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Research Agreements (vanilla)

Research Agreements
How research agreements work


Classical era research agreement

"Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination" - John Dewey

Research agreements are a gold costing investment between two civilizations, which upon resolution provide a boost in beakers. They are critical for any fast peaceful victory, with optimal usage allowing such feats as launching to Alpha Centauri in the 1300s.

  • RA - Research Agreement
  • Tech - Technology
  • Bulb - A freely granted technology gained by either expending a great scientist, completing Oxford, the Great Library or the Scientific Revolution social policy.

Basics of Research Agreements

Research agreements become available to a civilization when it has researched philosophy. For an investment of gold, two civilizations may agree to sign a research agreement. At the beginning of the turn after normal deal duration, the research agreement ends and an amount of beakers is provided into the technology being researched equal to half the amount of beakers required to research the median technology available. The research agreement is applied before any technology is completed, and if multiple research agreements are signed on the same turn they resolve one after the other, though each may only "complete" a single technology. While this can shift the median, it's preferable to spread out research agreements across turns when a single will be completing multiple technologies. If war is declared between the signers, the deal is canceled with no refund and no beakers provided.

For example, on standard speed a research agreement signed on turn 60 will add beakers at the beginning of turn 91. If the technologies available are:

  • Education - 533 beakers
  • Chivalry - 533 beakers
  • Compass - 412 beakers
  • Construction - 115 beakers
  • Bronze Working - 60 beakers

the median tech, Compass, is 412 beakers, and 206 beakers will be granted by the research agreement (see Education for tech tree image).

If there are an even number of technologies available, the median is the mean of the middle two. For example, if Bronze and Iron Working were both complete in the above example, just the top four techs would be available, shifting the median to between Compass and Chivalry for 472.5 beakers as the median, providing 236.25 beakers.

The amount of beakers provided can be increased by an additive 25% of the median tech in two different ways: by controlling the Porcelain Tower, and by having the social policy Rationalism. These only matter at the time of resolution, and getting both of these boosts RAs to providing the full value of the median tech.

If the beakers granted by a research agreement exceed the cost of the technology being researched, overflow is applied to the next technology queued (via shift+clicking on the technology tree) or applied randomly if no technology is selected. Each research agreement resolving on a turn can complete at most one technology, along with an additional technology completed by standard research after the agreements resolve. Any overflow beyond completing these technologies is saved for the next turn.


Modern Era RA with an AI three eras behind
Research agreements have a gold cost that increases based upon the highest era reached amongst the participants. The costs at standard speed are:
  • Classical - 200
  • Medieval - 250
  • Industrial - 300
  • Modern - 350

The standard game speed costs are modified by 2/3x, 1.5x and 3x multipliers for quick, epic and marathon game speeds, respectively.

The AI will always be willing to sign a research agreement for this price if they have the funds and are not hostile. If the player is technologically ahead of the AI, the AI will require an additional 100 gold (or equivalent worth, eg two strategic resources and 10 gold) per era they are are behind; this penalty is not modified by game speed.

Maximizing Benefit

To get maximum benefit from research agreements they must resolve at times where the median tech value is high. The most expensive tech and least expensive tech should rarely matter, so generally the optimal time of resolution will be when more than half the techs available are expensive, and less than half cheap. Because a single research agreement plus overflow can complete multiple technologies at once and shift the median up, multiple RAs should generally be staggered across turns unless you have a firm understanding of where the resolutions will occur and what median shifts will happen.

Additionally being era(s) ahead of the AI increases the cost of RAs, so the signing and resolution can be planned to minimize this cost. The current era each AI is in can be determined at any time by going to the Global Politics section of the Diplomacy window.

To illustrate maximum benefit in practice, what follows are tech tree screenshots prior to potential resolution points in a standard pace game including explanations.


The goal of this point would be two early RAs signed to complete Education. This is somewhat suboptimal in that Education can be hard teched in less time than it takes to complete Optics, Math, Currency and Horseback Riding to shift the median up to Compass level, however this lets those techs be completed while still getting Education completed in a reasonable time. Note again that completing Bronze and Iron Working would reduce the total number of technologies open to 4, which would shift the median to between Compass and Education for an extra 30 beakers per RA.

Spoiler Tech tree prior to double RA resolution for Education :

First Wave - Chemistry

By researching into medieval era techs without quite completing them, it is possible to sign classical era RAs and still get the tree to this point before their resolution, while both completing the Porcelain Tower and opening Rationalism after bulbing or hard teching Astronomy. The median at this point is Acoustics (7 turns), so a wave of five RAs could grant:
  1. Metal Casting and Steel
  2. Engineering and Physics
  3. Gunpowder - Median shifts to between Navigation and Banking
  4. Banking and part of Chemistry - Median shifts to Navigation
  5. Chemistry and Machinery

The result is over 40 turns worth of technologies from five classical era research agreements, in addition to gaining the production and military boosts provided by Chemistry. Although the first three RAs in this sequence do not shift the median, because they are completing multiple technologies each they must be spread across multiple turns to ensure the median shift happens before the fourth resolution. Additionally note that the order of preselection is important to maintain the highest possible medians, for example if you complete both Metal Casting and Engineering before Steel, six techs will be open and the median will drop to between Machinery and Acoustics. If only four RAs will be resolving there is no direct benefit to completing Banking, as a median shift only matters when further resolutions will happen; instead Chemistry can be chosen for the final resolution.

Spoiler Tech tree prior to multiple classical era RA resolutions for Chemistry :

Second Wave - Late Renaissance

With five technologies open, the lowest cost two do not matter for resolution value. The goal at this point is to end up in later renaissance in a position to sign the final wave required for a science or diplomatic victory. The median starts at Archaeology, so five research agreements could grant:
  1. Acoustics
  2. Scientific Theory
  3. Military Science and Archeology with cumulative overflow - Median shifts to between Steam Power and Fertilizer
  4. Fertilizer and most of Metallurgy - Median shifts to Steam Power
  5. Metallurgy and most of Steam Power

The result is nearly 60 turns worth of technologies from five Renaissance era research agreements. The ordering was manipulated such that the median is increased as early as possible, while Industrial era is not reached to avoid the era gold cost increase and additional 100 gold penalty.

Spoiler Tech tree prior to early Renaissance era RA resolutions :

Diplomatic Victory

Diplomatic victory allows for very high medians. For both diplomatic and scientific victories, optimally all the final techs will be completed through either bulbing or research agreement resolutions. Given that all these techs are free the goal is to have RAs provide multiple techs via staggered bulbing. The diplomatic tree can start like this after a few bulbs, with as far as metallurgy not completed to the left. The median starts at between Telegraph and Penicillin, so the first four research agreements could grant:
  1. Replaceable Parts and Metallurgy
  2. Flight and Rifling - Median shifts to Penicillin
  3. Dynamite and Railroad
  4. Combustion and a chunk of Mass Media

Spoiler Tech tree after a few bulbs to optimize RA resolutions for a diplomatic victory :

Three bulbs can then complete Penicillin, Radar and Plastics which shifts median to between Ecology and Mass Media, allowing the remaining three RAs to complete:
  • Mass Media and most of Telegraph - Median shifts to Ecology
  • Telegraph and Electronics
  • Ecology

The result is eleven techs completed with seven research agreements, and Globalization a mere two bulbs away.

Spoiler Tech tree after fifth RA resolution and multiple bulbs for a diplomatic victory :

Scientific Victory

Scientific victory starts in about the same place as a diplomatic victory, but the lack of the Refrigeration split reduces the available median significantly; although the same total number of techs are required, one additional bulb is needed for a science victory. There are a few paths possible that are fairly equivalent in number of techs provided, the below example expects at least Metallurgy or about one fourth of Replaceable Parts complete prior to starting.

Starting with the median at Refrigeration level, the first five RAs provide:
  1. Rifling and Dynamite
  2. Railroad - Median shifts to between Refrigeration and Electronics
  3. Replaceable Parts and most of Combustion
  4. Combustion and most of Flight - Median shifts to Electronics
  5. Flight and most of Mass Media

Spoiler Tech tree after a few bulbs to optimize RA resolutions for a science victory :

The final RA can be delayed a few turns to ensure Mass Media and Electronics are both finished. After bulbing to Rocketry and starting the Apollo program, the last two RAs will provide
  • Electronics - Median shifts to Computers
  • Computers

The result is four techs remaining for the various rocket parts, which should be completed through more bulbing.

Spoiler Tech tree after fifth RA resolution and rocketry bulbed for a science victory :

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