quite cheap later in the game, so sometimes I build a few workers if there is a surge in work to be done, and then delete them afterwards. For example if I have a lot of railroads and lumbermills to build I might do that.
     
  4. reddishrecue

    reddishrecue Deity

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    You could just save them in your cities until you get railroads, lumberers, national parks and other terrains that are upgradable. Oil, and uranium also pop out on the map which could give your workers more work. Or when someone plunders your tiles for their loot on their war against you, you could send them out to repair or even scrub fall out.
     
  5. babar

    babar King

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    Yeah, the 1.5 "rule" is a little bit silly, although it's a good way of encouraging struggling players to build enough workers. I think it only applies at all in the early game. Sometimes you need more, sometimes less, but the main thing is not to work unimproved tiles. If you are, then consider whipping away the tile to make a worker.

    As for the concern about idle workers, this is usually unavoidable for a decent chunk of the game.
     
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  6. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    karadoc - the idea is to have your cities at the most productive the quickest. At higher levels that becomes critical.

    OP - I pick certain spots like hills in different parts of the empire and park stacks of workers on them if there is nothing to do at the moment. You want them at the ready when techs like Rep Parts and Railroads come in. Also, if you are going for things like space you may want to bulldoze cottages for workshops in the very late game.

    Another thing you can do if expectation of Rep Parts is prebuild Windmills on mined hills and park a worker on each one so you can finish the Windmill in 1 turn when RP arrives. And, of course, have workshops and watermills at the read to grow onto as they become very valuable mid to late game. I don't put much value into Lumbermills except in tundra cities since it's about the best improvement you can put in those cities - don't chop non-riverside tundra forest since the tile becomes useless.
     
  7. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    I would not call the rule silly at all. It's one of the better standards on the forum. In fact, I often build more of them early game. I will give you that the rule diminishes in returns mid to late game, especially since your older cities should be improved by now and one generally starts putting together power stacks based on the existing workers. It really depends on how fast you expand and conquer, as you often gain quite a few workers for free in the process.

    The ability to manage workers effective is another major contributor, but it generally takes quite a while for players to truly master worker management. Strong worker management can lessen the necessity for more workers. I do think it's not very helpful to blast a pretty solid rule in advice to a newer player such as the OP when it can really improve his game a lot.

    OP - I recommend posting over on the S&T forum - you will get better advice
     
  8. karadoc

    karadoc AI programmer

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    I'm not sure what this is in response to.
     
  9. babar

    babar King

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    I did say it was a good rule for newer players, and that you should sometimes build more, but it seemed like the OP was building enough anyway. As you say, it is map and worker management dependent. Once you have followed the rule a few times and you get a good idea of how many workers are needed, there is no reason to blindly follow the rule any longer. Experienced players know if they need more without actually counting workers per city. I think the required ratio often drops off quite sharply after about 4 cities, perhaps earlier (unless there is jungle or a lot of floodplains) so to continue to follow the rule into the mid game would indeed be silly.
     
  10. Wulf38

    Wulf38 Warlord

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    Spam roads on every tile. That usually keeps my workers occupied until I need to change improvements.
     
  11. Gwynnja

    Gwynnja Deity

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    If your workers are running out of things to do, it could be a sign that your cities or empire as a whole are too small. If all else fails, chop chop chop!
     
  12. snepp

    snepp King

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    Pre-build improvements everywhere, windmills, watermills, workshops, farms.
     
  13. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    Sorry, I should have quoted the point I was addressing:

    My point being is that this logic is reactionary as opposed to proactive, which can be a killer on higher levels.

    @Babar - You make good points...I agree (I just don't think the rule is "silly" - "situational" maybe - but certainly not silly)
     
  14. Nick Carpathia

    Nick Carpathia Unleash the HAARP

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    Again spam roads everywhere. If you're TMIT and pissed off about your autoworkers getting picked off, just use Alt-R to road through patches of roadless tiles. Still, it's better to have slightly too many workers than too few, you never know when you have to suddenly put together an 5-deep stack and rebuild a crucial irrigation farm. Plus, as more improvements are unlocked over time (Lumbermills come into mind), you'll want to put them up asap.
     
  15. karadoc

    karadoc AI programmer

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    Yes. You're right. What I said wasn't really a good rule for deciding when to build workers and when not to build workers. I suppose what I actually trying to suggest was a less concrete rule for deciding how many workers is enough workers - something a bit more flexible than just one number (1.5). But you're right, my rule basically doesn't tell you that you don't have enough workers until it's "too late".
     
  16. Windsor

    Windsor Flawless

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    I like how concrete and clear the 1.5-rule is. It makes it easier to follow. And it's a good rule. Strictly following it will never be far from optimal play, but not following it will frequently be a huge mistake.

    Getting some periods where your workers might be idle isn't unusual. I will usually park a few worker stacks around my empire, and have a few automated on building trade-route network.
     
  17. babar

    babar King

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    Yeah I regret saying the 1.5 rule is a bit silly. It is pretty solid. Kinda pedantic, but maybe "between 1 and 2" suits me a bit better though.
     
  18. pob

    pob Deity²

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    When I have workers not building improvements or essential roads, I kill some off if I am paying upkeep for them. I rarely find that I need to build more later in the game (mainly because I will be capturing ones from other countries).
     
  19. Sian

    Sian Emperor

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    i usually end up feeling that 5/4 workers/cities (1.25 per) is closer to truth than 1.5 per ... certainly slightly midgame onwards where the old cities aren't in any severe need of improvements.
     
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  20. jordiflor

    jordiflor Chieftain

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    This kind of micromanagement on mid-late game can be really stressing.


    I rather keep them roading and railroading and then put them to sit in the middle of desert, to find them quickly if needed.

    I wonder if gifting a bunch of them would improve diplo.
     

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