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I've heard some say the golden age is the best thing to strive for and always worth 2 or 3 early on, and making them a specialist is useless.
Personally I usually just use their special abilities (holy city, great work etc.) as needed but I'd like to hear your thoughts/opinions.
I usually tend to use them as specialists since over the thousands of years the extra output really adds up. Although using them for free techs is sometimes more beneficial.
Here's how I typically use the different types of great people:
Great Prophet: The most obvious use is to build a shrine for your religion if you have one. Every now and then I'll use one to bulb Theology, not just to found Christianity, but so I can build the Apostolic Palace (BtS only), which can be really annoying in AI hands. Otherwise, they're pretty nice to settle, since they give 2 hammers and 5 gold (settle them in your holy city for the most benefit, since that will usually be your future Wall Street city).
Great Merchant: Sometimes a trade mission is nice for mass upgrades or to run deficit research for a while, but usually I'll just settle them in my future Wall Street city. Later in the game, you can hang on to one for Sid's Sushi (BtS only), or they're pretty good candidates to burn for a golden age.
Great Scientist: This is the specialist I'm usually going for through at least the first half of the game if I don't need a prophet for a shrine, and they're fairly easy to get since you usually want to run scientist specialists for research anyway. Putting academies in your best science cities is tremendously helpful, and scientists are also useful for bulbing techs along the Liberalism path, like Philosophy, Paper, and Education (about 90% of it), which can be really good if you're behind in tech and can trade it around. Settling scientists is okay (especially in your Oxford city) if you don't need any more academies, but the later in the game, the more I start saving them for golden ages.
Great Engineer: These are really difficult to get, at least until the late game, because you can only run one engineer specialist with a forge and the only early wonder that gives engineer points is the Pyramids. If you get one, though, the most obvious use is to take a free world wonder wherever you want it (usually in your GP farm city if you have one). Later on, founding Mining Inc. is an attractive option if you don't want to run State Property.
Great Artist: Everyone's least favorite GP, and unfortunately the National Epic gives great artist points, so there will always be a small chance of getting one of these from your GP farm. You can use them to prop up border cities if they're getting crowded by rival culture, and a great work in a conquered city immediately brings it out of revolt, but otherwise they're not terribly useful and are best saved to burn for golden ages. (If you're going for a culture victory, on the other hand, then you love to see these guys.)
Great Spy: The new addition for BtS, and while it's far from the best GP, I think some people underestimate its usefulness. One of my favorite wonders is the Great Wall, partly because you can get an early great spy, which when settled will let you see everyone else's research for centuries (a huge advantage in planning your own tech path). Or you can direct your EPs at a neighbor (or infiltrate for more immediate results) and usually steal several techs with your spies before your advantage runs out. Later in the game they're not terribly useful unless you're really focused on the espionage part of the game (and most people aren't), so save them for golden ages.
Also, a few general points:
- The later you get in the game, the less benefit you'll get from settling great people (super specialists), as they'll have fewer turns to give their bonuses.
- Running the Representation civic (especially if you have the Pyramids to run it from early in the game) makes super specialists much more attractive, as they'll give +3 beakers/turn just like normal specialists.
- Since golden ages give hammer and commerce bonuses to every tile you control, they're obviously more powerful when you control and can work more tiles. For this reason, I recommend using your great people for other things until later in the game when your empire is fairly large (I like to build the Taj Mahal with Nationalism and burn a GP around the same time to double my first golden age). Since the other uses of most great people become less powerful as the game goes on and golden ages become more powerful, it works out perfectly.
- Bulbing a tech may be the least common use of great people, but it can sometimes be a huge boost and can bring you back from behind if you can trade the tech you bulbed around, so check before you bulb something to see if your rivals already have it. If you have a big tech lead, then bulbing is less attractive because you won't be able to trade for as much. (Scientists are the best for bulbing because they bulb for more beakers than the other GPs, plus they give you the techs on the Liberalism path, most of which also make great trade bait because the AIs tend not to prioritize them.)
I use Great people as such:
Great Prophet, If I cannot capture a holy city, I found one and go religion, otherwise he golden ages.
Great Scientist. Could be saved to found Standard ethanol... Or spent to make a academy. ... Useful, unless you don't need tech and would rather a golden age.
Great Engineer, useful for popping a wonder you were late teching too that you really want to make yourself. Also for founding Mining inc or Creative construction. basically a free wonder.
Great Merchant. Found cereal mills. could be used for cash missions I suppose, but so would golden age.
Great Artist. if you aren't cultural victory, this guy is golden age fodder.
Great Spy. as a super specialist early you'll get a boon to research and espionage you wouldn't see until code of laws. rather useful, or to steal several early techs from rivals.
So really its dependant on your setup.
If you have a LARGE civ the benifits to hammer and coin will far outweigh anything else, you'll 'bulb' to a new tech from the golden age.
and you get no anarchy so you can switch religions and civics freely.
So personally I consume my first spare GP to golden age for changing Civics to Heriditary rule/Vassalage/Organized religion. and tech and build after that, giving me a large advantage over the enemy.
and golden age whenever I want to switch civics to save a few turns of anarchy.
Anybody saying this is anime of the year will immediately be shut down when FMA comes out. -cloudvstidus4life | Posted: 2/17/2009
Honestly, a lot of it depends on your difficulty level. If you already have a tech lead, bulbing something isn't a very good return on your investment (generally), because you won't have anything to trade your new tech for.
On the other hand, you might be able to bulb philosophy and backfill a thousand years of research.
"Sometimes nothing's a pretty cool hand"
-Cool Hand Luke
Another general rule (reiterating from previous posters) is that if you want to settle a great person, it's generally better to do so early on in the game. Later in the game, when there are fewer turns remaining to reap the benefits of a settled GP, it's better to go for short-term effects (Golden Age, Trade Mission, Great Work, etc). The only real exception to this is the great engineer, who you should use to clam a wonder in almost all circumstances.
"One day, in retrospect, all your years of struggle will strike you as having been the most beautiful" - Sigmund Freud
About the scientists, i usually save them up till after liberalism becaus the techs after that uses the full research points a Great scientist can give. I guess getting education is still ok but using it to get paper is a waste imo.
Also i tend to just make 1 golden age from GP in late game where a lot of cities and loads of squares bennefit from it. I can usualy manage to get the the taj mahal for the first golden age.
Just try to get the GP's you realy want and need for your victory type/goal. GP's can be awesome if used wisely.
Great Prophet: If I have a holy city, then I build the religion's shrine. If not, I usually use them for golden ages.
Great Scientist. I usually build an academy in the highest science producing cities
Great Engineer: I don't get many of these, but I save the first one so I can build Mining inc. In my last game I got two so I also founded creative constructions to make some extra money. Otherwise, it depends on when I get him. If it's late game, I usually have a city with enough production that it doesn't really matter.
Great Merchant. I save Merchants for Sid's Sushi. Any other I usually settle.
Great Artist: The first one I save for Civ Jewels (imo a very usefull corp). Any other I usually use to culture bomb.
Great Spy: I don't really like these guys. I golden-age him or build his building in the captial. I find that any opponent I need the points on I usually conquer them.
Great Generals: I make the first one a warlord so I can build West Point later on, then I settle them in my military cities. If I have Military Science and a city with one Great General already, I build a military academy.
If I had a Nickel for every time I found a Nickel, I'd get 10 cents each time I found a nickel.
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