Old World: So you’re in a hurry?

, | Game diaries

It can take a long time for your cities in Old World to finish whatever they’re doing.  Whether you’re producing a worker, a scout, a military unit, walls, a treasury, or a gardener for your lavender grove, it can take literally years.  Sometimes as many as a dozen!  Who has time for that?  Which is where hurrying comes in.  It’s a tradition in strategy games like this.  If you want that settler now, you can have it.  So long as you pay extra.  

But like many elements of Old World, it doesn’t work like you might expect, and it’s not very well documented.  You can puzzle over the tooltips, but the overall concept isn’t explained very well.  Here’s what Old World has to say about itself: “Hurrying can be unlocked with Laws, Archetypes, or Family Classes.”  Not terribly helpful.  So let me explain hurrying in the kind of detail you need to actually take advantage of it.

One of the observations you might make during your early games of Old World is “Boy, [resource X] sure is useless, because I have a lot of it and nothing to spend it on.”  But optimizing in Old World is often a matter of setting up the “bandwidth” to convert specific resources into improvements, specialists, units, and so forth.  Hurrying is one of the most important elements of this bandwidth.  Consider that any given game of Old World is going to last no more than 200 turns.  So when you spend 7 turns making a worker, that’s 7 fewer turns the worker can spend building improvements and 7 fewer turns of benefit from those improvements.  Naturally, getting the worker out earlier is probably a worthy investment.  The same is true to varying degrees of anything you build in a city.  Sooner is better.

And that’s where hurrying comes in.  Whether it’s a worker, a wall, a warrior, or just a simple farmer, the sooner you get it out, the sooner you can start capitalizing on your investment.  

But Old World has a ton of flexibility when it comes to converting resources into faster production times.  In other games, you usually spend money.  Simple, intuitive, to the point.  But in Old World, you can use civics, training, money, citizens, or orders, as indicated by the buttons under whatever is currently being produced in a city.  Here’s the familiar city screen:

And in the lower left, here’s a close-up of a treasury in production, with the buttons along the bottom for civics, training, money, citizens, and orders:

You’re probably accustomed to most of these buttons being faded out so you can’t use them.  In the above example, I have no option to hurry that Treasury.  Why not? How do I get those buttons to light up so I can use them?

Civics: You can’t hurry hurrying

The first thing to know about hurrying is that it’s always available, without you having to do anything.  That’s what civics is for.  Sure, there are other uses for civics: implementing laws, appointing council members, arranging marriages, diplomatic missions, city projects, specialists, and so on.  But one of the primary purposes of civics is to hurry production.  Any city can use civics to hurry any unit.  Let me repeat that because I don’t think it’s obvious:

Any city can use civics to hurry any unit.  

It’s that simple.  With one important caveat.

A city can’t hurry until it progresses its cultural level from Weak to Developing.

This caveat is true for all hurrying.  You will never be able to hurry production in a city until it accumulates 100 points of culture and progresses from Weak to Developing.  You might be accustomed to the olden days of kickstarting a new city’s development by hurrying an obelisk, granary, and library.  But Old World is having none of it.  Until you get those 100 points of culture fair and square, your city will have to take its sweet time with whatever it builds.  For all the different options to hurry, for all the different resources you can use, the one hard-and-fast rule is that it will never happen in a Weak city.  Never.  Never ever.  Don’t even think about it.  If you see that drama mask as the icon for your city’s culture level, you have no recourse but patience.  It’s going to take as long as it’s going to take.

These are the two fundamental rules about hurrying.  1) You can always use civics, but 2) you need a city that’s Developing or better.

(As a quick aside, another hard-and-fast rule is that a damaged city can never hurry production.  Which is why it might be a good idea to plink a little damage onto a city as you’re sieging it.  It’s also a good use of your Spymaster’s Treachery Mission.  When you inflict ten points of damage, that city will need to spend three turns repairing the damage before it can hurry production.  Treachery isn’t just a way to weaken a city’s defenses; it’s also a way to shut down any sudden reinforcements.)

So what about those other buttons?  What does it take to light them up?  What are these “Laws, Archetypes, and Family Classes” mentioned in the ingame encyclopedia?  Let’s look at your options one button at a time.

Training: Hurrying with Zeal!

The second button is for training.  Training can be used to hurry in one very specific situation: you must have a Zealot leader, you must have a State Religion implemented, and your State Religion must be present in the city.  If you meet all three requirements, you can spend training to hurry whatever your city is producing.  This is one of the main advantages of a Zealot leader.

Money: Hurrying gets complicated

The third button is for money.  But this gets more complicated, because there are three ways to light up this button, yet only one of them is referenced in the tooltip.  Furthermore, each option has limits on what can be hurried.  This will be a recurring theme with hurrying from here on out: how you hurry also limits what you can hurry.

The easiest way to hurry with money is to appoint a Judge as governor.  This is one of the main advantages of Judges; put them in charge of a city and then shunt money into that city to hurry production.  Remember that money and raw materials are interchangeable.  You might think you don’t have much money, but if you’re sitting on a stockpile of food, ore, or stone, you’re also sitting on a stockpile of money.  A few quick clicks to sell off resources and — voila! — look at all that money.

But now we get into the limitations of hurrying.  A Judge can only hurry specialists.  Remember that all city production is either spending growth for civilian units, training for military units, or civics for projects and specialists.  Your Judge governor can only spend money to hurry specialists.  Think of him as doling out commercial contracts for who can set up businesses, or appointing priests, doctors, and officers.  With a Judge in charge, your citizens can pay to play.

The second way to hurry with money is innate to Patron family cities.  But whereas a Judge spends money to adjudicate specialists, Patrons spend money to sponsor projects.  Think of the city leaders spending money to sponsor walls, treasuries, forums, festivals.  They’re patrons for the city’s projects.

The third way to hurry with money is Holy War.  Part of the overarching structure of Old World is the tech trees walking you through a series of mutually exclusive choices called Laws.  Each tier of technology includes two or three Law choices that fundamentally change how the game plays.  One of the relatively late-game technologies is Martial Code, which gives you the option for Holy War or Pilgrimage.  If you choose Holy War, you can spend money to hurry military units, but only in cities with your State Religion.  It’s a bit like the Zealot, except that it costs money and it must be used on units.  Note that workers and settlers qualify.  Despite the name Holy War, they don’t have to be military units.  But Holy Wars let you spend cash to get them into the field more quickly.

Citizens: Hurrying with…wait, what is that icon?

The fourth button is a weird one, because it’s not a common icon and it’s not a resource you spend often.  Citizens are the population of your city that hasn’t been converted into specialists.  And by the time you get to a mid- to late-game tech called Manor, you’ve probably got a ton of citizens faffing about in your cities without much to do.

This is where Volunteers, a Law unlocked by Manor, comes into play.  Now all those unused Citizens are a new resource you can spend to hurry anything you want.  Unlike the rest of the non-civics hurrying options, Volunteers are extremely flexible.  They aren’t limited to specialists, projects, or units.  They can hurry any of them!  It doesn’t matter what kind of city or whether it has a governor or who your leader is.  They can still hurry anything your city is producing!  But keep in mind there’s a limited pool of citizens available, they replenish slowly, and you might want to save some of them to convert into specialists.

Orders: I hereby command you to be produced more quickly! 

This is another fairly complicated option, and the tooltip only tells you about one of them.  As with money, there are three ways to hurry with Orders, and they’re all fairly specific.  The first way to hurry with Orders is to appoint an Orator as governor.  Orators can hurry projects, much like Patron families can sponsor projects.  But whereas the Patrons throw money at projects, Orators make speeches about why your city needs walls, treasuries, archives, festivals, and so forth.  Fueled by Orders, an Orator’s power of speech gets projects done.

The second way to hurry with Orders is to research Doctrine, a mid-game technology that lets you choose between Orthodoxy and Tolerance.  If you choose Orthodoxy, you can hurry specialists with Orders, but only in cities with your State Religion.  Remember how Judges can spend money for specialists?  With Orthodoxy in play, your State Religion can do the same thing using Orders.  By opting to enforce orthodox doctrine instead of tolerating multiple religions, your Orders can declare when citizens get to be specialists.  That’s not going to happen in some pluralistic city where anyone can believe whatever he wants!

The third way to hurry with Orders is to have a Commander leader.  Because, naturally, she’ll just command that something gets done.  But, being a Commander, she can only do it with units.  And it can only be done in your Capital city because a command can only carry so far.  So, again, very specific, but you have fewer hoops to jump through to make it happen.

The long-term costs of hurrying

Finally, two quick notes about hurrying.  First, each method will get more expensive as you use it in any given city.  The cost varies by the number of turns you’re hurrying, of course.  But it also keeps increasing in that city over successive uses.  This is one of the reasons you’ll want to know all your options for hurrying.  It makes the most economic sense to use a variety of methods in a variety of places.

Second, hurrying will cause discontent.  But you should think of this as part of the cost and not a disincentive!  Discontent is building up your cities no matter what you do.  You can’t avoid it.  You can mitigate it, and as the game progresses, there are ways to reduce it.  But you can’t avoid it.  So don’t let it stop you from hurrying.  The benefit of getting what you’re building sooner will almost always outweigh the additional discontent.  That said, be on the lookout for an end-game technology called Fiscal Policy.  One of its Law choices, Monetary Reform, removes the discontent penalty from all hurrying.  All the hurrying with none of the unhappiness!