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Adventure Thirty-eight: Farmer's Gambit

Peter researched Alphabet and swapped it to me for Aesthetics, which let me trade around for everyone's techs. This is a tech lead:

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Currency came next, but before that, my cities rather didn't have anything to build. Any more settlers would crash the economy, and the variant forbids much military. They'd built granaries and libraries, but not yet available were markets or courthouses or forges. So what to build with idle cities? Workers!

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Speaking of the economy, this is a problem. With a bunch of Rep scientists, my economic tech rate is fine. But my cash production without cottages is not. Despite researching at 10 turns for a tech, I'm below zero economy and going to strike! Without Currency yet, cash specialists aren't available. I actually want to run the slider at about -20% science and 120% gold.

Well, in the short term working a bunch of lake tiles saved myself from that. Then the Currency trade route and selling some cheap techs avoided any strike.

OK, economic fans. What's more optimal, Scientists or Merchants? I have libraries in five cities, and markets in the top two.

Answer: Merchants in the market cities, Scientists otherwise. The national gold:science ratio is about 1.10:1.25. A city with both buildings has a ratio of 1.25:1.25 (or 1:1), which can produce either type interchangeably so should produce the one with more comparative value (gold).

However, the productivity is so close that I still prefer Scientists as the better type of Great Person Points. Lightbulbing converts Scientist GPP to 50% more beakers than other types of GPP.

Great Person #2 also came as an engineer from the Pyramids - engineer combo, and here's another wonder.

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In trying to keep all the diplomatic lines open for the UN vote later, the best thing I can do now is get to Free Religion. FR also helps logistically, with several different religions scattered around to a few cities but no hammers to spread missionaries for any one particular faith. And my engineer did it in this newborn city in order to box in Babylon with the culture.

("A sufficiently early Great Engineer is indistinguishable from an Artist.")

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A couple AIs went to war, but not me.

So a peaceful time of building ensued. Great People followed quickly, with #3 being a Prophet from the Oracle city who settled, #4 another Engineer that saved for Notre Dame, #5 as a Scientist that hung around to bulb Education, and #6 as a Merchant who settled. (I'm waiting to burn an Artist or Prophet for the 1-man golden age.)

I got the marble in the northeast, and started on the Mausoleum, Great Library, and National Epic. Here we go.

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WAIT WTF NO! Lost it by a single freakin turn!

ARGH. Well, this and another development change Samsun's destiny completely. It was going to get Great Library + Nat Epic + Oxford. But now it's going to get the Heroic Epic instead. I had my eye on the hilly area in the middle for the HE, but Victoria grabbed it ahead of me. Samsun is a fine site for the HE with five hills and future levee, and is in the right place too on the Babylon border.

At least I got the Mausoleum without incident.

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Here was the southwesternmost extent of my land grab. I snagged this spot to compete for that corn. Health is everything in this farmer's game. Three religious missionaries and a chopped theater soon claimed it.

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And here's an overview at the extent of my forward land grab. That's 15 cities, with room for 10 more in the backyard.

But is it a farmer's gambit?

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Uh, yeah. That's 13 military units. 2 are scouts and 4 are longbows just out of the Heroic Epic city.

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Whatever difficulty I might be having finding hammer production, I'm still way ahead of the AIs. And the graph doesn't show whips, with which I'm far ahead I'm sure.

In the tech department, Willem of Orange was far and away the tech leader. He's actually up on me by Philo and Paper. I have a Great Scientist in hand to bulb Education if necessary, and I'm watching his research closely. (Aside: I wish the Espionage mechanics worked in the favor of the little guy a bit more. Really, espionage is just a win-more mechanic. The bigger a civ is, the sooner it needs courthouses, and more of them, which always results in a lead in espionage too.)

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But Willem only has three cities?! And he's last in score. Ok, his tech lead can't last... can it?

And this discussion may be belated, but let me talk about how to manage the labor force with all the specialists. I think the rule is to work all farms and no specialists until you hit the health cap, then come off all 3F tiles in favor of specialists. A farmer producing just 3 food produces nothing beyond his own sustenance, and costs maintenance. (3F 1C river is still worthwhile.)

But then when do you whip? The putative farmer may produce zero net, but he does exist and can be whipped into hammers. I have to admit that I'm confused. My old rule of not growing over the health cap applies when you're deciding between farms and other types of improvements (mostly cottages, perhaps watermills). That doesn't apply here, so I think we get overall optimal productivity by always working all food tiles and growing over the health cap? But then the whips come late, and when they do come, the specialists get killed with their economic production. I'm still confused.

Whipping really is backwards here. In a typical commerce economy, a city always makes sure to keep its best laborers working on strong resources and hills and mature cottages. The whip kills the fringe producers working coast or plains or forest. But with a specialist economy, the citizens to get whipped ARE the economic producers. It does no good to whip away the farm laborers instead because then they don't grow back. More than once here, I've set up to research a tech on a particular turn, then whipped away enough specialists to delay the tech. We have loads of food, but each whip hurts more than usual. But the right answer can't be "never whip" either.

BTW, hey why is the health cap so tight anyway? Looks like we are really scarce on health resources. No seafood, no wheat, and also no deer or cow! That Corn grab was really big.

For new cities, what's the first building after granary? GROCER. New cities hit size 10 and health problems really quickly. And I'm still at 0% science slider and need the cash multiplication.

That's another topic I need to analyze and discuss sometime: the self-defeating behavior of cash multiplier buildings. A bank doesn't really generate more cash, it actually produces research by way of raising the science slider -- but that very act provides less baseline for the bank to multiply.

GP #7 was another Engineer from the capital, this one no longer pure Engineer points but came from a mixed pool.

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Hey, that's the best wonder left to do, since I'm hand-building Sistine elsewhere with marble. Again an engineered wonder goes in a border city for culture value. Chichen's effect could actually come in pretty handy, though. When I can't build lots of units, let's make the ones I do have more efficient.

GPs #8 and #9 spawned concurrently from two cities both as Merchants. Best thing to do with them? Lightbulb Banking and use the Golden Age to adopt Mercantilism. Yes. And build banks. I'm confident that I can push out yet another Merchant later or just grab the Economics one for Sid's Cereal. I also took Bureaucracy in this civic swap, even though the variant has Istanbul as a dud of a capital, pretty much just for fave-civic diplo with Hammurabi.

Mercantilism was pretty obvious. Rep synergy is big (and Mercantilism plus Sistine equals faux Creative.) Foreign trade routes are worth barely any more than domestic ones. And I'm the big dog, so mercantilizing hurts them more than me. Economic speed to victory is for once not a key point this time.

The Colosseum quest popped up, with some pretty blah rewards, +1 happy or +4 culture. The good reward is a Golden Age with the Statue of Zeus, but Cyrus has that and I'm not getting there. Babylon beat me to the quest in the end.

So like I mentioned, the necessary courthouses in my premier civilization easily got me to research visibility on everyone. In addition to the courthouses themselves, those damnable spy specialists "helped" too. (But hey, for cities that filled up their available merchant and scientist slots, the spy is indeed the next best option.)

So thanks to research visibility, I'm following along with Willem, staying just one step ahead of him. He started Education and I bulbed it with my saved scientist. Then Great Person #10 came as a fifth Engineer from my capital. Best thing to do with him? Lightbulb Gunpowder, so that I can research Chemistry before Willem hits Liberalism, and then use Lib to Sci Meth myself, only one tech away from Biology. I set up to complete Liberalism on exactly the same turn as Willem, good thing tie goes to the human.

So here goes...

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Wait, where's Scientific Method? It requires Printing Press? I have never before sandbagged Liberalism without picking up PP.

Now what do I do? Steel is the highest beaker tech, but doesn't do anything towards Biology. Astronomy is the next highest, but also not needed now and easy to trade later. Printing Press is directly on the critical path to Bio, but is relatively small beaker value. Economics is also a must to save the merchant for Cereal Mills, but is too cheap to bother slinging.

Sigh.. after all that setup, the best I can do is bog-standard Nationalism. At least Nationhood will save lots of money over Bureaucracy. (How the #^&! is William still matching my research on three freakin cities?!)

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So then I finally filled in my backyard of cities. I should have the timing just about right that they'll come up to about size 3 with granaries done just as I get Biology for them to explode. I rotated the old longbowmen to these back line cities, and built new Janissaries from the HE city for front-line defenders. That is now 27 cities, good for 54 units.

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