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 Post subject: Food Rules All?
 Post Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:04 pm 
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So. Duke Forecastle just accidentally tamed a Double Eagle by feeding it fish. This is interesting! It's the second instance we've seen of a wild Unit being tamed directly, both times by feeding it until it decided it liked whoever was giving it food (the other being when Jillian tamed Crapsack the Yellow Dwagon). Now, on the surface of it, this just looks like you'd expect an animal to be tamed, but we know that food works a little differently in Erfworld.

For one thing, we know that all Living Units (units that are not Golems, Uncroaked, Decrypted, etc.) have upkeep. This takes the form of cleaning, healing, equipping them with gear, and a few other things, but the most important feature is popping rations at the start of every turn. A unit that does not get rations will disband.
We also know, from multiple sources, that hunting, foraging, or being given food can partially or completely offset a unit's Upkeep cost. Units that would otherwise disband can be kept alive with a bowl of stew in the Magic Kingdom or by hunting down wild animals in the wider world. You can harvest some kinds of non-speaking units for food that can be eaten to pay the upkeep of speaking units. Harvested or foraged food can even be stored and kept for future turns, as Jillian did, to ensure that she'd have several turns' worth of Upkeep if necessary.

When a side hires a mercenary or a barbarian, and they form an alliance, that side beings paying the hirelings' upkeep. When you recruit Natural Allies, you funnel schmuckers to them every turn, which they use to pop more units, gear... or food. There's a straight line drawn between food and currency in Erfworld.
Which brings us to the point of taming wild units.
The only two times we've seen someone tame a wild unit, it was a unit with the Leadership special (Forecastle and Jillian) offering food. Or, as it's easy to draw a connection with, they were essentially giving that unit its Upkeep cost. For a non-speaking unit, that's about as clear a parallel as you can get to offering a literal contract. "I pay your upkeep. Stick with me, I'll keep doing it." Forecastle didn't do it on purpose, but it's still what happened to him.

If you look at it this way, you've got a side's naturally-popped units, its hirelings, its Natural Allies, and its tamed beasts, all able to exist solely because of the food they have available. It's a factor that literally decides the existence of every living thing in Erfworld each and every turn: Do you have enough to eat? All sides, alliances, everything in Erfworld depends on this mechanic. I'd say it's arguably the most powerful mechanic in existence that we know of.

So the question becomes... how do you control this mechanic?

Self-sufficiency is one thing, debated on these forums before. Hippiemancers growing edible plants, Turnamancers popping units that can be harvested for food, foraging and farming and fishing in hexes, and so on. But could it be weaponised? Could a Moneymancer attack an enemy side by increasing its upkeep and starving it? Could a Carnymancer remove a unit's need to eat and reduce its upkeep to zero? The Arkenhammer has the ability to tame Dwagons without offering them food first - could that be applied to other wild Units?

Basically it's becoming apparent that if you can control food in Erfworld, you can control the survival of every living unit. So how do you do it?

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:38 am 
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    I think, if we've seen any definitive thing about food/rations... It's that there are a lot of ways to control them.

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:30 am 
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    Th Revanchist wrote:
    I think, if we've seen any definitive thing about food/rations... It's that there are a lot of ways to control them.
    Yes, okay, good, but like what? And in what practical way could you use it against an opponent? How would you make it work? You've got an instant-win condition here if you can pull it off, the ability to croak an entire side in a single turn or the ability to recruit potentially limitless wild units and natural allies. If you can control the flow of food, you can control any living units. So how do you twist it to your advantage?

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:55 am 
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    Well... If we want to stick with Casters... Which is easiest for me, I suppose...

    You've already outlined Moneymancers capability here; raise their upkeep and starve them to death.

    I wonder if a Hat Magician could pull free rations from a hat. That could range from paying their own upkeep (for free!) to basically free natural allies. If they're anything better than standard units, that's a big advantage right there.

    Depending on how mines produce funds, a Turnamancer could perhaps slow it down, making their once-profitable resource hubs much less lucrative. Another method of starving their enemies.

    I doubt it would work, but a Thinkamancer might be able to disrupt the natural process of popping rations or the eating of them. Farfetched, but perhaps theoretically possible...

    A Weirdomancer may be able to grant a special that either drastically reduces upkeep, or removes it entirely. Or, offensively useful, a special that drives away food in a hex, scaring it off or what-have-you, and denying foraging.

    A Carnymancer could also probably reduce or increase upkeep. Or block ration-popping altogether for a time.

    I've got nothing for a Predictamancer.

    A Croakamancer... Could either meatblock hexes, or... That's probably it. Unless they can kill appetites. :)

    Nothing for lookamancers either. :(

    A Dirtamancer could increase or decrease fertility in the soil, as we've seen Digdoug do.

    A Dollamancer couldmake farmhands or miners, or meatblock like a Croakamancer.

    There's more, but I think these are sufficient for now. Unless you don't think so? :)

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:19 am 
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    As far as I can tell, the primary source of income for sides comes from cities, as when Stanley noted that the city would cover Parson and the Casters' upkeep as long as it stands. So, to deprive a side of a substantial amount of income who have to deprive them of cities. Now if you are on the offensive and they are defending then a lot of the income of that city is in place defending it, so when you croak the units and take the city the decrease in both income and upkeep are probably similar.

    However, if on the other hand, they are fighting an offensive war and have a large army in the field then taking out a few cities could reduce income enough to force the side to decide which units upkeep is paid. Of course that would also mean leaving your cities less defended to the same tactic. High risk high reward.

    As for the Caster techniques listed I just don't see them being large scale feasible. They might work against units or even stacks of units, but spells that affect an entire hex are a massive undertaking and spells that affect an entire side are virtually unheard of.

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:45 am 
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    Croakamancy and food, huh.

    I wonder if uncroaked units can "eat brains" to keep from rotting.

    y'know, feed prisoners to them and whatnot.

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:34 pm 
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    I don't think food is a vital part of taming. Stanley is not mentioned as taking food with him when he heads to the mountains to tame feral dwagons... although that is with the 'Hammer so it could be anomolous.

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:49 pm 
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    Probably. Judy wasn't especially prone to high movement, and yet she could go anywhere instantly (to Erfworld) with the Shoes.

    And Charlie can communicate with anyone, not just someone "attuned to the G-strings" thanks to the Arkendish.

    So the Hammer is probably an exception to Erfworld physics.

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:10 pm 
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    Th Revanchist wrote:
    And Charlie can communicate with anyone, not just someone "attuned to the G-strings" thanks to the Arkendish.

    Not sure how your description sets Charlie apart from Thinkamancers, who can send thinkagrams to/from anyone as well.
    In Charlie's case, it seems a matter of unlimited juice, increased power, long distance links and some hacking trickery (e.g. he can shut down other thinkamancers, compromise thinkagrams, hack the eyebooks, etc)

    Th Revanchist wrote:
    Probably. Judy wasn't especially prone to high movement, and yet she could go anywhere instantly (to Erfworld) with the Shoes.

    In context of the thread, a warlord with unlimited move and sufficient food stores/forage capability could tame every beast in an unoccupied hex in all of Erfworld. In one turn.
    Getting them back home would be a bit of a problem.
    As well as paying for upkeep.

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:17 pm 
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    My 2 cents: a side could considerably reduce all its expenses by training its warlords / infantry in cooking. I don't know that there's a Chef type courtier, but if there is they should be popped in a 1/25 ratio for all other unit types. The reason? The quality of the food affects how "nutritious" it is in terms of upkeep offset. A chef could turn forage/hunting into a feast, vastly improving efficiency. Heck, a "lembas" making type baker could prepare high quality field rations if you can't spare to embed a cook in every field stack.

    It's interesting that by stupidworld standards a cooked meal is not always substantially more nutritious (in fact eating food raw has lots of benefits), but a well made meal in Erfworld could feed dozens of units completely and make you a very rich side indeed.

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     Post subject: Re: Food Rules All?
     Post Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:00 pm 
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    That could be a very interesting idea, Spicymancer. I mean, clearly cooking is already a thing - Bogroll cooked for Parson, Zhopa cooks for Stanley, the officers of the Unsinkable II eat fish that was caught and cooked during the turn. But it does make sense that a prepared dish would be more nourishing than just eating something that happens to count as food, like for example a raw fish. Depending on how high the cap is on food quality, a unit capable of cooking good enough food could theoretically turn one turn's upkeep of rations into several turns' worth.

    As for the Arkenhammer, I've wondered for a while if that's something that could be exploited more. Stanley uses it to tame Dwagons, sure, but... well, it's Stanley. I think it's entirely possible that he simply never thought to try taming a less-impressive beast. It definitely seems to be a way around the "Tame Animals By Offering Food" mechanic, which itself just seems to be a sub-category of "Recruit Allies By Paying Upkeep" mechanic. If they could figure out what allows the Hammer to do that, what school of Magic it's using to do so, and apply it to other creatures... or heck, if Stanley simply started using the Arkenhammer to tame things other than Dwagons, that could become a very powerful tool capable of recruiting armies of beast units. Or failing that, he could tame mass numbers of units and have them move back to be harvested for food. It's not quite as exploitative as the zero-upkeep Decrypted, but correctly used the Arkenhammer could potentially have a side with a formidable army whose upkeep was always paid.

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