Home > game mechanics, multiplayer, singleplayer, strategy > Good UB – Bad UB #10: Unique Buildings – Sea Special

Good UB – Bad UB #10: Unique Buildings – Sea Special

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

There are no just good or just bad unique buildings

Even though the title suggests different, there are basically no just good or just bad unique buildings (and units). Every UB and UU has to be evaluated in the context of the game settings and overall strategy it´s supposed to be used in. A (fictional) unique unit archer that gets +100% against melee units is useless in a game played on Islands, where you have no (military) contact with your opponents until Astronomy is researched and archers are long obsolete. A unique building is good if it significantly supports a (playable) strategy.

This edition is all about sea related buildings. Those suck, if there is no or few sea, obviously – so there is no point in judging them for land based setups. Instead I´ll try to come up with scenarios where they could be of use.


Unique building for Carthage; Replaces Harbor
Can only be built in a coastal city; requires Optics
+1 trade route; +50% commerce from trade routes
+1 health from Fish, Crab, Clams

The Cothon is a harbour that additionaly provides the city that built it with one more trade route. It does half of what the Great Lighthouse does,  if you get it into every coast city of your empire. In any game where you cannot profit massively from additional trade routes picking for the Cothon is not an option. In order to profit from Trade Routes you need most of your cities being planted next to sea, you need quite a few cities overall and you require the possibility to trade with other civs. Consequently in any game played on “always war” hence no diplomacy (and with it no open borders for trade routes) you won´t profit from picking Cathage (unless it´s a teamer Ironman).

The main way of trying to use and abuse the Cothon is a game on Archipelago or a similar map in a Single Player or ffa game where any city is a coast city and getting the more profitable intercontinental trade routes comes automatically. Build the Great Lighthouse and the Cothon, negotiate open borders with any opponent you scouted quickly with Caravels and watch the output from Trade Routes play a more significant role in your overall GNP than ever before.

Additionaly the good thing about the Cothon is that it lies on the tech path to Astronomy, a path you don´t value too high on land-based maps, but are sure to follow quick on Archipelago and co.

Trading Post

Unique building for the Vikings; Replaces Lighthouse
Free Navigation I promotion for naval units built in this city; Available for free on Industrial and later starts
+1 food on water tiles
Required to build The Great Lighthouse

The Trading Post is a Lighthouse that provides your ships with an additional move by equipping them with the Navigation I promotion from the start. The question is mainly in what way the additional move on ships can be used as an offensive tool during a game. The best way to look at this is from the perspective of different points in time during a game during which boatings can play a role.


You don´t boat anyone in an ironman/ffa that early since attacking is expensive in itself and boating units somewhere is the most expensive way of attacking in terms of invested production. In a teamer with city elimination 2 triple move Galleys can be an interesting option. It´s more about speed and surprise here than about a massive boating with more than two or three boats with little cargo capability. Galleys carry only 2 units, that means you either have to move super quick with 2-6 units and hit an opponent while he is still in the early phase of getting workers and settlers mainly and doesn’t expect such an attack or  use the three moves for a surprising direct hit which wouldn´t have been possible with only two moves since your oponnent could see the ship one turn earlier.

In medieval it gets the most interesting. Unlike in anc and classi where you don´t have the ultimate unit to load onto that boat, especially not at the early point you mainly would attack via sea in those eras. Here you have the Maceman – and since you’re Vikings anyway, you additionaly have as your UU the Berserk. Basically that´s the best combination of UU and UB in terms of synergy between the two in the game – it´s not game breaking or anything, just that usually there isn´t much synergy between a UU and a UB. Another one would the Mongols Keshik and Ger, but that doesn´t work too well since the the time you could reach that additional third promotion for Keshiks, those are outdated most of the time. The Vikings leader Ragnar being AGG/FIN fits quite nicely into this theme, if you´re playing restricted leaders in an ffa for example.

As mentioned we´re talking about water maps, in this case again something like Archipelago. While it´s not the typical time frame to attack in an ffa since you´re still in the process of expansion, using Berserks and triple move Galleys to hit 1- or 2-city islands is a very interesting option.
Ragnar (FIN improves your sea tiles!) of Vikings is a great thing to get on a water map with many little islands, but without non-Coast Ocean between players that separates them before Astronomy (Optics doesn´t count ;)).


In Renaissance ship movement isn´t that important – if attacking via sea is a valid option, it’s a run for Astronomy. The danger from that is big enough, Galeons having 5 instead of 4 moves doesn´t make any significant difference here – especially none that would validate picking Vikings over many other possible options in a Renaissance start. It would become more relevant if there was more water in Ren games, but since you don´t even have Galeons from the start, that would be pointless.


In indu it´s basically the same, there are too many other options. Still it’s closer than for Renaissance. The reason first being that Industrial is mostly played on maps with relatively more water than Renaissance is and the other options are fewer, also though due to the fact that Russia and England are banned most of the time in thise era.

Modern / Future

In modern and future ships are too fast anyway. The relative gain in moves is negligible.


Unique building for Portugal; Replaces Customs House
Can only be built in a coastal city
+100% commerce from intercontinental foreign trade routes
+1 commerce on water tiles

The Feitoria is just a mean move on the side of the game designers.
It´s effect seems to have big potential for significantly increasing your GNP on water maps. There are very few ways of increasing sea tile output – and only 2 ways that aren´t accesible to any civ. Next to the Dutch Levee there is this. +1 Commerce on all water tiles could be huge, there could be ways to exploit this heavily, if not…

The “if not” is big and centers around the Feitoria appearing when the game is bascially over anyway. When you research Economics and get the expensive Feitorias finally built, the race for corporations is over and those cottages you have are grown out, making the relative gain from Feitorias lower. Economics is bad to research with a priority, the tech path it lies on is one you never want to prioritize over the University of Oxford-path and if you have the chance the following race for Liberalism.

On the positive side there is at least the combination of the UU, the Carrack with the UB. Both have some synergy regarding water maps..

The Feitoria would have to be put back in the tech tree significantly and to a more accesible place in order see play. If you exxagerate this move you can even make it imbalanced probably on some setups – right now it’s not very helpful.

For Good UB – Bad UB part #1 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #2 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #3 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #4 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #5 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #6 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #7 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #8 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #9 click here

  1. milo
    February 12, 2010 at 19:05

    combine great lighthouse and cothons in a BF game, go open borders with everyone and you’ll own 😛

  2. Moineau
    February 12, 2010 at 19:07

    It’s juste 4-8 gold per cities, not something overpowered i guess. (ya you can have 10 later, but you start at 2, then i puted the middle)

  3. Gitbliss
    February 16, 2010 at 15:51

    In capital the 1 trade route will be 4 commerce at least with cothon. with bureocracy that is 6 base commerce….this wil become 9-12 commerce by mid game. Not overpowered but not minnor either…compare it with colosus for example…with colosus your capital needs to work 4 or more sea tiles to do what the cothon does just by building it…

    In an earth pitboss game I played a while back, my capital was making 18 commerce from each trade route, with bure that was 27 base commerce from each trade route! Enough to make bureocracy better than free speech even with 30 cities…

  4. Waki_Miko
    February 25, 2010 at 00:42

    I think Trading Posts are useful for securing the +1 circumnavigation bonus, and before combustion, that extra +2 movement could mean a lot.

  5. Agramon
    March 19, 2010 at 19:17

    I guess the advantage of the harbor over the feitoria is the bonus applied to internal TR and its much earlier btw.

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