In The Settlers 7, there are three ways to win: Military, Trade, and Technology. You can mix them up however you wish but they all need one thing: a strong economy. In this guide I will explain what food does in this game and how best to use it to win.

Version History:

3/29/10 Version 1.0
4/02/10 Version 1.1
-Added section with strategies and tips about storehouses and carriers.
-Added section for workyard production states.
-Added saved game demonstrating food boosting and use of workyard states to control food consumption.

Saved Game Demonstration:

This saved game was taken at the end of a skirmish match. When the countdown expires, just click freeroam to continue looking around. I went for a military victory with a little bit of trade. Players can study how I've set up my economy, maybe try to imagine how I expanded as I gained new territories and in free roam can work on finishing off all the AI's militarily. Any questions about why I have things set up the way they are, post them in this thread.

Food Boosting
All residences can be assigned food to boost production. Using this wisely can save you valuable space or to boost production in areas where it is needed most. The two kinds of food are common and fancy food.

Common food is either bread produced by bakeries or fish harvested by your fishermen. Fancy food comes from meat, converted by butchers into sausages. What food boosting does is it increases the output of the work yard without affecting the input. For example, you have a common residence with a bakery attached to it. By default, this bakery has an input of 1 flour and an output of 1 bread. If you set the residence to consume fancy food, it changes the attached bakery to have an input of 1 fancy food + 1 flour to make 3 bread.

Important:By setting the food consumption to the residence, you are setting it for all attached work yards.

Let's do another example. You have two lodges.
-Lodge 1: 2 foresters and 1 woodcutter.
-Lodge 2: set to fancy food, 1 sawmill.

In this chain, your input is 1 fancy food and your output is 3 planks.

Noble residences function differently in that all attached work yards require common food as input by default and fancy food will only give a 2x boost to the output.

Starting game production chain using food boosting

-1 Mountain Lodge: 1 stone quarry. Set to fancy food.(-1 fancy food, + 3 stone)
-1 Lodge: 1 woodcutter, 2 foresters.(+1 wood)
-1 Lodge: 1 sawmill, 1 hunter. Set to fancy food.(-2 fancy food, -1 wood, +3 planks, +3 meat)
-1 Noble Residence: 3 butchers. Set to Fancy Food.(-3 fancy food, -3 meat, +6 fancy food)

This is a self sufficient cycle with an output of +3 stone and +3 planks. By using fancy food, we are also extending the finite amount of stone in our starting area by 300%. Sometimes with this setup, your butchers will complain of a lack of meat. This is because the time the hunter spends collecting meat varies by travel distance. Placing another lodge with a hunter will fix this.

Using Work States with Food Boosting
With that example I think it's a good time to talk about work states. You may not be able to set food consumption for individual work yards, but you can set work states. There are 3 states: Always on, When Needed, Idle. When a work yard is set to idle, work stops completely and it does not consume any food or resources while other work yards attached to the same residence can continue working. When set to "when needed", the workshop will automatically resume production as long as its output is in demand(for example, tools).

Using this example above of a production chain, we can change it into a loop that makes fancy food without having to setup a whole different group of buildings.

-1 Mountain Lodge: 1 stone quarry(Idle Status). Set to Fancy Food.
-1 Lodge: 1 woodcutter, 2 foresters.(+1 wood).
-1 Lodge: 1 sawmill(Idle Status), 1 hunter. Set to Fancy Food(-1 fancy food, +3 meat)
-1 Noble Residence: 3 butchers. Set to Fancy Food.(-3 fancy food, -3 meat, +6 Fancy Food.)

Without adding any new structures, our production chain will have an output of +1 wood, +2 Fancy Food.

What if we need to produce coal? Easy!

-1 Mountain Lodge: 1 stone quarry(Idle Status), 1 Coker. Set to Fancy Food. (-1 Fancy Food, -3 wood, +3 Coal)
-1 Lodge: 1 woodcutter, 2 foresters. Set to Fancy Food. (-1 Fancy food, +3 wood. Note: Foresters never consume food)
-1 Lodge: 1 sawmill(idle Status), 1 hunter. Set to Fancy Food (-1 fancy food, +3 meat).
-1 Noble Residence: 3 butchers. Set to Fancy Food. (-3 fancy food, -3 meat, +6 fancy food)

Now our production chain produces 3 coal for us and all we added was a workyard! It beats conquering a sector, setting up a storehouse, setting up a coal mine, doesn't it?

Other Examples

The goal behind these is to save space, thus reducing the need for storehouse carriers and speeding up production. The goal is to have each these chains work from the same storehouse. You only have enough space in most territories for a storehouse and just a couple structures.

Beer Production:
-Farm 1: 1 grain farm. Set to fancy food.(-1 fancy food, +3 wheat)
-Common Residence 1: 3 breweries. (-3 wheat, -3 water, +3 beer).
-Well: +water.

Net: -1 fancy food, +3 beer. You can greatly expand beer production by temporarily setting the common residence to common or fancy food. Recommend building your church in the territory you setup beer production in. If you are going for a tech rush or just need to beat the other players to tech, set the breweries to fancy food and spam those clerics.

Common Food Production:
Farm 1: 1 grain farm. Set to common food.(-1 common food, +2 wheat)
Farm 2: 2 windmills. Set to fancy food. (-2 fancy food, -2 wheat, +6 flour)
Common residence 1: 3 bakeries. (-3 flour, +3 common food)
Common residence 2: 3 bakeries. (-3 flour, +3 common food)

Net: -2 fancy food +5 common food. Can switch bakeries to fancy food temporarily for a huge boost to common food production.

Fancy Food Production 1:
Farm 1: 1 grain farm. Set to common food. (-1 common food, +2 wheat)
Well 1: + water
Farm 2: 1 pig farm. Set to Fancy food. (-1 fancy food, -2 wheat, -2 water, +3 meat)
Noble Residence: 3 butchers. Set to fancy food.(-3 fancy food, -3 meat, +6 fancy food)

Net: -1 common food, +2 fancy food. Now some people do 2 grain farms and 1 pig farm. This gets rid of the need for common food however you only get 1 meat. Doing it that way takes up a lot of space. If you instead want to generate meat to supply to butchers elsewhere and you have the space, expand the 2 farms. You'll get a net of -3 common food +6 meat.

Fancy Food Production 2:
Farm 1: 1 grain farms. Set to common food. (-1 common food, +2 wheat)
Farm 2: 1 pig farm. Set to fancy food. (-1 fancy food, -2 wheat, -2 water, +3 meat).
Well 1: +water
Common Residence 1: 1 bakeries.(-1 flour, +1 common food)
Noble Residence 1: 3 butchers. Set to Fancy Food. (-3 fancy food, -3 meat, +6 fancy food)

Net: -1 flour. +2 fancy food. This setup leaves room at the common residence so you can add other workshops there like a toolmaker.

Fancy Food Production 3:
Lodge 1: 1 hunter, 1 hunter(idle). Set to fancy food.(-1 fancy food, +3 meat)
Noble Residence: 3 butchers. Set to fancy food. (-3 fancy food, -3 meat, +6 fancy food)

Net:+2 fancy food. This one requires the least space and is my favorite. If the butchers start complaining about a lack of meat, turn on the idle hunter for a short while.

Weapons Production:
Mountain Lodge 1: 1 iron mine, 1 coal mine.
Mountain Lodge 2: 1 iron mine(set to geologist), 1 coal mine.(set to geologist), 1 smelter. Set to fancy food. AFAIK, geologists don't consume food just like foresters. (-1 fancy food, -1 iron ore, -1 coal, +3 iron bars, +some stone)
Noble Residence 1: 3 blacksmiths. Set to common food. (-3 common food, -3 wood, -3 iron bars, +3 weapons).

Net: -3 common food, -1 fancy food, +3 weapons. If you aren't making weapons, set the blacksmiths to idle. Then your net is -1 fancy food, +3 iron bars. If you have spare fancy food, you can set the noble residence to consume fancy food to get a net of -4 fancy food, +6 weapons. Good setup for military players. Consider putting your stronghold in this territory.

The Big Picture.
No matter which path to victory you plan to take, following these guidelines will ensure you have a strong economy.
-Try to keep the workload for carriers as low as possible.
-Many territories have free space close to the border just large enough to fit a storehouse so build 'em.
-Do everything you can to save space and storehouses. You'll need less settlers.
-Don't rely on prestige structures too much for all your prestige points, they consume a lot of resources and are a waste of space. Research techs and get trading posts to raise your prestige.
-Plan your construction as you plan for your expansion. If the territory you are about to conquer is fertile and close to a marketplace or port, consider making that territory your trading center and put your exchange there.
-Setting butchers to consume fancy food will mess up your food overview. It will count the butchers as consumers and producers, showing you have a lot more consumers than you really do.
-Use 1 hunter for every 2 animal sources. Make sure you don't cut down any of the trees. I am unsure whether adding a forester to the lodge to expand the forest has any effect.
-Relying on pig farms to make meat takes lots of time and resources to setup, can take up a lot of space if you are looking to mass produce meat, and is nowhere near as effect as hunters are. Try to avoid using pig farms if you can or keep them on idle as a backup. Hence why animals are probably a more valuable resource than anything else.

Storehouses and Their Carriers
Whenever a settler goes to deposit a product or to pickup a resource, they walk to the nearest storehouse. If that storehouse does not have the required goods, it's up to the settlers who work there called carriers to to handle the transportation. Now if the required resources are on the other side of the map, the carriers do not run straight from storehouse A to storehouse D. Instead, storehouse A will send the resources to storehouse B, then B to C, then C to D. Without upgrades, a storehouse only has two carriers. If you can anticipate this, you can influence your carriers to start stockpiling resources in a specific storehouse. When fully upgraded, a storehouse allows you to set it as a collection point for that specific resource. Your carriers will still take care of goods in demand first, if they are free they will work on stockpiling goods at the selected storehouse. If you have an economy where no excess resources are produced or stockpiled and nothing gets wasted, any lapse in your production chain can cause it all to collapse.

We know that carriers work off ques of "first come, first serve". In the first example of food boosting I mentioned, if you have your butchers and your lodges working from separate storehouses, the 2 starting carriers each storehouse has would be busy transporting fancy food to the lodges and transporting back meat to the butchers. Now, we're production planks and stones and we just setup a new storehouse and have laid out a bunch of construction sites.

The planks and stone you were producing now get added to the hauling list for your storehouse carriers. When one carrier used to always carry 3 meat and came back with 3 fancy food, he might now carry 1 meat and 2 planks. What happens next? Well, only one of your butchers will be able to continue the next cycle of fancy food production, but your hunter, your sawmill, and your stone quarry still need 3 fancy food. Guess what happens now? That carrier who only delivered 1 meat is still going to come back with 3 fancy food. Now your butchers don't have the fancy food either to continue producing.

Carriers are limited and can only move 3 items at a time. In the next section, I will explain the 3 different work states for workyards which allows you to better control your storehouse carriers and their priorities.

Workyard Production Modes

In the Settlers 7, there are 3 states that you can set each workyard to for production:
1)Idle: Production has completely halted.
2)On Demand: Goods will be produced if they are ordered or in demand.
3)Always on: Goods will be produced as long as resources are available.

Whether you are just starting the map or in the late game, knowing how to prioritize resources for transportation is important. Having all our workyards set to always be on is great but can overburden our storehouse carriers creating delays or even shortages as goods get consumed faster than they are produced.

If we don't need a production chain working right at that moment, we should set the associated workyards to work on demand. This way we lessen the total amount of jobs your carriers have lined up so that the goods you ordered won't have resources awaiting pickup in a storehouse because the carriers are busy elsewhere.

Example of how effective setting workshops to on demand can be:
We have only 3 bakeries and 3 butchers in our entire kingdom making foods.
We also have a garment production chain which has:
-3 shepherds.
-3 weavers producing linen(set to common food)
-6 garment makers(set to fancy food)

The shepherds just need water to do their job and as a base level gatherer we leave them to always be producing. Our weavers and garment makers, however, we put them to work on demand otherwise we'd run out of food if they were always producing. In the meantime, our bakeries and butchers are producing food for us which might be getting collected at a central storehouse.

We decide we want to sell some garments at the trade port for gold coins to quickly get the banker victory point so we place the order at that trade port. This creates the demand for the garments. Your settlers are very smart. Now you'll see all your carriers jump into action delivering food and resources to your weavers and your garment makers. Then they'll move the finished garments to your export office and you'll see your traders running off to make the deals. One does have to make sure they have enough food in advance to prevent any stalling. We have to remember that our storehouse carriers prioritize goods that are in demand. They won't put keeping the bakeries and butchers running as a priority until things have already stalled. By then, you might not have enough resources left to make even those run. This is why some players experience a decline in food numbers and suddenly every workyard is complaining about no food or lack of resources.

If you are playing on a large map with lots of space, you can afford to setup dozens of grain farms, pig farms, windmills, bakeries, butchers, and storehouses every few spaces to keep all your high end workyards producing. That's the advantage of having lots of space anyways. When you don't have a lot of space however and when the situation changes and you need something produced fast and in bulk, stockpiling food and setting workyards to produce on demand does the trick.

-Less space required.
-Less emphasis on lots of carriers and an upgraded road network, thus improving the overall speed of production of demanded goods. Your carriers can focus more on filling orders and less on keeping a huge and bulky food production network going.
-Low risk of your economy stalling(you'll easily see if you'll run out of food before your orders are completed)
-Allows you to quickly change strategies and priorities without clicking allover the place, configuring workyards, etc.
-Increased output from using food makes up for the lower efficiency score of the workyards.

-Your capacity for mass production is limited by your food stockpile.
-After placing an order, still have to wait for goods to be produced.