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I usually let all my worker units roam free on automation, unless I need a specific improvement right now. I usually never care about the tiles worked by a city, at most I may switch the priorities to production or gold for some time when necessary. My scouts and other exploring units are usually set to explore automatically…

This does feel somewhat lazy, and I'm sure my empire could run more optimized if I tweaked everything by hand. On the other hand, micromanaging seems to become very complex very soon, to the point where I'd just keep missing opportunities. How much more should I care about individual details to maximize my efficiency? And where am I safe leaving the details up to the AI without it screwing me over?

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I realized I didn't do a very good job of suggesting how to make this less subjective. Worse, I didn't work very hard on heading the question toward less subjective parts, and so I think I've prevented others from answering that way. I'm sorry. I propose you re-ask your question like "which of the automation options are nearly optimal?" or "what mistakes have we seen the automation options make?" Then you can decide for yourself which are "safe". The new question might have to be split up for each automation option: city citizens, exploration, etc... –  WillfulWizard Oct 18 '10 at 5:00
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@Willful I'm sorry this has caused a divide between us. Would you like to form a pact of cooperation? –  deceze Oct 18 '10 at 5:06
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up vote 14 down vote accepted

This actually sounds pretty subjective. There is only one non-subjective answer I can think of:

Micromanage Early, Automate Late

Early in the game, you have few cities, few population. A couple of well used units can topple another civilization. A worker improving the right square and double your food income. But late in the game, you have lots of cities and units, all the important hexes are improved, you've explored everything already. In short, early in the game every decision affects a greater part of your civilization than the same kind of decision late in the game.

So, micromanage your units early in the game, when they matter a lot. Then, whenever you think they've become unimportant, automate.

Most of the other reasons to automate or not end up being subjective, or simply:

It depends.

Do you want to win absolutely, and play on the highest difficulty possible? Chances are you should be micromanaging everything, checking on every city/unit every turn.

Do you like some parts of the game and not others? Perhaps you like war but not building? Automate whatever you don't like, and play what you do.

Do you enjoy quick games or watching a world evolve with only light input from you? Automate a lot, and click next turn to get to the fun stuff. Also maybe play on quick.

In short, it depends on how you want to play. As long as you're having fun, you're doing it right.

Can you rephrase your question at all to be less subjective, less abut how you specifically might want to play? Maybe, "which of the automation options tend to make good/bad decisions?" We can't tell you how much to care about automation, but we can tell you where you might want to care, if you decide to.

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I was basically asking how I should play. :) I started a game in which I'm micromanaging everything. So far it's going okay, but I couldn't tell whether this is any more efficient than leaving everything up to the AI. I do agree though that micromanaging early at least feels advantageous. –  deceze Oct 3 '10 at 6:58
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@deceze: Whether micromanaging or automating is more efficient depends on how good you are too. :) –  Larry Wang Oct 5 '10 at 9:16
    
@Kaestur: Why do we need Artificial Intelligence, when there's plenty of Genuine Stupidity around? –  GoatRider Oct 8 '10 at 2:49
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