Upkeep is a regulatory tool used to tax large armies. If you have an army over 30 food, a Resource, then you will be charges 3 gold out of the ten gold which your assorted worker units are bringing back to you. At 70, this becomes high upkeep, and you are charged seven out of the ten gold which your peons are bringing you.
As such, armies which are large in size should be used as they become available. Leaving an army lying around for a long period of time can be very costly, while others, who have consistently used their resources as they became available, will have, in the long run, more gold to use, if not the same amount of power at any given point.
Also, upkeep is only charged to each load a worker unit brings back. If you sell items or find gold coins, for example, you will lose no good to upkeep. You will also lose no gold which was previously obtained, nor will gold come back once you drop back to a lower upkeep level.
 Upkeep Levels
 No Upkeep
You have below 30 food in use. No gold is taxed from what is brought in from Gold Mines.
 Low Upkeep
For each ten gold brought from Gold Mines, you will only get seven gold.
 High Upkeep
For each ten gold brought in from Gold Mines, you will only get three gold.
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