Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Science of Science

Since I have recently renewed my interest in academic pursuits, this brought up a fairly common question in my alliance:

Are experiments worth it?

A big part of the equation is whether or not you have an Optician. This changes the return from 2 Crystal per research point to 1.36 Crystal per research point. Still, how does that compare to the cost of the research points at your Academy?

I have all the "regular" research as well as Science Future 1. This puts the cost per Scientist at 6 gold per hour, and the output per scientist at 1.16 per hour. When all is said and done, each research point I get from scientists is costing me about 5.17 gold.

We can use this number to ask how much Crystal would have to be worth for an experiment to be of equal gold cost. At 1.36 Crystal per research point, Crystal used in experiments balances out at 3.8 gold per Crystal. If I were to spend 4 gold or more per Crystal to do an experiment, that would be a less efficient use of gold to obtain research points than the scientists. If I were to spend 3 gold or less per Crystal, that would make the experiment the more efficient use of gold to get the research points.

Since I could sell the Crystal at 5 gold each, does that mean experiments are a bad idea?

Not necessarily. It only means they are less efficient than scientists. Rather than doing an experiment, you would be better off selling the Crystal and using that gold on scientists.

But that isn't the whole picture either. You can only have so many scientists based on Academy levels. And while you certainly shouldn't be taking any scientists off to save up gold and buy Crystal, that doesn't answer the question as to whether it's worth doing experiments in addition to the scientists.

The answer is, it depends. I have well over 20 million gold and 160 cargo ships, so I have no reason to save any more up. The comparison for me is not against the gold, but rather against the marble I could use that gold to buy. Using the numbers from the last post, we see that the next Future research for me is about 1 million research points, and provides the benefits of roughly 3 million wood/stone worth of buildings. After the Optician, that's costing me only about 1.36 million Crystal for that many research points.

Since Crystal is about the same as wood and much cheaper than marble in my area, the experiment wins bigtime, at least for me. To calculate this for yourself, add up the total costs of your next Town Hall level and your next two Museum levels. Compare that total to the number of research points required for your next Futures level. If it's more than the research points, experiments are for you. If it's less than the research points, buy marble instead.

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