All over this forum you see this or that kind of economy. I recall someone trying to explain the difference between a couple of them, and failing. But we still keep using the word ‘economy’ like it means something, so maybe it’s about time it did.
[LIST][*]Cottage: getting Pottery, building lots of cottages everywhere in an effort to get lots of Commerce, which can be dispersed through the sliders to science, gold, espionage, or culture. Works well with Universal Suffrage (Hammer from Town, rushing stuff with all that gold), Free Speech (extra Commerce from Town), Emancipation (Cottage growth accelerated), and Financial trait. With fully developed Towns, it should have considerable native Commerce, and small changes to the sliders have large effects.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Specialist: focuses on food resources and farms to get higher populations, which are then used as Specialists. Requires buildings or Caste System to put them somewhere. Works well with Representation (extra beakers for each Specialist, including settled GPs), Caste System (unlimited Scientist, Merchant, or Artists to maximize bonuses from Oxford, Wall Street, and culture multipliers), Mercantilism (free Specialist in all cities), Pacifism (+100% GPPP), and Philosophical trait. Produces lots of Great People and slider adjustments count for less.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Hybrid: generally presented as being a mix of Cottage and Specialist in that cities are more specialized, with some devoted to Cottages and some to Specialists.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Espionage: not regarded as a “true” economy, but rather a focus on a particular type of consumption. The focus is on getting a lot of EPs, and whether you use Commerce or Specialists or buildings to get them doesn’t matter. The point is that it can be dramatically cheaper to convert Commerce to EPs rather than beakers, but it requires that you are always behind the AI on the tech tree to steal their techs from them. Techs that boost Espionage are bee-lined. The Commerce saved with cheaply acquired techs should be easily diverted into building or buying up your infrastructure, so while you may not be high-tech, you should be more powerful.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Hammer: The goal is to have a lot of Hammers, which can be used for anything, be it building multipliers (Library, Market, Jail, Theater, etc) or converting production directly into beakers, gold, or culture. Hammer economies tend to neglect Cottages and Specialists except where the obviousness of their use bludgeons the user half to death; frex, using Engineers. Of particular use are Police State (+25% unit production), Bureaucracy (+50% production in capital), Caste System (extra Hammer on Workshops), State Property (extra Food on Workshops), Organized Religion (+25% building production), and anything that boosts production (Forge, Ironworks, etc). Workshops are preferred to Cottages, but they also need extra Food sources which aren’t diverted to Specialists. This devotion to increasing Hammers initially leaves the civ weak, but in the long run it saves considerable effort and leaves powerhouses capable of building in a few turns what it took someone else the whole game to build.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Religious: more of a sub-economy than a “true” economy, the prime goal of getting this set up is to get an influx of gold and cheapen spy missions. It involves getting a religion (the earlier the better), spamming it everywhere, building the Shrine(s), and using the income to bump the gold slider down a couple notches. There are several religious Wonders which improve upon the value of having a state religion. Religious economies work well as part of most other economies, and provide benefits commensurate with the effort you put into them; the earlier and more significant your initial investment, the more it will pay off as the game goes on, but significant investment can leave you weakened before the payoff. The Spiritual trait can be helpful if your goal is to have numerous religions and build numerous Temples/Cathedrals for a culture victory.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Water: another sub-economy, this one is primarily concerned with control of the seas. Cities are founded on coasts or rivers to gain extra Commerce without needing to improve the land with a Worker, and take advantage of the Commerce multipliers (Harbor, Customs House). Helpful traits include Financial (extra water Commerce), Aggressive (cheaper Drydock), Expansive (cheaper Harbor), and Organized (cheaper Lighthouse). The Colossus and Great Lighthouse Wonders are a must. Settling on multiple islands allows taking advantage of the intercontinental trade bonus. A large navy, and anything that improves upon it (Viking Trading Post) should be a priority. Trade with multiple partners and domination of naval techs should be important goals. The main downsides are that you can’t take full advantage of several continental Great Wonders (Statue of Liberty, Hoover Dam, etc), and you have lower production cities, but the extra Commerce from all those coastal cities and the saved Worker-turns should give you an early lead, which you can leverage into something else you want.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Wonder: still another sub-economy, with this you build as many Great Wonders as you possibly can, building the bulk of them in a single city (usually the capital for the Bureaucracy bonus) where you also pair up the National Epic. This can result in a lot of early GPs. The Industrious trait is good for the Wonder and Forge bonuses, and Organized is good for the Factory bonus. Building all these Wonders means you gain a lot of superpowers, which also means you deny them to the AI. Like the Religious Economy, the more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it, but you also leave yourself weaker at the start. Works best as part of a Specialist economy.
[LIST][*]DFA (Don’t Fiddle Around): I don’t know what this entails beyond the imagery of the name, but I think it’s more of a strategy than an economy.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Rush: more of a strategy, making it more in common with the Espionage economy than a “true” economy, except this time you’re getting units instead of EPs. This involves bee-lining whatever techs you need to quickly get a militarily superior force, then building that force and sending them out to capture enemy lands before the advantage expires. The most widely known Rushes are Quecha, Axe, Praetorian, and Rifle. Rushes are good to grab a lot of land quickly without the expense and hassle of Settlers and building some buildings, and in some cases, can net you Wonders and Holy Cities that you otherwise couldn’t get. Rushes sometimes get stalled or see higher losses than expected and result in you weakening yourself. Building units means you’re not researching, so a Rush that turns into a bogged down war can leave you behind in the tech race.[/LIST]
[LIST][*]Food: it’s the most important resource in the game, and without sufficient quantities in a city, you won’t get much done. However, a Food economy isn’t about making big cities, it’s about using Food as Hammers, either by whipping (slavery) or drafting. The Food economy is more of a sub-economy and a strategy, in that it can be combined with some others and is useful only for short periods. Whipping can get you buildings more quickly, and Drafting can get you units more quickly. Both reduce population, which gets restored by having lots of Food, and both cause unhappiness, which can be buffered with happiness items (resources or buildings). Things that multiply your production are good for whipping, things that give your drafted units a free promotion or two are good for drafting. Using a Food economy is a temporary quick boost in one area at the expense of others.[/LIST]
Okay, those are the things I see lately as being touted as Economies, along with a brief description that I think fits with the common perception of them. These could stand to be expanded upon. What I wanna know is, what are the primary advantages, disadvantages, and features of a given economy, what are its goals, what things synergize with them (Techs, Wonders, Traits, Civics, Buildings, Victories, Improvements, etc), and anything else of importance.
IDEALLY I want a 1-2 sentence description, and then approximately 2-4 short paragraphs that give further explanation and tell a person what they should be doing to achieve the goals of the economy.
I realize that things like Rushing aren’t looked at as economies by everyone, but an early rush most definitely is a way to increase your science output, and in theory, it’s no different than an Espionage economy, but with different inputs and different outputs.
If you feel I’ve missed something, or incorrectly described something, please suggest corrections. When we get to a certain point, I’ll try redoing the above using your inputs as a strategy guide or FAQ or something like that.