Last week brad did a journal discussing the fallen enchantress economy. You can find the full text here:
Since then I’ve spent a week or so digesting it since I didn’t want to react to strongly to a system we haven’t seen working in practice. But now I think it’s time to discuss our feelings and expectations as far as we are able to.
Go ahead and make your own reactions if you like, my own are below:
Broadly, I like it. It represents a shift away from worrying about food, housing, and everything else to achieve civilization growth and towards a system that “just works,” where growth happens without the player having to worry about it, or able to gain a huge advantage by doing it faster than everyone else. The breakdown of population into farmers, workers and rebels is a novel way of combining an unrest% and productivity. Individual tax rates are a great mechanic that I have been crying out for for years. Replacing level up bonuses with buildings is just far more sensible. Some people have mixed feelings about random buildings, as with traits, but I suppose it acts as a levelling factor if nothing else, and prevents players applying the same old strategy every time.
However, I do have some reservations. In many games tax rates become irrelevant because players just leave them at the highest level that doesn’t cause a rebellion, so there needs to be other factors involved. It depends how it works. If very high taxes just increases the number of rebels by 10%, but this doesn’t pose a problem, then the mechanic becomes pretty meaningless. If it creates rebels at a rate of 1/turn, and after a long enough period this results in a full rebellion then it could work. Players can get away with high taxes only in the short term. I also like the way that the total war games do it, where increasing taxation has a negative effect on population growth.
I'm also confused by the seemingly contradictory statements that food no longer exists, despite brad talking about it later on in his post. For the following I'm going to assume that all food is local, and that it determines population growth in the settlement that produces it, and that this growth will somehow fall as the population grows, and need reinforcing through other means.
So what me about the new economy, is the perpetuation of the much malingned multi-city prestige penalty by another means; ie, the penalties to growth. While we all want to have some penalties to shift the balance of power a little to the smaller civs, and prevent city sprawl, this is almost certainly not the way to do it. The problem with applying this penalty is firstly it is absolute: it purely penalises you for having numerous of settlements, whereas what it should penalise you for having too many settlements RELATIVE to the means of supporting them. For example, the United States and Russia are both larger countries with similar populations, however, the united states is able to support many more large cities than Russia due to its higher level of development. In game terms, it produces much more food relative per unit land area. Secondly, the multi city prestige penalty fails to distinguish between small outposts being used to grab resources, and large towns that are being grown. So it encourages players to found no cities that they don’t intend to grow to maximum size. The game should be encouraging players to have a range of different settlement sizes, because this will allow players to grab resources more easily. These resources can then easily change hands because they are poorly defended, or influence flip due to the presence of enemy large cities nearby. In other words, allowing players to build more settlements but develop fewer of them, would make the pioneer rushing LESS important. The multi city penalty arguably encourages the player to develop several largely identical medium sized settlements, because any settlement not developed is a waste.
Getting the player to distribute populations cleverly has become harder with the removal of global food. However, I would propose the following simple fix within the new system: ditch the absolute multi city penalty. As a direct penalty for large civilizations, an admin gold cost would be much easier to swallow. Instead of a growth penalty, make growth generally lower, but allow small settlements to direct food to larger settlements with caravans, giving the larger settlement some of the smaller settlement’s growth. This way the player can found settlements as he likes (whose allegiance can easily be flipped by influence, devaluing the pioneer rush), but a style of play where growth is concentrated in a few large cities is encouraged, because 10 extra citizens are worth more in a large city than a small one, due to its superior infrastructure.
Generally though, the system looks like one which will let us get on with the game, which is great.