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Draco's FAQs IV

Questions:

16. What's the deal with those Market Ladies? They never seem to go where they are supposed to!

Impressions concedes that the manual was severely lacking in explaining exactly how the markets are supposed to work. The number one reason that you may be having problems supplying goods to your housing may lack of information - knowledge is power! If you know how they work with the system, you can work within the system. It's all a part of the challenge of governing a powerful Roman city!

Designers at Impressions completed every scenario in the game prior to its release, have grown cities in excess of 18,000 population and have built city blocks of 8 luxury palaces in every scenario with the commodities to make this possible. They don't build long roads with no intersections, but build normal city blocks.

For markets, in a city of 10,000 people you may have 23 markets: 5 for each of 3 population centers of mid-level housing (200 tiles of housing per population center) and 8 for your palace block of 8 luxury palaces (since palaces require more commodities, market buyers need to make more trips to more different granaries/warehouses). Apparently, they don't have any trouble with either "Market buyer" walkers or "Market trader" walkers, because they know how the Market Ladies "work."

The source of the frustration seems to be due to a lack of understanding regarding how the market walkers function, leading to either misplacement of markets or the granaries/warehouses where they get their supplies. Impressions has offered the following advice on how it is supposed to work:

Each market puts out 2 walkers, a "market buyer," and a "market trader." The "buyer" goes from the market to a granary/warehouse and returns with goods, carried by little boys each of whom will carry one cartload (100 units) of a particular good. Market buyers will only buy one commodity at a time. They will only buy commodities that the "market trader" from their market needs to distribute (based on the needs of the housing that they pass by). Market buyers do not wander: they make specific trips to specific warehouses/granaries that have a supply of the commodity that they need to buy next. Market buyers have the same graphic as market traders, you can tell the difference by right-clicking on them to see if they are a buyer or a trader, you can always spot a buyer if she is followed by a line of boys carrying her purchase, or you can usually tell by their behavior.

Important things to remember with "market buyers"

  1. It is highly important to keep the warehouses/granaries that the market buyers must walk to within easy reach of the markets. Otherwise the market buyer will spend an inordinate amount of time walking across the map to a source of a particular good and by the time she returns her market will have been completely emptied by the "market trader" distributing stuff to housing. In this case, the "market trader" is left spinning her wheels: she keeps walking around but her source market has no food/goods so she is not distributing anything to the houses she passes. Click on the various markets to see what they contain. If you need to transport food/goods across the map, do so by using warehouse/granary "Get" commands, don't make market buyers travel too far.
  2. Since "market buyers" need to make a specific trip to buy each type of good needed by the housing its "trader" passes, the higher the level of your housing, the more trips the buyer must make. The quickest way to avoid trouble here is to use twice as many markets for villas/palaces as you use for Casa/Insulae level housing. This will help insure that if a particular market is currently lacking 1-3 commodities of the 7 needed, another nearby market will likely have those commodities. Since buyers buy what is most needed, this will not be a static situation. In addition, this problem is worse when housing first evolves: the houses have no supply of a particular good and therefore have a high demand for it. Once they are supplied with it, their demand decreases. Impressions thinks of this as filling up the pipeline. For example, when your housing first reaches Grand Insulae level, they have no wine. The markets they are supplied from likely have no wine. It takes awhile for wine to be given to all of the houses and you may see some devolution in the meantime. Once they all have a good supply though, they only need to replace what they use and the "trader" needs to deliver less and eventually the buyer has bought enough to fill up both the houses and the markets with a large supply.
  3. Market buyers choose their destination when they set out from their market, based on what they want to buy and the quantity of that item in your warehouses/granaries. If multiple market buyers are drawing from the same source, it may happen that the source is dry, or nearly so, at the time the buyer gets there. She will buy whatever's there and return. There does not seem to be a specific limit to how much they'll buy, they will return with at least up to 8 "boys" carrying one cartload apiece and sometimes even 12 or 13 boys on occasion. There are a couple of things you can do here: ensure a bountiful supply so that the warehouse/granary is more likely to be full when the buyer gets there and, if you are overproducing, pop up a few extra granaries/warehouses to receive your surplus: some market buyers will draw from one while others draw from another and, again, they will be more likely to find more to buy when they arrive. If you have a large area of farmland supplying a granary that has either a large number of "Get" carts drawing from it or a lot of market buyers drawing from it, or both, you may find it much more effective to build 2 or 3 such granaries instead (since each "get" cart or market buyer takes a large amount, it is possible that the next to arrive finds an empty granary even if you are overproducing). Ditto for warehouses.

Market Traders are like other access walkers: they don't have a set route and they don't have a specific destination. They use the same algorithm to randomize their route at every intersection (the algorithm makes it highly unlikely that they will repeatedly follow the same route). Market traders distribute food/goods to housing that they pass by, as long as the housing needs that type of food or that particular good for its current level of evolution or the next level above it (so it will be given what it needs to evolve, but not things needed several levels above: to prevent waste of food/goods by housing that you don't want to evolve). Market traders report back to their markets the needs of the housing they pass, so that buyers will know what to buy. Each market trader is associated with the specific market that created her: she can only deliver items that the market contains (the market contains things that have been brought to it by its buyer). Unlike buyers who buy one commodity at a time, a market trader will deliver up to 8 different items to every house she passes (assuming her parent market has a supply and the house has a demand).

Important things to remember with market traders:

  1. As with all other access walkers, too many intersections may result in traders not going down a particular road for a long time, resulting in periodic devolution of houses on that road. (2x2 plaza tiles are pretty, but don't build 2x2 intersections).
  2. When housing first evolves to a higher level, it can take awhile for the market ladies to supply all of the houses in their area with the higher levels of food/goods demanded/consumed. At first, these houses will have a low supply and therefore the market trader will be delivering large quantities quickly, emptying her parent market quickly, and then she walks around uselessly until the buyer can re-supply her market. You may notice that the first several houses she passes are supplied first and evolve, while ones passed later get fewer supplies and take awhile to evolve. There are two things you can do: a) Wait a bit. The houses supplied first won't be given so much on later passes and eventually all houses passed will have a good stockpile of goods and finally the market itself will have a stockpile. Basically, it takes a bit of time to fill up the pipeline from the warehouse/granary to the market to the houses. b) Build more markets. This will accelerate the process if you have plenty of food/goods in your warehouses by creating more market buyers to bring goods from the warehouse/granary to the markets. Eventually, these excess markets can be leveled. I prefer choice (a): if my market traders are going past all of my housing and my granaries/warehouses are within easy walking distance for my market buyers, I know that my housing will evolve and stay stable once the pipeline is filled and the traders have plenty of stuff to deliver when making their rounds.
  3. The main cause of frustration comes from markets being empty due to market buyers having to walk too far for their purchases, resulting in market traders having nothing to deliver (or only some of the commodities needed) to the houses they pass, and from the initial instability of recently evolved houses due to the time it takes for them to build up a stockpile of each type of commodity that they need to maintain their new level. The first is a city design issue entirely under your control. The second is a natural occurrence in any market economy (just like the need for signing up on a waiting list at your local EB for the next hot title, to be sure you get a copy before the initial shipment is sold out). You simply need to be aware of it and of your options for dealing with it.
17. Okay, I got all that. But where should I place the Markets for maximum efficiency? Sometime, the Market Lady walks right past a full granary to one that is clear across town!

Considering how a market buyer chooses where to get her goods is absolutely critical to neighborhood layout. Turns out that a market buyer chooses which granary or warehouse is closest to her not by following the roads you've laid out, but rather by using an "as the crow flies" methodology. In most cases, the two are the same. Some people tend to lay out their cities very symmetrically. However, many would keep running into a problem with a market buyer who was going to a granary very far away rather than the one that seems, to the human mind, the closer one.

While a granary may appear closer by way of the road network they must follow, the market buyer figures the distance by drawing an imaginary line between her home market and the "closest" granary. This imaginary line will be the shortest distance between the two points, and will cross open land, buildings, statutes, aqueducts, whatever. This is how the market buyer figures the distance. The fact that she may have to follow a complex road structure a very far distance, even walking through another granary, does not matter. To her, the one that was the shortest distance, "as the crow flies," is the "closest" granary.

If two or more granaries are equidistant, no one is sure how a market buyer chooses which granary to use, but Impressions thinks it's something like: "If two granaries are equidistant, then she'll choose the one that's to the north and west and use that one". If you have ever been driven crazy by a market buyer because it seems she is "ignoring" full granaries or warehouses, just remember that she's not. She's just chosen another granary or warehouse that, to her mind, is just as good as the ones you want her to go to. You can adjust this situation either as it happens or you can consider this before ever building your city.

* Special thanks goes out to "IClaudius" for designing a perfectly balanced map to demonstrate for Impressions how frustrating this "as the crow flies" methodology is in relation to granary selection.

18. I'm having a little trouble getting started, any tips?

Before I build, I plan my city in advance. First, set your game speed down to "10." Then, I build the first road circle for my housing, and put down about 4 reservoirs w/aqueducts to make sure I am covered for fountains throughout the city.

Then, I delete the initial "road to Rome" that appears in the map, b/c I do not want my walkers going down clear across the map. Your immigrants/land traders do not need the initial road to reach your city. Your only roads should be near you housing, and the one connecting to the farms. This ensures maximum walker coverage. They are basically walking in a big circle around your housing.

I try and start out with one 7x7 or 9x9 tract of housing, 2 prefectures, 2 engineers, 2 doctor's clinics (if you have enough, you don't need a hospital right away b/c your people will never get the plague), 4 farms, a granary, one, maybe two, markets, and a temple to each god. Be sure to put at least one, maybe two prefectures, and one engineer's post over by your farms as well. After you've put down your housing, I like to raise the speed to around "70" or "80."

Next, prioritize your labor on the Labor Allocation screen. I usually assign the following priorities: 1) Fire Prevention (i.e., prefects); 2) Water Services; 3) Engineering; 4) Food Production; 5) Military (if I'm building one); 6) Industry and Commerce; 7) Governance/Religion (gotta keep those tax dollars flowing in and the gods happy!). I do not assign priority numbers to Entertainment and Health/Education, because if I'm short workers, my Labor Advisor will split my remaining workforce evenly between the two.

I then slowly build, noting the subtle differences each new structure adds to my city. I add luxury/public buildings only as the people ask for them, and hold my housing at Hovels and Casas. Then, I open a trade route, build a dock and warehouses right next to it. I usually specialize one warehouse for receiving imports, and one for gathering exports from my city. Set the warehouse storing imports to "Accept" only the goods you are importing, and set the warehouse storing your exports to "Get Goods" of the stuff you'll be selling. Set all of the other goods to "Not Accepting."

Then I start producing the most expensive product I can sell. Don't sell raw materials; sell finished products, like pottery, wine, furniture, or oil. 1 raw materials pit provides for 2 workshops--I usually plant down 4 workshops initially. Later, Ill add more. Here's a little secret that you may or may not know.

If you're a little short on housing to fulfill your workshops to get your trade going, put down 6-8 housing tiles near the shops. Put a well or 2 near them. You don't need a market near them b/c tent dwellers "live off the land." That should provide the labor you need to man the shops. If not, lay some more. Then, once you upgrade your housing later, and have your first signs of unemployment, delete that rag-tag housing and kick those bums out of there! Eventually, they would hurt you prosperity rating, and the crime rate would be very high, leading to "civil unrest."

Your goal is to become a tight, efficient, profit-producing machine. You will need the extra cash you have from not expanding too quickly, and the cash from your exports, for those $1000 forts and military academy if there is a military threat. Towers are cheaper than forts, build lots of them.

Mars should be the first temple you build. Hold a large festival for him right away. What you want is to get the "protective spirit" he gives you when he is "exalted." This spirit will help kill the invaders of your first attack. Once you've got a nice stash of cash, upgrade your housing by making pottery available to them, then rapidly expand w/more farms and housing. Add luxury buildings, i.e., schools, academies, hospitals, entertainment, etc.

You don't need a Senate until your housing upgrades b/c the taxes are so low, it's almost pointless to collect them. Lower your taxes to around 4% (it will make your citizens happy), and raise them to around 9-10% later. You make your real money from trade (a note about trade—my experience has been that trading partners buy more if you buy something from them in return. While they complain if you don't buy anything, I cannot prove that they buy less). Try and make what you purchase something small and cheap, like meat or clay).

Congratulations! You're well on your way to turning a huge profit, sprawling across the countryside, and walking all over your enemies! Hail Caesar!

19. Bonus!

I noticed that the Roman solider on the cover of the Caesar 3 box (and the woman looking adoringly up at him) have remarkably human faces, while the Roman citizens in the background are obviously computer generated. Moreover, the woman is prominently displaying a diamond ring on her left hand. When I inquired about this phenomenon, Impressions essentially confirmed that it is indeed the face of David Lester, designer extraordinaire of Caesar 3, and his lovely wife Heidi!

After further investigation however, it is *not* David Lester. The woman dressed as a market lady is indeed Heidi Mann, one of the design team members (she's not married to David Lester). So who is the prefect? Impressions isn't saying. The current theory being tossed around is that he vaguely resembles a slightly older, greyed, Darrin Horbal. Since he is the Art Director for C3, he would be in one hell of a position to have himself portrayed in an heroic light!

Of course, that's just one theory.

20. On my Financial Advisor, there is an entry for "Sundries" and "Interest at 10%." What do they mean? How much tribute do I have to give Rome?
Sundries are expenses like festivals, or losses from theft. The Interest expense only occurs if you are in debt to Caesar. Think of it like the interest rate on your credit cards. When you have run out of money for the second time, Caesar charges you 10% on the credit you run-up with Rome's vaults. Impressions has explained that tribute is collected at the beginning of January. If your city is not profitable that year, the amount is based on the size of your population. If your city *is* profitable that year, the amount is either 25% of your profit, or a fixed amount based on the size of your population (a greater amount than that for unprofitable cities), whichever is greater.