Drafting for Fun and Profit

Drafting for fun and profit

You will find almost every Civilization IV player has come over to the enlightened view that slavery is a wonderful civic. Yet many of these same players ignore the very powerful and efficient drafting mechanic available from the nationhood civic. In this article I will first attempt to explore some of the power inherent in this civic while examining potential trade-offs for adopting and using it. Then I will attempt to point out some synergies available with other civics, wonders, as well as with particular traits. Throughout the article I will indicate game speed differences by slashes(/) demarcating quick, normal, epic and marathon respectively.

The Mechanic

Warrior/Quechua: 1 population “You know how to use a club?” “I play paintclub on the weekends” “Good enough you’re in”
Axeman/Phalanx/Vulture/Dog Soldier: 1 population
Maceman/Samurai/Berserker: 1 population
Musketman/Musketeer/Janissary/Oromo Warrior: 1 population
Rifleman/Redcoat: 1 population
Infantry: 2 population
Mechanized Infantry: 3 population

The mechanics behind drafting are very simple. If a city has sufficient population to have at least population five after a draft, its controlling nation is using the nationhood civic, and the cultural presence of the controlling nation is at least 10% inside the city, the draft button is available. Pressing the button immediately produces one unit of the type appearing lowest on the above list which is currently buildable. The unit is produced with only half of its normal experience rounded down. Drafting decreases the population of the city by the amount shown above and adds 3:mad: for 6/10/15/30 turns. You can only draft once per city per turn and you can only draft three times per turn throughout your entire empire. This amount is modified by map size settings in the following way: duel – one time per turn, tiny – two times per turn, small and standard – 3 times per turn, large – 4 times per turn, and huge 5 times per turn.

So why is this fun?

Well let’s start with the obvious: When you can quickly and efficiently create a large army of the most recent foot soldiers your empire has researched, that is by definition fun. The soldiers pop out instantly so responding to immediate threats becomes even easier than with slavery. The food to hammer conversion ratio knocks the socks off of anything slavery can do for you. Finally as a special bonus, your Civilization now worships the God of war, making barracks into two happiness super temples.

In addition, in the Beyond the Sword expansion, your cities produce +25% espionage points. Also, in the addition by subtraction (from other legal civics) category, while Nationhood has remained a nice and no upkeep style civic, Bureaucracy has been bumped from medium to high upkeep, making it even less cost efficient in large empires. All hail the increased power of the nation.

So where’s the catch?

The unhappiness penalty is very severe, especially if you stack draft weariness penalties and draft in cities without barracks, and combined with the war weariness you are encountering or are soon to be encountering (You do want to show off those shiny new troops to Monty right?) it can take generous helpings of the culture slider to overcome it when you overuse it. You can’t use drafting to “whip” away unhappiness like you could with slavery. There are no fun overflow tricks or anything like that. It is a tool for making war. As long as you remember that and don’t expect it to cook breakfast for you, you should be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Also as with any other civic change we should consider the opportunity cost of both the anarchy going in (and possibly out) of Nationhood combined with the time lost in the potentially very lucrative civics Bureaucracy and Free Speech. If I’m not spiritual, I look at Nationhood as one of the final destination civics rather than a quick change in and out type. If I’m planning on running it in this manner, my economy is geared very much towards that fact.

Hammer per Food Conversion Ratios

For all of these, I am assuming a granary is in the city and that the draft is occurring at the minimum population required for that unit.

Warrior/Quechua 1.2/1/0.64/0.67
Axeman/Phalanx/Vulture/Dog Soldier 2.8/2.33/1.54/1.56
Maceman/Berserker/Samurai 5.6/4.67/3.11/3.11
Musketman/Musketeer/Janissary/Oromo Warrior 6.4/5.33/3.57/3.56
Rifleman/Redcoat 8.8/7.33/4.89/4.89
Infantry 5.33/4.51/3.72/3.01
Mechanized Infantry 5/4.17/3.42/2.78

Obviously drafting becomes less efficient at higher populations and if you don’t have a granary in the cities that are draft eligible at this point shame on you.

The main point here is that even on Marathon and Epic, the most likely candidates for drafting (Macemen, Musketmen and Riflemen) are providing you with very good value in terms of converting food into military hammers. Even drafting the relatively inefficient infantry or mechanized infantry is not the worst thing in the world. Mobilizing upgraded armies as fast as possible is its own reward.

Other notes about efficiency

This information is most relevant about drafting in your Globe Theater City, but can be useful for other planning. I am assuming a standard or small map. On smaller maps, you don’t need as large an empire to fully abuse drafting (although it is less efficient overall, while on larger maps, you will need a corresponding larger empire to fully abuse drafting. To regrow from population 5 after drafting a rifleman or worse you will need 10/15/28/45 food. On Quick and Normal therefore, it is not at all out of the realm of possibility and quite likely if you have planned for this that you can draft indefinitely from the Globe Theater city. So if your empire can support two drafts a turn elsewhere, then you will be able to take full advantage of the drafting. On Epic you will need two turns to regrow the Globe theater city, so to take full advantage of drafting you will need to be able to support 2.5 drafts a turn elsewhere. Similarly on Marathon, you will need to be able to support 2.67 drafts a turn elsewhere.

These numbers imply that to be able to fully abuse drafting you would need a very large empire. But even if you have a small empire at the moment, there is a ball rolling downhill mechanic here. As you completely eliminate rivals and thus gain the necessary 10% culture in conquered cities to draft there, the Nationhood civic becomes more efficient allowing you to eliminate the next rival quicker and so on.

When and where should I draft?

Ideally drafting at a city that will regrow (one of) the population lost immediately is a better deal. Cities that are at or above their healthy cap but have some happiness to spare are good targets. Cities with high food surpluses are good, and conversely those with low food surpluses are bad. Drafting out of your main military city is counterproductive since you will typically have huge experience point bonuses there (which are halved by the draft) and huge military production bonuses (which are hurt significantly more by the loss of tile turns). Similarly drafting out of your core cities that have built up higher amounts of commerce multipliers is more detrimental. Drafting out of the Globe Theater city should be done with extreme prejudice. When I first switch to Nationhood, that city gets abused down to Population five as soon as possible and then is reintroduced into the drafting rotation when its population allows.

Unless you are sure you can handle the happiness hits, stacking draft weariness is a sure path to pure devastation of your economy.

Some random points

Taj Mahal (or a random great person used for a golden age) can be just the trick for a quick jaunt into Nationhood for a round of drafting before returning before the golden age ends (only applicable in Beyond the Sword where golden ages eliminate anarchy.

BTS K-k-k-killer combo = Cristo Redentor + micromanaging. Not much to say here, but if you land this beauty you can draft and still enjoy the “benefits” of running a different legal civic. Lots of other stuff going on here, but thats about it in relation to drafting. No reason not to do Theocracy simultaneously when you are actually pulling the draft trigger in this case for the xp. Also to make it ultra mega clear, assuming the city you are about to draft from has any religion, then your state religion should be matching one of its religions when you pull the trigger.

Globe Theater + High Food Surplus + Nationhood = Draft Capital of the nation

The whip can be combined with drafting to help manage the unhappiness as well as maintain balance in your armies.

A pure SE has great synergy with nationhood. You have high food surpluses, economic independence from the slider, and usually not as juicy a capital for the bureaucracy bonus and definitely not as juicy an empire for free speech.

Conversely, Nationhood is antagonistic to a pure CE. You would almost always prefer to be in bureaucracy or free speech. If you are running a pure CE, are not spiritual, and are not in dire need of troops without the cash to rush buy them now I would strongly suggest to step away from the anarchy.

A hybrid economy is a bit trickier to analyze. If you have a solid Bureaucracy Capital, it might be worth it to just bypass Nationhood. Otherwise, running Nationhood until you have enough emancipated cottages fully matured to justify a switch to Free Speech seems like it could be a possible route. Skipping Nationhood altogether seems like another possible route. I tend to stick to pure SE unless my leader demands otherwise so perhaps I can’t answer this question fully.

In terms of civics that work well with nationhood, I find because of the strong synergy with an SE, the SE defaults seem pretty straightforward to me. However, I see many people recommending Theocracy with Nationhood. It feels somewhat antagonistic to me, since the Theocracy bonus is being halved on drafted troops. However, with a barracks, that allows drafted troops to come out with at least one promotion so perhaps it is all in my head. I tend to not have barracks in many of my cities so the Theocracy bonus amounts to a whopping half a promotion many times. I stick with pacifism or if the rapidly rising costs and unhappiness will get to be a problem, go free religion.

It is worth pointing out that the Ethiopians, the Sumerians, the Greek, the Native Americans, the Ottomans, the Japanese, the French, the English, the Viking and the Incans all have draftable UUs. If it fits with your plans, it’s even twice the fun to be spitting out a quick army of your UUs shortly after obtaining them. Churchill and Tokugawa magnify this with traits that vastly improve their drafted army.

I don’t think my idea of Nationhood as a final destination civic is such a heretical frame of mind. People see no problem with switching to state property final destination and watermilling and workshopping over mature cottages for the final push in the space race. Running Nationhood for that push towards domination seems to be analogous to me.

How do traits fit into this?

Spiritual: Quick changes to and from Nationhood in spurts to minimize cost of not running Bureaucracy or Free Speech
Aggressive: Cheap Barracks, Free Combat I promotion on drafted troops
Protective: Free City Garrison I and Drill I promotion on drafted gunpowder troops
Expansive: Cheap Granaries, a trait that lends itself somewhat to running an SE
Organized: Cheaper to support a large, well fed empire
Philosophical: Lends itself to running an SE
Creative: Cheap theaters for getting the Globe Theater up and running quicker. Cheaper culture buildings and free culture for assimilating less cultured captured cities to draft levels more quickly.
Imperialistic: More troops + more fighting = more great generals
Charismatic: Drafted Units progress in experience quicker
Industrious: Globe Theater is cheaper. i.e. minimal
Financial: Antagonistic relationship here in general.


Drafting is indeed a very powerful mechanic, but preparing for its use takes planning and preparation for many epics before the civic is even available. The significant tradeoffs of losing turns in Bureaucracy or Free Speech combined with anarchy can lead to this being given a miss out of hand, but the benefits are very real and very nice. Nationhood is a civic that lends itself well to a domination or conquest victory so if that is part of your plans, this might be a winner for you.

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