More Caesar IV observations

Finally, a review of Caesar IV that sounds like they have actually played the game: 6 out of 10 at Eurogamer. Most of the other reviews I’ve seen hardly look beyond the fancy 3D effects. (Of course this is an industry where over 50% of all titles rate 4 out of 5 stars.)
I’m almost done with the Republic campaign (cities 6-12) and things are still pretty easy. Rebuilding Carthage isn’t challenging yet, though it helps to understand some basic principles of the city system. Here’s how I play it:

Your first objective in almost any city is to get trade up and running. This will give you more income by far than sales tax or small villa property tax at the start.
In choosing which trade route to open, the costs to open a trade route are sometimes a hint as to which routes are best to start with. Luxury goods are usually my first choice, they can be running with the least delay. For basic goods, glass and pottery take the least delay; olive oil will take a few months, and clothing a little longer. All food resources have a delay in production, and aren’t really worth trading anyway.
Open one or two trade routes right away, and place the depot in your city. When you open a new route, you will have to wait until January for the caravans/ships to start arriving. (Sometimes a trading dock is unreachable, but the game won’t say anything about it. If no ships appear in January, you may need to relocate the dock.)
A typical trade route will want 50-60 basic goods or 15-25 luxury goods per year. That’s going to be an income of 2000-3000 denari for each good you are able to get trading. It is easiest to get one industry up and running at a time, considering the population management you’ll need to take care of in the first year.
Build the “harvesting” buildings first. For a typical trade route (50 basic goods or 25 luxury goods) three harvesters should be good. Put them in a cluster near the resource; walking distance isn’t really a factor in production time, unless the harvesters are 100 or more tiles away.
Here’s the trick to getting manufacturing going smoothly: only bring one or two factories online at a time, until they have 4-6 of the supply resource in stock. This is more important than building factories close to harvesters. When a factory goes to get supplies, the cart will get as many as it can carry back to the factory. If each harvester has only gathered 1 unit, the wagon will have to make a round trip for a minimal amount. By allowing harvesters to start with a surplus, the wagon trips will be more efficient.
Once the online factories have a surplus supply, open up one or two more factories. They, too, will fill up.
The rule of thumb is that you can build two factories for each gatherer. Once your gatherer:factory ratio is 1:2, you should be able to maintain a constant surplus in the factories. Let’s call this the distribution principle: the amount of raw resources stays constant (or increases very slowly) when there are two factories for each gatherer, due to buffering on each side. A corollary of this principle is that if you open all of your gatherers and factories at the same time, you will be stuck with inadequate raw materials for production, because the empty buffers will never get a chance to fill up. (If this happens, close/mothball most of the factories, let the buffers fill up, and reopen the factories one at a time.)
With three gatherers and six factories you should be able to supply 25 luxury goods or 50 common goods for trade each year.
Warehouses and trading depots operate on a similar sort of buffering principle. When they go to get goods, they will take as many as they can carry. With six factories to choose from, chances are one of them will have at least four goods to pick up. By the time the cart makes a round trip, another factory will have four goods available. Distance isn’t much of a factor if you have the correct buffers in place.
If you pick the right trade good at the start of the mission, you will almost always be ready for Caesar’s first demand/request for goods. He’ll usually want 100 raw resources, 50-60 basic goods, or 20-30 luxury goods. By the time he makes his first demand you should probably already have your second trade route up and running, so the demand won’t be too much trouble.
For storage, one warehouse (or trade depot) for six factories (basic or luxury goods) will suffice, if the goods are going to be consumed/exported. You might, of course, need more storage due to a demand from Rome. If Rome demands timber you will probably need three spare warehouses. With only three timber camps you can easily fill three (probably four) warehouses in a year.
My rule of thumb here is that you will need about the same amount of land for each of the three housing types. Pleb housing takes 36 small squares, Equite takes 81 squares, and Patrician takes 144 squares. That is 36 Plebs homes or 8 Equite homes or 4.5 villas in the same amount of space.
Start with 12 Plebian homes and 4 Equites. Place all five temples (75 Equite jobs) so they cover all the housing. With perfect coverage they gods will give you good bonuses, and your Equites need something to do anyway. Pump house plus reserviour plus clinic will keep all Equites employed.
Make enough Plebian housing to start gathering the needed resources. Start a sheep farm right away so you don’t have to wait when you decide to start making clothes. Start an olive farm and a grape farm if the level allows. Wine is a good trade export. One grove/vineyard per factory, or one farm for two factories, is about right. Again let the buffer fill up before opening new factories.
With 12 Plebian homes you have a workforce of 840. With each basic good you supply you will get another 480 workers, enough to start at least one more industry. Once all Plebian homes are fully evolved, you can add additional Plebian homes for 150 workers each.
Even though the rotation of buildings is not supposed to affect how they function, some buildings can still be blocked by neighboring buildings. All buildings are able to receive goods, but then carts can’t take items away or service people aren’t able to leave.
I have seen this with granaries — a granary will be full, but the food markets never take anything out.
Aqueducts are a particularly nasty problem. I had an aqueduct crossing a road, with a gladiator school on one side of the aqueduct and some building on the other side. The gladiator school could receive weapons and could train gladiators, but they couldn’t exit the building (the exit was on the aqueduct side). Of course the game didn’t provide any warning about this.
Once you have food distribution and some common and luxury markets up you can create the villas. Give them plazas and Odium access (and a bathhouse?) and you will get decent property tax revenue from large villas.
For exotic goods you are going to take a 1500+ denari hit for each good. Set an import limit (from the trade advisor -> import/export screen) of 10 to avoid bankrupting your city. Once each villa has picked up the new exotic good, you will need only a small trickle of each exotic good each year.
I haven’t built any mansions yet, so that’s about all I know.

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