Cistern Mechanics

Cistern is a Byzantine economic building that provide several bonuses that takes a static 20s to build but grows in stone cost the more of them you build (from 50 stone up to 300 [there is a bug where u can cap it max cost at 250 stone]).

Provide is a link where more details can be read about the cistern.

But what I want to focus on is the minimum spacing and cost of aqueducts given that minimum. Cisterns can be placed just outside 8 tiles apart and the minimum stone needed to check the Cisterns is 14 stone (7 segments). If you have cistern setup in a square pattern you can make subsequent aqueducts connects to inner corner for only 12 stone (6 segments). So the first connection from cistern 1 to cistern 2 will cost 14 stone but the following connections from 2 to 3 and 3 to 4 will only cost 12 stone each if all connection are established on the inner corner of the square you’re forming with the cisterns.

So let’s now do some quick maffs: 4 minimally spaced cisterns and minimum aqueducts will cost you 538 stone before discounts. If we assume a 5min completion during nominal macro its safe to assume you’ll have made 3 houses 2 mining camps 1 lumber camp 1 landmark maybe 1 production building and 4 cisterns. So the total discount stone would amount to 130 stone plus the 50 you start with (180 free stone).

This means 358 stone MUST be gathered which is essentially the STONE cost of a 2nd TC.

Next is the time to build the network. 20s per cistern and 2s per aqueduct section (19 sections) and the walk time to and fro. That’s 118s+ walk time (+40s)= about the same time to BUILD a 2nd TC???

SO BASICALLY: for the stone cost of a 2nd TC and the build time of a 2nd TC you get 20% gathering?? The question now is how long will it take to pay for itself And comparatively how long will it take for a 2ND TC to catch up and outperform this quick 4 cistern network?

20% gathering bonus will have to produce 358 resources plus the build time worth of resources. Technically since the cistern network is established as the resources come in, so the total time it takes to pay for itself is less than merely calculating the time for 20% of of resources gathered to equal to 358+. However the Math is easier this way, we’ll just understand the actual time is around the number calculated.

results in 125s; that’s ~2MIN of effective gathering then the cistern bonus 20% gathering bonus starts paying dividends. However a 2nd TC requires 6 minutes of constant production & nominal gathering to pay for itself. Can you disrupt the 2nd TC build within the 4 min window between your 4 cistern build compared to his 2nd TC build? Actually its longer than a 4min window b/c most civ that go 2nd TC wont get it completed until 6min; so that expands the window to 5mins which is plenty of time for a ram push!

Again I understand Cistern do more than eco, but the eco is easiest to analyze and compare. Also here are some ideas NOT factored.

Cistern bonus only buff gathering, so that means all time spent walking and building are MORE detrimental given your specific eco bonus. Next, unlike GOLDEN AGE, the buff isn’t directly on the villager but within the aura of the cistern network so that means UNLESS you’re farming, the network will need to expand to keep up with your new resource locations (increase cost/build_time/more_walk_time). While Cistern give a 30s villager defensive buff it doesn’t really negate that your villagers are more valuable to your eco than the guy with multiple TC’s; again the buff is predicated on your villagers staying actively gathering; unlike cow boom, unlike Japanese passives, and alike. Lastly this comparison isn’t pitting 1 cistern vs 2 cistern vs 3 cistern vs 4 cistern vs 5 cistern pros and cons and which would be optimal given the timing you’re wishing to achieve.


Maybe the Akritoi defense active should become a passive that acts similarly to the irrigated buff


I really really like your idea! Japanese get OP TCs; so what if level 5 cisterns gave us OP villager defenses?? between level 5 cisterns and mango towers?? we’ve have our own version of impervious defense!

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like an added +5 hp and +1 torch damage for each water level.

What might be interesting is if cisterns were essentially ‘Free’ and worked like the ottoman’s schools in that you get 2 free to start, and then 1 additional per age up.

Aqueducts would of course still cost the few stone per tile.



  • 0.66 (10res/15s) nominal gathering rate used to normalize all resources into Seconds.

  • perfect and continuous villager production and gathering with zero disruptions

  • Minimal Spacing between Cisterns which amounts to 810 stone before rebates.

  • Gathering times have been broken up into increments of 20 to line up with villager production

  • Total Cistern & Aqueduct build time and walk time of 231 seconds and completed at minute 4.

  • total resources are combined with build_times/walk_time using the normalizing factor 0.66

  • Because of a 4min completion time I assumed 3 gathering drop-offs and 2 houses and the 50 stone cache as the only rebates.

  • Vs 2nd TC completed exactly at minute 6 followed by perfect villager production and uninterrupted gathering

  • Lastly even though Cistern buffs establish incrementally for the simplicity of the maff I only apply the full buff at minute 4 and zero before prior to minute 4.

With all those assumptions the MAFF suggests a 4min level 5 cistern network will pay for itself in 4 min and also be ahead of a 6min completion 2nd TC until 18 FUCKING MINUTES INTO THE GAME!!!


K in my formula represents villager count for the SINGLE TC build. Lastly what you see above is the 2nd TC alone in competition with the 25% Cistern buff; I partly negated the fact that both BO’s will have a MAIN TC producing villagers; although the reality is the Cistern BO would already be ahead given cistern are established incrementally.

A 4minute level 5 cistern is ambitious and is deliberately delaying your age up; and sadly because cistern eco buffs does NOT benefit BUILDING then a more thorough analysis would factor in the best level 5 cistern timing WITHOUT delaying your age up which I think pits 2nd TC and level 5 cistern completion maybe 1 minute apart instead of 2 mins, hmmmmmm…

I just pushed the cistern level 5 completion to the RIGHT to start at the same time as the 2nd TC completion; 6min, 6min (the 24th villager timing) ANDDDD cistern level 5 STILL outpaces 2nd TC almost to the 60th villager timing (17+ minutes into the game; again remember villager timing is being referenced to the single TC cistern BO).


P.S. please double check my work.

This just keeps getting better’er and better’er!!!

Had some nay sayers suggest:

fast 2nd tc into Cisterns is FAR superior to this ridiculous straight level 5 cistern Bullshi!!

AND I was inclined to believe them given practical defensive implementations and the common sense idea that if 2nd TC eventually outperforms straight level 5 cistern how much so would 2nd Tc into cisterns NOT be even better’er!!!

So let’s see it!! Mista’s fast 2nd Tc into level 2 Cistern BO vs straight level 5 cistern BO. Which produces a quicker return on investment and for how long does the one outperfom the other???

Let’s list our new assumptions that weren’t mentioned previously and those worth reiterating.

  • Still 6min vs 6min comparisons.

  • Optimal walk times

  • Sufficient local resources gathering like a gold mine for semi accurate long projections.

  • First example will not include 2 fortified towers but the 2nd analysis will include those effective costs.

  • Minimal disruptions and mistakes.

  • Both BOs would have each started with level 1 cistern and only technically deviate around the 4min mark where the straight level 5 cistern BO will start to deviate. Likewise the fast 2nd TC would complete level 2 a few moment after the 2nd tc. But for simplicity everything is finished at 6min exact!!! This also allows us to negate all pre 6min similarities.

  • Last assumption IS inaccurate long term is the fast 2nd tc into cisterns would CAP indefinitely at level 2. Which just isn’t true so I’ll have to do the numbers eventually of fast 2nd TC into eventual level 5 cistern.

However Here are the results for the first scenario comparison.

Notice mista build is STILL SLOWER IN ECO ON PAPER compared to the straight level 5 until villagers count 48 ( that’s 14 min game time ; so ahead from 6min to 14min!!). Again the fast 2nd TC build is capped at level 2 cistern so take thus projections with 2 gains of salt.

Finally i completely the projections of fast 2nd TC into cistern level 5. I’ll post the results but first the assumptions and shortcoming of this specific projection.

The first few IN A VACUUM scenarios were closer to practical given how they obeyed typical timings; 4min something age ups and 700 or so investment into economy by 6 mins with relatively low harassment during that 6min game time window. However this 2nd Tc into a relatively soon established level 5 is very ambitious and would require divestitures from nominal military production/tech up into the cistern network. So extremely niche and/or noncompettive matchup would even allow for this scenario to play out.

Also i assumed you would take 1min to generate the 600+ resources for the remaining cisterns while still attempting to do your regular macros and factored the additional build time which is why the level 5 on the fast 2nd TC kicks in at villager count 35.

But without further delay here we go!!

Straight 5 cistern still outpaces the improbable fast 2nd TC into fast level 5 cistern up until the 43 villager mark ( 12min game time which nets you 6mins of theoretical economic momentum)!!!

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I really don’t see a reason to go a second tc until I have maxed out my cistern level.
Maxed out cisterns have other booming benefits like faster research time for economy techs. If I need a place to garrison villagers outposts are sufficient for that, and defensively cisterns can make the outpost last longer. Another benefit is needing less military buildings to maintain military production Allowing a booming player to get defensive units out quickly.
In conclusion cisterns out perform town centers in booming and defensive potential.

There is a new cistern dark age rush cheese strategy. 1st cistern drop 1:30 right one opponents gold mine. Akritoi defense is really strong in dark age villager fights. This feels like cistern abuse to me, but I think there is enough room for counter play just going to a different gold mine instead of fighting and losing all your villagers.

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Yes this all has been about 1 limited factor of the cistern. You’re right level 5 synergize with production and tech ups

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All solutions timing references need to move 20s to the right!! My formulas acount for the active number of villagers able to gather for 20s.

In my last Example k=43 villagers; which actually means the 43rd villager that has gathered for 20s. In other words when the 44th villager spawns is when the 2 lines converge on the graph. If you take 44vils - 6 starter vils then multiply the difference by 20 seconds, it = 760s game time = 12min 40s game time.

Also the 2nd TC effective cost in seconds didn’t factor in walk time nor the higher effective build time cost given most TCs are slammed down with 7+villagers. All this to say straight 5 cistern significantly outclasses vanilla 2nd TC of most factions for a considerable bit of time!!!

I would be interested in seeing how this compares to the civs that commonly go 2TC like Abbasids/French/Song Chinese. I will mention though that 2nd TC does have invisible value in usually protecting secondary resources so coul be considered as a replacement to outpost + mill in many situations.

It’s cool seeing all the maths though :slight_smile:

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Until the production of then 2nd tc outperforms fast 5 that 2nd TC is a subpar fortified Rus outpost. Which you can emulate with an outpost or even just a house if you’re reaction and nearby retreat point is close enough.


Cistern gathering bonus is likely MULTIPLICATIVE with standard economic upgrades. Example level 5 cistern 25% gathering bonus likely compounded with feralization 15% like so (1.25x 1.15); IFFFF this is the case it means at max eco upgrades times level 5 cistern 25% gathering buff, you would have 1.25x1.45, which = 81% faster gathering rate and this is something ONLY china’s optimum triple granary buffed, all 3 econ food upgrades and max dynasty upgraded farms go that high, but EVEN china only has like 6 farms with that max buff and we as byz would have every FARM and every wood gathering and gold gathering at 81% !!!

this is bonkers

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There is cheese with Cistern rush (Fitzbro):

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Well Fitzbro may have been the first to do this because he had early access; HOWEVER…

Day 1 I was doing cheeky cistern rushes on QM.

I hit a staggler tree for 50w before I fairy 5 across the map

He might of done it in early access, but he is casting games showing someone else doing it.

In game testing of resource rates is often difficult - but I’m afraid, like a lot of notional buffs, I don’t think the numbers work out at the stated levels due to walking, bumping, chopping etc.

From in game:
5 workers on gold, no upgrades: 38.1 resources per minute per vil.
5 workers on gold, level 5 Cistern: 45.7 resources per minute per vil = 20% upgrade.
5 workers on gold, level 5 Cistern, Improved Pick: 51 resources per minute per vil. = 11.5% upgrade on the above.

Mostly you’ll do worse than this.

I think there is a tempo gap between throwing down 5 Cisterns and a second TC. But I don’t think the economic gap is that large. Or at least the 2nd TC is closing any gap very rapidly by around 10 minutes, and then flies past.
I think the gap is more that say with 5 Cisterns you can (just about) operate say 1 archery range and the Hippodrome flat out as if you had two archery ranges and stables. By contrast the 2 TC has to spend another 300 wood which puts it further behind. Whether or not a few extra horseman and archers is game deciding at 8-9 minutes is perhaps less obvious.

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You’re right the gathering rate buffs do NOT translate directly 1 for 1 to improved gathering efficiency;
I re-did the numbers assuming level 5 ONLY effectively nets 18% overall gathering efficiency and…

k= 20; which translates into 20th iteration of 20s of gathering = 400s after the cistern was established; assuming both 2nd TC and cisterns complete at 6min exactly that puts the meet up at 12min 40s. So 6min ish momentum value.

Wheelbarrow is a godsend when the walk time exceeds 2.5 tiles round trip consistently (7-8%). However for walk times 2 tiles round trip or less still get 2-3% efficiency due to WB.

Point is WB allows cistern buffs to reach +90% efficiencies. Example a forger walking 3 tiles round trip with WB and 25% cistern buff would ideally net = 15f/[15/ (1.25×0.66) + 3/1.29375] = 0.73F per second. Compare this to a no buffs, no upgrades forger walking 3 tiles round trip, you’ll have 10f/[10/0.66 + 3/1.125] =0.56F per second.

(Cistern & WB) /base_rate= +30% of base_rate!!!

To help visualize reference how huge this is: a big berry bush takes up a full 1 tile by 1 tile area. So if you depleted the bushes closes to mill and now forger from the next row you’re now walking +3 tiles round trip from mill to 2nd row of berry bushes and back. Also its not always possible to fot a new mill where the first set of bushes were.