Corporation: The Power of Sushi (BTS)

Corporations have changed drastically in the 3.13 patch, and I’ve updated this article to reflect that. They are now much simpler to use, and are even more powerful than in 3.03.
The Basics – How Corporations Work

While much of this is covered in the manual, there are enough ambiguities and I’ve seen enough queries on the basic mechanics around the forums to make a quick run through of the basics worthwhile:

A corporation branch (or HQ), costs your civ a certain amount of maintenance each turn, and provides a benefit (e.g. food, production, science) based on the number of resources that the corporation uses that you have access to. While the manual states that corporations “consume” resources, this is somewhat misleading. You still get all the normal benefits of a resource; health, happiness, and ability to build units and so on, even if a corporation is using the resource. The maintenance cost of a corporation branch increases the more resources it has access to, reflecting the extra bonuses it provides. For example:

If I have a branch of Sushi in a city with access to 6 of the resources it uses (fish, clams, crabs, rice), it will generate 3 extra food per turn in that city, and some culture. It will also cost some gold in maintenance. If I gain access to 6 more resources, it will then give 6 food per turn, but cost more gold to maintain. The bonus is scaled based on map size to reflect the greater number of resources available. Sushi gives 0.5 food per resource on standard maps, but only 0.25 on huge maps as there will be more resources. The maintenance cost per resource is similarly lowered on larger maps, and increased on small ones.

The corporation HQ gives all the benefits of a corporation branch, but also generates 4gpt for every city (in any civ) that has a branch of the corporation. Essentially it functions like the Holy City of a religion, but generates 4 times as much gold. Obviously it should go in the city where you have Wall Street, as with full modifiers you’ll get 12gpt per corporation branch.

Corporations are spread by executives, which function similar to missionaries. Any city with a corporation branch, or the HQ may build an executive, so once a corporation is spread to a foreign civ they can spread it as well. An executive may not spread a corporation in a city which has no access to the corporation’s resources, or in a civ which is running State Property (or Mercantilism if the HQ is not in the same civ). A corporation branch costs a certain amount of gold to found (100-200 gold in foreign cities, less in domestic), and this amount is greatly increased if it has to displace a competing corporation.

Corporations which compete for the same resources can never be present in the same city. An executive can replace a competing corporation branch, but it will cost much more (1000+ gold). HQs can never be replaced. The way the resources and corporations work out, it is only possible to build one of Sid’s Sushi, Cereal Mills and Standard Ethanol in a city (as they all use rice). Mining Inc competes with Creative Constructions, Civ Jewellers and Aluminium Co, and so if it is present you are limited to two corporations in a city. The maximum number you can ever have in a city is 4, (CC, CJ, AC and any one of SS, CM and SE).

Corporation maintenance varies with city size – the larger the city the more the branch costs. The food/production/whatever bonus does not vary with city size though. Corporation maintenance is halved by courthouses, so these should always be built in cities with corporation branches. They cost 25% less under Free Market, and 25% more under Environmentalism. Corporations cost nothing under state property, but also give no benefits, and cannot be spread.

Unlike in Solver’s patch, under 3.13 inflation does still (sort of) apply to corporation maintenance. Basically they reduced the corporation maintenance to counterbalance inflation (which is also capped at 100%). Only real impact is that the gold cost shown in the city screen, and when you found the corporation is not the true corporation cost. There’s inflation on top of that, which you’ll need to check the economic advisor to see.

For a much more detailed look at the formulas and maths behind corporation maintenance, OTAKUjbski’s Corporation Maintenance Explained thread contains just about everything there is to know on the subject.

OK, that’s the basics sorted out; now for some strategies.

Domestic Corporation Spread

First we need to get one point clear: Domestic corporation spread does not make money. With a lot of fine tuning you might scrape up a few gold per turn overall, but only by crippling the corporation by starving it of resources, or by restricting it to small cities. Domestic corporation spread is a tool for converting gold into something more useful; food, production, culture, science or some combination of these.

Now there already exist tools for three of these conversions:
:gold: to :hammers: is available with hurry production.
:gold: to :culture: is available through the culture slider.
:gold: to :science: is available through deficit research.

Now, depending on conditions, corporations can provide better conversion rates than the existing mechanisms, and the existing mechanisms may not always be available. However the :gold: to :food: conversion is unique to corporations, and is easily the most powerful ability. This article will therefore focus on one of the food generating corporations; Sid’s Sushi.

Now the common complaint is that the expense is simply too high for the quantity of food given, but as I will show this is not the case. I’ll draw on an example from the last game I played. Thanks to a lot of trading, I had enough resources for each Sid’s Sushi branch to be producing 20 food per turn, and a load of culture which for simplicity I’ll ignore. Depending on city size, it was costing between 15 (in a size 1 city) and 60gpt (In a size 40+ city). For a fairly standard late game city at size 25, each branch was costing about 35gpt overall (with near maximum inflation).

Now comparing the value of food to gold is a little tricky, since aside from corporation, there’s only the old reverse conversion tool; merchants. 20 food per turn is 10 merchants, and hence 30gpt, so we seem to be struggling to break even. However, that is 30gpt pre-modifiers. With banks and so on, this can be pushed up to 60gpt, a clear 25gpt per branch profit.

Fact is though, converting gold to gold by using a corporation to get extra food to run merchants doesn’t give the best possible rate. It just gives the easiest comparison to illustrate you are coming out ahead. Consider some of the other possibilities; 10 extra specialists in your GP farm translates to a very nice boost in GPP. What about a commerce city that needs a mixture of farms and cottages to work all the tiles? Suppose I haven’t been so lucky on resources, and I’ve only got 16. 8 extra food still means 8 plains tiles cottageable without needing balancing farms. I can rip out 4 farms and replace them with cottages – looking at a boost of 28 commerce, and hence at least 56 gold’s worth. A very clear profit, especially as maintenance costs would be much lower with fewer resources (even if the corporation is foreign, which ideally won’t be the case).

Now one thing you need to be careful about is just spamming corporations everywhere. The AI may do it, but it’s not always a good idea. In earlier patches, spamming corporations to your own cities was economic suicide. With the reduced costs of patch 3.13, this isn’t really the case. I would still advise against indiscriminate spam if you’re running Environmentalism though, and I’d be wary of spreading foreign corporations in your own territory. A city that’s using 20 cottages and just breaking even on food might not gain that much by throwing a few specialists on the top (at least in a CE). Pick your specialist cities, your high production cities (it’s always worth slinging in a few extra engineers or priests), cities without food resources, or surrounded by hilly terrain which are stuck with tiles unused if you’re running environmentalism. Any city which is newly founded, or has been reduced to a husk by warfare will also benefit greatly from corporations. Nothing gives quite as spectacular growth as dropping Sushi and Mining into a size 1 city to give an extra 20 food and production per turn.

The final point which makes domestic corporation spread so useful, is that if you are running 100% science (or some combination of science, espionage and culture that comes to 100%) and still making a profit, you have are building up gold reserves which are of minimal use. Hurry production is fine, but you’re stuck with universal sufferage (and the conversion rate is much poorer than Mining Inc). Deficit research however can no longer convert this surplus gold into research – you’ve hit a hard limit on your research speed. Corporations provide a way to convert that surplus gold back into science, and push your research speed still higher. You can do this directly using Standard Ethanol, or indirectly with Sushi to run scientists.

Now it would be a valid point that in vanilla and Warlords, running at 100% science and turning a profit, while possible, was relatively unusual. This is no longer the case in BtS, thanks to the other facet of corporation use; foreign corporation spread,

Foreign Corporation Spread

The maths of spreading a corporation you own to foreign cities is far simpler. You get 12gpt from the HQ. The AI pays maintenance, and may or may not get a lot of benefit from resources. Here you can spam the corporation like a religion – the maintenance costs aren’t your problem, and every extra city gives you a tidy amount of cash. Prior to 3.13, corporations would act like a weapon, draining the AI economy to feed your own. With the lower maintenance costs of 3.13, this is no longer really the case. Generally the AI will get some net benefit from foreign corporations unless under Environmentalism, so the trick is to give them the weaker corporations, and starve them of resources. You get the same 12gpt, regardless of how many resources the AI has, so you may a well minimise their benefit. Try to spam to the weaker AIs, or your allies, who it either doesn’t matter, or is desirable to strengthen. It is trivially easy to push your Wall Street city up to producing 1500+ gold from foreign corporate branches alone, and so more than pay your domestic corporation expenses.

OK, you might argue that there’s a 100 or so up front cost in founding a branch, and the hammer cost of the executive. Against a human player that would be true, but unfortunately the AI is its own worst enemy, and I’ve yet to see any evidence this has changed in patch 3.13. Just “seed” an executive into a high production city in each AI civ, and then sit back and watch the AI merrily spam it to every city in its empire, with no further cost to you. Can’t get the seed executive in place as the AI is running Mercantilism or State Property? No problem. Just use diplomacy, espionage or the UN to tip them into Environmentalism, so you can send in the executive.

That is the power of corporations. The foreign branches give you more money than you’d have had a clue what to do with in vanilla or Warlords, and domestic branches give you a way to use it to boost your existing cities, even when you’re running 100% science or equivalent. At the end of that game I had over 20,000 in the treasury, and money was still pouring in, even with a considerable amount fuelling my domestic corporation branches. I could probably have spread it even more, both domestic and foreign, and come out ahead.

As I’ve said, the food generating corporations are the strongest, simply for the unique ability they provide, and of the two available, Sid’s Sushi is much the more powerful. Cereal mills may provide more food per resource consumed, but it only uses corn, rice and wheat. Sid’s Sushi uses clams, crabs, fish and rice; four compared to three, and the seafood resources are a lot more abundant on most map types than cereals. Generally you can get more food from Sushi than Cereal on Hemispheres, Big/Small, Archipelago, Fractal and most Continents maps. Pangaea maps you’ll probably do better with Cereal Mills.

The other reason is that Sid’s Sushi is available much earlier, with medicine, than Cereal Mills with refrigeration. With a little beelining , that most powerful tool in Civ; Sid’s Sushi, can be yours by about 1200AD. It’s not that much of a beeline to be honest. Biology is even more of a no-brainer tech to head for now that it gives the national park, and from there there’s only medicine left to get. Sushi requires a great merchant to found, but if you’re tech leader there’s a handy one at Economics. If not, tune a GP farm to ensure you have one on hand as soon as you get medicine, even if you have to put it on ice for a few centuries.

Efficient Resource Trading

To maximise the effect of a corporation, trade for every one of the appropriate resources you can get your hands on. Plan ahead and grab seafood in exchange for resources like pigs, cows and plantation resources which there is no benefit to having multiple copies of. Once you have the corporations, don’t be afraid to buy resources for plain gpt if you have no alternative – the AI generally charges a tiny amount if you already have access to a resource. When you spam corporations in an AI civ, or let them do it for you, keep their resources to a minimum, to minimise their benefit from the corporation. Maintenance costs do not increase linearly with resource number; processing 7 resources costs a lot more than half the amount to process 14. You still get the same amount of gold from them whatever.

It is worth highlighting the greater importance of the “hits” generating wonders (Broadway, Rock and Roll, Hollywood) due to corporations. They provide a number of guaranteed tradeable resources in the late game, which makes it a lot easier to acquire additional corporation resources without having to spend gold per turn.

One significant problem is that once an AI has a corporation (even a foreign one) present in its cities, it becomes understandably reluctant to trade away the resources it uses. Very frequently it will sever all current deals trading away those resources, and red out the resource in the trade panel. If you are planning to run a corporation in a significant number of your own cities, extreme caution must be taken when spreading it to foreign civs, though it is still possible. Returning to the example of Sid’s Sushi, you can still spread it to any civ which only has one source or less of the seafood resources without hindering your trading options. Any civ which is refusing to trade with you anyway is another obvious candidate, though obtaining open borders may be difficult under those circumstances. Finally, under patch 3.13 your vassals and colonies will always trade all resources (and at a pittance if you already have them), so you can spread any corporation to them without hindering trading.

An obvious conclusion of this is that ideally you would found at least two corporations, one for largely domestic use, so you can maximise the resources for it, and one for exclusively foreign spread to offset the costs. The latter should obviously be one that still provides minimal benefit to the AI, and doesn’t clash for resources with your domestic corporation.

Multiple Corporation Strategies

Looking on the goal of having a strong corporation for domestic use, and a weak one to spam to the AI, it becomes clear that not all corporations are equally suited to each task:

Sid’s Sushi
As I’ve explained above, this is the strongest candidate for a domestic corporation. To maximise trading options for seafood, it’s foreign spread options are limited, though you may still make a fair amount by picking civs lacking in many seafood resources without restricting your trade. This kind of careful foreign spread (and to colonies and vassals) helps fill in the gap between Sushi, and researching any of the later corporations.

Mining Inc
Another strong candidate for a domestic corporation, as extra production is always worth having, particularly in small cities and fishing villages, where corporation maintenance is at it’s lowest. Unfortunately this corporation conflicts with most of the others, and if you take Sushi as well, these will be the only two you’ll be able to put in your wall street city. It’s not too bad a candidate for foreign spread, as many civs refuse to trade strategic resources at a reasonable price, but doing so will hinder your trade, and limit you to at most two corporations to spread to the AI (and as I’ve said, it may not be wise to spread Sushi extensively to foreign civs).

One possibility is to run this as a second minor domestic corporation, but put the HQ somewhere other than your Wall Street city. You’d only get 8gpt instead of 12gpt recouped, but if you’re only spreading it to a handful of your cities for the extra production, that’s not a significant loss. Obviously you would not be able to spread it to the Wall Street city for this strategy to work. Sounds somewhat contrary to normal advice I know, but if you are confident of getting two or more of the later corporations, Mining Inc is not ideal for foreign spread. Another small bonus is that once Mining and Sushi are present in one of your cities, the AI will have to pay far more than normal to try and spread one of their corporations into your city.

In many games though, the Sushi/Mining Inc pair will serve all your corporate needs. They give the best domestic benefits (In my most recent game the pair was giving 20 food and 20 hammers per city, at a net average cost of about 35gpt), and with care you can get considerable numbers of overseas branches without hindering trading. Particularly at higher difficulty levels, I’ll settle for jut this pair, founded in my Wall Street city.

Creative Constructions
Probably the third to show up, available with Combustion, this is quite a good candidate for foreign spread. It competes somewhat for resources with Mining Inc, which may slightly restrict trading options, but its production output is much weaker. If you’re going to run a purely foreign corporation (with only the HQ in your Wall Street city), then this is well worth considering. It’s not as good for domestic use as Mining Inc unless desperate for culture, or you lost Mining to an AI.

Civilized Jewellers
This is one changed a lot with 3.13. Prior to the patch this was near useless, as it converts gold to gold and would never turn a profit. With 3.13’s lower maintenance, this corporation will always generate more gold than it costs to maintain, and generate a load of culture. For this reason you might not want to use it for foreign spread, as the AI will profit from it whatever situation they are in. If you don’t have Mining Inc though, you can spam this to every city you own without problems.

Aluminium Co.
Unless you are truly desperate for aluminium, and have no viable alternative for acquiring it, I would avoid domestic spread of this corporation. It is however useful for foreign spread, though you will need to be a little selective. Any civ which either already has aluminium, or is so backward as to be irrelevant, is ideal for spamming this one to, as the AI will receive virtually no benefit. Again, this corporation clashes with Mining Inc, so in many games you may not bother with it. It does give a science boost, but this is quite marginal – not worth sacrificing Mining Inc for. If you’re going for the Sushi/Civ Jewellers/Aluminium Co/Creative Constructions combo in your Wall Street city, it is worth spreading to your science cities though (especially if you’ve hit the 100% science hard cap and are turning a profit).

Cereal Mills
Since this is essentially a poor man’s Sushi, competes with it for resources, and appears later, I usually ignore this corporation. Unless you lose Sushi, or are playing on a low seafood Pangaea map, you can leave this one for the AI.

Standard Ethanol
Similar to Aluminium Co, if you have any other alternative for acquiring oil, avoid this corporation. Even if you’re that desperate for it, only spread it to your military production cities. Since this one also clashes with Sushi, and hence the HQs can’t share the Wall Street city, this is not suitable for foreign spam either. Again, this gives a science boost, but the value of it is dubious compared to Sushi. If you’re running representation, Sushi is still much better, even in science cities. Even without representation, the science bonus of Ethanol over Sushi is so marginal that it seems dubious spending a great scientist to found an extra corporation (particularly as Ethanol isn’t available till Plastics). Another one you can safely leave to the AI.

So basically; Sushi for mostly domestic use, Mining Inc for either minor domestic use or foreign spread if for whatever reason you don’t think you’ll found any of the later corporations. Civilized Jewellers can be spammed just about anywhere if you don’t have Mining Inc. Aluminium Co and Creative constructions are ideal for foreign spread (and indeed you can spread all three at the same time). Avoid Cereal Mills except as a fall back for Sushi, or on a low seafood map type. Avoid Standard Ethanol unless you are literally facing destruction for lack of oil.

Miscellaneous Other Strategies

Culture Victory
One aspect I’ve ignored for simplicity so far is the cultural output of corporations. Sushi, Creative constuctions and Civ Jewellers all give huge amounts of culture if supplied with a reasonable number of the appropriate resources, and may all be founded in the same city as long as you don’t have Mining Inc. If you’re going for a cultural victory, the combination of Sushi, Creative Constructions, Civ Jewellers and Aluminium Inc in your 3 culture cities is well worth considering. While Aluminium Co. does not generate culture directly, it converts coal to aluminium, and this extra aluminium can be converted to culture and production by Creative Constructions if you have both branches in the same city. It’s true that some of these corporations appear a little late for a planned culture victory, but at the very least Sushi for direct culture, and extra artists will help. The four corporations may also allow you to snatch a culture victory you weren’t planning on if your other plans go wrong. Other advantages of the four instead of the Sushi/Mining Inc pair are that you have more corporations for foreign spread, and in turn they have fewer to spam to you. However will cost you 4 great people instead of 2, and will arrive later than Mining Inc.

Countering Foreign Corporations
While I find it to be rare, it is very irritating when an AI starts spamming it’s corporation into your cities, particularly if it’s a junker like Standard Ethanol. Even if it costs them a lot to displace a Sushi branch, it costs me as much to replace it – and if I’ve grown 10 population beyond what the terrain can support, I have little choice but to do so. Now you could run State property – but that kills every strategy in this article (except arguably pure foreign spread), and I find corporations far too powerful to simply throw away. Another option is Mercantilism – not too bad looking purely at corporations, since I don’t usually want the foreign ones at all. Snag is when you look at the trade routes. Suddenly all these cities which have multiple 12 :commerce: per turn trade routes (partly thanks to extra population from Sushi) are getting nearer 4 :commerce: per turn. Say 4 or 5 trade routes a city, and the extra specialist really doesn’t counterbalance how much you’re paying for protection.

There is however a trick in Mercantilism to deal with foreign branches. Since they are shut down under Mercantilism, you don’t pay the normal increased fee to replace them with a competing corporation. Particularly if you have Cristo Redentor, or are Spiritual, it is worth switching into Mercantilism for a bit to replace all foreign corporations with domestic ones on the cheap. Yes the AI could replace them if you leave mercantilism – but they’re paying horrendous amounts to do so.

A third option is to hoard all the corporations. This isn’t that hard to do, but comes out expensive in great people, and will require you to put at least three in non Wall Street cities, and these won’t give you much benefit. To be honest this is usually overkill.

Civ Specific Considerations

The traits don’t particularly affect corporation strategies, except that Philosophical makes it slightly easier to obtain the appropriate GP at the right point. Some of the unique buildings do however have a significant impact. The HRE Rathaus, and Zulu Ikhanda allow corporation maintenance to be reduced even further than normal, making it even simpler to spread corporations domestically. The English Stock Exchange, American Mall, and Mali Mint all have higher gold modifiers than normal, and so permit slightly more gold per branch in the HQ (e.g. the English can get 13.8 gpt per branch rather than 12).

In Conclusion

To sum up, corporations are far from useless. Yes they do involve a fair amount of maintenance costs, but foreign corporation branches give you a way to get more gold than you’d know what to do with. Don’t make things harder for yourself than you need to; run free market if at all possible, and ensure you have courthouses everywhere. The extra food and production can benefit any strategy, and if you’re going for a cultural victory then the culture output of 4 corporations in your legendary cities can save a huge amount of time.

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