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I'm pretty much ignoring Great People (Great Scientist, Great Engineer, Great Merchant and Great Artist), excluding the Great General which works very different from the other four Great People. I don't actively try to get them, but they are of course nice to have and I use them if I get them.

I'm wondering now

  • how one can increase the generation of Great People?
  • is it useful to focus on the production of specific Great People?
  • can a Great People-focused strategy be effective?
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think a strategy focusing on great people can be viable - especially great scientists and great engineers, they can really make you leapfrog forward by saving many turns.

Is it useful to focus production on great people? Yes, I think it is. I've been experimenting lately with creating cities that focus on one type of great people, in order to generate them quickly. I think only the first few cities, the "major" ones, are appropriate for this strategy.

What you need is to:

  1. Build the city next to a river or lake, in order to be able to construct a garden.
  2. When you choose which wonders to build, make sure they all generate the same great-people type.
  3. Obviously, try to get as many relevant specialist buildings as possible. I think, however, that it might be better to let the city grow for a while before you transfer citizens to become specialists.

Wonders are important for this strategy, so try to focus on them (and maybe also use Egypt and/or the +% wonder production social policy). The patronage social policy that grants great people from city-states is also nice, though a bit hard to get.

Though I haven't played a full game like this, on one of my games I have made an attempt to focus my capital on great engineers, and the results were pretty good.

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Marble helps too, for wonders. –  sykora Apr 30 '11 at 13:43
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In vanilla (no mods/addons) Great Scientists are really powerful and can ensure that you maintain a healthy tech lead. You can bulb key techs like astronomy to discover the other continent early, and spaceship (or war) techs at the end of the game.

For GSes, you can force one or two scientist specialists to work in your cities and it will automatically start the creation process. This will slow growth slightly but provide plenty of free techs in return.

Note that due to the way great people are generated once a non-capital city has generated one it may never generate another so you may decide to stop working the scientist specialist in that city. To be more precise here, the number of points required to generate a great person is a global value that increases for each person generated, while each city's total is reset to zero once it generates such a person. Thus once a smaller city generates a GP, it resets to zero and may never catch up to faster generating cities like your capital.

Great Engineers can also be situationally useful to obtain key wonders, depending on your game strategy.

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Could you clarify "Note that due to the way great people are generated once a non-capital city has generated one it may never generate another"? Are you just saying that the number of points needed can get prohibitively high? –  bwarner Jan 11 '12 at 22:18
    
I edited in a bit more detail to hopefully explain, it's roughly what you say. –  Mark B Jan 11 '12 at 23:36
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