What's wrong with this logic?

Everyone always says you should only put like 2 villagers on berries, and especially if you want early aggression, you should skip horse collar in the beginning and just build some dark age farms. But this seems completely wrong to me.

Here’s my thing; dark age farms without horse collar collect way slower than berries. Example: Say you have 8 villagers. In one case, you put all 8 on berries right away. They’ll be less efficient than 2, but they’re still collecting resources immediately. Compare this to going for farms, where you put them on wood until you have 480 wood, and then build 8 farms.

After 6 minutes 15 seconds, all 7 berry bushes are collected, at a rate of about 0.29 food per second(tested in editor). You can then retask your villagers to build farms like normal, but since it’s so much later in the game, you can probably afford horse collar by now.

By contrast, it takes until 12.5 minutes for the villagers to finish collecting the farms, with an average collection rate of 0.23 food per second. This is because they had to spend a lot of the time collecting wood first and then building the farms.

It seems to me like going all-in on berries would always be the right choice, no? Even after getting Horse Collar, you’re looking at a net resource collection rate of around 0.27, which is still a fair bit slower than berries, even with 8 villagers active at once.

But nobody I’ve talked to has agreed with me. So could someone help me out? What’s wrong with this logic?

You want to add Farms early in case you get pushed of berries.
You also don’t want to oversaturate berries cause you might miss when they run out.
The optimal timing for them to run out is shortly after you clicked up to castle age cause this enables you to perfectly adjust your eco for the new age without getting extra idle time.

And Berries aren’t collected faster than farms. They are slower. Not by very much, but they are. So you don’t “lose” res income with adding farms just when you have the wood for them.

There are builds though that are intenionally designed around eating your berries. Look up the premill archer rushes. But they are usually all high risk plays, very tight builds that require you to basically take no damage.

The main benefit from eating berries first are potentially early timings cause you can possibly have more res available due not having to add early farms as much. But it usually then comes with the downside of worse castle age timings as when the berries run out you need to add like 16 Farms before you can click up which takes a while.

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I don’t think that’s true. Try it yourself in the editor; by the time you collect the wood, you’re actually way behind on resources for most of the time the farm is up, and even with horse collar, you only get close to catching up right as the farms expire. They do collect faster while harvesting, but I don’t think you should ignore the wood harvesting or building phases.

I do admit I let my vills idle sometimes, but it seems like the more I put on berries, the easier it is to catch them when they go idle because they all happen at once. Maybe that’s still worse than overflowing on wood, I dunno, I’ll have to think about that.

Good points about being vulnerable though. That said, the faster you take the berries, the less time you’ll have to be vulnerable, no?

There are normally certain timings in which you get hit. So it doesn’t necessarily translate to that.
In principle this isn’t wrong, but I’m not convinced it’s the right way to approach it.

For me what it really comes down to is the timings when you want to have certain ressources. This is normally either early feudal where you indeed can make use of the berries by delaying your farm placement. But as I explained above this comes at the cost of a delayed castle.

The other timing is when you try to get to Castle as much and for that - from a mathematical perspective - it’s only important how much in total you collected from the berries. So there is no benefit in finishing the berries 2 minutes before you click up.

And ofc this is only my personal take for it.
I myself had interesting builds when I tried out the premill archer rush before the french guys made it that successfull TG strat. It worked quite nicely on mid elo but at higher elo I got punished for it, as they usually understand that your eco has to pay a high toll for that aggression and is usually quite punishable by either agression or aiming for the fastter castle powerspike.

That said, I’ve seen pros having already concepts to try making the build less fragile. They usually come with a reduction to military investment. Which I’m not a huge fan of, but maybe it’s just essential for still getting a reasonable castle timing even with delying farm placement so much.

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This post explains everything very thoroughly OP, and I invite you to study it.

I will add that as casusincorrabilis implies, another reason why you should collect berries slowly is that this you want your resources to stream smoothly into your coffers, e.g. if you output 200f per minute and need #### per minute, you add like 2 farms and this doesn’t generally require heavy micro, long walking times to shift many vills around, etc.

In contrast, if you find yourself running out of berries, you might be forced to drop 6 farms there and then to still hit the needed Castle Age timing, which implies that you banked 360w (and banking wood is inefficient because particularly in higher elos you wanna spend it asap), and even if you did bank this 360w it means that you won’t have wood available to do maybe a needed tech switch (say Blacksmith)… in short, in this game, doing “smooth development” of your economy is almost always better than “ohcrapohcrap I forgot to go to wood I’ll just send 25 vills there to compensate” strats, or dropping 10 farms last minute cuz u realized that you are on 2 Stable Knights and Knights need food.

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The thing is, by putting villagers on early farms, you are basically sacrificing about 25% of your villagers right out the gate. If you put 8 villagers on farms, you’ll still be several hundred resources behind by the time the berries run out; at 6:15, you’ll have -480W but only +576F(net +96) compared to the berries vills, who are already at a net +875.

It seems to me that an 800 resource advantage at that stage of the game should be well worth it, even with the cost of increased cost in micro and needing to swap your villagers around more wholesale.

Essentially, by building those early farms, you’re invisibly floating a huge amount of wood; you just can’t see it.

Wrong, when you have Wood over and don’t use it to drop farms, you float it.

BTW one of the key factors for Heras success is that he does this all the time. Whenever he has 60 W he drops a farm and by doing this like every time 10 s earlier than his opponent he gets faster castle timings.

When you want to build around this concept you need to intentionally design your entire build around it. Putting less Vills on wood initially that then have to be put there later.
Ofc this is totally valid to do so, but it’s a very heavy commitment to this specific build.
And btw also the only way to get something from delaying the farm placement, to have more vills on other res that you want to use for your military. When you still put the normal amounts (depending on you opener 7-10 on wood), you literally get NO benefit from oversaturating your berries. Just place farms then, it’s always a good investment when you have the wood floating.

Just want to mention because of the initially high cost to add farms, food is in the early stages of the game the way highest value ressource, almost worth double as much as wood. So it’s really a good investment to put down farms when you have the wood for it and nothing else to invest into.

Sorry, but I think you missed my point. If you spend wood you don’t have to spend, that’s floating it, even though it’s no longer in your stockpile. If you build more houses than you need? You might not have 25 wood in your stockpile anymore, but you’re still floating wood all the same. The same way, if you spend wood on farms you don’t need, you’re still floating that wood; it’s just not visible in your stockpile.

In this light, it’s actually worse to build bad farms than to have unused wood in your stockpile. Unused wood can be used to make farms after horse collar comes in, or on other things; farms that already exist are a guaranteed bad investment, providing the slowest food income in the game, bar none.


I guess my real incogruity is this; people only put 2 villagers on berries because that’s the way that doesn’t sacrifice any efficiency. But then they make dark age farms that are almost 33% less efficient. If you get forced off your berries that’s something else entirely, but doing that preemptively is like building a tower before you need one; it’s just a bad use of resources.

It’s not.
Cause you are getting a better ressource.
As I sasid at that stae Food is worth almost twice as much as Wood. So after 3 minutes you get back your investment and from that on it’s pure profit.

Damn I’ve seen Hera placing 20 Dark Age Farms in Feudal which got him like 1.5 minutes advantage in feudal timing. The opponent basically directly lost just cause he invested in horsecollar which didn#t payed of and then floating wood cause he was occupied with other stuff. So he couldn’t match heras sheer farm numbers and lost cause of the worse castle age timing.

Food is a super valueable ressource especially when the free food ressources start to run out. And as @Green4uu already explained, in this situation you want the smooth transition to the farm eco, cause if ANYTHING goes wrong with your build otherwise you’re just dead. Cause you just miss your timings or even worse can’t even sustain your current production.
Farms are great and super valueable. Ofc free food > farms as you don’t have to invest to get it. But you goddam need to make sure you get that transition done.
But ok, it’s probably something you need to learn the hard way. i also learned it the hard way when I started experimenting with my own builds back then. Cause yeah, it happened more than one time then my free food run out at times where i just couldn’t do that hard transition to the farm eco - and then it’s just gg.

The game sometimes tricks us cause it lists the different res at all stages as basically equal. But they aren’t. As much as Gold can easily become worth 5 x wood in the super lategame, food is worth basically twice as wood at that crucial transitioning into farm eco. Even in the midgame with HP wheelbarrow farms, my calcs give me values of like > 1.8 the value of wood for 1 food. Mostly ofc because of the initial investment that needs to be loaned to over the entire lifespan of that farm.

This doesn’t make much sense to me either but not for the reason you’ve mentioned. Early aggression involves skipping horse collar altogether till castle age but the wood is important to switch or add ranged units. So adding 2 farms in dark age might not be ideal. It could probably be good for supplies + maa play. Maybe fine for Khmer or some other civ with a strong wood related bonus.

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Hera said recently that he thinks 4 on berries is an out of date concept and he’s been experimenting with 5 or 6.

I think the ideal number on berries totally depends on the map, and what other resources are available. If you’ve got forward berries in an open map, it might be worth a higher number on berries early to try and take as much of it as possible in case you get pushed off it.

On Arena, the concept about ‘smooth transition’ applies here. I’ve seen builds that have 6 on berries, and the 6 berry vills are used for the Castle drop on a 24+2 timing. 4 in Dark Age is good in combination with 3 farms for pocket FC builds, because that allows constant villager production while your extra TCs are going up.

In a similar vein, I think a higher number on berries could work with a build that focuses on wood units in Feudal, if you have a ‘safe’ berries, that way you can minimize the needed farms early on, but you would still want some farms I think.

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Right, so here’s what nobody’s pushing on for this subject that’s an important consideration.

Your supposition of having the berries carrying the early economy and then transitioning after makes sense on paper, but I want to contend that you’ve got your priorities backward. Wood is important, do not get me wrong, and being pushed off a main woodline sometimes can be a lethal problem. But once the free food sources are gone… it is harder to make a food economy quickly than it is to make a wood economy quickly. I mean, the game gives you an emergency wood option for a short time with the stragglers under TC if something goes wrong on a woodline and you need to relocate.

Farms are just that - they’re a permanent straggler tree for food under your TC. It supports a stable economy and it’s hard to lose that guaranteed resource production while it’s up. Further, if you want to build out a larger food economy and you don’t have the wood to support it right away, if you haven’t finished the berries it’s another way of adding food if you’ve got control of them.

Also, there’s something to be said about wood savings carrying on into later stages and making an impact, but again I’d contend your priorities are backwards. The overall improvement in food collection rate is very delayed compared to the wood collection rate and wood collection is always faster. You get Double-Bit as soon as you can in practically every situation - you get Wheelbarrow when it’s convenient about 15 vills later or so, and that’s the first tech that improves farming rate at all. You’ll often enough have situations where you’ll have two wood upgrades before any farming upgrades to assist food collection. Ergo, not only is the wood cost more easily recouped by a future economy as opposed to a food deficit, but the delay in farming techs will tend to make food excesses more desirable as it’s much harder to build in the first place.

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