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Using workers to bump up city population

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  • Using workers to bump up city population

    Last night I tried a new (new to me) strategy on a map I had been thrashed on before. I am now playing the same map and this time I am doing O.K. I attribute the difference to different use of workers.

    I am isolated on a remote island and most of my land is desert or tundra, three lovely city sites and the remainder is desert, tundra and a few mountains. All other civs are similarly isolated until Astronomy (Lighthouse and Great Library have been removed from the game). One AI civ is situated to be BIG and two others to have a bit more land than me, all civs have better land than me. I have three lovely city sites and then badlands so I have to use my coast to maximum effect.

    My land has three very nice city sites and the rest is desert or tundra. I have 19 cities built in desert or tundra and all are on the coast. Developing them has been very hard. All through the game have had two little towns churning out workers which are added to the populations of my desert cities because these cities produce only one surplus food per turn and two shields (except the corrupt ones which produce only one shield).

    When I was in despotism I would found a desert city, irrigate a desert tile, add a worker from my worker pump thus doubling shield production and eventually pop rush a harbour. The added worker doubled shield production thus enabling earlier pop rushing and that same worker was the pop that later got killed to build the harbour, all in all it sped up development immensly. When the harbour was in place workers were sent to build population up to 6. My three luxuries and the slider took care of unhappiness. I was far from finished when I switched to republic so I had to lower my tax rate to afford market places, temples, harbours etc. The immediate addition of a worker to every new city helped immensely.

    I was thus able to keep up in research with this overseas killer civ at Emperor. (We met very recently and I was at tech parity and getting as many wonders as they were although they had 5 luxuries and more and much better lands).

    This is the first time I have tried this worker pump to add to new cities stunt and it was very powerful. (I played this same map before and was falling way behind and missing out on all the wonders and I wasn't pumping workers into my cities, I had pyramids in both games). I think I will be using workers to pump population in many future games.

    Your thoughts gentlemen?

  • #2
    My first thought was "good thinking". That is what I think the game is about, being able to adapt. That is what makes it work play after all this time.
    DiabloII type games are fun, but I could not do it even once a month after all this time. It is mindless fun for a short period of time. This is real strategy. Got a bad start, find another way.


    • #3
      Yes, I tend to use Workers to speed up city growth, especially if I have a city site with a few bonus food resources it can utilize.


      • #4
        I've used this effectively before, too. In my last game, I avoided building aqueducts in several slightly productive, size 6 formerly Aztec cities just to use them as worker pumps. With more than one going, I didn't have to worry about letting the pop bounce back as much, but in your case, one is probably the limit, so as not to hamper your actual productive cities any more than necessary.
        Solomwi is very wise. - Imran Siddiqui


        • #5
          My whole purpose in setting up this map was to see if I could somehow use a small but rich base to leverage a heap of surrounding lousy terrain into a winning advantage. The first city site is ideal, the second site is very good, the third city site is nice and after that only horrible deserts and tundra which I absolutely must use to keep up (no trading possible until after Astronomy and others have better territory). Two of my three luxuries are on separate useless little isles.

          I am now in a position where I seem to have naval superiority (thanks to the English UU!) and having a golden age (thanks to the English UU and Rome declaring war on me). A surgical strike against Rome (coastal city with 5 wonders right next to a mountain) would hurt them badly particularly since they are expending units fighting my allies on the large Mongol island and also taking little isles from my Iriquois allies (this a Rome versus the world war but my other ally seems to be doing nothing). I am only now in a position to do anything having just finished building an escort fleet of Man of Wars and some 40 cavalry, gotta finish building galleons to carry them to Rome.

          The only downside is I have become quite accustomed to waging wars which gain so little they usually turn out to be pointless. I reckon I have enough men of war to escort my invasion force to Rome, I expect I will actually take Rome, destroy it then somehow see my invasion force wiped out and then somehow accomplish nothing further with Rome remaining well in the lead. Perhaps Rome will go on to a spaceship or histograph win.

          Off topic.
          The English UU may turn out very useful in this game (first time for everything!).


          • #6
            Originally posted by Solomwi
            I've used this effectively before, too. In my last game, I avoided building aqueducts in several slightly productive, size 6 formerly Aztec cities just to use them as worker pumps. With more than one going, I didn't have to worry about letting the pop bounce back as much, but in your case, one is probably the limit, so as not to hamper your actual productive cities any more than necessary.
            I was able to squeeze two worker pumps in between my three big cities and keep them busy building up other cities (Later these pumps will build railroad gangs which will yet later be added to the 3 big cities when I get hospitals and then I disband the pumps leaving the 3 cities each working a full city radius). BTW The worker pumps get the cows because the size 12 cities don't need them to grow any more.

            I am hoping that others will mention when and why they use these "population pumps", my purpose in starting the thread because I hadn't realised how powerful this could be. I hope to learn more about their potential uses and disadvantages.


            • #7
              If I have a couple of Worker-pumps available (surplus Food cities with a Granary), I almost always halt normal city growth at size 7 and join Workers from then on.

              Why size 7? Because that's when the Food box size grows. Building a Worker in a city size 6 or smaller costs 20 Food (10 with a Granary); building a Worker in a city size 7 or larger costs twice that much. So it's more efficient to grow cities beyond size 6 by joining Workers. There's the small issue of the 10 Shield cost of Workers, but those are almost always made up by the extra production over time in the larger city.

              This method also makes life simpler, in a bunch of ways:

              1. I can maximize Shield production in my non-pump cities without having to worry about growth.

              2. I can dictate exactly when I want my cities to grow, which is important in terms of happiness considerations.

              3. I can use a large army of Workers to improve all the land in sight, then need not worry about them doing nothing for the rest of the game.

              And her eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming...


              • #8
                Do you ever build an additional worker BEFORE you build your first settler? If so, when and why?

                In this map I started with two cattle and one wheat and I knew there no other civ could possibly contact me for thousands of years and there were no barbarians (or goody huts for barbarians to pop). For the first time I tried building the worker first and it seemed to work out well but I haven't really looked into it and was hoping someone else has. I built a warrior then a worker and used one to irrigate and the other to build a road to city site #2. When my settler was produced he could found a city on his second move and the first terrain square had been improved the turn before the city was founded, York was off to a lovely start.

                If I had no bonus food squares I don't think I would try this. OTH I might try it. Umh. I haven't a clue actually, anyway I shall find out the hard way I suppose.


                • #9
                  I've been using much the same strategy as Dominae recently, for the same good reasons. Producing population in high food towns of size <= 6 is a very quick way to generate population points, and grows your larger cities much faster than they could grow themselves. And the workers can always do a bit of work to improve terrain before joining a city if it is needed (there's no point making a city grow if the extra population is going to be using unimproved tiles). It's definitely a powerful strategy in almost all circumstances.

                  Population is power!


                  • #10
                    Do you ever build an additional worker BEFORE you build your first settler? If so, when and why?
                    Often. In fact, I will often build the following prior to my first settler:

                    4 warriors
                    1 worker

                    Not always, of course, but when I have a high-food start that allows for a +5food/turn settler/worker pump, I usually punch out a 2nd worker prior to starting the granary. Doing it that way provides a few advantages that help counter the disadvantage of waiting a while before building my second city. First, my capitol will grow fairly large early on, allowing for speedy construction of the granary, as well as an increased research rate at first. Second, the AI will build settlers asap and thus will have their 2nd cities before me. That allows me the chance of getting a settler out of a hut. Even if I don't get one, my granary & 2 workers will catch me up in the REX department.

                    As for the rest... yeah, my original settler/worker pump will often sit at size 6 churning workers that will first develop terrain and then join cities to boost their pop.


                    p.s. Don't forget worker buying! It seems expensive, but I think it's still worth the price. Not only does it help you (slaves), it hurts the AI badly.
                    grog want tank...Grog Want Tank... GROG WANT TANK!

                    The trick isn't to break some eggs to make an omelette, it's convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by peterfharris
                      Do you ever build an additional worker BEFORE you build your first settler? If so, when and why?
                      In a high-Food, low-Shield start I will often build one scout-type unit (hopefully I'm Expansionist!), then build as many as 2 additional Workers before proceeding on to a Granary or Settler.

                      In the start you describe (2 Cattle and 1 Wheat), it's not entirely clear to me if it's worth building that additional Worker before starting on a Granary. Only a thorough analysis of both options would tell for sure. As a non-Industrious civ, I'll guess that it's better to pop out that early Worker.

                      And her eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming...


                      • #12
                        Worker and population management

                        Here are some of the principles I use for population management and terrain improvement:

                        -- "Sherwood Forest scenarios" --

                        If you find yourself in one of those setups that is choking on forests and is not tundra, keep a healthy worker population to clear forests for the production bonus. Clear as quickly as possible in the ancient age to rush buildings and units. The extra shields won't be nearly as valuable when your cities are popping out 5 shields or more per turn. When you have defoliated the landscape return the workers back to the population. Best structures for this strategy is barracks and graneries, also temples on your border cities if you are not Religious.

                        -- Workers usually transfer population faster than settlers --

                        This is a point that is too often overlooked. If I just finished a Wonder or captured a city and have to slim down a city, which strips faster? For low production cities (less than 15 shields), it costs 10 shields per pop point for workers and 15 sheilds for settlers. A 10 shield city will strip three pop points with workers for every two pop points with settlers. However, once the shield production is above 30 the advantage shifts to settlers because so many shields are wasted to create one worker. I care about this principle if only I want to subtract pop from one city to add it to another. If I want to keep a population pool handy, though, I'll usually create settlers because the maintenance cost is half as much per pop point.

                        -- Strip from high food cities and add to low food cities --

                        This principle relates directly to your observation. I noticed this when playing Civ2 when you could make food caravans. If you create a logging or mining camp; pop two city working forests or mined hills, then you want the population at two as quickly as possible. Better to start these camps with a settler and worker immediately, because the shields are more valuable than the food accumulating in the food box.

                        When you play in vast stretches of desert and flood plain, you'll have to use the flood plain cities exclusively as settler generators to build up your pop two desert outposts. The same principle applies to terrain with a lot of hills and a river valley.

                        As a corollary, if most of your terrain is dry with little food, _don't_pop_rush_!!! You will be left behind in production and income by the other civs. On the other hand, if you have very few production tiles like hills or forests, you'll need to pop rush key structures like granaries and then mine all the surrounding terrain.

                        -- Your need for workers will shift through the ages --

                        -Game beginning to Construction-
                        You need workers more than population.
                        Strip up to the maintenance cost that Depotism allows.
                        -Discover of Map Making-
                        Add excess workers to coastal cities with harbors to get the extra income.
                        -Conversion to Republic
                        Desparately need cash, so add back all non-slave workers to the population ASAP.
                        -Discovery of Monotheism-
                        You are probably in Monarchy or Republic and desparately need cash.
                        Add back to population to create as many size 7 cities as possible,
                        even if one or two citizens are entertainers.
                        This helps Monarchy support costs, Commercial/Industrial player bonuses, and city defensive bonus.
                        Jiggle squares worked to slow population and maximize production.
                        -Discovery of Steam Engine-
                        Strip for railroad workers if you don't already have enough slaves
                        -Discovery of Sanitation-
                        Add back in when Hospitals are built up to carrying capacity

                        -- Managing slave populations --

                        Keeping a captured city rather than razing gives me choices in how and when to strip population. Of course foreign workers stripped from cities work half rate and require no upkeep, same as captured workers, but Settlers built with captured cities are also slaves and require no upkeep. Creating a city with a slave settler means the first pop point has the original civ's nationality, which usually isn't a problem unless you're at war with that civ or worry about culture flipping. If the nationality is of a destroyed civ then the distinction is academic. I usually keep foreign settlers around to make cities in a war zone or ones I intend to trade back to a neighbor.

                        Adding slave workers to a city population is usually a bad idea unless you _really_ need the pop boost. I'll usually sleep an idle slave rather than dump them into a city population (which happens too often with Industrious civs).

                        -- Side Note --

                        If you find yourself on an island, you _have_ to maximize worked tiles. That means nearly all your cities need to be sitting on coasts, and initially build as many small villages and camp cities as real estate or Optimum City Number will allow. Use the camps to generate workers for mining and use every shred of production to build building in the coastal cities (which will probably be short on shields anyway). Once into the middle ages abandon the villages as your large city populations will allow.


                        • #13
                          A great thread, with excellent contributions.


                          • #14
                            I have used workers like this many of times. I even use settlers to increase the pop in low pop cities. Remember that settlers will up the pop by 2. Thats provided the worker pump city is able to take a 2 pop drop. I am not sure if one settler is cheaper in shields then 2 workers?

                            I do things like contruct a new city on an island and immediately increase the pop by adding workers or settlers. For example, say there is an island I want to build on, I will load a ship with a settler and a few workers. Then I land, build the city and join the workers. This is if there is not much improving that can be done. If there are tiles fit for improving, I will use those workers for improving for a few turns then join the city. Sometimes I will bring two settlers and build a city with one and join with the other for an instant size 3 city

                            This also can be a good way to get a foothold on an enemy continent. Land and build a city on the coast, increase pop with workers and fortify a garrison. All of this can be done with two decent size ships. Just include a garrison on the ship with your settlers and workers. Depending on the size of the enemy forces you may need more or less units for your garrison. You could load one ship up fully with military units for the garrison and the other ship with settlers and workers.


                            • #15
                              Building on Dominae's comments:

                              When I saw the thread title, I did not expect the approach described.

                              Wanna build some GWs? If you can handle the happiness issues, take a river city with your best tiles up to 12 pop in the Ancient Era... you'll be blown away.
                              The greatest delight for man is to inflict defeat on his enemies, to drive them before him, to see those dear to them with their faces bathed in tears, to bestride their horses, to crush in his arms their daughters and wives.

                              Duas uncias in puncta mortalis est.