It's true, the small organization that you set up at the first seconds of the game is, most of time, always the same and serves the defined objective consisting in feed a constant stream of villagers trough the town center, things are getting harder once this goal reached.
The first thing you have to wonder when you organize your economy is : what strategy to use ?
Elements to take in account are :
- Direct food resources availability (berries, hunting, fishing ...)
- Wood, stone, gold proximity
- Also the chosen map type
If you try a flush on an arabia map, you will to put almost all your villagers on the food. But if you try an economic boom on a continental map, most of your villagers will be wood choppers.
There is of course plenty of variants between theses 2 options according to map conditions and the strategy you wish to use.
Once you got your economic strategy, you have to ensure that your resources are gained in the expected proportions. It is not rare to figure out that, for a reason or another, your resource income do not match with your expectations.
This is more obvious when you lack of experience, but this happens also to experimented players .A known error, ex : reach feudal age and figure out that you forgot to start getting the 200 gold, having inactive or wrong placed villagers ... and you have a wood, gold, stone or food overload.
Thing is if you have too much wood, you probably lack of another resource, and then the problems begins. Either you will waste some time, either you will loose the game ...
The best way to balance the resources income is of course to gain experience, and to not hesitate to train doing blank starts, versus the computer. It won't prevent you to do errors in your organization, but at least you will limit them.
There are several ways to correct your economy. the simplest way is to spare your villagers changing their task.
The easiest case to correct is the one where you have too much wood, but you lack of food. You just have to build farms with this wood overcome, and it's ok.
You will sometimes need to create a counter balance in your task reorganization in a way to regain the needed resources, even if you have to redo the contrary once your error is fixed.
Most of time this reorganization is a bit penalizing, but it takes a minimum amount of time to be effective. But, there are cases where you can't wait. The moment you get the 800 food to start the castle age researching is a good example of a critical resources lack case. If you don't have the 200 gold available, its the panic.
In this kind of cases, the market becomes an essential tool to buy what you lack of, but of course, this correction has a price, on a tax form. Finally, there is a rule that you have to follow trough your games :
Never stock a big quantity of resources, except if theses resources will be used to research an upgrade. If you have a resource overload, make an army, increase your population, or research upgrades.
In the case where you get the maximum population, and your troops are fully upgraded, think about giving tributes to your allies if it is useful for them.
A spared economy is not always an efficient economy. If your villagers have to cross long distances to bring what they collected, if obstacles are on their way, if they are in crowded places, then its a waste of time.
The location of your mills, mine camps, lumber camps must be optimized to avoid this kind of problem. If the camp is too far away from the wood, rebuild one closer, if your villagers are too much crowded, split them in 2 groups and send the other group in another exploitation site.
On the other hand, your economic upgrades have to be done a good way, according to your needs : if for example you only have few farms, their upgrading is not a priority.
Its not a secret, villagers are the main element to collect resources . We saw the importance of sparing them to maximize their efficiency.
To this, you have to add 3 things. First, you have to protect them the best you can, either from the environment (wolves) that from enemy armies. So the Loom research is important,do it either on dark age or feudal age. It will protects you against hungry wolves, ease the boar hunting, and even kill enemy scouts.
You can't send 2 villagers build an advance base to your enemy base if they aren't protected with Loom.
A second way to protect them is to build palisade wall around them, so they aren't disturbed in the resources collect.
A third solution consists in split them in several groups (wood choppers) in a way that the loss of an exploitation site does not penalize the concerned resource.
Second thing to know about villagers is that if you make them change their task, they lose the resources they are actually carrying. It's not that important if it's only for one villager, but if you change the task of many villagers at once ( for instance from food to wood ), resource loss is way more important, specially in the beginning of the game.
There is an exception : any villager you ask to build something will keep the resources he is carrying. So before change your villager's task, think in making them bring what they carry in the town center, or mill, or lumber camp ...
Also, always use the gathering points to send your villagers directly on the wanted resource, which will save up some time . Neither forget to press the idle villager button regularly, to put your villagers back to work.
Fishing boats must be used on any water map and acts like extra villagers , a valuable bonus in the beginning and until Castle Age, that will let you give a good hand to your food income. Several civilizations like Vikings or Japaneses have good fishing boats.
Try to send them in the high seas, rather than on the coast; there's more fishes and bigger sources.
However, it is risky to rely entirely on boats to get your food, they would be vulnerable to an early boat attack. A group of a reasonable amount, covered by some warships is a good invest. But keep in mind that a farmer produces more food by minute than a fishing boat if the fishes are too far from the port.
Use the market wisely. Basically you should sell / buy resources in 2 cases :
- You really lack of a crucial resource in a given moment and your life depends of it.
In this case you made a wrong sparing error . A second error would be to not use the market to correct the resource balance.
- Game is on the end, the resource you need can only be obtained via the market.
In this case you should have overloads of food and wood. This overload can be converted in the market.
Before to use the market, and if you think that you will convert much resource, develop some of the market upgrade, for a lower trading fee.
Note that the conversion rate changes according to the transactions already made, from 70 to 14 . At the Imperial Age, always consider researching Guilds in the market for a better conversion rate.
Selling your resources at Imperial Age is the most valuable.
But you should not use the market as a main source of gold, it is still better to mine it directly. For the stone, it is recommended to not sell it, as it's a rare resource, except in few quantities or to serve a given strategy.
Using trade carts is a good operation, the longest is the crossed distance, the best is the gold income.
Consider checking that the used roads are safe and not saturated, try to make carts go in a straight way, don't block their way with buildings, but protect them ( close the trade route with palisade or wall, or build towers or castles to defend them on their way ).
Do not hesitate to destroy your market to build another more far, to get more gold .Trade boats are as efficient as trade carts, but they depends on the same rules of them.
It is normal to help an ally in difficulty, but keep in mind that tributing penalize the giver, who loses the given resources, and must pay a tax on it .
That's why you should never give your resources without counting, and only in several cases :
- Your ally needs a few resources for rebuilding
- You have a lot of resource and you can't spend it cause maximum population
In this case, ask your allies if they need resources. If yes, research some upgrades in the market before giving, which will have for effect to lower the trading fees, you will loose less resources.
Another way to earn gold. As soon as you reach Castle Age, build a monastery and send your monks all over the map to get the relics, that you bring then in the monastery .
Each new relic will bring more gold with the time. In conclusion, a good economy is a safe and smart economy. Protect your investments, and always check resources proximity ( rebuild lumber camp closer from wood ... ).