Thursday, May 4, 2017

Military City Builds: 5/6/7 Food

Greetings, cannon fodders.

One of the questions that I am asked the most is how to choose between 5, 6, and 7 food cities. Today we will look at five basic military city builds: one real 7 food, two real 5 food, one theoretical 6 food, and the starter 5 food. All five towns are vanilla standard builds that could be found in any military or tournament account. These are military builds meant to aggressively produce troops. If you want a guide to pursuing 10+ towns or building legendary cities, you must look elsewhere. A military account built using these templates will top out at 8 or 9 cities, depending on your personal design choices.

Before you begin this article, I recommend that you go back and read The Basics of City Placement and Building a Standard Military City. While those articles are now over three years old, many of the concepts contained within them are still entirely valid today.

The Bottleneck

The key thing to understand about military city builds is that there is always a bottleneck. Choosing a different resource distribution will shift the bottleneck around, but it can never be eliminated completely. For the cities being discussed here, we will work with the following assumptions:

  • Full library
  • Allembine Scribes research
  • No prestige boosts to resources
  • 0-5% taxes
  • All resource plots completed
  • Two military cost reduction buildings at 20
  • No negative basics

These assumptions are very typical for any established military city in full troop production mode.

The stats presented below are considered a stable baseline for a PvP city in prolonged warfare. Many experienced players will point out that people will drive their basic resources negative in order to build troops faster, shipping in the deficit resources from gold farms and support accounts. My personal feeling is that this is a risky approach to warfare. Depending on how negative the resources are running, hitting 0 while negative can cause troop sov to collapse or even cause cost reduction buildings to delevel. This can be caused by a single large thief strike, a troop strike, accidentally queuing advanced resources, or just plain making mistakes in shipping around the correct resources. For the same reason, I am not overly fond of relying on geomancy boosts to troop production resources. Geomancy magic can be attacked by enemies. Even a Vault 20 will provide only several hours of protection from catastrophe when running negative basics.

All that said, many serious tournament players will run negative basics because they know the precise start date of the tournament, and they are very unlikely to face a troop, thief, or magical attack at a moment's notice. For warriors in a real war, caveat emptor when running negative basics.

A Chart!


Figure 1: Resource bottlenecks for typical PvP city builds.

The bottlenecks are highlighted in red.

Keep in mind that the tax assumption is 0-5%, so the basic resources are produced at 120-125%.

Let's talk for a moment about resource distribution. Every city produces four basic resources--wood, clay, iron, stone. The chart above is NOT arranged in that fashion. If you refer to the guide for Building a Standard Military City, you will see that the cost reduction buildings for each major troop type will consume a different pair of basic resources. Specifically, the troop buildings will consume 135/hour of a major resource and 55/hour of a minor resource. The resource distribution chart above is broken into four categories:

  • Major. This resource is consumed at 135/hour by the cost reduction buildings.
  • Minor. This resource is consumed at 55/hour by the cost reduction buildings.
  • Neutral. This resource is not consumed by the cost reduction buildings, and at 5 plots is not the bottleneck.
  • Lowest. In distributions where one resource is 4 or 3 plots, this plot always becomes the bottleneck.

For example, in a sword town, the two Infantry Quarters consume stone (major) and iron (minor). If you were choosing a traditional 7 food resource distribution, you would allocate the 3 plots to either wood or clay. This would lead you to find a 3w-5c-5i-5s-7f (leaping deer/fertile ground) or 5w-3c-5i-5s-7f (wheat/abundant crops) tile.

Please note that for the 5/5/5/5/5 resource distribution, there isn't really a "lowest" resource that creates a bottleneck. There are two neutral resources. This specific point will be discussed in depth in the section for the 5/5/5/5/5 build, as it has powerful implications for how far you can push the troop sov in that particular resource arrangement.

Traditional 7 Food Fortress

Our first city to consider is the traditional 7 food fortress. Most cities outside the N00b Ring are a 7 food city on plains. The bottleneck to a typical 7 food fortress is the 3 plot off-resource. However, there are two advantages to a traditional 7 food fortress. First, the additional farm production gives you the ability to grow the city bigger (not that important for PvP), or to raise the tax rate higher on a bigger population base (very important for holding large tournament armies and PvP reserves). You might also choose to keep the taxes considerably above 0%. For example, you can run a 7 food military city at 40% taxes and still deploy 250% troop sov.

Second, you can see from the chart that the major and minor cost reduction resources still have room to run. This means you can build a third cost reduction building. While each level will only give you a 0.375% cost reduction, once your army grows large you may become interested in reducing gold burn another 7.5%.

You can also interpret the overhead in major/minor/neutral a different way. Since your 3 plot is the only resource holding you back, many tournament players will choose to run negative on that one resource, and just ship it in from different towns. This will allow you to propel the 7 food fortress sov up into the 340% range, as if it were a more production-oriented 5 food build. This approach is not recommended for novice players, but it is a technique used by many tournament titans.

You might ask why it's relevant to have a +40% boost on the major plot at 0% taxes, giving it a +5000. Good question. The reason is that as you raise the tax rate, your resource production is going to sink, but your troop buildings will consume at the same rate. This setup will prevent you from going negative in your major resource (a terrible idea) when you are running medium taxes and medium troop sovereignty. Once you get above 50-60% taxes, your major resource will go more deeply negative than your 3 plot off resource.

Non-Traditional 7 Food Fortress

Some players elect to construct cities on 7 food jungle forests with less than 25 resource plots. The most common build appears to be a 7 food 5/4/4/3 distribution. I have not built one of these cities, but I think we can safely infer some properties when compared to a traditional 7 food fortress.
  • The Major plot at +5000 (+40% boost) remains the same at 5.
  • The Minor plot at +2500 (no boost) drops to +0 at 4. Booster might be required to compensate.
  • The Neutral plot at +5000 (no boost) drops to +2500 or less at 4. Not a big deal.
  • The Lowest plot at +0 remains the same at 3 plots.

On the surface, this seems just as effective as a traditional 7 food 5/5/5/3 build. At 0% taxes, it probably is. I believe that the resources would strain when raising the tax rate. Remember, the key advantage of a 7 food fortress is that it is better for holding large reserve armies at high taxes, and offers the ability to run medium taxes (50-65%) and medium sovereignty (200%). If your 7 food jungle build detracts from this flexibility, then that tradeoff needs to be considered very carefully.

6 Food Citadel (5/5/5/4 Build)

I have never built a 6 food citadel. There are quite a few advanced players in the game who favor them. At 0% taxes, this build is interesting in that the Major resource and Lowest resource are simultaneous bottlenecks. It is clear that such a city can comfortably run 300% sov. It also offers the option to push harder into the 340% sov range. You might require a geomancy boost to the Major resource in order to reach a full 340% sov.

Finally, the 6 food build offers 20% more population flexibility than the 5 food builds. This means that it can either support a larger final population (not really interesting) or much more easily raise taxes when your armies are fully built (definitely interesting). It would probably have more flexibility than a 7 food city for the medium tax, medium sov scenario, although understandably the city would be running those taxes on 6/7th the potential 7 food population.

I will state for the record that I have seen people reach 10 cities with some 6 food towns, but I don't really know how hard that is, or where the cities really top out.

5 Food Workhorse (6/5/5/4 Build)

The Workhorse build is for the die-hard PvP player. These squares are almost always terraformed, since the 6/5/5/4 resource distributions are from forests, hills, mountains. It is challenging to find a standalone tile with the correct distribution, surrounded by plains, in the area you desire.

Take careful note of the Major and Minor resources. The boosters in this example are not set to a full +40% yet. This means that the Workhorse can easily build up to 2.5 or 3 cost reduction buildings. It is a build dedicated to constructing large PvP armies. While it can reduce the gold burn on those armies, as a 5 food build, it is not as efficient as a 7 food city for holding massive reserves. Therefore, I would describe the Workhorse as the tool of a PvP player who has excellent external support via gold farms, prestige sales, or other means of generating gold.

The Workhorse is a great option for areas with high troop boosts, such as:

Just remember that without a gold farm, the upkeep on your armies will melt your eyeballs.

5 Food Troop Monster (5/5/5/5 Build)

The balanced 5/5/5/5/5 resource distribution can be a true Troop Monster. If you ignore all cost reduction buildings, you can push your sovereignty into the 400% range. Really, this is the greatest strength of the Troop Monster build. For a hardcore PvP player, it isn't a big deal to demolish all cost reduction buildings, and then just rebuild them if gold burn gets too high. There is no better build to go guns blazing into the bitter end of a war.

Examining the resource consumption, we can also see that the Major resource is the only real bottleneck. Boosting the Major resource with geomancy magic will allow you to sneak in a few extra sov IV, pushing beyond 340%.

I have personally gone back and forth about which build is better, the Workhorse or the Troop Monster. The Workhorse feels like a better build for a stable PvP city, where the owner isn't building up and tearing down troop buildings and sov every couple weeks. That said, the Troop Monster is a powerful tool for getting another 15-20% in troop production power (about 60% extra sov on 340%). If an account were put into a total military corner, the Troop Monster offers the best option to swamp your enemies with troop production. That's assuming you can stomach the gold burn of having no troop buildings, which is a very big assumption in Illyriad combat.

Balanced 5/5/5/5/5 squares are plentiful in all plains areas of Elgea and the Broken Lands. No terraforming required. If you did want to terraform a hardpoint somewhere, the 5/5/5/5/5 is the human starting distribution, so it's very easy to find someone to terraform a Troop Monster mountain for you.

5 Food Starter City (7/5/5/3 Build)

Dwarves, elves, and orcs will all start with a 7/5/5/3 build. Each race automatically receives a distribution that will enable cost reduction buildings for their favored units. Dwarves get 7s/5i (infantry quarters), elves get 7w/5i (archer fields), orcs get 7c/5i (spearman billets). So can you build a PvP town out of a starter city? Sure, anything is possible.

Examining the chart, we can see that the 3 plot is what's going to limit your troop sovereignty, just like a 7 food 5/5/5/3 build. The starter city is different in that you can proceed immediately to 3 troop buildings, assuming you want to build a really big army. The downside is that unlike the 7 food 5/5/5/3 build, there isn't really an option to slide taxes around to improve gold production but still efficiently produce troops. I will say that if a new player just wanted to pitch in for a tournament, or learn about troops and battle, that using the starter city with one of my Lightning Build packages is definitely an option.

I do know a small handful of players who actually terraform using these distributions for special purposes. That is a highly specialized build, and not one that will be covered in this article.

Build a Portfolio

I will end this article with a good piece of advice about your whole account. Most players just focus on individual cities, trying to determine which build is "best". Envision your account as a stock portfolio. There is no such thing as the "best" stock, or everyone would already own it. There are many situations where having a mix of PvP city builds can provide a significant advantage. I have personally built my account to have a mix of Traditional, Workhorse, and Troop Monster cities. Some carry larger armies in peace, and some produce troops faster in war.

In the future we will talk about gold farms to supply these mighty troop assembly lines, but for now...

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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