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[GS] Why I don’t build Farms [Are Farms and Food too Local?]

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by acluewithout, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. acluewithout

    acluewithout Deity

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    I don't build Farms.

    I don't build Farms. Ever.

    Well. Okay, okay. I build a few. Actually, I build 6 Farms for three Eurekas (Irrigation, Craftsmanship and Feudalism). If I have a super productive city, I'll build a few more for housing and food and growth. But that's really it.

    Thing is, I'd like to build more. Farms are kind of cool - I love how they give you housing on the sly (not that there's a shortage of housing) and they have some fun adjacency stuff going on. Farms and agriculture is also a big part of how people went from Hunter Gatherers to Cities and Empires and Kardashians, and so for Roleplaying I like building a few more Farms than I really need. And, you know, they look pretty when you have a whole bunch of them side by side. (And yes, I know I could build them to out Neighbourhoods on them. But whatever.)

    About those Kardashians...

    No, but really, why aren't Farms a bigger deal? Civilization is a game about Civilization(s). And Civilizations are about agriculture and farms (and, eventually, Kardashians).

    Civ does suggests Farms are a bit special. You can build them from Turn 1, and they do have various key Eurekas tied to them. Civ is less clear on whether irrigation is a big deal - it’s a very out of the way leaf tech - but Farms seem a bit special. You know, except for the fact they mostly suck.

    So, what's wrong?

    So, basically I think two things are wrong with Farms. The first, which has been just thrashed to death in multiple forums, is that Population isn't that important, and so things that give you Population (i.e. Farms (not so much Kardashians)) aren't valuable.

    Except Population is a bit valuable. Population is yields, and yields do have some importance depending on how long your game runs, your attitude to chopping, various yield curves and other things. And some Governors make population a bit more valuable, and so do a few other things to a limited degree like loyalty and policy cards and Eurekas etc. But all those things feel a bit like a fudge - or stuff just stuck on to a poor base Mechanic - to make population valuable when really it's just not, with the result that often you're still not looking to really maximise Pop but instead just hit certain arbitrary thresholds (and this one is Pop 10, and this one is Pop 10 etc).

    And to be clear, just buffing Population isn't a good answer to this problem. If Pop is just always good (eg Pop = Cogs), then every City will be the same - you will just jack up the Pop in every City as much as possible. The game seems geared towards empires having a few big cities and lots of little cities and I think overall that's a good way to go. So, yeah, you can buff Pop, but it has to be done with some care.

    So, what's the second thing. Kardashians? No. The other problem is local yields.

    Local sucks

    The Food a City grows (and therefore its Farms) essentially only benefits the City which Grows the Food. i.e. Food is Local.

    I'm guessing FXS designed the game this way to make things easier to balance, but it basically makes Food pretty useless. It’s basically all about "stuff". Really, the main thing you do in Civ is build stuff. Stuff is important (tanks, apostles, space ports, Kardashian Containment Zones), but stuff that lets you build other stuff is even more important - hammers, gold, faith (build, buy, it's all the same), and science and culture (build new stuff and build it faster).

    Food gives Population. Population gives you Citizens that work the tiles, that gives you hammers, gold, faith, science and culture (let's just ignore districts for a minute). But here's the rub. Because Food is local, if you have a City with heaps for Farm land (ie flat land) then fundamentally you don't want to build many Farms - because all that Farm land means you don't have as many tiles with hammers, gold, faith, science or culture that are worth working. And if you have a City with lots of workable tiles (hills and resources) then you likely don't have many tiles for farming (although that can vary). So, still no Farms. And anyway, once all those workable tiles are being worked, you don't need more Pop, so no need for additional Farms.

    Added to that, we've already discussed high Pop isn't super valuable overall anyway, and so you end up with very few Cities where it's worth building Farms.

    This local yield thing isn't a problem for other yields. Gold, Faith, Culture and Science are largely Global Yields. Hammers are quasi-Global, because while the Hammers can't move to other Cities, the things the Hammers build can, and anyway you can always run projects to convert Hammers to other Global Yields. It's really just food which is completely local, which is even weirder when you think how much food modern societies do truck around.

    What about Trade Routes?


    Sidebar: Trade Routes. Specifically, Internal Trade Routes.

    Real Trade is about moving stuff from one place to another. You grow some, er, corn?, and then you stick it on a truck train ship and you bring it to me. I send something back, like money or Kardashians. But not in Civ. Instead, Trade Routes magically just create the Yields they deliver, whether it's hammers, gold, food whatever. The local city doesn’t trade away any corn or hammers or science - the trade route just magically makes more.

    Totally unrealistic. And I'm totally okay with it. Because while it's unrealistic, it is easy to understand and play with. And it's also actually not totally unrealistic. Well, not totally unrealistic if you’re willing to squint. Really, Trade does sort of make something from nothing in terms of economics. If you start trading food, your food might go down in the short term, but in the long term you'll generate more food because of increased demand leading to increased supply (partly because you’ll get more corn or whatever out of the same land / factories etc). I think the Trade Routes sort of get at that, which is why I think the creating yields from nothing is at least justifiable, and like I said doing it this way is probably easier to balance.

    Anyway. This is sort of a roundabout way of saying the problem isn't (and the solution isn't) trade routes taking food from one City and giving it to another. That would be a big change to the game and would probably royally screw things up.

    But what is a bit rubbish is that, when Trade Routes generate Food, it has nothing to do with how much Farms, Farm Resources or even Food the destination City has. It's just based on Districts. I mean, even having Trade Route Hammers based on Districts makes more sense, because at least you probably had to have some Hammers to build the Districts, so there's some relation between High Production City gives More Production to Trade Routes. I mean, maybe this links food and trade yields a little bit, because more Pops means more districts means more yield, but Farm rich cities aren’t usually great at having the hammers to build districts.

    Let's imagine a different world

    Now, imagine if Food was more of a shared resource, or at least that High Food / Farm Cities boosted Food in other Cites?

    You'd have high Pop yield rich Cities with low farming land, and you'd have low yield high Farm Cities that feed those high production cities food. You'd have a reason to settle Cities with lots of flat tiles. You'd have a reason to build Farms. And, if someone came along and stole some of your Farm cities, you'd have a real problem because you wouldn't be able to keep feeding you high production Cities.

    That sounds pretty cool to me.

    Am I missing something? Should this be how food works?

    This shouldn't be hard to fix

    This is not an ideas thread, I promise. It's a thread about how Farms aren't great, and why that's because of Food is local. But I just wanted to say this - I don't think this would be hard to fix.

    Sure, I'm sure people could come up with lots of funky and complicated ways to fix this. I'm sure we could have a whole mini-game around Farms and Farming and have like a Civ Dedicated to Farms with super Farm Powers and maybe new Great People called Great Farmers that help you rush build new Farm Wonders like the Giant Sheep or the Giant Pineapple or Giant Banana, and like maybe there is a Farming Governor and a new Casus Belli where you can Declare War if someone has more Farms than you and also England gets a Free Melee Unit each time it builds a Farm on a Foreign Continent and the City has a Royal Navy Dockyard and it's also a Tuesday.

    Or, you know, internal trade routes could give food based how many Farms the destination city has. Or Cities with Granaries get additional Growth based on total Food Production in your empire. Or there's a district, and if you build it in a City with lots of Farms it boosts growth in other Cities.

    TL;DR. Farms should be cool, but instead they suck; partly because High Pop isn't valuable, but mostly because Farms only produce Food locally.
     
  2. Mahasona

    Mahasona Prince

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    I stopped reading at the sixth Kardashian
     
  3. Bliss

    Bliss Warlord

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    I build them. :yumyum:
     
  4. shaky

    shaky Chieftain

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    It does seem a bit sad that I can have a massive food surplus in one city while a neighbouring city can literally be starving to death. Maybe a city project to donate food to a communal foodbank would be an idea.
     
  5. Lily_Lancer

    Lily_Lancer Emperor

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    On the other hand, triangular farms that built between cities so that they can be shared by multiple cities are valuable.

    Grow one to pop 10 then shift those farms to another city.
     
  6. Stacked_Deck

    Stacked_Deck Chieftain

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    Not gonna lie, I get the feudalism boost in maybe 20% of games. I find that late classical/early medieval is so packed with things to do that it always falls by the wayside. I'm more likely to build them post feudalism when they're more powerful and the builder charges are less expensive.

    Agriculture and animal husbandry feel very underwhelming given how important they were.
     
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  7. qadams

    qadams Bohemian

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    Yeah, I don't build farms in Civ 6 nearly as much as I did in Civ 5, or 4, or 3... And I agree, it is kind of sad, partly because farms look so nice on the map, but also because, as you said, agriculture is the whole basis of civilization! Oh well.
     
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  8. acluewithout

    acluewithout Deity

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    I agree. Six Kardashians are more than enough.
     
  9. m_mus

    m_mus Chieftain

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    Let me state, that I totally buy into your argument about farms sucking right now and also into your few "easy" ideas to fix this.

    And let me also state, that your post was a great read. Less a typical thread than an actual CIV-essay (if that's a thing). Well composed, rightly dosed with some humour. Definitely worth my time and admiration. I salute you.
     
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  10. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    Farms = Kardashians was what I got out of the message, I think I'll build less.
    All things in civ are not equal, I guess farms are one of those things that if you want to play optimal you do not use a lot of and if you want to play big city you do.
    but bottom line for me is there have been a lot of games where population is king (when it isn't) and I'm glad this game focuses on something else.
    Yes trade routes just stink but for a million other reasons. Having a campus, theater and holy site in a city and then taking food from that city does pretty well to get your city up to speed.
     
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  11. acluewithout

    acluewithout Deity

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    One more thought while I’m on this topic, and then I’ll get back in my box. Promise.

    I think the way Civ is so focused on “Local” (ie Cities)[0] is what then makes it hard for the game to transition from feeling like you’re managing a bunch of Greek city states to managing an empire.

    Civ is wired to be local at its most basic game loop - settle cities, then use city to build things to get more cities (settlers or military units). I mean, you literally spend the whole game having each City build one thing at a time. No multiple cities building the one thing (Hey Paris, I see you building those Pyramids. Would you like some help? We have Stone, a few Cows and some Bananas that grow actual gold for so,e reason!).

    Civ 5 maybe gave empires a bit of shake what with its Social Policies and Global Happiness. But Civ 6 has doubled down on Local, turning Social Policies into Governors that only effect one City, making Happiness completely local, etc. GS even got rid of the idea of multiple cities working together to for the Science Victory, with multiple Cities with multiple Spaceports building all the Mars Components. Now you just have one City that builds all of it, and then shoots lasers at it to make it go faster[0].

    Governments and Policies, Civics and Science do feel Global. Things like Loyalty also do make your empire feel a bit more interconnected and empire like, but that’s pretty limited (although always so satisfying once you start flipping your neighbours). You also have mostly global yields, particularly Gold and Faith, although I always feel like there’s nothing ever “Empire Sized” to buy with them - you either buy buildings (inherently local) or units (still feel pretty local) or I guess Great People. Maybe power feels a bit more Global-ish.

    Anyway, I don’t have any suggestions here, really. Like I said, Local is sort of hard wired into Civs design. Maybe if Food was a more Global resource that would help. Maybe if linking cities with railways had more impact. I really don’t know.

    And look, maybe Local not Global is the right approach anyway. That basic game loop - settle city, use city to build things to get more cities - is pretty fun, as is scrolling down that list of cool stuff and telling each city to build this shiny thing and that shiny thing.

    [0] To be clear, by Local I mean mechanics and decisions and effects all happen on a City by City basis. Global means mechanics and decisions and effects that happen either across you empire or at least across multiple cities at once. So, for example, Wonder building is Local, because one City builds the whole thing; but say the Colosseum’s effect is Global because it covers multiple Cities (although, you could argue it’s still kind of local, because the happiness boost is still City by City based on range).

    [1] If the spaceship is going faster than light, how do he laser beams make it go faster?
     
  12. Jaybe

    Jaybe civus fanaticus Supporter

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  13. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    Like managing London and Birmingham as a single unit?
    Or New York and Washington DC?
    Toronoto and Quebec? ... tricky
    ... cities are their own mini civs, even now.
     
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  14. acluewithout

    acluewithout Deity

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    That’s a good point. Indeed, countries like the United States, China and Indonesia have States or Provences / Regions with huge amounts of autonomy. Maybe Civs emphasis on Cities - each a mini-civ or city state - is right.

    It’s also mostly fun up to a point too.
     
  15. Eagle Pursuit

    Eagle Pursuit Scir-Gerefa

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    I also don't build many farms. Because good city spots don't need many to build the population up into the useful range and bad city spots won't have good farms anyway.

    I think if there were fewer sources of Housing early in the game, there would be a greater need to build farms for Housing purposes.
     
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  16. Dragabond

    Dragabond Warlord

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    What would be nice is if there were some sort of district synergy with farms like there were between Harbor buildings and fishing boats.

    IZ buffing farms would be helpful and make a lot of sense. IZ could also take food produced by farms and have it spread out from the IZ along with the production bonus after a point (I honestly can't be bothered to think too critically about this right now, I still haven't finished my morning cup of tea, leave me alone).

    Heck, you could even get culture bonuses to farms with your Kardashians, I guess. (But honestly they should all be put out to the pasture.)
     
  17. steveg700

    steveg700 Deity

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    Noise-to-signal in the OP is not what I care for, but I will avail myself of wheat and rice when it's available, and build water mills for them. I build a triangle here and there later in the game. As Lily mentioned, they are good for sharing between cities.

    Other than that, until feudalism they just don't rate the builder charge. And if you hit a housing cap, food generation is 75% wasted.
     
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  18. qadams

    qadams Bohemian

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    I've long wished that you could build farms — but only farms, not districts or wonders — outside of the three-tile radius and still reap the benefits from them.
     
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  19. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    I build farms. I know it's not optimal or wins me the games fastest, but I like blankets of farms for massive food yields. :love:
     
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  20. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    I don't even boost feudalism most of the time; unless I end up capturing farms for some reason.

    Post feudalism farms are sorta useful. Sometimes your terrain is garbage and you need them or otherwise your city is pop 2 forever. But the bonus resources could be better. Stuff like wheat isn't really that good so improving it doesn't make it very impressive.
     
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