Strategy Checklist

A few times over the past few years, the idea has come up to create a “checklist” of the thing a player in a campaign of Strategic Primer needs to include or at least think about in preparing a strategy. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Note that these aren’t in any particular order; a lot of these have an impact on each other, so there should usually be at least some back-and-forth among them, but even so it doesn’t really matter what order these matters are considered in.

One place to begin, and one comparatively-isolated category, is scientific and technical advancement. A very small part of this is any direction you want to give to your scientists for their own research (see my post on “the science mechanic“), but (as I mentioned in my post on the “limitless possibilities for discovery” distinctive) you can “short-circuit” that process by teaching your people from your own knowledge. I’ll write more about what this should ideally look like in a later post, since it’s something players seem to have trouble with sometimes.

A second area is resource management. By this point supervision of food production has probably been delegated to an aide, and management of other resources can be similarly delegated once it’s gotten going, but you should still consider this carefully—the delegation merely means that you don’t have to concern yourself with the details.

A third, related, area is manufacturing. When it’s become routine, direct responsibility for it too can be delegated to a subordinate—but at the starting level of technology manufacturing demands skill for success (though I’ve sort of hand-waved that so far), while most resource gathering requires mere labor for an acceptable level of success, so it probably won’t become routine for a while yet. (Simple “construction” is easy enough to be delegated from the beginning, but at this point there isn’t enough of it for the decisions of what to build to be left to a subordinate, except as it becomes necessary for other duties.)

Complicating both of these concerns is the issue of training. Workers and soldiers improve at what they spend time on, and an hour spent training is an hour not spent gathering resources, building something, or doing other useful work. This is a trade-off, a question of value, risk, and long-term planning that your aides can’t answer for you.

Another matter whose details can be delegated but which still may demand your attention is diplomacy, dealing with other players (and their commanders), with independent cities and walled towns, and with the commanders of independent fortresses. You won’t be able to handle most diplomacy in person, since most of the time others won’t come to you, but it’s still the player’s responsibility to set policy. On the other hand, at present comes up only rarely.

Expansion planning is another case of high-level policy; it includes many of the other areas I’m identifying. But I bring it up to point out that it’s a very good idea to have some sort of high-level, long-term plan, and each turn make sure that you know how your strategy fits into that plan—devoting more labor to food production than needed to feed your current population, perhaps, or building new living space you don’t need yet, for example.

Last, I of course have to mention “military” matters, which at present consist of just reconnaissance (exploration) but will grow significantly in scope as the game goes on. Here, too, as in diplomacy, many details have to be left to subordinates, as you the player aren’t in the field, but you have to give orders based on results.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Or any other comments?

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