Tech Path to Winning the Space Race

zagnut

Monarch
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**For Beyond the Sword - patch 3.03**

This is a revision of an article first posted by Orion071. I tried to contact him by email to see if he was going to revise the article for Beyond the Sword. However, he has not answered in a week. Therefore, I am going to revise it myself to show the changes made by BtS.

** EDIT Orion071 revised his original thread to take into account the changes made through Beyond the Sword. You can find his thread here: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showpost.php?p=5912387&postcount=25 **

His concept was to chart a course through the tech tree that would take you to launch by the most direct route. And if it looked as if another civ was going to beat you to launch he reminded you to send a spy to their homeland and sabotage one or more of their cities that was building major spaceship parts, thereby giving yourself some additional turns to achieve the launch.

First, a few assumptions. You have to have a civ actually capable of winning the space race. All of the tips and tricks in the world aren’t going to help you if Monty has knocked you down to 2 cities or Mansa Musa is already 6 techs ahead of you. This is for the civ who has just finished Rocketry and may be a tech or two behind and wants to catch up peacefully. You should probably have at least 8 cities, with one major production center (usually the one with Ironworks), 2-3 secondary production centers, and the rest can be anything. You should also have Aluminum and Copper to finish certain parts quickly, but that shouldn’t be a problem either.

My first advice is DON'T PANIC when you see that someone has completed the Apollo Program and is starting their spaceship. You have plenty of time to catch up. One thing I love about Civ IV is that you have to go through almost the entire tech tree before you can launch a ship. There are 10 techs after Rocketry that need to be researched, so that’s at least 50-100 turns depending on your game speed.

Here is the research order with the rationale for each selection.

1) Rocketry – When this is complete, you can build the Apollo Program. Aluminum doubles the production speed, so make every effort to have it available. Your best production city should build the Apollo Program as quickly as possible. You cannot create any other spaceship parts until you build the Apollo Program wonder.

2) Plastics – This doesn’t enable any parts, but it’s necessary for you to get Composites and Computers. Plastics are needed for Computers which, in turn, are needed for both Superconductors and Robotics. Many people go for Satellites after Rocketry, but I think it is more important to go straight for the techs that enable you to build the Laboratory (Superconductors) and the Space Elevator (Robotics). Each of those buildings give you a 50% boost toward the construction of spaceship parts. If you get Laboratories in each of your major production cities and the Space Elevator in one of those cities you can use that bonus to overtake your opposition. The city with both the Space Elevator and a Laboratory gives you a 100% boost in spaceship production.

Plastics also enables the Three Gorges Dam, which is a nice wonder, but one that is very expensive. In a tight space race you really only need 3 or 4 good production centers, and they can be supplemented by coal or nuclear plants instead of spending a huge sum on the dam.

3) Computers – This doesn’t enable any specific spaceship part either, but as set forth above, it is the crucial tech needed for Superconductors and Robotics.

4) Superconductors - This is a new tech in BtS and is the only new tech that has an impact on the space race. It enables your cities to build the Laboratory and also enables the production of Thrusters. Don’t be in a rush. At this point you have plenty of time. Assign the construction of the Thrusters to one or more of your lesser production cities. You can build up to 5 Thrusters and it shouldn’t be hard to build 5 by the time you have the necessary techs to build the other spaceship parts. 5 Thrusters will give you additional power to overtake another civ that launches with fewer Thrusters.

5) Satellites – This tech is relatively cheap to research compared to the techs above. Satellites (along with Robotics) are needed to build the Space Elevator. The tech also unlocks the Docking Bay which is the most expensive piece to construct. However, it does get the 50% aluminum bonus. This is also a tech that you might be able to obtain by trade. The AI likes to get it early and with your detour to Plastics and Computers, you probably have some good bargaining chips. Build the Docking Bay in one of your better production cities, but save your best city for the Space Elevator.

6) Robotics – This tech unlocks the Space Elevator. Start the Space Elevator in your best city that can actually build it (has to be near the equator). You can also rush build the Elevator with Universal Suffrage or a Great Engineer. Do so if you can.

7) Fiber Optics – This unlocks the Cockpit and the Internet. The Internet is unnecessary at this point, because it’s too hard to build and we don't have many techs left anyway. The Cockpit is easy to build, because it is one of the cheaper parts and gets a 50% bonus for Copper.

8) Fusion – You get a Great Engineer for getting this first and you can use it to complete the Space Elevator if it is not already completed. The main thing about Fusion is that it unlocks the Engine. The Engine is the most expensive piece to build and your best city needs to be all over this as soon as Fusion is discovered. It gets no bonuses for Aluminum or Copper and you will want to build two Engines if you have time in order to get to Alpha Centauri faster. Often, the AI’s leave this piece until last, and this can definitely be to your benefit.

9) Composites - This unlocks the Casings. You need 1 - 5 to be able to launch, so build them in several good cities. However, remember that the Stasis Chamber which comes with the next tech, Genetics, gets no production bonuses and you should have a good production city ready to build it.

10) Genetics – This unlocks the Stasis Chamber, which is the second hardest piece to build. If your best city is building the Engine, then your second best city needs to be on this one. Hopefully the Engine(s) and the Stasis Chamber will be done at approximately the same time.

11) Ecology – This is the last tech that you’ll need to finish your ship. But it also has one of the easiest part to build, the Life Support. Since your best cities are working on the Engine and the Stasis Chamber, your next best city needs to be ready for Life Support.

Even after all of this, if you still find yourself behind in the race, there is a way to win. You need to take a Spy to your rival civ, find where he’s building the Engine, and sabotage it. Just stopping the Engine once can often buy you 7-10 extra turns. That should be enough to tip the scales in you favor. If not, rinse and repeat!

Also keep an eye on your competition in the space race. They may launch with the minimum number of parts. I don’t know how much longer it takes a minimum spaceship to arrive as compared with a ship with 5 Casings, 5 Thrusters and 2 Engines. Perhaps someone else knows the answer to this.

Cabert also posted a few tricks to shave some turns off production. If you are focused on the space race and are not bothered by a war you can use some of these concepts:

a. with all the productivity buildings (lab, factory, power, ...), a chopped forest is worth a lot (100+ hammers). If you still have forests around when deciding to go for space, keep them for the final rush. You cannot pop-rush or $-rush parts, but you can chop for them! I decide on which city builds what not only using the current hammers/turn but also with the number of forests available! You workers may be jobless anyway.
b. starvation : you don't need the population after you have won, so starving your cities in order to work the most hammer heavy tiles is often a good move.
c. Golden Age: this is well known, but it is so efficient that you really shouldn't forget it
d. if you have a Great Person after launching this golden age, think about where to settle him. Most great people have hammers or food! 1 more base hammer (Great scientist) can be enough to finish 1 turn earlier.
e. if you are spiritual, bureaucracy for the final rush is superior to free speech. If you aren't, anarchy is the worst possible move.
f. $ rushing anything worth more than the hammers produced in one turn on the turn before starting a part will give you double hammers in the first turn invested on the part. It's not much but it means one less turn!
 

WTBCzero

Warlord
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I'm sure that in the last game I played, a extra engine shaved off 2 or 3 turns. Which really isn't that much, considering how long it takes to build the engine.
 

MrCynical

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There's some good advice here, but there are alternative routes through the tech tree that are often more effective.

1)Rocketry - While the AI may beeline this, it isn't a high priority for a space race win. Sounds counterintuitive I know, but until you get to the last component it is research, not production which is the limiting factor. Speeding up research is therefore more important than speeding production, and Apollo can wait a bit. A better starting point is...

2)...Superconductors! You're getting to this tech via plastics. Not too bad, but there is a quicker route. You can instead get to superconductors through electricity and refridgeration. With supermarkets giving food, and the increased importance of health, refrigeration is a higher priority than before anyway, and it's a much quicker route to superconductors. Getting the labs in place everywhere speeds up all the other spaceship techs.

3)The space elevator - There is an argument for not actually building this. As I've said, until you get to the very last component, it's research, not production that's putting the limit on your launch. Worse still it requires Robotics, which is not a required tech for the spaceship construction. Is the elevator going to save you enough time on the last component to justify having to research an extra tech? This can sometimes be mitigated by stealing Robotics from an AI.

Obviously the engineer from fusion can't be used to rush anything at this stage if you don't go for the elevator, but it might help in engineering a final golden age.

4)Computers - Again, not actually an essential tech for the space race. There's an alternative route to Fibre Optics via The Laser. Given Computers obsoletes three wonders, this might be worth considering. You do need computers to get to the elevator, but as I've said, that may not be that useful.

5)Genetics - if you go via Superconductors you can begin researching this immediately. The extra health can still be some use at this stage, and given the Stasis Chamber is an expensive component, I don't like leaving this too late. Ideally you want the cheapest component last for the earliest possible launch.

My tech order would probably go something like:

1)Superconductors
2)Genetics
3)Rocketry
4)Plastics
5)Satellites
6)The Laser
7)Fibre Optics
8)Fusion
9)Composites
10)Ecology

Once Apollo is completed your low grade construction cities can build the thrusters while the good ones take the Stasis chamber and docking bay. These should be done by the time you reach Fusion, when your two best production cities can begin the engines. Whichever your best remaining cities are work on the casings while you research ecology, and then finish off the dirt cheap life support wherever gets it built fastest. The casings should be done at roughly the same time. The cockpit's also cheap and somewhere can build that while you're waiting for fusion.
 

Orion071

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I added a BtS post to my original thread that describes my preferred path. Here's a link to the post. It's not quite the same as what you have here and you also forgot the Laser tech.
 

Bureaucracy

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Cynical said a few good things, I will add some others.

You claim you should have at least 8 cities, but there is a deity level wonder-builder who claims you only need 6 to win on any level comfortably. Also, while you claim people should go after building the Apollo project right away, this same player stalls it until after the internet project is built. And even then he stalls it some more after that point often.

Reading this thread, I feel a little dissapointed. What I think we want mostly to know is how the different parts affect the launch date, and how does the randomness factor in. I am guessing that the total turns of flight may be probability based, but I am not even sure on that.

Is there a chance that the ship may fail altogether if not fully functional? Again, I have not found out information on this.
 

MrCynical

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Bureaucracy said:
Is there a chance that the ship may fail altogether if not fully functional? Again, I have not found out information on this.

Each casing part increases the chance of success by 20% (so if you build all five the ship is certain to succeed). The flight time is consistent from game to game for complete ships, so I don't think that there's a random factor. It takes 11 turns for a ship with all thrusters and engines on normal speed, and about twice that with only one engine and thruster. Docking Bay, Cockpit, Stasis Chamber and Life Support are all mandatory for the ship to launch.
 

zagnut

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I added a BtS post to my original thread that describes my preferred path. Here's a link to the post. It's not quite the same as what you have here and you also forgot the Laser tech.

I realize my path is a little different than yours, Orion071. I didn't intend to highjack your thread, but just to supplement it because I thought you were no longer active on the forums.

I do not think Laser is required for the space race. It does follow Satellites and leads to Fiber Optics. However, I recommended going to Fiber Optics through Computers. It is one less tech you have to research.
 

MrCynical

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I do not think Laser is required for the space race. It does follow Satellites and leads to Fiber Optics. However, I recommended going to Fiber Optics through Computers. It is one less tech you have to research.

Only if you go for the elevator. If you ignore it then its the same number of techs as you're getting the laser instead of computers, not in addition to it. You're also not wasting time on robotics.
 

modzso

Chieftain
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Aug 15, 2007
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Each casing part increases the chance of success by 20% (so if you build all five the ship is certain to succeed). The flight time is consistent from game to game for complete ships, so I don't think that there's a random factor. It takes 11 turns for a ship with all thrusters and engines on normal speed, and about twice that with only one engine and thruster. Docking Bay, Cockpit, Stasis Chamber and Life Support are all mandatory for the ship to launch.

Once I launched my spaceship before the last casing had been completed by mistake. (The last casing completed on the same turn or on the next). It said the probability of success is 80%. Perhaps the mission failed :(
But you can start building the ship again :)
 

WTBCzero

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Only if you go for the elevator. If you ignore it then its the same number of techs as you're getting the laser instead of computers, not in addition to it. You're also not wasting time on robotics.


Laser also enables two military units (Mobile artillery and Mobile SAM IIRC), which can come in handy to protect yourself against any attacks while you are building your spaceship.
 

GeorgeF

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For me, if you're not totally out in front in tech, my space race is tech-limited more than hammer limited. With a civ of 10-12 cities, all with decent production (Mining, Inc helps), you can rely on your minor cities to each produce either Casing or Thrusters. I really like Computers for the internet. You can then go for Robotics for Mech Inf and their defense, and let the Internet provide you Artillery, Rocketry, and a lot of the other prerequisite techs, leaving you to concentrate on Superconductors or Fusion.

Using this tech path you build Apollo Program after Internet, meanwhile getting Superconductors and building Labs everywhere. When Apollo program is done, you can build Space Elevator and just build defensive units in your cities. Once the Elevator is done, you'll have all but 1 or 2 techs needed, and you can just build all the units simultaneously in all your cities. Your big production centers doubling up or doing the expensive parts like Docking Bay and Engines.

One factor in this strategy is that you don't even need Apollo until very late, you can concentrate on Labs and units until the last 20 turns or so.

Another factor is that the AI will jump on you if you get too many spaceship parts at the expense of military; this strategy keeps your cities producing units until right at the end when you get all your parts over just a couple of turns and then you launch.

This also means you get maximum benefit from Elevator and Labs, because you have the Labs for the final tech push, and both when you are producing all of your spaceship parts.
 
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