Resources and Economics: Please make it more challenging!
I'm a relatively new player, but have sufficiently built up two cities to near completion and I have noticed the ease with which I collect resources and the speed at which I hit my resource cap. I basically hit the cap almost every day after I log in from signing off. While this is great and all, I find that it makes a critical component of the game, resources and the economy, almost completely meaningless with the exception of gold and crowns. Let me explain:
When you start a new town, the resource speed is relatively slow. You are almost looking to get more resources in order to obtain the necessary resources to build more houses for pop cap, units, buildings, and eventually walls. You painstakingly set up your entire town in a methodical fashion to obtain the most bang for your buck. After a couple days of this and with a few quests under your belt, you find that your resource rate is surprisingly good and you start to rack in the mats. After two more days, you have a solidly well oiled machine and you find that you are capping out almost everyday you log on. This is all fine and good except what is the point of trading now? I don't need to trade. Sure, maybe I can sell the excess food, wood, and stone to the market for additional gold to convert into crowns, but I find that resources become relatively useless outside of hammering out those last upgrades, training new units, repairing walls, and a few other things but I typically possess such a large surplus that I wind up resource dumping on a friend that recently started playing.
Almost any RTS out there requires a certain level of attention in order to maintain a strong economy, but I feel in DOF that once you set up your value chains there is really nothing stopping you from capping out (even with all the upgrades) unless your town is besieged and destroyed and, even then, you rebound with ease and continue the fight with little consequence. When you first enter the game, you see the real need for resources when you get going but later on it is effectively overcome and becomes practically effortless. Now, I'm no master of this game, but my Human and Orc cities are full every single time I log in and I find myself a little disappointed and don't understand why resources aren't used more effectively. After all, trading (involving the long trek or short on the overland map) appears to be important and yet it really isn't. So I want to propose a few changes that would turn the player economy into something more robust and in line with a castle building game as that is supposed to be 'half the battle'. What is the point of building up this whole city just to cap out so quickly and have there really be little to no management of it outside of defending from attacks?
TL; DR Suggestions -
* Have your population actually EAT FOOD. The higher the population, the higher the consumption rate. This would just effectively reduce your food gathering rate since a portion of what is obtained will be consumed. Marching armies should EAT FOOD. Make it so that animals fatten slower in the winter and that players actually have to 'save for the winter' in order not to sustain penalties both for marching armies and the penalties within your home city. These penalties might include (if your food were to hit zero in the city) lower resource gathering rates for other resources, unrest / rebellions of peasants (which could create property destruction, fires, loss of livestock). Armies that run out of food could have lowered attributes at a fraction of their potential or even hit point reductions. Animals should also CONSUME FOOD when fattening. This would actually make markets valuable because if you were to run out of food in the winter, you would have to purchase it to maintain standing armies and your home population as well as livestock. Fattened animals, due to consuming food, could fetch a higher gold price at markets or be used in the winter months when food is scarce.
* Arrows, crossbow bolts and the like should USE WOOD. So your archers ran out of arrows in the field, did you bring some wood along? Well then you can create some additional arrows rather than having to 'return home'. This would make it a requirement to bring along resources while having battles. Wood should also be a required resource for making encampments.
* Stone is relatively worthwhile since it is used in wall construction and repair and siege ammunition, this is why I don't understand why the other resources aren't used more effectively.
* Resources should not respawn nearly as fast as they do. This will make gold more valuable, in addition to just acquiring more crowns, having that extra gold will allow you to procure any of the other resources when you do run out. It will also make losing sieges a bit more damaging to the loser as it will take longer to recover because resources will actually be more 'valuable' rather than just a dump.
You are probably seeing what I am trying to do here. I'm trying to make TRADE actually useful and an integral part of the game rather than just something to dump other resources on to acquire more gold to get more crowns. Food consumption for dragons would also curb the amount of dragons on a battlefield, effectively solving the conundrum of using too many elites in battle.
My Orcs gather resources a lot faster than my Humans. I'm not sure if it's just the fact that my Orc city is more efficient or if it's some sort of game dynamic.
Humans: can continue to acquire a moderate level of resources but are restrained by the above factors, such as food consumption
Orcs: can acquire more resources, however they will exhaust their resources faster due to the rate at which they acquire them and they will have more downtime on waiting for the respawn of these resources. As such, Orc resources should respawn a bit slower than humans.
Elves: since Elves don't actually 'exhaust' resources, and more resource gain is through trickles, I think this is balanced. However I haven't gotten very far with Elves so I'm not sure if later on your 'trickles' turn into 'surges' due to a high level of deer and the like, if this is the case then perhaps the rate of acquiring resources should be decreased; however, because they don't technically harm the environment, at least for wood and food, they never have to really worry about resource respawn except for gold and stone mines.
I think these changes could significantly enhance long term game play, make resources a lot more useful and VALUABLE, as well as creating a far more robust game economy than the one at present. If you made it this far, please let me know what you think. Some people complain that building rates are far too slow, well that is certainly how the game was designed. It is not Starcraft 2, so, as such, I think it's important to adjust the economic gains and resources accordingly to make economy as much a part of the game rather than just an obstacle to be overcome within 2 days of starting.
A final word, I just want to say that I absolutely love the game. You guys thought of everything and I just want to applaud your efforts. Fantastic job. You deserve all of your success.