Para los q todavia juegan el buen AoC aki les va:
Ideal Gathering Rates:
NOTE: With a space to walk, berry collection becomes 0.294 requiring 7 villagers to gather 50 food in 25 seconds to maintain villager production.
Real Gahtering Rates:
The gathering rate of any resource can be explained by four factors:
1.the rate the vill is able to actually gather the resource when she is next to it;
2.the distance she must walk to and from the gathering point each trip;
3.the amount she can carry in one trip;
4.the degree to which other vills are getting in her way (the "crowding" effect)
Upgrades in AOK improve either factor 1 (e.g. the gold mining upgrade) or factors 2 & 3 (e.g. the wheelbarrow). Therefore, though the AOK docs reveal the degree to which every upgrade improves its particular factors, this information is not enough to determine what the "true" overall efficiency improvement of the upgrade is. And because there is the added complication of an upgrade's impact upon factor 4, the crowding effect, it is almost impossible to identify this true efficiency gain through analysis alone. Therefore, this article presents some empirical tests of the true efficiency gain of every gathering upgrade.
II. Information about the gathering trials
Each of these trials involved putting a set number of villagers to work gathering a pristine resource, initially placing the gathering point (e.g. lumber camp) right next to the resource. The number of vills gathering the resource was 8, except in the case of wood, where it was 11, since one usually sets more choppers to work at one site. Obviously, because of the crowding effect, the rates recorded in the analysis would change if one performed a trial with fewer vills, but I felt the numbers I chose to be the most representative of what one sees in a mature economy.
In the case of farming, I ringed a TC with 8 farms in an effort to offset the known rate difference between farms built on the eastern and western sides of the TC.
I only counted resources that were delivered back to the gathering point by the end of the trial, ignoring loads that villagers had not yet delivered. My hope is that this will more accurately reflect efficiency improvements. However, in an effort to moderate the inaccuracy created by such an abrupt measure, I made an exception for returning vills that were no more than two tiles away from the gather point, and counted their loads in the total. In other words, I fudged it.
In most trials, the set period of gathering time was 10 minutes, but in some cases the villagers completely mined that resource deposit (stone pile) before the time limit, so I shortened the period in these cases, and factored it into the efficiency measure accordingly. These trials do not factor in building or opportunity costs of any kind; they simply measure how quickly resources are gathered.
III. The Results
For clarity, when this analysis speaks of efficiency/rate improvements, by default it will always refer to the increase in the gathering rate over having no upgrades at all. So if the total efficiency gain for buying gold mining/gold shaft mining is 8%/21% respectively, I will speak of the latter upgrade as having added 13% more efficiency to the total. Statisticians probably wouldn't do this, but it seems more intuitive to me.
The most striking result of these tests is that to achieve real efficiency one must usually buy the first two specific upgrades for any particular resource (e.g. gold mining + gold shaft mining). Purchasing the wheelbarrow upgrade alone brings relatively minimal improvement, and even combining the wheelbarrow with one resource-specific upgrade only brings exciting efficiency gains in the case of wood gathering.
This result does make intuitive sense: most of the total time spent gathering resources is not walking time, it is instead factor 1 time spent chopping or whatever. So, the wheelbarrow and hand cart upgrades will only bring real efficiency gains once vills are already really snarfing up wood or whatever. At that point, without the walking/carrying bonuses, vills really tend to crowd each other.
Surprisingly, even purchasing both the wheelbarrow and the hand cart brings less than spectacular gains, with the exception of a respectable 20% for farming. The hand cart is something of a lemon, adding less than a 10% efficiency increase in most cases. Certainly, a 10% efficiency increase across the board is nothing to sneeze at, but the high cost (both in resources and in lost vills) of getting the cart in the first place make it an upgrade for the imperial age only, unless you are the Vikings or (perhaps) the Chinese.
In fact, all these efficiency results are most wisely considered in the context of opportunity cost. It is true that buying the right combination of 2-3 upgrades (say, for example, the first two wood upgrades and the wheelbarrow) can greatly increase efficiency (+45% for wood alone!). But the initial outlay in resources alone (425 food, 200 wood), not to mention delayed peon production, makes this path somewhat daunting. Will you really be able to recover your initial costs before your less-efficient opponent uses the same time/res to either castle smack you or Imperial jump? My intuition (and it's only an intuition; more work could be done in this area) is that you will not on the Arabia map, but will on water maps, where all civs' opportunity to fish boom lessens fast civs' econ advantages. Therefore, one approach for slower civs on Arabia maps is to defer buying ANY upgrade until at least the castle age, and perhaps even late Castle! The extra resources saved give a great deal more early power.
One the other hand, upgrading your wood, in particular, gives you many more defensive options. With a 45% wood bonus, you can much more readily retreat from a determined attacker by TC sprawling a la Matty. And more generally, "wood is life", the enabler for all sorts of upgrades, military, and farming activity. Certainly slower civs such as my much-loved Byzantines have to carefully weigh the risks of delaying the building of armies and castles in favor of sizable upgrade expenditures.
There is one upgrade that is both cheap enough, and effective enough, to warrant immediate purchase. This, surprisingly, is the horse collar, which effectively decreases the amount of wood you will need to spend on farms by 30%. As Byzantines, I also now tend to get both wood upgrades and the wheelbarrow immediately upon hitting castle. Good luck, and may this knowledge bring about the downfall of the accursed Viking and Chinese dynasties, who need not make such harsh choices about upgrades!