Quick Start Challenge
Items below this point
If you have read the article on Improving You Opening Play Sequences and followed along through the example start positions referenced in that article, you will have noticed that we initially have focused our attention on improving the power and productivity of the four to six most powerful terrain squares in our start position. In the beginning, our first town always has 1 citizen that essentially has no improved terrain squares to work on. As time passes, our worker unit completes improvements on terrain squares and provides a fully improved place for our citizens to work. At the same time, our towns will usually be growing and producing more citizens.
Up until this point in the articles we have focused only on the time it takes for standard workers to complete the various tasks. For worker task productivity, we can divide our civilizations into two groups. The Industrious Civilizations (China, Egypt, France and America plus Carthage and Ottomans from PTW) will have workers that complete many tasks twice as fast as the workers from standard worker civilizations.
If we look at the average rate at which workers can fully improve terrain squares this will vary a great deal depending on the start position. On the average, a standard worker will add one fully improved terrain square to our empire in every 10 to 12 turns. Partially improved terrain squares where we only add a road only, river crossings, and/or terrain squares where we might need to clear a forest or do something else non-standard will combine to slow this improvement rate down from the theoretical maximum of one square in every 8 to 10 turns.
The initial growth rate of our towns will depend on many factors that relate to the terrain of our start positions. The average initial growth rate for starting positions will add one new population point for every 8 to 10 turns of game time. This growth rate corresponds to almost all start positions that have lots of average terrain like grasslands, plains, and forests without having easy access to a food bonus like cows, wheat, or flood plains.
The graph below displays a plot of the number of population points that can be produced in these average start positions. As the towns grow, we produce military units, settlers, workers, and other improvements and the new settlers found new towns and begin to expand the process. The graph covers the timeframe from 4000 BC (turn 1) up to 10 BC (turn 126). The blue line with tick marks shown on the graph, corresponds to the population count of the number of citizens in our empire and represents the number of fully improved terrain squares that we need to have available in order for all of our citizens to have their most powerful terrain position available. The magenta line represents the progress of a typical standard workforce as those workers complete improvements to support our citizen population. The yellow line represents the same number of industrious workers completing the exact same tasks in the same order as the standard workers in the magenta workforce.
For reference, in the above graph, turn 81 represents the year 1000 BC and by that time we have founded seven or eight towns and have at least four workers dedicated to improving terrain. Turn 101 is the year 550 BC and by that time we are up to thirteen towns and have a workforce of twelve of which over half of the workers are very new.
For civilizations with standard workers it takes until about turn 101 or 550 BC for the number of workers and the number of improvements that have been completed by those workers to catch up to the population of our empire. Somewhere around this point in time, we have a very high expectation that every new citizen that is born in our empire will instantly be able to start working on a fully improved terrain square that has a road plus our best choice of an improvement to increase the power output from our empire. At this point in time, we can actively begin using our workers to attack forestry operations that will increase our power production at even a faster rate.
For industrious workers, we can normally get to this break even improvement time point about 20 to 25 turns earlier in the game. The yellow line in the graph shows that our industrious civilizations should be able to undertake forestry operations somewhere just prior to 1000 BC when they have basic growth conditions.
If the terrain in our starting positions would support faster growth rates or if we gained an early settler from a goody hut, then the rate of increase of all the curves would be slightly higher and we would reach the point of Forestry Operations even earlier. Starting positions that can produce at least three excess food units per turn, will have the ability to grow at a faster rate and may be able to reach the forestry operation cut over point up to 20% earlier in the game.
An interesting point that this curve also illustrates is that even though our industrious workers might complete many tasks in half as many turns, this performance advantage only results in a net advantage of between 12-18% in the early game. This industrious worker advantage is still significant but it does not truly cut the total time to complete a total sequence of tasks in half.
Task sequencing after your reach the cross over point
With one minor exception, worker tasks in this phase of development should continue to be performed by single workers as long as any improvements will be in place before a citizen needs them to increase the power contribution to the empire. The exception relates to industrious civilizations because of the round off waste in the task performance or the industrious workers that must build roads. An industrious worker takes 1.5 worker turns to complete a road segment but this is rounded up to two full turns and then is effectively three turns when you count the cost of moving into the square. If you have a slave worker that you have captured or purchased, then the slave would take 7 worker turns to complete the same road including movement. If you pair a slave worker with an industrious worker, these two units can move into an open square together and complete the road in only one more turn.
Since you are operating ahead of the required terrain improvement curve, from this point forward you will almost always complete a road segment in any cleared square where you have moved a worker. IF (and this is a BIG IF) any of the towns that have the current terrain square within their boundaries may need an additional fully improved terrain square in the next ten to twenty turns then you should use your terrain power assessment skills to determine if this terrain square should be the next square to receive an improvement. If the current square will not be needed in the next ten to twenty turns and if it is not a candidate for the next most powerful square, then you should usually move your workers on to the next task as soon as the road is completed. In many cases, this decision process will lead you to move on and leave a number of common grassland, desert, hill, and dry land plains squares with only roads in place.
You still need to make sure that you can determine the turn in which a forest square would be cleared and then make sure that one of the potential receiving towns will be able to make full use of the ten shield production bonus when the forest is harvested.
When two or more towns can overlap the same square of forest, the harvest bonus will go to the town that is working the forest square at the moment the forest is harvested. You can micromanage the benefit target by allowing the citizens of the towns to work on the best choices of the available terrain squares up until the last turn before a square of forest is scheduled to be harvested. Then open the city display screens to manually reassign citizens and specialists to make sure that a citizen from the desired town is assigned to work in the forest that will be harvested. If no citizen from any nearby town is assigned to work in the forest at the time it will be harvested, then the bonus will go to the town whose center square is nearest to the harvested square. The image above is an example of a case where you do not know where the production bonus will go unless you intervene to make certain it is applied to meet the needs of your cities.
Use Forestry Operations to open paths through forest and jungle to facilitate any road connections between towns that are not already connected. If you do not already have every town connected to your empire by at least one road route, then assign workers to clear the minimum number of forest and/or jungle squares that will allow you to build the shortest possible road route to connect that town to the grid.
You may choose to assign multiple workers to clear a road a single square, but recognize that this decision always uses at least one extra turn per worker that is added to the crew because of the extra worker movement turn that is used. The waste could be even higher in terms or worker turns that are forfeited if you also plan for the round off losses that will start to add up.
Examples of selected crew combinations that can be used to clear and road a two square deep path through forest and/or jungle:
The way you want to read these tables to get the best understanding of the process that was used to develop these recommendations is to compare the different rows in the tables by using the Game Turns and Excess worker turns columns. In the table above, if you plan to perform the forestry tasks with a crew of “2 standard workers” that decision would take 16 Game Turns instead of 28 for a single standard worker. This will save you 12 game turns on the completion of the road connection. Adding the second worker will cost you four (4) worker turns in excess of the number of worker turns that would be required for a single worker to perform the same tasks. So your benefit/cost thought process should be that you potentially gain twelve turns of value from the road connection for the cost of wasting four extra worker turns.
The value of these excess worker turns can often be reclaimed by the increased power output from the towns that get connected up to the empire more quickly. This increased power output may come because the corruption and waste in the frontier towns will be reduced when they are connected back to the capital via a road a road network or harbor. The military and expansion advantages of having the road in place quicker may also offset the wasted worker turns by reducing the time that it takes for military police or new settlers to reach their planned destinations.
If you have a number of workers available, crews of two standard workers per crew should be assigned to clear forest and build roads because this provides the greatest gain in connection speed for the smallest number of excess worker turns that are lost. Crews of three standard workers per crew should be assigned to clear jungles and build roads because this crew size gains thirty six game turns of use for the connection while only costing four extra worker turns. Adding more workers beyond these numbers will reduce the time required to complete the connection, but the worker management tasks can become more complex and the increased benefit will not be greater than the additional worker turns that are lost.
For industrious workers, there is not a clear cut answer in forming crews for the forest clearing tasks because the integer round off waste tends to offset much of the potential speed gain. Industrious workers should be assigned to clear jungles in groups of two or with one industrious worker and a slave helper because the time gained is significant compared to the extra worker turns that may be required.
Do not initially drive road connections directly through forests and jungles when there is an alternate route that connects through other towns and across open ground. The corruption and waste reduction benefits that you gain from having the road connection to a town will have nothing to do with how long the road route actually is in terms of number of terrain squares that must be crossed. On the other hand, the military benefits associated with roads will have a great deal to do with the number of squares of road segments that must be crossed. If you can add a secondary road connection that is one or two squares shorter, this may give you both a defensive and offensive military advantage. Lateral connections between frontier towns will allow you to shift military units right and left to meet threats or exploit opportunities that would not be possible using only a radial road layout.
Because you should be 60 to 100 turns into the game by this point in time, you should be able to see a big expanse of the world map around you. Up to this point in time, most of your forest clearing and road building choice have been strictly tactical. You have been trying to increase the power of your cities and complete connections from one city to the next.
NOW you need to make a strategic shift in thinking if this has not already occurred as a side effect of your other decisions. Your most important secondary road connections should complete you road network to let you get from one edge of you empire to the other in the absolute minimum number of movement turns. If your map gives you an east and a west border, you want to add road segments to make the shortest possible east-west road. The same though process holds for all other strategic direction groupings. Whether you view this road as some sort of “Apian Way” or some version of the transcontinental highway, what is important is to make sure you have the increased mobility to increase the effectiveness of whatever military forces you must have available.
Clear forests and jungles and lay down roads just as you would for primary road connections. The crew combinations listed in the tables above should still provide
Forestry Operations Priority 4: Rushing Improvements in Frontier Towns.
As you complete priorities 1, 2 and 3, you will usually find crews of workers that reach your frontier areas and need a new task. Clearing an extra square or two or three of forest to help rush an early temple or library will help to force out your cultural borders and grab more potential forests and resource squares.
The potential exception to this decision of rushing improvements in frontier towns has to do with towns on tundra or tundra fringe locations where the shield production of forests cannot be replaced by other nearby terrain squares. (Click here for more info of forestry for tundra towns.)
Forestry Operations Priority 5: Clear Invasion Corridors and Trade Routes.
A road connection to your neighbors can be very valuable to facilitate trading resources. In many cases, you AI player rivals will be too stupid to hook up road connections to their own resources that they may be able to trade to you. If you have a Right of Passage agreement in place, you can assign a few workers to complete these connections. Forests in the territory of your rivals will present a movement barrier that can slow down your advancing troops even when roads are present. If you detect a square of forest or jungle that will be outside our territory borders but inside the future borders of you enemies, you should usually clear that forest to open up a quick attack route for your troops.
One potential exception to this clear corridor concept might be when you are facing Egypt as a nearby rival in the early game. You will have to weigh the tactical advantage of potentially keeping their War Chariots out versus allowing your fast units to invade them more quickly. There are good arguments in favor of both strategies depending on how other factors contribute to your position.
Forestry Operations Priority 6: Reduce the Risks of Disease from Jungles.
If you have done a good of city placement just in the edge of forest areas, you should not have encountered substantial early disease problems from the jungles. As you free up workers from the major road connection tasks and still have them keeping ahead of demand for basic improvements such as mines and irrigation, then you should focus on clearing all jungle squares adjacent to towns. It may also be beneficial to provide extra support for town locations that must be placed in new locations entirely surrounded by jungles and other hostile terrain.
The early period of Forestry Operations usually occupies the later year of the BC time frame. You must balance early Forestry Operations with your need to keep the improvements in towns and cities always running just ahead of the citizen population numbers. You are still performing the same single unit operations that you have needed to perform since the beginning of the game, but now you may be slightly ahead of the improvement curve and be able to assign crews to seriously clear forests and jungles.
You may want to use six extra priorities to help fit these early Forestry Operation into your existing worker tasks:
- Pay close attention to timing and
assigning the 10 shield production bonuses
In general, you do not want to move large crews of workers across your empire just for the purpose of completing these early forestry operations. If everything was perfect, your waves of workers would complete a variety of road and basic improvement tasks mixed in with selective forestry operations as they move across your territory. The workers will end up moving into areas of your empire where a large number of early forestry tasks need to be performed in order to bring those towns and cities up to speed with other regions.
Next Topic – Engineered Forests
Other related topics: