Lost in the Late-Game Tech Tree


Sep 27, 2007
Toronto, Canada
"The late-game tech tree" (i.e. late Renaissance and beyond) is a big topic, to say the least, so my sincere thanks and appreciation to anyone willing to tackle this, and for any insights you can give. I do intend to actively participate in this discussion, trying to "help you help me" and all that, as I try to figure out whatever it is I'm not getting. Finally, once I have a handle on this, I'll commit to writing the very sort of guide I wish I could read right now! (While late-game teching isn't my forte, writing, happily, is!)

Right. To the point. Tally-ho:

Without fail, sometime in the late Renaissance, I always find myself completely lost when it comes to planning out my tech route. I go from confidently queuing up a bevvy of techs in the early game, to staring blankly at a game of "Pin the Tail on the Tech Tree" shortly after researching Gunpowder. All the techs start to look the same to me, which is obviously absurd, and a chronic case of analysis-paralysis sets in. At times I've even dreaded finishing a tech, because it means I'll be spending 15 minutes agonizing over what to research next ;)

My love for this game is in dire need of a holistic/"big picture"/"Coles Notes" grasp of the late-game tech tree---not of each individual tech itself, but more of how they fit together, so that I don't have to stop planning ahead once I'm training Musketmen.

Since I'm sure many of you are utterly baffled by my inability to comprehend a system that is clearly and in great detail spelled out on the tech tree itself, I've spent a bit of time trying to come up with more specific questions that might help narrow things down. I do think this should make for a fruitful discussion; who knows, maybe we'll all learn something!

  • What (if any) post-Renaissance techs do you tend to think of as a group, either prioritizing or delaying them as a single (loose) package? Early-game examples might include "Mining to Iron Working" and "Archery to Horseback Riding" as the two "military packages".
  • Broadening the above, what are the larger tendencies in the late-game tech tree? What tech paths, while not necessarily forming a group, tend to support certain strategies over others? For example, I might divide the early game tech tree into "foreign relations" (culture/exploration/religion) at the top, then "economy" (happiness/research/gold) beneath that, and finally "military" towards the middle/bottom.
  • What do you consider critical/very important techs, either generally or in pursuit of a specific victory condition? Potential bee-lines, that sort of thing? (E.g. Writing, as an early-game example, and Printing Press for pursuing a Diplomatic Victory.).
  • Any other post-Renaissance techs that warrant additional or special consideration? Techs that, while not rising to the level of "critical/very important", might be key gateway techs, or provide special bonuses that could be very strong depending on your circumstances? (E.g. Refrigeration's Food bonus, maybe?) Stand-out techs for capitalizing on a specific advantage or, conversely, bouncing back from a deficit? "Trump card" techs that are especially good at reacting to certain AI strategies? (Yes, this is the grab-bag question: Sorry.)
  • Any overrated techs, or traps to avoid? (E.g. blissfully teching into the United Nations when another civ is in the lead for a diplomatic win? Which I've never done? Ever?)

Finally, does anyone know of a good printable tech tree reference for BNW, one that includes as much information as possible? I've looked, but the only one I found resembles the in-game tech tree, and lacks that critical mouse-over info.

Again, thanks in advance for your help on this admittedly large, vaguely-defined and nebulous plea for assistance! :) I'm only able to resist an advance apology because I've pacified my conscience with that promise to condense this discussion into a guide when we're finished ;)


Jul 4, 2013
I'm not an expert by any means at this game, but why are you trying to get gunpowder so soon? Are you aiming for domination? Usually, you'll get the techs you need in order to win (Archeology, for instance, should be a priority if you're aiming at cultural). One thing I often do, however, to get my ideology first, is go to Scientific Theory asap, buy schools, then go to electricity and pop Oxford to get to Radio and into modern era (and steal the military techs I won't be getting in the way).


Aug 26, 2012
At this stage in the game you should have your victory plan somewhat planned out so here are rough guidelines for each victory condition:

* If you're going culture archaeology is absolutely paramount in addition to radio. And now in BNW you'll need to snatch refrigeration and radar as soon as possible for the hotel and the airport. Telecommunications will be your next priority for the national visitor center.

* Scientific theory if you're going science (duh) and then beelining plastics. After that nothing much is really important to prioritize except for satellites as the Hubble Space Telescope is absolutely game changing, unless they nerfed it in BNW but I don't think they did.

* If you're going for diplomacy prioritize gold techs like biology, railroad and penicillin for the extra trade routes, refrigeration and combustion for the extended trade route length and electricity for the stock exchange. Then beeline for the information era as soon as possible to trigger the world leader voting. One possible route is beelining penicillin first and then taking atomic theory, ecology and finally telecommunications and globalization as globalization is extremely good for the diplo victory and you want penicillin anyways.

* Domination is pretty much all over the place. However there are some key techs to consider. Military science is great for the military academy, cavalry and Brandenburg gate but most importantly it takes you towards dynamite for artillery which is the most game defining unit possible in the game. They make city sieges so much easier and are excellent on the defence too. Industrialization is crucial for the factories for the extra production and gattling guns are not bad either. And of course you'll want some hard hitting front line units, the riflemen. Then you'll pretty much always want to go straight for biology to see if you have oil or not. If you have oil you can access then flight will be the best possible option at that point as planes can do so much. If the oil is in the sea go straight for refrigeration to get it. At that point you should be able to end the game fairly soon. Just take combustion and steamroll everything with landships, planes and artillery. If you need to stage an intercontinental assault or focus on the sea for other reasons you'll want electronics for the absolutely insane battleships (they are a devastating artillery platform in their own right, too bad they're only on the sea) and carriers that launch planes you use for support. Combustion will be very helpful as destroyers can hunt down enemy submarines and actually capture cities. Alternatively your submarines can take care of enemy naval presence and you can use old units to take cities (caravels for that matter). Then radar for better planes and then combined arms for better tanks. Don't bother with nukes if you're on the offensive except if your enemy has significant air power in which case you'll want to nuke his air cities. Submarines to hunt down enemy aircraft carriers are extremely useful. If you have little or limited oil the same basic principles apply except you'll have to focus more on submarines and destroyers instead of air and battleships on the sea so you'll want to take the same techs but on the ground you'll want to overwhelm your enemy with sheer numbers so prioritize artillery and then take replaceable parts and plastics for powerful basic infantry. Then you'll want ballistics to defend from enemy air as you'll have no planes on your own to contend it. Tl;dr: Ground: Artillery (dynamite) + planes (flight) and landships (combustion) if you have oil otherwise artillery + sheer numbers of GW infantry (replaceable parts) and infantry (plastics) with anti air support (ballistics).

Some larger trends include that military is still largely on the bottom, the cultural and diplomatic civs will want to stay at the top and the science techs are many in the middle.

Generally good/high priority techs include industrialization for factories and coal (especially BNW where you want the factories for ideologies), scientific theory as science is always good, biology as oil is great for both offence and defence, hospitals are paramount for most civs and and an extra trade route is excellent, electricity as more gold is always a good thing and aluminum is critical in the very late game if it gets to that point, railroad as the 25% production bonus is insane and an extra trade route never hurts, plastics, again science is great, penicillin for the extra trade route and food, and nuclear fission as nukes are super useful on the defence and nuclear power plants give you a huge production boost. If you're going culture you can largely ignore most of the bottom of the tree, in fact I usually end up with radio before steel when going for culture.

The biggest trump card tech by far is nuclear fission. That 30 pop capital that houses 14 bombers and is producing science like crazy for your enemy? Nuke it. Nuke the invading army or even a defending army if you feel like it. Another big ones are flight and dynamite as bombers and artillery are so powerful units. Also radio if you get both the Eiffel tower and Broadway, it can really turn the cultural tide. And satellites, I've had it happen one too many times when playing against my friend that he catches the Hubble just before me and at that point it's just gg for me. And while the game is usually over by then stealth will absolutely seal the deal for any domination player.

I would say steam power is an underrated tech because ironclads are really powerful with their +33% against cities. At the end I can't really think of any traps or overrated techs because at this point in the game you should be selecting every tech based on your victory plan.

I don't know of any printable good sources. I know the tech tree well enough to not need the mouse over text so that's all I use.

I hope this helps and I apologize for the vague and unfocused nature of the post but to be fair your questions were pretty vague.

For the record I play on immortal most of the time and can't really handle deity so I'm hardly an expert.


Feb 23, 2011
Sunderland, UK
Good Response Klandri, agree with your summary.

One thing I notice is you mention Hospitals as paramount for most civs. This may be taking it off topic a bit but I've never built a hospital as far as I can remember in over 1,000 hours of play since vanilla. Have they improved it in BNW? Is it common for other players to build this regularly? I guess it frees up specialist to go in empty slots but I'm never usually worried about the extra food by the point I get hospitals. Is it unique to MP?

I play SP Emperor if that's relevant.


Aug 26, 2012
Good Response Klandri, agree with your summary.

One thing I notice is you mention Hospitals as paramount for most civs. This may be taking it off topic a bit but I've never built a hospital as far as I can remember in over 1,000 hours of play since vanilla. Have they improved it in BNW? Is it common for other players to build this regularly? I guess it frees up specialist to go in empty slots but I'm never usually worried about the extra food by the point I get hospitals. Is it unique to MP?

I play SP Emperor if that's relevant.

That was probably an exaggeration on my part but hospitals are still great. It has not been improved since G&K and still gives a clean +5 food bonus. However that is in my experience usually a net 50-500% food bonus and lets you grow a lot faster or focus more on specialists. And the extra population nets you more science. Overall they're a very good building almost no matter which victory condition you're going for.


Mar 23, 2013
I play Immortal, rarely Deity, and I've only played a couple of games with BNW so far, so take all this with a grain of salt.


My entry point into the Renaissance is usually Acoustics or Astronomy, never Gunpowder. Having beelined Education, you generally have both of those techs close at hand; going deep into one part of the tree and neglecting another actually works pretty well, especially with the way science leak works in BNW. Astronomy is a good choice if you have the opportunity to build Observatories and/or you stand to gain a lot from exploring other continents (e.g. you're Indonesia or Portugal, or you want to found the World Congress). Acoustics is obviously bigger for a Cultural victory than anything else, but the Sistine Chapel is always a good Wonder to snag, and it's good to keep it out of your rivals' hands too.

One thing to note well is that—unless you're really leaning on your navy—there are no important military techs in the Renaissance era. This is one of the game's biggest, stupidest weaknesses, but hey, it's the game we've got, and we love it in spite of its flaws. Crossbowmen rule the Renaissance. Some civs have good Renaissance UUs (the Ottomans, Poland) and others have still-good Medieval ones (Arabia, Mongolia) but generally, unless you're rushing somebody with Frigates, it's a bad time for warmongering. Chemistry is still important for the production and so you can build some Cannons to upgrade to Artillery, but it's a relatively low priority. You can focus the bottom of the tree in order to beeline Artillery (see below), but that's a gamble.


This may be unconventional (grain of salt, remember), but I almost always enter the Industrial at Scientific Theory, no matter what sort of victory I'm pursuing. Buy Public Schools in as many cities as you can, starting with the biggest ones. Then (this is the really unconventional part) I'll push straight through to Radio—it's only two techs away, it's a surefire way to get an ideology early, it's an important tech for any victory type, and it nets you an extra spy. Hang onto a Great Scientist (or buy one with faith) and bulb him eight turns after you buy the Public Schools; that will at least finish Electricity and probably put you just a few turns away from Radio.

Industrialization is also a good place to enter the Industrial, but I prefer Scientific Theory. As far as ideologies are concerned, you won't ever have enough money to buy all your Public Schools and three Factories, and Public Schools are a higher priority. You might not have Coal. You almost certainly won't have Coal improved until several turns into the Industrial era; getting three Factories up and running can take a little while. Passing over Archaeology for that long is a bit of a risk if you're pursuing a Cultural win, but many AIs won't open Exploration, so the Louvre isn't necessarily something you have to jump on straight away.

If you're on the right map for it, beelining Artillery (starting in the Renaissance, totally ignoring Astronomy/Acoustic/Banking) can be effective, but it can also be a disaster. Other civs will start to jump out ahead of you in tech and culture and you'll be last to the ideology party. If anybody gets to Flight while you're still halfway across the continent and straggling your way through the Industrial era, you will get crushed. Dynamite is definitely an important military tech for both offense and defense, though, so you should come back for it after you open the Modern era.


I usually go in at Radio, like I said; it's the most beeline-able Modern tech. Plastics should be a high priority. You can go to Flight first if you're planning on making war (bombers are king in modern war) or Refrigeration first for a Cultural victory, but Plastics should probably be your fourth tech at the latest (the only exception would be if you were on the verge of victory and the extra tech just wasn't going to factor). At some point you'll want Railroad for the production bonus and Combustion for the Landship, but that can wait until after you've entered the Atomic era.


In a peaceful game, you might as well pop into the Atomic era at Penicillin as soon as you've researched Plastics and Refrigeration, get your extra spy and all that. If you're not going for a Science win, you never have to research Combined Arms or anything that follows (in a military-oriented game, you'll want to anyway, just for fun). Grab Ecology and maybe Nuclear Fission for some late production gains. You only really need Penicillin, Atomic Theory, and Ecology in this era for a non-Science, non-Domination game (plus Radar for a Cultural game). Particularly in a Cultural game, go straight to Ecology, get Radar, and then go straight ahead to Telecommunications; skip the rest of the Atomic techs.

Radar is, assuming you have reliable access to Oil, also the last important military tech. If you have plenty of Aluminum but little Oil, you still need Radar, but then push on to Rocketry. You also want to go to Rocketry for a Science win—you can go there directly from Plastics.


If you're going for a Science win, go straight through Rocketry to Satellites, build the Hubble, and then jump around and grab all the techs that give spaceship parts. You probably don't need to bother with Spaceship Factories, especially if you can use the Freedom/Order spaceship-buying tenets.

For a Cultural/Diplomatic win, you've probably already won at this point. If not, grab Telecommunications first, then your relevant choice out of Internet/Globalization.

Still working on a Domination win? Pick your poison. Stealth Bombers are the best unit in the game, Giant Death Robots are sort of fun, and XCOM Squads look fun but I haven't seen them yet myself.

Also: I agree with almost all of klandri's advice (the military tips are definitely more thorough than mine) but I'd actually say that nuclear weapons are a trap to avoid. The immense investment of hammers into the Manhattan Project, plus the huge hammer/gold cost of the weapons themselves, means that going for nukes only pays off if you build a bunch of them and actually put them all to good use. Because you have to make the decision—nukes or no nukes?—at least 10-15 turns before you'll have the opportunity to use them, you rarely know whether it'll be worth it.


Jun 6, 2013
My teching goes like this:

- Pick Techs for resources around my capital.
- Pottery/Archery for Grannies/Shrines/Units
- Beeline Costruction (Maths first if domination) for Cbows
- Beeline Philosophy for NC

- Theology for Hagia Sophia
- Education for Universities
- Civil Service for Pikes
- Beeline Machinery & Physics & Steel for 'grades and armory
(if water map) - Beeline Compass
- Chivalry for nites

- Beeline Industrialization for RATATATATATA
- (if city with mountain) = Astronomy
else if (going for cultural) = Acoustics
else if (need smiles & got Religious Texts) = Printing Press
- Chemistry / Eco for hammers and gold
- (if water map) Navigation when at least 5-6 galeasses are ready
- (if culture vic) Archeo for Archeologists
- (if science vic) Scientific Theory for schools
- (if main enemy has Great Wall) Beeline Dynamite

- Bio for oil
- Radio for world congress
- (if science vic) Plastics bulbed with Oxford
(if water map) Electronics bulbed with Oxford
else Beeline Ballistic

Then beeline Telecomm while you win the game.

PS: Somehow I always steal Electricity. Then every city immediately builds stock exchange. My fav moment in the game.
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