Workers: What Do I Do with Them?

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by Spoonwood, May 25, 2008.

  1. Spoonwood

    Spoonwood Grand Philosopher

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    4,890
    Location:
    Ohio
    I consider workers as some of the most important units in the game. Unfortunately, I don't know of many tips around here on worker management. I've developed a few strategies myself. Please feel free to criticize my strategies and add your own.

    First off, I'll say that I almost always play as a peace-loving builder and that I haven't played Deity or Sid level yet. I doubt either qualification really affects the substance of this article though (except at certain points), especailly the war vs. peace part since war-mongers often profit from similar *worker* strategies as builders. I play conquests, although I think much of this would apply for single-player PTW or Vanilla.

    At the beginning of the game, of course, I generally don't have too many workers as my cities busily produce settlers. However, one I basically have all my towns built I produce LOTS of workers. The general rule of thumb promoted here comes as 2 workers per city for a non-industrious civ and 1.5 workers per city for an industrious civ. I generally find this a bit low for all the projects I want workers to accomplish and the speed at which I want my workers to work. I'd personally suggest 2.5 workers per city for a non-industrious civ and 2 workers per city for an industrious civ (or more). I usually use something like optimal or near-optimal city spacing, with perhaps some "camp" towns which fill in those two or so empty squares somewhere. My city spacing depends partially on available resources and terrain (like rivers and coasts). For a "tight" city-spacing you might need fewer workers. I basically classify workers and their tasks into ages of a sort (often the "ages" overlap in a sort of way as you'll see): the despotism age, the "first growth" age of monarchy/republic, the max-out production age of the high middle ages, the industrial age of railroads, and the pollution-cleaner age of "what else left to do?"

    I'd strongly recommed against automating workers, although automating workers does better than basically having workers do nothing, as some experienced players once found out http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=41781. The most general piece of advice I give comes as *adapt your worker strategy to your goals and sub-goals in the game*. The ages-model, if nothing more, gives you an example of how to do this.

    No doubt, many of you have heard of the newbie strategy of "mine-green, irrigate-brown". This strategy, with some notable exceptions, works decently in the despotic age of workers... in other words when you have despotism as your government. As notable exceptions (and others may exist... I don't mean this as a catalogue of all exceptions), one can irrigate cows and wheat and get food bonsuses in despotism. In general, I'd suggest doing this, but if one has a surfeit of cows or wheat such that a city will actually produce more than 5 food per turn usually comes out as useless. Knowing how to build and work towards settler and worker factories helps with this. So, basically, with some exceptions, one preferably will irrigate-brown and mine-green in despotism AND ROAD EVERY MINED OR IRRIGATED SQUARE. Develop the squares your towns will use and use the squares your towns will soon use only. Since you no doubt have more settlers and towns during this stage, your workers will have trouble keeping up... so unless going for a 20k game or really need the Great Library for a certain strategy, don't develop squares ahead of time. Don't bother with hills or mountains (unless you really need a road for a luxury or a traveler's road), since you'll get as much from mining a grassland or a plain square as a mountain in despotism. Whenever your worker moves onto a square to mine it or irrigate it, I'd suggest you road it before moving it away to another square. If you don't road the square up, you effectively lose a worker's turn by not roading it as it will later take another turn to move a worker back to that square to road it later. Also, you won't get a commerce bonus. It only takes two or three turns to road "flat" squares, so, in general, I'd suggest roading all squares immediately before or after irrigating or mining them. In fact, throughout the whole game I'd suggest to ALWAYS road ALL squares immediately before or immediately after irrigating or mining them for 1. transportation ease 2. extra commerce, and 3. you save time overall on worker moves (you don't lose a turn by having to move the worker back to that square). Generally, I don't have my workers move along roaded, improved squares to a newer town for an entire turn. I mean... if say I have roads leading from Paris to Lyons spaced 12 squares apart (say Rheims lies in between them) and I have an unimproved square at Rheims I'll move my worker on two roads and then drop him on that grassland a on the last third of the turn and then have that worker develop that square, even if I don't plan to use that square for a while. This may slow down the development of Lyons, but it will save my workers time overall. Whether it works out as better to save worker time overall or to develop outer towns, I don't really know... but I choose to develop and even over-develop inner towns and save worker time overall.

    After you get to your Republic or Monarchy government, then the worker fun begins. No doubt, during this time you'll have most or all of your towns if you play peacefully, or before conquest really begins. During this time BUILD WORKERS UNTIL YOU DROP. No, seriously, change your settler-factory into a worker factory and get to *at least* that 1.5-2.5 number of workers immediately. Also, if you end up with not many cities on river squares, when your towns reach size 6 you might want to build even more workers from those towns so growth continues as much as possible. No doubt you'll start to mine some hills or mountains along here, but I'd suggest you wait to do that towards the end of this period/beginning of the next period. The general strategy for workers during this late ancient/early medieval period can go a number of different way, in my opinion, and each have seemed relatively effective to me:
    1. One basicaly sticks with the mine-green and irrigate-brown strategy. This will give your cities decent production as they grow, but has the disadvantage of slower growing cities, so less commerce, as well as fewer unhappy citizens meaning less micro-management or more specialists. This strategy works as perhaps the easiest since it doesn't require all that much micro-management, but I'd guess it comes as the least effective overall, so I wouldn't recommend it in general.
    2. One irrigates EVERYTHING (except hills and mountains), even already mined tiles in some cases. This maximizes one's growth. Then, once one's cities hit size 6, or get very close to such, one send's a team of one's workers to selectively mine squares to maximize production so you get that aqueduct ASAP... or perhaps try and buy the aqueduct and just stick with irrigated squares. If one doesn't buy the aqueduct and mines squares to get it faster, then, after (or shortly before) the aqueduct gets completed, one irrigates/re-irrigates those squares to maximize growth again. I'll cover the size 12 case in the "high-middle age" part. This has the advantage of speedy growth, but it does slow your cities production. Also, for decent effeiciency really, it requires probably a lot more workers than you usually have at this point, although some exceptionally game conditions will probably permit or enable this.
    3. One basically uses a mixture of 1. and 2. Basically I accomplish this by leaving my most to all of my despotism squares as irrigated/mined as the case may be. For the rest of the undeveloped squares I basically irrigate them all (perhaps I'll have to irrigate a previously mined square for fresh-water access). This speeds my growth (along with changing city production to the squares I more want to use), along with giving my cities decent production, or decent production when I want it. Since I have a mix of irrigated and mined squares, also, it allows me to more easily *maximize* production when cities get to size 12 and saves my busy workers on turns. Somewhere towards the end of this period my workers end up developing a bunch of squares for later... in other words developing squares that probably won't get used until the industrial age of hospitals. I'd much rather develop all my squares as fully as possible before sending workers into cities for more population. I certainly want a road on EVERY square by then (since I don't know where a resource may pop-up later), as well as everything ready for full growth. But, before then...

    Comes the high-medieval era of workers. Now, as you've noticed I haven't mentioned much about forests yet. In fact, I've assumed that you've basically chopped forests as you've gone along. In general, it works out better to chop forests in the despotic and early growth periods before roading them, although occasionally you might make a mistake here and move your worker to a square when your adjacent city has a temple due in 5 turns (not a very efficient use of 10 shields). So, chop forests for some extra early production and try to time your chops well. You might want to consider leaving one or two forests around each city... knowing what to chop and what not to chop and when takes some practice and foresight. But, going back to the high medieval period, during this period hopefully at least some of your towns hit size 12. During this period I consider you have two reasonable options... I prefer the latter in general, although the former has its uses:
    1. When the city gets to size 12 or close to size 12, one builds extra workers. You can use these workers to complete all development ASAP, and save some of them to add them back into cities once you have hospitals and/or have railroaded/irrigated everything. This strategy has its benefits, since you'll have quick industrial growth. But, I prefer the second strategy, at least for cities that I want to build late medieval wonders, banks, or universities... or if I played as a warmonger trebuchets, knights, muskets, cavalry, etc.
    2. Once a city hits size 12 or gets close to hitting size 12 you send a whole team of workers to that city (by this time you should have enough workers to do this and still keep on developing other cities... I wouldn't recommend interrupting jobs as that seems wasteful of worker turns). You then check the city display screen and mine irrigated/empty squares (including brown ones), start using as many hills/mountains as possible, AND forest squares (the 'n' button) that produce only one shield until you have no extra food and maximized that city's production. Of course, in a 20k game you'll have one city for which this happens rather quickly... probably near the end of the ancient age. This will maximize your cities production and keep it maximum commerce until you get Shakespeare's Theater or a hospital. One forresting might just let you build Copernicus's Observatory, Newton's University, or give you that extra knight that you really needed for that saltpeter city. Also, those forrests can help later...

    During the early industrial age of workers, which starts basically when you get steam power. During this stage I usually railroad ALL squares immediately. I don't worry about connecting cities so much as railroading squares ASAP to maximize production and growth. I don't generally worry myself with maximizing growth or production, since my railroading doesn't usually fully get done until after I have hospitals. I do chop those extra forests (with the extra shields going to a factory or a hospital... as long as I didn't place the newly-bulit forest in a previous forest location) before I railroad those squares. Since I usually have every square irrigated or mined already, I don't bother mining or irrigating squares at this point... although I could see how this may work as useful for some strategies. Usually once I have every square railroaded I have some hospitals finished in at least some towns. At this point, I irrigate *ALL flat squares* (for a warmonger you might want a different strategy). This speeds the growth of my new cities, as well as allows for the maximum growth possible. Once I have all my flat squares irrigated, railroaded, and the hills and mountains mined and railroaded. Then, I take all those workers (remember 2 to 2.5 seems more appropriate to me), and ADD them to all my cities leaving perhaps 12 or so *regular* (not slaves) workers as pollution cleaners (I still have to feel out the number I think I optimal here), who just sit around and wait for pollution to clean for the rest of the game. These workers leave the fields and mostly become researchers to hopefully get those late-industrial age and modern age techs faster. Maybe I'll use them as civil engineers and to a lesser extent as tax-collectors and to an even lesser extent as policeman in some cities. I irrigate basically EVERYTHING during the industrial age of workers (after railroads), since, I'll usually have factories in many of my cities by this point and have built Hoover Dam or have a coal or hydro plant, I can use civil engineers from the extra population enabled by those irrigated fields for city improvements and/or wonders/spaceship parts, and I have enhanced flexibilty since I have more specialists. A warmonger might prefer mined squares since civil engineers don't do anything for producing units faster.

    Purchasing workers can greatly aid this whole process, especially the adding-in part. Again, I try not to have my workers waste a turn or two. I immediately road a square before or after I've irrigated or mined it, and I suggest trying to use stacks of workers as efficiently as possible (two workers building a road comes out as inefficient in comparison to three workers building a road). Unfortunately, you can't develop volcano squares. To recap, I basically irrigate-brown, mine-green in despotism, I have a number of different strategies for the late ancient/early medieval phase, I mine and forrest squares when cities reach size 12 to maximize production, I railroad everything in the industrial age, and then irrigate everything (since I play peacefully and want quick technological discoveries), and I save a handful of pollution cleaners. I predevelop squares and try to get as much done as possible as soon as possible. A warmonger might want some fortresses in there... oh... and if playing a 20k game or a one-city 20k game where I fear the AI might attack, I'll fortress all the squares around my 20k city to slow down any possible invasions.

    Any suggestions, weakness, other worker strategies?
     
  2. MAS

    MAS Deity

    Joined:
    May 18, 2002
    Messages:
    2,080
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Everything you'll ever need to know about worker movement is in Crackers guide to opening skills. Note that this guide has several pages, there is a menu on the side of that site.

    What he says about worker movement counts for the rest of the game too, it just gets more complex with more workers, but the thought process remains the same.
     
  3. Spoonwood

    Spoonwood Grand Philosopher

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    4,890
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks MAS. I hadn't see the worker part of that guide before.
     
  4. timerover51

    timerover51 Deity

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,530
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Chicago area in Illinois
    I do not remember seeing anything about using workers to road and colonize the strategic resources that are not near any of your cities, or do you just blanket the area with settlers, and get the resources that way? I would agree with the ratio of about 2.5 workers per city until pollution hits, and then a minimum of 6 workers per city for clean up duties seems to work best. I prefer to mod the game to minimum clean up time myself, but I am assuming that you are discussing an unmodified game.
     
  5. Sweetchuck

    Sweetchuck King

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2006
    Messages:
    649
    Wow - that's a long read.

    Anyway, one thing I want to point out. The whole efficiency matter. I noticed that you suggest irrigating everything, then mining once pop is up? I guess that makes sense, but you have to build more workers to re-do the tiles. Considering that the redux in pop to build the workers sort of offsets that, I wonder if that's the most efficient strategy.

    I don't know if my method is better, but I look to balance tile improvement. Irrigate anything if a food source isn't nearby. I also (generally) mine food sources and irrigate tiles when I notice that the pop isn't increasing at an adequate rate.

    Re-doing tiles is wasted worker actions IMO, but again - I'm not suggesting that it's wrong.

    Plus, what do you do with all those workers when your civ is maturing? Generally, you can't join them into cities - they're usually maxed out at that point. I sometimes save a spot somewhere and build a city just to empty workers into. Killing them for shield value is almost futile - one shield per worker, I think. Parking them is inefficient also since you're paying maintenance costs for them.
     
  6. Spoonwood

    Spoonwood Grand Philosopher

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    4,890
    Location:
    Ohio
    I don't use colonies usually... in fact I don't think I've built one at any time... I blanket the area with settlers.

    [I noticed that you suggest irrigating everything, then mining once pop is up?]

    I tried to make that *a* strategy. I mentioned three early middle age strategies there... 1. mine green and irrigate brown 2. irrigate everything, then mine once pop is up 3. use a mix of the two strategies. I would pick the third if I had to pick one.

    [Considering that the redux in pop to build the workers sort of offsets that, I wonder if that's the most efficient strategy.]

    I would say it depends. The redux in pop might hurt you a bit in the middle ages... but if you have that many more workers you can add that many more to your cities in the mid-to-late industrial age. More irrigation also helps to offset the redux, since you have faster growth.

    [Plus, what do you do with all those workers when your civ is maturing?]

    Improve every single one of your tiles. I suppose in slower tech games you'll finish that before steam power... but I prefer a faster tech-pace game and usually steam power comes about the same time I have all tiles improved.
     

Share This Page