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Famine: Does it really add to the game?

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Deacon
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Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Deacon on Sun Feb 07, 2016 11:36 pm


I recently picked up, and then shortly after dropped, Saxony in game 9. The position had been more or less destroyed by famine that killed half the population. It may be realistic, but I wonder as a matter of gamesmanship if it is a good idea.

Keying off someone else' comments about the dearth of players in game 9 in central europe, I wonder if making this such a factor in the first few years of the game just creates more drop outs rather than really adding something useful to the game.

I notice the poor harvests have hit some in game 10, and it makes me wonder how many of those players will decide with little time invested whether now is the time to fold?

Curious what other people think.
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Kingmaker on Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:59 am

it is a real problem that has been used in the game, there was no farming such as we use now.
So it forces you to implement farming methods. As to population decrease there is nothing to stop you getting people form other lands and re populating your nation. Buy recruits from others and give them freedom to set up farms etc

yes its hard but if a game is easy is it worth playing?


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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by jamesbond007 on Mon Feb 08, 2016 9:07 am

I think both the above points of view are true. All I would add is. For a new game, give it three years before any disaster hits. That way it gives you a chance to take measures to combat various situations. Nothing any player can do. If it hits you in game year one.

I would also add. For more mature games. When a player takes a position late in a game. Give that position a chance. Keep a position, once taken on a par with positions that have been active for a few years. Some positions you take on have not been active for many years and is many years behind in its development. When a player comes along and takes a position , narrow that gap a bit.
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Deacon on Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:39 pm

Well, for Saxony in game 9, a million people died. I can think of no way to replace that. The economy was also obliterated as well, so no income either to deal with the problem.

I recognize that it is a real historical problem. But the randomness of who gets a good harvest and therefore can start building supplies of grain, and who gets a famine before they can build stores (or acquire them), makes me doubt the value it adds to the game mechanics.

Perhaps if there were more tools available to nations, grain that could be just bought like other equipment, it would be another matter.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Nexus06 on Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:44 pm

Deacon wrote:Well, for Saxony in game 9, a million people died. I can think of no way to replace that. The economy was also obliterated as well, so no income either to deal with the problem.

I recognize that it is a real historical problem. But the randomness of who gets a good harvest and therefore can start building supplies of grain, and who gets a famine before they can build stores (or acquire them), makes me doubt the value it adds to the game mechanics.

Perhaps if there were more tools available to nations, grain that could be just bought like other equipment, it would be another matter.

It's a hard match, but i think the goal in the game, other that being realistic (which is a must be) is to push players to act in order to create a network of alliances to supply such situations. Maybe in that case a network of allies could supply grain of meat or fish to pass the difficult moment, ant then consider a military action against a common enemy to regain population.

Anyway Deacon, Come back in play we miss Augustus!!!
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Ardagor on Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:22 pm

Half the population in three years seem quite extreme, I have suffered about 5% loss in populkation in the famines I have been exposed to and economic health taking a plunge. Bad enough but recoverable if one is careful and Lucky enough to avoid getting hit by consecutive famines.

A small nations such as Saxony in the middle of Europe should be able to buy some grain from somebody in time.

Nobdy will be able to help if a large nation such as Russia, India, China or Japan is hit by an early famine.

It give a certain tension to the game, until you manage to produce the endless millions of tons some nations can harvest. My 500,000 American civilians in Game 3 gathered 20,000,000 tons of grain every harvest. The poor overworked farmhands.
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Deacon on Tue Feb 09, 2016 1:19 am


Let me add another example.

Plagues weren't that uncommon in the period, but yet don't really occur in game much. And yet, there exists an in-game mechanism to deal with that, by training doctors.

Famine, on the other hand, can only be answered with the commodity grain, which you have to either get lucky or be able to trade for it. If you can't, nothing you can really do.

I guess if it was 1710 or later and you've done nothing, maybe you deserve it. But in game 10, it's June of the first game year. Nobody has surplus grain. Those few that had good harvest aren't likely to be willing to part with their extra to save the unlucky who had bad harvests. They'll need that grain to plant and build their own stores against bad years. (This isn't a complaint, I'm not one of the unlucky, just made me think about the issue)

In game 8, I got lucky and got good harvests early, and have worked hard to build out stores across the empire to ensure I can answer any famine (or siege), but much of that was just the luck of getting a good harvest early. I've given away or traded a lot of that grain to other players with the in-game justification that my King has seen famine and doesn't wish that on anyone, but it is as much me as a player thinking that I don't want to see fellow players 'defeated' and drop to a random game mechanic that would just be frustrating.

If the goal is to force players to engage each other, I don't think it's working.

Consider as well that while the game starts in 1700, history doesn't.

Maybe it should be a start up option "reduce starting cash, start with grain stockpile"?

Or that you can buy grain on the open market at some price, so saving your people becomes an economic challenge, and not just a "watch people starve" thing. Open market price being higher than what you'd pay another player, so there is still an incentive to trade, but you'd at least have another option.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by J Flower on Tue Feb 09, 2016 7:34 am

Maybe part of the problem is that cross boarder trade isn't working properly, normally grain would be stored for the winter, or sold. In game I don't think that happens as much as it maybe should, the fear of confronting a famine means most grain is stored & stays there maybe for years. Perhaps there should be a limited amount of time for stored grain before it goes off, unstored grain goes off after a given time. I think I am right in saying stored grain dosen't.

There is little incentive to sell grain on the open market so that other players can get their hands on it when famine hits. Of course if you have been diplomatically active prior to the famine & one of your "friendly" playing pals has a surplus he may send it too you, of course there is no gaurentee that this will happen.

Has anyone ever signed upto to a grain treaty, offering to buy surplus for a set amount from a regular supplier?

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Nexus06 on Tue Feb 09, 2016 7:49 am

Honestly i haven't. But meat or fish con be used in that way if i'm not wrong.

I honestly think that the answere still lies in having allies to help you. The game seems to me not to be played too much "everyone for itself".

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by jamesbond007 on Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:44 am

Must say. I totally agree with Deacon on this one.

There are many ways in game to tackle a lack of grain or bad harvest. But you cannot do anything about it, if it strikes in the first year or two. To lose millions in population due to it. Just seems a killer for a player. It can ruin a game position, before you have a chance to get going.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Bearlord on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:48 am

I agree with Deacon too.
It's the first time I got hit by a poor harvest now in game 10. First I read my state report and saw the news about the poor harvest. Oh well I thought this can be an interesting problem to try to solve. Let's see if one of my allies or friendly contacts got a good harvest.

Then I saw the list of nations suffering a poor harvest. It's long and several of them are huge nations. So even if those few who have surplus grain wants to sell it to some of us poor bastards there will be a major shortage worldwide.

I think the chances for this to happen should be reduced substantially in the first two or three game years so there can be a global surplus built up when something like this happens. Then there will be more interesting interactions between players and nation.

I can't even invade Austria to try to get grain now... Twisted Evil Laughing

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Nexus06 on Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:04 am

Bearlord wrote:I agree with Deacon too.
It's the first time I got hit by a poor harvest now in game 10. First I read my state report and saw the news about the poor harvest. Oh well I thought this can be an interesting problem to try to solve. Let's see if one of my allies or friendly contacts got a good harvest.

Then I saw the list of nations suffering a poor harvest. It's long and several of them are huge nations. So even if those few who have surplus grain wants to sell it to some of us poor bastards there will be a major shortage worldwide.

I think the chances for this to happen should be reduced substantially in the first two or three game years so there can be a global surplus built up when something like this happens. Then there will be more interesting interactions between players and nation.

I can't even invade Austria to try to get grain now... Twisted Evil Laughing


I can understand it is extremely disturbing seeing our plans destroyed by a famine, but again, a worldwide famine means no one can attack you. It would have been worse if, for example, Austria would have suffered famine while ottomans not.

Shit has happened in that century, dealing with famine and plague was part of the game even then. Maybe now it is overexposed, i don't know, but i trust in Richard that everithyng is somehow balanced to allow you keep playing and recover form the damage.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by J Flower on Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:41 am

For many people in period of play every day was a struggle to survive, winter time even more so, I guess you could argue that a bad harvest simply tips the balance.

Maybe Deacons point about better in game diplomancy is one we can all take to heart, it may well be a way to if not prevent famine or other disasters but possiably a way to at least minimise some of the effects, maybe other in game players ahve some reserves or have a fishing fleet that you don't have that they are willing to use to help, simpole little things that may help, alliances that are created in those moments of adversity may bear fruit later on in the game.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by jamesbond007 on Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:23 am

But if the famine hits in year one. Nothing you can do. Even the very few with a good harvest will want to keep it. Fishing fleets, friends, ect no good. Too early for all that.
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by revvaughan on Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:07 pm

Even for some of us who had a good harvest the return surplus is meager. We will do what we can in game to assist those in need.
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Jason on Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:51 pm

I quite like the idea of famine, ok not famine as such, but I think it does help remind us that part of the game is developing and improving your nation. It encourages you to look at agricultural improvements, develop things like a fishing industry, enter in diplomacy with other nations to obtain extra grain.

Having said that I do agree with some of the concerns around it, especially early in a new game or when you just take over a position. I think it is partly grain has increased in importance over the years. When I first started playing the game, grains main purpose was (I think) just to offset famines but now we need it to move armies and navies, so a surplus is more important-if you want to do anything military (without incurring too great a sickness level) you need grain.

I have wondered if another approach, to help new players and make the start of the new games flow better, would be for a player to start with a small grain reserve, not large but say 1.5 times what you need to counter a harvest failure. So you could have enough to make sure your popuation didn't starve in the first year plus have some to move units, try and develop an initial batch of hardy grain, sell off if you want. Ok, an inprudent player could waste their grain on strange ventures and still have a famine situation but at least it would, in theory, give you a breathing space

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Nexus06 on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:05 pm

Jason wrote:I quite like the idea of famine, ok not famine as such, but I think it does help remind us that part of the game is developing and improving your nation. It encourages you to look at agricultural improvements, develop things like a fishing industry, enter in diplomacy with other nations to obtain extra grain.

Having said that I do agree with some of the concerns around it, especially early in a new game or when you just take over a position. I think it is partly grain has increased in importance over the years. When I first started playing the game, grains main purpose was (I think) just to offset famines but now we need it to move armies and navies, so a surplus is more important-if you want to do anything military (without incurring too great a sickness level) you need grain.

I have wondered if another approach, to help new players and make the start of the new games flow better, would be for a player to start with a small grain reserve, not large but say 1.5 times what you need to counter a harvest failure. So you could have enough to make sure your popuation didn't starve in the first year plus have some to move units, try and develop an initial batch of hardy grain, sell off if you want. Ok, an inprudent player could waste their grain on strange ventures and still have a famine situation but at least it would, in theory, give you a breathing space

I agree.

Having said that, please Deacon consider returning, we miss u!
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Deacon on Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:25 pm

On game 9, Saxony has half the population and had an EH of 2 when I put taxes back to normal.

When I want to suffer that much I just go to the office!

I want to see the new games Richard is cooking up, but if those don't appeal I will check back on game 9.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Stuart Bailey on Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:18 am

Speaking as the player who wrecked Saxony in G9.

I would confirm that Saxony just about survived the first poor harvest by a) culling wild animals b) buying fish & meat from the open market c) Gift of grain from Austria & d) Gift of cash from France which allowed conversion to potatoes and use of the replaced seed grain as food.

Sadly then got a 2nd poor harvest (in first three game years!) with 50% of harvest now potatoes! Which totally killed the position and forced me to drop out of game.

I was wondering if I dropped and a new player took over Saxony would be given a "fresh start" by Agema to make it playable but that seems not to be the case according to Deacon.

ome players may prefer this level of brutal realism and I dont want this to sound like sour grapes from a player knocked out of G9 early but its not much fun to crash like this & I dont think it benefits the game to lose positions due to a couple of really bad dice rolls early on in the game.

My suggestion would be to have:

a) Positions start with some grain stores..............use them to move troops/ships or as extra seed grain could be interesting problem early on.

b) On a normal harvest some areas.........ie Morea, Sicily, Poland, Prussia, American colonies produce a grain surplus due to their low population compared to farmed area. Which can be bought.

Think being a important grain producer might make the Polish positions more attractive to players and give them something to bargin with like English/Dutch/French Dredgers.

c) If some area's get a surplus on a normal harvest I also think some area's like the UDP, Venice & perhaps Mainland Spain should get a minus and have to import grain.

Historically the UDP controlled the Baltic Grain Trade (and people needing to buy went not to Riga etc but to the Amsterdam exchange) and gets the NPC Polish Grain for a price (assume long term contracts in place). While Venice was supplied from the Morea and Spain from Sicily. So in peace time not a problem but I think it could bring out in the game why the Dutch were so involved in the Baltic and why Venice was so protective of the Morea.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Basileus on Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:32 am

A bit like the importance of north African grain trade to the late west Roman Empire, which was probably still a super power until it lost North Africa.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Nexus06 on Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:35 am

Well, adding elements concerning grain in the game seems to be a request then.
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by one grain of grain on Thu Feb 18, 2016 11:43 pm

Great thread Deacon,

Having taken over Rumelia in game 8 after 2 bad harvests and 350,000 dead from famine then getting another bad harvest in my first year and a stalled economy I have found it very hard to recover, If it wasn't for having made diplomatic contact with a number of established players who helped with suppling me with enough grain to store and plant to get a harvest I think it would be to hard. The game starts with existing treaties to be honoured but as far as a grain supply its as if we left our caves at the year 1700 and just learnt to start farming, Maybe as mentioned above the games starting position should include a portion of stored grain set aside for the second years planting. ( having never started a position from the start I am unsure as to what food stores you start with)

Thoughts on a percentage of seed grain for year 2 anyone.

Cheers,

One Grain.

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Nexus06 on Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:06 am

one grain of grain wrote:Great thread Deacon,

Having taken over Rumelia in game 8 after 2 bad harvests and 350,000 dead from famine then getting another bad harvest in my first year and a stalled economy I have found it very hard to recover, If it wasn't for having made diplomatic contact with a number of established players who helped with suppling me with enough grain to store and plant to get a harvest I think it would be to hard. The game starts with existing treaties to be honoured but as far as a grain supply its as if we left our caves at the year 1700 and just learnt to start farming, Maybe as mentioned above the games starting position should include a portion of stored grain set aside for the second years planting. ( having never started a position from the start I am unsure as to what food stores you start with)

Thoughts on a percentage of seed grain for year 2 anyone.

Cheers,

One Grain.

This could be a great solution!
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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Rozwi_Game10 on Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:55 am

one grain of grain wrote:
( having never started a position from the start I am unsure as to what food stores you start with)

I've had three:

Blackbeard - grain isn't really an issue, unsurprisingly.
England - I didn't receive any starting grain, but I can remember having to store a surplus after the first harvest and building granaries at Cambridge.
Rozwi - didn't receive any starting grain surplus, but I don't know if an African harvest differs from the other positions - historical farming practices obviously being far less advanced than European etc.

I did take control of Savoy in one game, where I did start with a large amount of money in the treasury. This was a game that was well advanced, into the 1730s and my position needed to catch-up with those other well-established states.

One thing this thread has made me think about is looking for possible solutions for Rozwi.
Famine. Draught. War.
Those with access to game 10's newspaper will have seen my pursuit of obtaining Tobacco seeds, and I'm currently reading Mungo Park's Travels in Africa, at the moment, which mentions farming and culinary matters along the Niger river, circa 1800. Shea butter and Kouskous being a staple foodstuff and trading commodity, particular to that area of the World.
Rozwi might just have to see if we can receive a few Farming and Culinary Missions to teach us some new tricks. study

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Re: Famine: Does it really add to the game?

Post by Stuart Bailey on Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:50 pm


Ref poor harvests & famines and how to deal with them I was interested to read that the C17 figures for Danzig Grain exports still exist.

Seems that in early 1600's exports averaged 200,000 tonnes per annum, reaching 250,000 tons in the bumper year of 1618. Not sure if this reflects good Polish Harvest or higher demand as people stacked up ahead of 30 years war.

In 1651 after three years of Cossack unrest exports down to 100,000 tons and two years later figure was down to 60,000 tons which remained the average for rest of the century (Swedish & Turkish Invasions doing major damage to the Commomwealth's Trade & Agriculture).

Sadly figures do not exist for other smaller Commonwealth Ports or for overland trade with Germany & Russia.

My feeling is that if in game some area's like the states of the Polish Commonwealth and the Moria naturally produce a grain surplus for export surplus/open market for grain this would help players hit by a poor harvest.

Ok it would also paint a big target on some ports/area's but "customers" might react badly to sudden grabs.

Also found another oddity about the international grain trade and the supply of grain/bread to Armies in this period is that many of the main contractors were Portugese/Dutch Jews like the Rothchilds who were considered as neatrals and who's agents went everywhere buying and shipping grain.

A Jewish Grain factor might make a interesting for God, King & Country character......if you dont mind Richard having free use of Cossacks, rival merchants, pirates and the inquesition to really spoil your day.

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