Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #54: The Tyrannosaurus: Update Economy

MrNo

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I'm about to be out of things until friday night, so final thoughts for now

Yes, this is correct. I think I mentioned it somewhere before but it's probably buried in a wall of text.
I hadn't realized this conversation went back further than one page. I'm afraid I don't have the time to read all of it right now, so I'll get back to that later - though if you were willing to repeat yourself it would make my life easier.

Thing is, although you get pop and sectors earlier, this also wastes many early pops and the first sector on non-yields. Your second sector is earlier than if you didn't invest in food, but your second useful/non-food sector is actually later, and similarly for pop/non-food pop. And, along the way you are making food instead of energy/research, you've lost 18 turns of useful yields to have a slightly faster gain later.

That's the reason that my food strategies lose out in total yields to '1 worker', all the way until turn 73. And even after that, it's possible that by having the higher performance in the turns prior, the city has generated more benefit towards victory, through speeding the empire's snowball instead of delaying it.

So, and I haven't run the math on this yet, I suspect the overall yield evens out pretty quickly. Once you hit the goal population, you can just dump food entirely (barring upkeep, which should mostly handle itself b/c base income) and go into whatever resource you want. That should take 3 turns tops. You've got more yield producing sectors than you would have normally at that point, along with the pop to man them - they should catch up rather quickly.

I briefly ran numbers in my head on the 8 pop one - it doesn't turn out too good. But a lot of that comes down to how little time it shaves off - and how much you can cut down the transition time. I suspect that as the time saved to develop a given yield rises, value increases. 12 pop should perform better.

I'll be back in a few days. Don't have too much fun without me ;)

Edit: Realized I was baking this in implicitly but not stating it: I play MP occasionally and am aware of the fast paced meta right now, and that time for payoff is running short when you hit ~turn 16. I also know from the relay rush experience that food/colonist pickups will probably speed things up by 3-5 turns.
 
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HousePet

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That is exactly what I did (I have no idea why you're saying I didn't). That's why 'full workers (stop at 12)' exists, you switch all workers except 1 (to prevent starvation) once you hit 12 pop. And that's why it spikes at turn 62 compared to the otherwise-similar 'full workers without stopping'.
Oh, I thought the "stop at 12" meant keep 12 workers on Food.
 

Apoplekt

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Aight guys I messed up. Found two typos in my formulas that *almost* cancelled each other's effects, but growth was still slowed by a small amount which favored not trying to grow.

Edit: I found some more minor errors so I'm going to shelve this until I have to time to weed it out properly.
 
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Apoplekt

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Okay, I'm back. The new (and hopefully correct) results look like this:

foodv2.png


This looks a lot more like expected.
  • 'No effort' is top if the first 20 turns are very important, but not by very much.
  • Otherwise, it looks like 'full workers (stop at 12)' is the best overall.
  • Adding a single food worker to no effort produces a significant improvement after turn 35, for very little penalty in the prior turns.
So much of the earlier hoo-ha was unfounded (sorry), and it turns out that food workers are useful. However, they are still only useful for making your third sector appear earlier. You lose out if you try to gun for a 4th sector without any external sources of food, as it only hits on turn 141; switching all workers away from food after reaching 12 pop is the best way to go.

Of course, much of this is moot in an actual game where there are biodomes, doctrines etc. And coastal cities should definitely never give up on 16 since aquatic sectors more than pay their own food upkeep with zero investment.


---

In response to the 'what if we had even MOAR food' speculation, I did one extra case.
  • Maximum food workers as pop and slots allow
  • First sector is food
  • Food sector gets +1 level when you hit 5 pop
  • Food sector gets specialization when you hit 6 pop
Of course, this is a grossly unfair comparison because none of the other sectors or strategies get any sector levelups or specializations. But anyway...

foodv3.png


It considerably outstrips the stop at 12 strategy from turn 38 onwards. That isn't very impressive considering the unfair advantage it had, and being so much worse in the 37 turns prior would be quite detrimental to your game as a whole. But if you are playing map settings that ensure long games (like large continents with few players), then it'd be a good bet. Notably, though, switching workers off at 16 pop is very important, which further highlights the uselessness of population once it stops unlocking new sectors.

So, and I haven't run the math on this yet, I suspect the overall yield evens out pretty quickly.

So I guess you have your answer here, even with upgrade and specialization it takes 37 turns to break even. Although it is significantly better afterward, I wouldn't count that as 'evens out pretty quickly'. And it gets worse if the other strategies get to upgrade+specialize, say, an energy sector...

You've got more yield producing sectors than you would have normally at that point

This is not correct very often. Comparing against the full workers (stop) strategy, max investment (again, bear in mind unfairness) still can only maintain 'more non-food sectors' for 15 turns throughout the entire game, turns 33-47, where it has hit 16 pop and the other has not reached 12 yet. It actually has lower non-food sector count for 9 turns, turns 6-12 and 18-19.

---

As a final note, any external sources of food (pickups, doctrines or nodes) are always more beneficial to low-pop cities as they are a greater fraction of the next pop. So I'd conclude that on the whole most factors point towards 'full workers (stop at 12)' as the optimal strategy, with edge cases favoring 'no effort'/'1 worker' or 'max food (stop at 16)'.
 

The Mentat

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According to my own calculations the values get very different if you factor in the sector upgrade structures (for every sector type, not only food of course). More precisely my comparison is based on the following assumptions:

  • The annexed sectors are level 3, get immediately upgraded to level 4 and in the following turn the sector structure is built. For food this means -25% food needed for growth and no food upkeep, for energy/research it’s +2 income for every worker in energy/research.
  • The central building is either a Reactor Core or a Biofarm and the Economist doctrine is already active when the city is founded.
  • The basic food income is 20, so no ressource nodes in the domain.

I compared essentially three scenarios:

A Reactor Core as central structure and no food sector

B Reactor Core as central structure and first sector is food

C Biofarm as central structure and no food sector


In case A I got the best results if the player fills first the food slots (maximum 4) and clears them when the city reaches size 8: Non-food yields are around 2100 after 30 turns and 800 after 20 turns.

If the workers are removed already at size 4 the player gets 1900 at turn 30 and 1000 at turn 20, but the city is only size 6 after 30 turns.

Other options are clearly worse: 1700/900 for no food workers, 1800/800 if workers get never removed.


B requires of course a possible level 3 food sector around the city. But according to my calculations the outcome after 30 turns is better than in A.

Optimally you keep again workers on food until size 8 (maximum 8 slots): After 30 turns the city has collected 2400 ressources – at this point city size is 14 – after 20 turns 1000 ressources. (During the first 12 turns exactly 0 yields though, except from the Reactor). Almost equal (and with even higher long term benefits) is to keep 8 workers on food until size 12: 2400 at turn 30/700 at turn 20.

For no food workers it’s 1800/700 and for food workers until size 4 it’s 2200/900.


Finally with Biofarm: This leads to a good early output. While in A the totally collected ressources are higher until turn 10, C surpasses it shortly afterwards. This is due to the early second sector. Long term income is also okay but not as good as B:

If food slots are filled unit the first sector gets available you get 2200 at turn 30 (city size 10) and 1100 at turn 20. You get the same values if you keep food workers up to size 8.

No food workers: 2100/1000

Food workers until size 12: 2100/900


While I tried to take all the important effects into acount I can’t guarantee that the calculation doesn’t contain some oversights and errors. But for now I’d say that food sectors can be viable if you have access to a level three type and upgrade it as soon as possible. Otherwise Biofarm is a good choice as it outproduces the Reactor Core very early (faster access to an additional sector has a huge impact now).


EDIT: Found already an error: The turn 20 results didn't contain the production from the Rector Core. So scenario A and C are now about equal at turn 10.
 
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Apoplekt

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@TheMentat
Well first let me congratulate you for being more hardworking than I am and considering more permutations of factors. Based on a quick modification of my spreadsheet, your calculations also seem to be in the right ballpark (although I can't guarantee no errors).

That said, pulling food workers at size 8 (when no food sector) and size 12 (with food sector) wasn't something I had thought of. It's true that that would squeeze more juice out of the specializations, as the food one benefits all pop regardless of assignment, while the energy one doesn't. But it seems a little contrived because that's something you would never do in game (you'd want to reach 12 or 16 after all), and it's very geared towards a turn 30 final verdict while ignoring the rest of the future. (I might still try it in a future game though.)

It was useful to learn that non-food specializations benefit food strategies, since they make population less worthless (+1 net yields becomes +3 instead).

However, including many upgrades and specializations in the calculations is a prickly problem, because they cost a significant amount of production; and yet you can't just deduct the production from the yields because production "isn't worth as much" as energy/research, stat for stat... Each sector upgrade could have made another trooper, and each specialization another two. And what would we count the worth of a unit at, and does it generate some kind of returns as well? Is it too much sacrifice to always build the economic upgrades immediately? It's too much to consider on paper, I think.
 

The Mentat

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Yeah, considering production costs for upgrades is difficult and the upgrade speed is not exactly accurate as well. I assumed 1 turn for upgrading the sector and 1 turn for constructing the structure which is usually unrealistic.

While the evaluation is indeed centered around the results at turn 30 it's clear that cities with food sectors will be even more ahead afterwards. I agree that the optimal allocation of workers might be different then though.