Part 17: Mechanics: Detailed mechanics of the food and production boxes
I did find that it is possible to avoid the civil disorders though! When the food box is full, simply make a citizen an Entertainer, then the next turn the city will grow (even if it has no surplus) and the Entertainer will remain, so it won't riot. I heartily endorse!
Yep, you can (usually) do that. On the other hand, it just makes you trade a turn where that city produces nothing due to civil disorder for one where the city produces basically nothing because its only citizen is an Entertainer instead of something productive. A slight profit I guess.
Knowing that the city will grow regardless of surplus if the Food box is full is very useful though; I was meaning to talk about that one of these updates.
What's interesting is how differently the Food and Production boxes work.
To ignore buying units and talk about how natural Production works, units appear if the box is full AFTER that turn's shields are added to it. So if you end a turn with 1 shield short and your city has 2 surplus Production per turn, you will get the unit at the start of next turn and the box will be completely empty (with 1 shield wasted).
When you buy a unit, you fill the box and it will therefore be produced next turn, but BEFORE shields are added for that turn. Let's say you buy a unit or building or whatever but then shift tiles worked around to make your surplus Production go negative. At the start of next turn, the unit is built and then it or other units are automatically disbanded until you hit 0 surplus Production. Regardless, the box starts empty again, so any positive surplus Production is wasted.
You can therefore achieve a slight advantage sometimes by shifting citizens around to work, say, tiles that provide additional Trade or Food and less Production such that the Production box will exactly fill at the start of next turn instead of there being extra shields that are wasted.
These mechanics also play into a cheesy exploit called "partial rush-buying" which some people have mentioned but which I don't generally do. The gist of it is that you can buy a unit or building for much less money than it's supposed to cost by exploiting the production mechanics and the fact that you can freely switch what your city is making with no shield loss as long as it's still the same category- even AFTER buying whatever it is (in Freeciv you can't change after buying, preventing the exploit). Let's say you want a 40 shield Settler and you have 11 surplus Production but only 7 shields in the box. Well you COULD just buy the Settler and get it next turn. But that would be expensive. And it would waste your 11 shields for next turn. Instead of paying for 33 shields of Settler, you can change what you're building to a Warrior and pay for a much cheaper 3 extra shields of Warrior, putting a total of 10 shields in your box. Then immediately change to making a Phalanx, which you are 10/20 shields done with. Pay to finish that, putting you at a total of 20 shields in the box. Now switch to making an Archer which you are 20/30 shields done with. Pay to finish that. Now switch to making a Settler which you are 30/40 shields done with. Do NOT pay for that. Just end your turn. Your 11 shields will be added to the box and you'll get the Settler. You wasted only 1 shield instead of 11 and saved a pile of money. If your city produces less than 10 shields, you'll need to pay for the last 10 of the Settler too, but you still save some money.
Anyway, the Food box works very differently. Growth occurs or does not occur if the box is full BEFORE surplus Food is added to it. So if your box fills, your city will grow NEXT turn. And it will grow next turn even if your surplus has dropped to 0. Or below 0. Your city will start next turn 1 size higher with its new surplus in the box. Except if that surplus is negative, the box will just start at 0 rather than have the city shrink immediately. Ugh, the game is full of so many weird exceptions to its hidden rules that it takes me hours of experiments to find anything out for sure.
Once again, you can possibly score a slight Production or Trade advantage by working tiles that give more of those and less of Food such that you still fill the Food box. However, you probably want to shift back to Food tiles on the turn the box is full because the more of a surplus you have then, the more you'll have starting in the larger Food box next turn.
What happens when Settlers are built? As we know, the Settler costs the city 1 size. If the Settler would be built by a size 1 city, then you can either have the Settler NOT be built afterall (and the whole Production box of shield is wasted) or disband the city and have the Settler appear, supported by another city. But if the city building the Settler is already size 2 or something, it just shrinks and the Settler is produced like any other unit.
So what if the Settler being finished and city growth to size 2 are both supposed to happen at once? If you end your turn with the Food box completely full and the Production box fillable by next turn's shields, the city grows and THEN you get your Settler. So it all works out perfectly. Just make sure to remember that you don't grow when the Food box fills, you grow the turn after. So if both boxes are about to fill at once, you will not get your Settler and 40 shields will be wasted.
Oh and speaking of Settler stuff, if your city shrinks to build one, then its current Food in the box is put into the smaller box for the smaller city size. This quite possibly fills it immediately, in which case it will grow the next turn. That's nice and efficient. Any surplus Food beyond what would fill the now smaller box is wasted though.
Edit: I think I will indeed try for a 1500 AD conquest run after this. I was waffling until I started up a random game and got starting techs and position better than I even imagined were possible.
Delenda est Carthago!