View Full Version : How to Win the Space Race on Emporer

Jan 08, 2006, 06:57 PM
This was originally written as a response to Bone Crusher's thread, and I thought it was worth posting on its own so that others might read it. These strategy suggestions are intended to be useful with any map.

Elizabeth seems to me best at high level space race wins, though I have also had luck with Huyana after an early Quecha rush. See the thread "Reassessing Leader Traits at Higher Levels" for more. All this is based on using patched version 1.52, which is a little harder to win space race on than previous versions, esp the first. Since it takes more production for space ship parts, the value of labs and other production-boosting facilities increased with the patch.

First tip: Cottage spamming is usually a good thing, but also, don't neglect great scientist production. Use the early ones to build 1-3 academies in what you want to be your super science cities and then use them to join as super specialists up until about 1200 AD. Around that point, it becomes mathematically more advantageous to use them for techs, as long as those are space race-related techs. If the tech that the great scientist will help you with isn't advantageous to the space race, hold onto the scientist and continue researching until you are given an option to gain a free tech in a crucial branch of your tech tree. Golden ages and super specialists are not as effective of a use of late scientists and engineers as is using them for techs.

You need at least FIVE production-oriented cities to build spaceship parts--cities with mined hills and food to support them. The more the better. You can use less productive ones to slowly build casings while the most productive are reserved to build costly parts ASAP. You will need other cities with little production and lots of full-grown cottages to support them financially. The majority of my early game strategy focuses on securing this minimum number of production cities and a similar number of commerce cities. The smallest feasible empire for a space race on Emporer or above seems to be about 10. A few limited, early land grab wars will usually be in order, then peace. Don't go for religions unless you are prepared to got to war. Use your religious status to obtain strategic peace with neighbors and/or trading partners.

Are you timing your completion of the factories/power sources/laboratories correctly? This is crucial to the space race. All cities building parts must have factories and power to win. That means the factories tech should arrive around the same time as rocketry. There's no time to build factories or power plants when you could be building casings and thrusters.

While building Apollo Program in your most production-rich city (which should have iron works at that point but won't have factories just yet) you need to be able to secure factories and power in at least four other production cities, preferably five. Then the second you get Apollo, flip to building casings in all production cities but the iron works city that just completed Apollo. The second you finish the Apollo program, build a factory and power source in the iron works city (a lab too, if you have the tech). This won't take long with iron works.

At this point, ALL CITIES NOT COMMITTED TO SPACE SHIP PARTS SHOULD ONLY BE BUILDING RESEARCH (if at all possible). If you absolutely need troops, fine; but it's far better if you can set these cities to "beakers only."

Now beeline to computers (if you haven't already) so that you can get labs. You should have prepared for this by researching preliminary computer-related techs.

The key is timing the techs and buildings so that no turns are wasted on factories, power sources, or labs when they could be building parts. That and using the great people most effectively. Philosophical and financial rock with this strategy. Organized and aggressive (for the early land grab) are OK. The others are pretty useless in this mode.

I hope this helps. It was satisfying to win at this level. Good luck and happy civing!

Jan 08, 2006, 07:27 PM
Yeah, labs are really worth building in 1.52. The only issue I take with this article is religion: founding a middle one and spreading it throughout the game will give you a substantial boost, especially with Wall Street. You can use the cash to raise your science input and rush buildings like labs. If you have the opportunity to get Taoism, Christianity or Confucianism I say go for it.

Jan 08, 2006, 10:15 PM
The most important factor in winning the Space Race on Emperor and above (i'm 7 for 8 so far) is canny diplomacy. Need to make sure the aggressive civs have someone to attack - preferably not you - at all times. If you can sic them on your closest rival, you're home free.

The second thing would be minimizing farms (after using biology juiced farms to get midgame cities up to speed quickly, switch them to workshops/cottages).

You don't really need that much production to get the parts built - you'll be building them while researching more techs. You do need lots of commerce/good trade routes/resources.

Jan 09, 2006, 06:14 PM
For what it's worth, I agree with Bezhukov about the importance of diplomacy at high levels. This of course explains why I think religions generally aren't worth it with this kind of victory attempt.

Maybe I should have titled this "The Importance of Production in High Level Space Race Victories"--or something like that. I assumed when writing this that people playing on this level already understand the importance of tech in the space race and have plans for staying in the race with all the handicaps.

Jan 10, 2006, 04:09 PM
Would you say that bee-lining to rocketry is a good idea after researching the essential techs (agriculture, animal husbandry, wheel, etc)?

Jan 15, 2006, 02:25 PM

This isn't really a strategy article and shouldn't have its own thread.
First tip: You need lots of great scientists.
Too bad there are no second or third tips to go along with that :lol:

Jan 20, 2006, 01:35 PM
No, I wouldn't say that rigidly beelining for rocketry after the early techs is a good thing. The conditions of the game in the meanwhile may demand that you get others, like ones for civics that let you maximize your science output, or like a quick rush to education that takes advantage of the philosophical characteristic's half price production bonus for universities.

Not about strategy? I'm confused. How is this post not about strategy? Or is it that you think it should be longer?

Jan 23, 2006, 04:21 PM
How about use the scientists to build the academies??


This isn't really a strategy article and shouldn't have its own thread.

Too bad there are no second or third tips to go along with that :lol:

Feb 05, 2006, 02:39 PM
Yes, I use the first 1-3 great scientists for academies, depending on the map, city layout, etc. It's a good idea to decide early on how many super science cities you want. Too many and the academies don't earn you as many beakers because it becomes mathematically more advantageous to populate cities that already have academies with great scientists.

The question is whether you can get more beakers out of one or two cities with two or more super scientists, or with a lot with no scientists. A city with an academy, a library, a university, and an observatory will earn you +125% science for each specialist. You need to figure that in obviously when deciding at what point you quit building academies and start populating your science cities with super specialists or use them for techs.

Feb 06, 2006, 03:36 PM
I just won the Space Race on Emperor and started a new thread ("Suicide Internet strategy") about my approach--basically it entails going for Fiber Optics as fast as possible by whatever means necessary, then turning off all science to accumulate massive amounts of gold while you build the Internet, then catching up to all the AI with the Internet and using the gold to hurry the Space Elevator. It seems nearly failsafe to me if you are not too far behind on tech by the time you get Scientific Method.

Feb 06, 2006, 03:41 PM
Could you get into the nitty-gritty aspect of building up on emperor and what research path to take to win the space race? For example, do you cottage spam and only dedicate one city to GP production? What wonders do you go for? How many cities to find at the beginning and how low do you allow your science rate to go before you stop expanding and consolidate? When (if at all) do you go to war with your neighbors? axemen/swordsmen/macemen rush? or only go to war when you get your grenadiers and cannons?

Feb 06, 2006, 04:57 PM
See a detailed account of how I managed it in the "Suicide Internet" thread.

Lord Chambers
Feb 06, 2006, 06:06 PM
For such a strong advocate of the internet you sure aren't making much use out of it ;)
Suicide Internet (

Feb 12, 2006, 02:22 PM

I go to war early, when I get catapaults, and I grab enough land to ensure the minimum 10 cities I mentioned in the thread. I'm a big believer in lots of cats.

I use three cities for great people, balancing my wonders and specialists. These are often coastal cities with ocean resources (can't cottage the water). I cottage as much as food allows in other cities, then toward the end I turn them to farms to support more mines if the city will be producing spaceship parts.

I have no set research path, though I tend to prioritize pottery and bronze early, education and astronomy middle, and the ones discussed in the orginal post late. Research paths need to be adjusted for leader traits, military threat, etc.

Wonders? It's much harder to grab wonders on Emporer, especially if you have no stone or marble. Stone is the more valuable, imho, for this kind of win, as it doubles speed on Pyramids (switch to Representation early and enjoy the bonus three beakers/specialist) and Oxford University. The Great Library is doubled with marble, but it doesn't require a whole lot of shields and can often be chopped if you've saved some trees, even if you lack marble. Obviously the Space Elevator is nice, though I have won the race on Emporer without it too.

Hope this helps!

May 19, 2006, 11:48 PM
Hi GodotNut,

I'm fairly new to Civ4, (and even newer to these boards, this is my first post), but I was happy to read that a lot of the observations you made about Emperor-level Space Race victories corroborate how I've been doing things in my game.

I don't play on Emperor yet, but these are some of the strategies I've found to be very useful.

Leader: Philo & Financial.
Like you, I seem to get the best Space Race results with Elizabeth.

Civics: Bureaucracy & Representation
One of the things I try to do is get my capital to be my knowledge-production city, and switch to the Bureaucracy and Representation civics as quickly as possible. Bureaucracy's 50% increase in base commerce in your capital is very powerful, and when you combine it with Representation's specialist beaker bonus your capital can become an incredibly powerful knowledge production city. I'll also try to build the Great Library and the National Epic in the capital as soon as possible. Later Oxford will be built there as well.

Getting Bureaucracy & Representation ASAP
I use the Pyramids for getting very early access to Representation, and I use the Oracle to get Civil Service for free (I research up to COL) while I focus on the other branches of the tech tree. It takes a long time in the early game to research Nationalism & Constitution to get to Representation, but if you have the Pyramids you can delay researching them until their cost is extremely low.

Monasteries add 10 research points, and they stack. I don't know how you feel about founding religions, but I like having early access to building monasteries in my capital.

Research Path
I tend to prioritize my mid-game research as follows:
* COL/Civil Service
* Education: I use one Great Scientist to cut the cost of researching Education.
* Astronomy: For the trade routes.
* Steel
* Economics

My late-game research path tends to differ from yours. I'll actually try to go computers first, and then Rocketry. I usually find that my bigger bottleneck is still tech instead of production.


May 21, 2006, 12:13 AM
To win the space race, you need to keep one thing in mind: only the Engine matters. Because the Engine requires so many hammers, Fusion is so late to be researched, and no resource speeds up Engine construction, the Engine will always be the bottleneck in any reasonable space race path. You can even research Ecology after Fusion and finish the Life Support in a second-tier city before the Engine is finished.

Launching the spaceship earlier relies on two factors:

1) Research Fusion faster.
2) Have a monstrous production city available the moment Fusion is finished.

To speed up step one, follow the regular fast-teching steps up through the Enlightenment, i.e. widespread expansion, cottage spamming, generally solid play. Once you approach the Industrial Age, start thinking about getting to Computers as fast as you can. Forget about Rocketry for now...there is no prize for early completion of the Apollo Program. You still have many techs to research, and every beaker helps, so get those Laboratories up in the cities that matter.

Take a long, realisitic look at whether you have the means to win the Space Elevator race. If you have a tech lead/2 GEs/industrious trait/some other edge, then go for Plastics/Robotics. If not, forget the Elevator. If you properly plan your Engine-building city, the +50% from the Elevator will be lost among the other bonuses and will not save that many turns. DO NOT SLOW RESEARCH TO CASH RUSH THE ELEVATOR!. The turns you'll lose in research delays will not be made up in production speed.

If you don't need Mech Inf immediately, but still won't get the Elevator (Continents game, e.g.), get Rocketry before heading back to Robotics...this lets you build the Casings and Thrusters in crappier cities. Then get Robotics, go back to the north path and run for Fusion. Start the Docking Bay in your best current production city. At this point in the game, every city needs to be building spaceship parts, military, or Research. Even if your late cities don't have Universities/Observatories/etc, just have them build Research. It's too late for more science buildings to matter.

Step two is where the race is usually lost. Study this guide:

Those Ancient/Classic/Renaissance Era production cities that built your entire military and defended an empire are now worthless crap. Hills and farms pale in comparison to the raw production power of State Property and modern Workshops. At some point in the late Renaissance/early Enlightenment, you want to pick your Engine-building city and start making plans to have it online when Fusion is ready to roll.

The ideal location has 20 grassland tiles. One floodplains per plains is fine, but you don't want the health penalty too high. Mandatory buildings include: forge, factory, power, Ironworks, laboratory. You want enough health and happiness to support 20 workers, so build whatever other buildings are needed here, depending on your available resources. Use temporary farms to get the population up faster if needed. If you won't be able to get enough health bonuses in the city, then get the population to 21+ and let them slowly starve during engine production.

Regarding the Ironworks:
If you are going for the space race, it's good to save the IW for a grassland workshop-city than to put it in your best production city available at the time. If you think you will hit Fusion first, but started specializing the city late, then you can use that Great Engineer to finish the Ironworks in this city. This will delay the Engine by one turn, but that's much better than slowing research at some point to cash-rush the IW to have it ready in time.

What should you do if you don't have a spare city for this? Take a look at your late game science powerhouses. One of them will have the land you are looking for, cottaged up the wazoo. Pick one without two National Wonders already and construct the necessary buildings (forge/factory/power/etc). You can tear down a town or two if you need some farms to bump up the population, but don't go crazy yet. Also, make sure you have 20 workers on hand. A few turns (depending on game speed) before you will get Fusion, have each of your 20 workers start building a Workshop. Use the GE to pop the Ironworks, and voila, you just converted a science powerhouse to a production monster in one turn.

At this point in the game, you can afford to lose a major science city and still have Ecology researched and Life Support built faster than the Engine, so don't worry about the are in the home stretch. You can even start to back off the Science slider a little. Use that cash to sabotage rival civs construction of the Engine.

Have fun space racing on's still not easy, but this plan has definitely worked the best for me.

May 22, 2006, 09:36 PM
As long as you've researched Communism for State Property, don't forget to build Scotland Yard somewhere. Start building it right away, so you can crank out and plant the 4 spies just in case the race is really close.

May 23, 2006, 03:16 AM
On monarch and up, I definitely prefer the incan empire. One reason is that quechuas can own archers, but get destroyed if attacking other warriors in a city. The AI doesn't usually even build warriors in the higher settings. When I see even one warrior in a city with my initial quechua, I have to send archers with my quechuas, and the odds of success go way down. Thus higher difficulty settings are actually easier.

Here's a fun way to do it: So I set up a large terra map with all 18 civs. This setup will usually put 2 or 3 capitals within early useable range. I build a barracks and send groups of ~6 cover-promoted quechuas to the capitals. Of course, be wary of hills, etc. Having two or three times as much territory as anybody else after the rush will allow you to gain a technological edge, especially if you obtain alphabet early, develop, and trade properly. On monarch I almost always found a religion, shrines are very nice on larger worlds, but on emperor I try to get bronze working early to make sure I can thwart the use of copper by my neighbors. I've had one case where I had to send a vanguard force to prevent copper acquisition before I had built enough to capture the second capital.

I could go on and on but fast forward:

As mentioned by others, planning ahead is really the key here. Look at the costs and production bonuses associated with each part, and look at the capabilities, or potential capabilities of your cities. For one, time your research so that you don't have to wait around building the most expensive part at the end because you chose to research fusion last.

I usually get industrialism before rocketry (it's necessary to secure aluminum), and try to get computers relatively early for the labs which are very important for both research and faster SS builds. I also try to get fusion before my space elevator is half complete so that I can use the engineer from fusion to efficiently hurry the space elevator. Keep in mind in the early-midgame that you will need a production city relatively close to the equator for the elevator. Plan your wars accordingly.