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Topic Subject: Tricky decisions abound in Abu
posted 04-26-22 01:39 ET (US)   
Having dispatched Selima Oasis in reasonably short order, it's time for me to tackle Abu before I move on to Saqqara.

As with the rest of this playthrough, I'll be employing the following 'personal rules':

1. Very Hard difficulty
2. No debt, and no bailout gift
3. Beginning no later than year 2, net positive cashflow every year
4. No personal salary (and therefore no gifts)
5. Maximum possible Prosperity rating
6. Maximum possible Culture rating, with 'Perfect' coverage of all religion, entertainment, and - wherever papyrus and linen availability allows - education and healthcare buildings

Subsequent posts will describe the planning and execution of the city.
Replies:
posted 04-26-22 02:38 ET (US)     1 / 14  
Initial thoughts

Local resources in Abu are varied, with 3 types of food, straw, flax and barley available to grow, gems to mine, and both sandstone and granite to quarry. This augurs well.

The only goods needed for housing and services which the city cannot produce from scratch are pottery and papyrus. But a generous total of 5000 clay, and a slightly more miserly 2500 reeds, may be imported. Should the available reeds prove insufficient, both Behdet and Men-Nefer will also sell papyrus. Both weapons, and copper to make them, are available from Timna.

Export options are plentiful, almost to the point of being overwhelming. Across the trade routes to Abedju, Behdet, Men-Nefer and Timna, it is possible to export (in decreasing order of profitability):

  • 5000 linen (half by land, half by water)
  • 5000 jewellery (water only)
  • 2500 papyrus (land only - note that trade partners will buy up to 5000, but only 2500 reeds are available for import)
  • 5000 beer (half land, half water)
  • 2500 gems (water only)
  • 5000 bricks (up to 2500 by land, and/or 5000 by water - note that only 5000 clay is available for import)
  • 25 granite (land)
  • 2500 barley (water)
  • 25 sandstone (land)
  • 2500 lettuce (water)

    And that's before accounting for over-quota exports by water. It is safe to say I will likely be drowning in debens by the end.

    But getting there won't be entirely straightforward. The map is a bit of a doozy, and poses several immediate challenges:

    1. There is little useable space on the east bank, where the largest expanse of floodplain and Kingdom road are located.
    2. Lots more floodplain is available on the large island, and a further small chunk on the smaller island. Working more than one of those floodplains might result in workcamps sending at least some workers on very long journeys to farms on different landmasses.
    3. Ferries to access the largest island (where the bulk of housing will have to be located) can only be placed at the southern end of the map, near the Kingdom road exit. Providing labour access to the east bank side of that ferry will be a little challenging, more so if I want to do it with decent quality housing.
    3. There is space for up to 3 mines/quarries on the large island, but any more will have to be located on the west bank, far to the south.
    4. The optimum site for a dock is at the northern end of the main island, a long way from any of the sites where gems can be mined (with the added complexity of a ferry crossing if mining takes place on the west bank).

    All in all, lots to think about...

    [Edited to add barley and lettuce to the list of possible exports, for completeness!]

    [This message has been edited by Caesar Alan (edited 04-29-2022 @ 00:20 AM).]

  • posted 04-26-22 05:25 ET (US)     2 / 14  
    Sorry, my reply was mistaken.

    By the way, I enjoy your walkthroughs.

    [This message has been edited by Brugle (edited 04-26-2022 @ 08:34 AM).]

    posted 04-26-22 23:31 ET (US)     3 / 14  
    Brugle I did spot your reply before it was edited - and momentarily wondered if the plethora of export options had proved so overwhelming I'd hallucinated bricks. Thankfully not

    I did, though, realise that I'd slightly misdescribed the options for exporting bricks (trade partners will buy up to 7500, more than it's possible to produce!). So I have edited post #1 according.
    By the way, I enjoy your walkthroughs.
    That is gratifying to hear, especially since it was your (far superior) walkthroughs that inspired me to keep a diary of my attempts this time round!
    posted 04-27-22 00:48 ET (US)     4 / 14  
    A few decisions

    At the risk of straying into philosophy, the first question I need to tackle is "what sort of city do I want to build?"

    The spectrum of possibilities ranges from a compact city which produces little more than what it needs, through to a sprawling manufacturing powerhouse with massive annual exports.

    Since Brugle's Island Abu already provides a masterclass at the compact end of the spectrum, I'd like to shoot for something more expansive.

    I will build on both the east and west banks, and connect both to the main island. I'm not yet sure if I'll also use the smaller island, but my initial instinct is "probably not". Lots of high-value goods (jewellery, linen, beer, possibly bricks) will be produced and exported. Some lower-value goods (likely granite, maybe sandstone) will be too.

    Housing

    A prosperity rating of 100 can be achieved, so personal rule #5 means it must be. In turn, that means I will need at least some common manors - minimum 3.

    My normal approach to luxury housing is very much "more is better", so I think it might be fun to try something a little different here and have the bare minimum number of scribes. That also means a higher proportion of my population will be workers, which is of course helpful for all that industry I'm eyeing up.

    Personal rule #6 means I'll already be providing the full gamut of services to all my housing, and it shouldn't be too tricky to also provide the food and goods necessary to evolve all other housing to fancy residence.

    With 3 fully-occupied common manors, prosperity 100 will be achieved if there are no more than 4200 people in fancy residences. So I'll build 3 common manors and no more than 45 fancy residences.

    With housing required on both the east bank (to staff the ferry and support working the floodplain there) and the west bank (for gems) as well as the large island, I'll need at least 3 housing blocks. Given the challenging terrain on both banks, and the need to support industry in multiple locations, I'll likely need 2 housing blocks on the large island (for a total of 4).

    [Edited to note that limiting the number of manors doesn't necessarily mean more workers overall, as it also limits achievable population]

    [This message has been edited by Caesar Alan (edited 04-27-2022 @ 07:54 PM).]

    posted 04-27-22 14:00 ET (US)     5 / 14  
    it was your ... walkthroughs that inspired me to keep a diary
    Which I copied from VitruviusAIA.
    posted 04-27-22 19:58 ET (US)     6 / 14  
    Which I copied from VitruviusAIA
    Something about imitation and flattery springs to mind
    posted 04-29-22 00:09 ET (US)     7 / 14  
    Dock placement and connectivity

    With both the river entry and exit points at the northern end of the west branch of the Nile, the optimum dock placement is on the western side of the main island, ideally as far to the north as possible.

    But there are only two water trade routes, so there is a little wiggle room for dock placement. I'm going to place mine on the stretch of coastline opposite the small island (precise placement currently subject to refinement!)

    Provided dockers can conduct their business efficiently (and absent any disruption to river trade) it should be possible to get 6 ships from each of Behdet and Men-Nefer in most years.

    Connectivity

    I've been vacillating about whether or not to connect my dock to the rest of the city. As in any other city (and perhaps even more so than normal), a disconnected dock has plenty of advantages in Abu.

    First, it guarantees dockers never wander far from the dock, ensuring a quick turnaround for all trade ships and maximising trade throughput. In Abu, this is particularly beneficial if you are mining gems of the west bank, as then the storage yard(s) to which jewellers deliver are almost inevitably very far from the dock. So it's vital that dockers never visit them.

    Second, it allows some additional control of goods which are tradable by both land and sea - specifically allowing you to choose to trade those goods solely by land. In Abu this allows you to export bricks to Abedju, without cannibalising more lucrative sales of linen/beer/jewellery to Behdet and Men-Nefer.

    Third, it allows for some additional control of how the city uses imported raw materials which have more than one use. For example, in Abu, clay imported by land can be directed solely to brickworks, while clay imported by water is directed solely to potters in the disconnected dock district.

    Finally, it can help ensure efficient production of papyrus from imported reeds (or linen from imported flax in other cities). Because papyrus makers (or weavers) will preferentially deliver their goods to schools/libraries (or mortuaries) that need them, production can be lost if they choose to deliver to a remote building. But if papyrus makers (or weavers) are in the disconnected dock district, they'll only have the option of delivering to a nearby storage yard.

    In my Abu, where I'll be providing school access to all housing, the schools on the east and west banks will pose a particular risk to efficient papyrus production.

    But all the design problems a disconnected dock solves can be tackled in other (albeit sometimes less convenient or less efficient) ways. Since I've never intentionally built a fully-connected city before, I think it would be interesting to do so here.

    So I'm going to connect my dock to the city, and add an additional personal rule for my Abu: all roads, including the (rerouted as required) Kingdom road, will be connected.

    [This message has been edited by Caesar Alan (edited 04-29-2022 @ 00:11 AM).]

    posted 04-29-22 20:28 ET (US)     8 / 14  
    Trade strategy

    All of Abu's trade partners will buy a range of goods - indeed each is willing to purchase rather more than their caravans/ships can possibly carry. So some prioritisation of exports is necessary. Unsurprisingly, I'm going to focus on exporting as much as possible of the most profitable exports.

    River exports

    For Behdet and Men-Nefer (Abu's water trade partners), that focus will reflect the possibility of (and make significant use of) over-quota exports. With roughly 6 trade ships a year expected, they can each feasibly purchase ~7200 units of goods/year.

    Since everything bought by both Behdet and Men-Nefer has a nominal annual quota of 2500 units, over-quota exports means it's possible to export (with minimal micromanagement) up to 3600 units of any one item.

    My plan is to export 3600 units of each of the two most profitable exports to both Behdet and Men-Nefer - that's linen and jewellery for Behdet, jewellery and beer for Men-Nefer. I'll aim to achieve that by switching off jewellery exports at the beginning of each year. Once the first 3 ships from each city have filled up on linen/beer (over-filling the export quota for those items), I'll then turn jewellery exports back on and fill up the remaining ships that year with jewellery.

    This avoids disrupting trade with any other cities, because Behdet and Men-Nefer are the only cities which buy jewellery.

    For this plan to work, whenever ships from Behdet and Men-Nefer reach port, they must have only one choice of what to buy - linen/beer for the first 3 ships of the year, jewellery for the subsequent 3. With a fully-connected city, that means - whenever a ship is docked - I cannot be actively exporting (i.e. have stock available for purchase in a storage yard and the good set to exporting) any of the following goods:

  • Gems (only purchased by Behdet)
  • Bricks (purchased by both Behdet and Men-Nefer, as well as Abedju)
  • Lettuce (only purchased by Men-Nefer)
  • Barley (only purchased by Men-Nefer)

    Choosing not to trade gems, lettuce and barley doesn't impact any other trade routes, but bricks are one of the more profitable options Abedju will purchase. While I could attempt to sell bricks to Abedju whenever ships are not docked, the level of micromanagement required doesn't really appeal. So my plan is to simply never trade (or even produce) bricks at all.

    Total planned river exports (eventually ):

  • 3600 linen and 3600 jewellery / year to Behdet
  • 3600 beer and 3600 jewellery / year to Men-Nefer

    Land exports

    Land trade options are a little less voluminous, but both Timna and Abedju are willing to purchase at least 3 things Abu can produce:

  • Timna will buy 2500 linen, 2500 beer and 2500 papyrus
  • Abedju will buy 2500 papyrus, 2500 bricks, 2500 granite and 2500 sandstone.

    Because only 2500 reeds are available for import, only a total of 2500 papyrus/year can possibly be exported. And, of course, once I place my 4 scribal schools the city will start using papyrus, consuming in the region of 1700 units/year.

    But until that point, papyrus (at a net profit of 134 Db) is the third most-profitable land export (behind only linen and beer). So I'll aim to export the maximum possible papyrus before I build scribal schools, and any surplus available thereafter.

    Otherwise, the very short distance between the Kingdom Road entry and exit points means both Timna and Abedju can send lots of caravans a year (in a brief test, I counted 8 caravans of 2 traders each by mid-September) so I may have unfairly maligned them earlier when I said they didn't have the capacity to buy everything on their 'willing to purchase' lists.

    In order to sustain that level of trader throughput, I'll need land traders to arrive, transact their business with maximum efficiency, and leave. To that end, a 'land trade area' with storage yards for all current land imports and exports will be built just across the ferry on the main island. Provided I can keep that fully-stocked with beer, papyrus and linen then I'll be maximising my potential profit from land trade.

    As detailed in the section on river trade above, I've already ruled out trading bricks with Abedju, so that leaves papyrus, granite and sandstone as the only goods I can sell to them. Once papyrus sales are maxed out, 2 granite and one sandstone quarries on the main island will deliver directly to the land trade area.

    Whatever surplus papyrus Abedju does not buy, Timna will. Along will 2500 linen and 2500 beer/year. The land trade area will be kept liberally supplied with both; this is important to ensure traders from Timna can always complete their purchases in the land trade area, and don't traverse across the city to the storage yards filled with linen and beer by the dock.

    Total planned land exports (eventually):

  • 2500 linen and 2500 beer / year to Timna
  • 25 granite and 25 sandstone / year to Abedju
  • Across the two routes, 2500 papyrus/year initially, falling to ~700 once the city begins using papyrus.

    Imports

    With all the goods it can produce for itself, Abu only really has need of 3 things: pottery, papyrus and weapons, each of which may be made from imported raw materials or purchased directly. Dealing with each in turn...

    Pottery

    Once fully developed, the 48 houses in the city will consume 1152 pottery/year.

    Timna and Behdet will both sell 2500 clay, far more than the city will need. Both, as well as Men-Nefer, will also sell pottery.

    To avoid potential interference with my river export strategy, the city will not import any of the goods sold by Men-Nefer. That means no imports of pottery (or papyrus), so the city will make pottery from imported clay.

    Both Behdet and Timna will sell clay. Because the city will be fully-connected, whenever the city is importing clay either will be able to sell it. To ensure dockers don't visit the land trade area to sell clay, one of the storage yards very close to the dock will accept the full import quota of clay (likely 800 units). Similarly, one of the storage yards in the land trade area will also accept the full import quota of clay.

    Those storage yards will distribute clay (and nothing else) to 3 potters located near the land trade area. Deliveries from the storage yard in the dock area will (intentionally!) be slow; the storage yard in the land trade area is sufficiently close to keep all 3 well-supplied.

    Weapons

    Weapons will be needed to develop the 3 infantry forts I plan to build (one on each of the east bank, main island and west bank). I could import weapons directly, but copper is significantly cheaper (albeit still pretty pricey).

    As funds allow, copper will be imported from Timna via a storage yard in the land trade area. That storage yard will distribute copper to 4 weaponsmiths located nearby.

    Papyrus

    With directly importing papyrus ruled out (see above), the city will make papyrus from imported reeds.

    Behdet is the only source of reeds in the scenario. A storage yard adjacent to the dock will hold imported reeds and distribute them to nearby papyrus makers.

    Papyrus makers will deliver directly to a storage yard in the land trade area. Once the city starts using papyrus, I plan to use 1 (possibly 2?) BSY(s) to help distribute papyrus and minimise production losses from papyrus makers delivering directly to schools.

    Sequencing

    My first export industry will likely be papyrus. Even accounting for the cost of reeds, it's still the 4th most profitable export.

    But importantly, it's an export I can start producing immediately in reasonable volume. Beer and linen will need to wait for the first harvest, and jewellery has high startup costs (them gemstone mines ain't cheap!).

    So I'll develop it alongside my flax/barley farms as priority #1.

    Priority #2 is linen sales, and lots of them. I'm likely to be limited by the harvest in years 1 and 2, but as my most profitable export I want to ramp up sales as fast as I can.

    Priority #3: Beer. With much of its infrastructure shared with the linen industry, the marginal cost of adding beer production is pretty low.

    Priority #4: jewellery. It sells for a good price (between linen and beer), but the high costs of gemstone mines in particular means it takes a little while for the investment here to pay off. The previous priorities provide a faster payoff.

    Priority #5: Stone quarries (granite/sandstone). The comparatively low prices paid for both goods means I'll likely get to these last. But they're also cheap to build. I'll see if I can squeeze them in at an earlier stage, if only so I can extract as much money as possible from Abedju.

    [This message has been edited by Caesar Alan (edited 04-30-2022 @ 05:41 AM).]

  • posted 04-30-22 06:07 ET (US)     9 / 14  
    I ... wondered if ... I'd hallucinated bricks
    I did hallucinate that you hadn't mentioned bricks, and hope that my brain hasn't failed again this morning.

    I think it will be hard to avoid having dockers going to the land trade area to sell clay (once the clay storage yard near the docks is full), and probably hard to avoid having Timna caravans going to the water trade area near the dock to sell clay (on the rare occasions when the clay storage yard near the dock is not full). If you can avoid that I'll be impressed. (As you know, nowadays I typically connect all roads, and usually limit trade to avoid problems such as these.)
    posted 04-30-22 11:28 ET (US)     10 / 14  
    I think it will be hard to avoid having dockers going to the land trade area to sell clay (once the clay storage yard near the docks is full)
    I was worried about that too, and am grateful for the insight.

    I've done a fair amount of poking around in some of the more detailed threads on docker and trader behaviour here, but still have much to learn.

    And I'm still very much getting my head around the challenges of building a fully-connected city.

    For clay imports, my plan was to set clay to 'import to maintain' as little as possible - probably just 400. The storage yard in the dock area would be set to 'accept 1/4' clay, and the one in the land trade area to 'get 1/4' clay.

    My (somewhat naive) hope was that if there is already 400 clay in stock across the two storage, then neither dockers nor traders would attempt to sell clay. And whenever city stocks fall below 400, then there would necessarily always be sufficient space for the required imports in both storage yards.

    But it occurs to me now that merely having sufficient space in both storage yards may not be enough to ensure the appropriate storage yard always has the best selection value.

    Time for some more reading...
    posted 04-30-22 13:28 ET (US)     11 / 14  
    hope that my brain hasn't failed again this morning
    It did (fail again). I apologize for any needless worry. Getting old (and having strokes) is not fun.
    My (somewhat naive) hope was that if there is already 400 clay in stock across the two storage, then neither dockers nor traders would attempt to sell clay.
    Not naive at all. As far as I can tell, that should always be the case.
    it occurs to me now that merely having sufficient space in both storage yards may not be enough to ensure the appropriate storage yard always has the best selection value.
    True. But the distances are large, so if the number of empty bays is roughly the same in both places then I'd guess it would be OK. It might be better to not have anything else in the clay storage yards (except something that won't change, such as straw).

    Since Timna caravans should travel through quickly, I'd expect more clay would be bought from Timna, so the mainland clay storage yard shouldn't be very busy getting clay.

    [This message has been edited by Brugle (edited 04-30-2022 @ 02:50 PM).]

    posted 04-30-22 16:00 ET (US)     12 / 14  
    I apologize for any needless worry.
    No apology necessary. You were simply doing what you always do: offering honest advice. Absolutely no harm done.

    I'm genuinely enjoying the process of learning the underlying algorithms in more detail (while remaining thoroughly in awe of those - like Trium and yourself - who did the work to reverse engineer them!). I think it's my long-buried science training coming out to play.

    Some quick (and somewhat rough and ready - I'm still not sure I've got the relevant 'access distances' right) calculations suggest that stock levels in the two storage yards could well tip the balance of which storage yard is chosen (particularly when it comes to traders from Timna). Keeping them both empty of anything else seems like the safest bet, but I am going to crunch the numbers more thoroughly to see if I can figure out how much safety margin I might have for other approaches.

    Since I'm now talking about access distances, could I test a few of the assumptions I'm using when trying to work them out?

    The working assumption for my calculations has been that the only tiles considered impassable for the purposes of calculating the 'access distance' are those occupied by impassable terrain (which I think is just rocks in Pharaoh) and buildings. And therefore that the following tiles are all considered 'passable':

    1. Water tiles.
    2. Tiles occupied by ferry landings
    3. Floodplain tiles - whether or not occupied by a farm, and whether or not a road currently crosses into a particular area of floodplain.
    4. Roads within entertainment venues (and stages?)

    If, in the course of your previous testing (or elsewhere), you've come across anything that suggests those assumptions might be wrong, please shout!

    [This message has been edited by Caesar Alan (edited 04-30-2022 @ 04:38 PM).]

    posted 04-30-22 18:11 ET (US)     13 / 14  
    stock levels in the two storage yards could well tip the balance of which storage yard is chosen (particularly when it comes to traders from Timna). Keeping them both empty of anything else seems like the safest bet,
    A few hours ago I edited my previous post, adding the phrase " (except something that won't change, such as straw)", so the selection values could be tweaked and maybe avoid this problem.
    The working assumption for my calculations has been that the only tiles considered impassable for the purposes of calculating the 'access distance' are those occupied by impassable terrain (which I think is just rocks in Pharaoh) and buildings.
    The access distance is over tiles that could be crossed by walkers. Water tiles are passable only through a ferry crossing. I'd guess that floodplain tiles are passable only if you can get on and off the floodplain and not over a farm that shows, but probably over an invisible farm that has been partly submerged. I'd expect any part of a festival square would be passable. Don't forget that when calculating the access distance, you only move NE, SE, SW, and NW.

    [Off-topic: The access distance is also used by a getting storage yard cart pusher when choosing which non-getting storage yard it will go to. From some research I did recently for Humble Hetepsenusret, the base of a pyramid is passable when no stone/bricks have been placed (which makes sense--some walkers will pass over it). So at least one getting fish storage yard cart pusher will go to the wrong accepting fish storage yard until the first layer of the grand pyramid complex is built.]
    posted 04-30-22 21:53 ET (US)     14 / 14  
    The access distance is over tiles that could be crossed by walkers. Water tiles are passable only through a ferry crossing. I'd guess that floodplain tiles are passable only if you can get on and off the floodplain and not over a farm that shows, but probably over an invisible farm that has been partly submerged. I'd expect any part of a festival square would be passable. Don't forget that when calculating the access distance, you only move NE, SE, SW, and NW.
    That is very helpful. Both in terms of my understanding and in terms of what it does to my calculations.

    Assuming I've got my numbers right (which at this point is still a somewhat risky assumption), then I shouldn't need to worry about dockers trying to take clay to the land trade area. For dockers selling clay, the selection value of the SY in the dock area should always be lower than that of the SY in the land trade area, irrespective of the stock levels of either SY.

    Similarly, when traders from Timna enter the map, if it's clay imports (rather than copper imports, for which they'll have precisely one choice, or any of the possible exports) that is driving their their choice of SY, then the selection value of the land trade area SY should always be lower than that of the dock SY if one of the following conditions is met:

    1. The land trade SY has at least 2 empty bays
    2. The dock SY has at least 1 full bay

    Both of these can be arranged either by allocating additional (intentionally unused) space in the land trade SY, or by filling part of the dock SY with an inert good (straw being the obvious option).

    Where I think I might have more problems is once Timna's traders have arrived at the land trade area. With the large differences in access distances no longer featuring in the calculations, there are rather more combinations of stock levels in the two clay storage yards that would send them off to the dock district to sell clay.

    Again, making the dangerous assumption my calculations are correct, if the dock SY always has at least 6 full bays (because it's 3/4 full of straw, say... ), the land trade area SY should always be the preferred destination for Timna traders selling clay.

    So then the only reason Timna traders would make the long trek to the docks is if the SYs in the land trade area run out of linen and/or beer to sell. Which doesn't sound at all tricky to avoid

    [This message has been edited by Caesar Alan (edited 05-03-2022 @ 04:13 PM).]

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