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Tech Tree Analysis (first instalment)

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by CarvaJP, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. CarvaJP

    CarvaJP Chieftain

    Jan 11, 2006
    Lisboa, Portugal
    Tech Analysis

    (By CarvaJP - 2006-02-03)


    One of the major elements in Civilization IV is the technologies that become available to the player.

    The Tech Tree has been posted in various ways and formats, but there’s no simple form to show it as a proper hierarchical tree, without using a very, very large sheet of paper, or a diagram that quickly resembles a plate of spaghetti. The issue is that there are too many variations to properly explore the 86 Techs, and the length of a game is far too big to test it.

    After several attempts and reflection, I opted to do an analysis using MS Excel 2003, starting from bottom up, that is, from ending or terminating Techs, and branch up.

    I expect that some errors have crept up from level 6 and above, because it becomes a difficult task from then on, especially in properly coding the Techs (black are required, red are optional), or not missing Techs in the tree. For this I apologize, but I’ll keep revising the spreadsheet as I expand it, and add useful information to it. You’ll find it attached to this post, in zip format, and updates and revisions will replace previous ones.

    Why bother?

    I believe that due to its complexity, it’s probably the subject to least analysis so far. Just by typing all dependencies, I’ve got a grasp in memory of how different techs interact, although this is a Gestalt exercise.

    From the analysis of the several levels of the Tech Tree, some useful insights can be obtained, nevertheless. It is my objective to reveal to you, fellow fans, the useful hints it suggests about this wonderful game we love.


    Frequencies of Tech dependencies

    Barring a critical path analysis, which will have to wait for the end of this project, there are a few things everyone wants to know about, and the first of all is what Techs are the most useful.

    This first question can be answered by the worksheet named Counts, which counts the occurrences of each tech at the present level and above (remember that this analysis is based on the objective tech, and the levels reflect the dependencies to get there).

    I’m working at Level 10 (out of expected final Level 16), so I’ll show you what you get at Level 9 of the dependencies tree for the most frequent Techs – 100 dependencies or more – irrespective of the fact of being required or optional, which is a subject for analysis below (all final Techs are at Level 0, and appropriately are at the bottom of the table; common frequencies are then sorted by alphabetical order), and when do all of these techs jointly appear (Level 5). Next to it you have the table of Level 0 for reference, all Terminating Techs:

    Tech Counts Lvl 5 Counts Lvl 9
    Mysticism 5 215
    Writing 27 178
    Agriculture 7 174
    Pottery 17 160
    Machinery 16 151
    Priesthood 27 150
    Polytheism 15 146
    Fishing 6 142
    Meditation 13 117
    Metal Casting 9 116
    Animal Husbandry 15 103
    The Wheel 4 100

    Terminating Techs
    Future Tech
    Horseback Riding
    Mass Media
    Military Tradition

    Let’s go by grouping things:

    The Basic Techs

    Some basic techs are here - Mysticism, Agriculture, Fishing, and The Wheel - but not Hunting and Mining. Actually this is because these 2 Techs are what I would call second tier Techs, or hidden Techs, meaning that their importance is imbedded, but not yet so relevant at this level of analysis. A good example is Animal Husbandry (but you can go without Hunting, since you can get this Tech with Agriculture, but you also forfeit Archers). As for Mining, trust me, you cannot go very far before researching this Tech; you’ll find it linked to everything that requires Bronze Working or as an option for Masonry, and this includes at least a third of your future Tech research.

    Summary: All big four basic techs must be researched, but you cannot do without Mining. Hunting helps a lot, but it is not a basic priority at this time, unless you’re Malinese or Chinese.

    Religion related Techs

    1. Four religion related techs (Mysticism, Priesthood, Polytheism, and Meditation) are present, which correspond to the basic following table:

    Starting Tech Dependent Tech 1 Dependent Tech 2
    Mysticism Meditation Priesthood
    Polytheism Priesthood

    These account for 628 references at Level 9, out of 1468! That’s 42.78% of the requirements. Also Meditation and Polytheism, if first researched by you, will give your Civilization one of the 7 Religions, as a founding one. Getting Priesthood, after founding Buddhism or Hinduism looks like a good bet.

    2. None of the Civics is in scope yet.

    3. Great Prophets can best quickly be obtained through this partial Tech analysis, since you get 28.58% chances of being the founder of 2 of the 7 game religions.

    4. Wonders are in scope as well: Stonehenge, Parthenon, Obelisk, and Oracle.

    Summary: This is always a good starting bet, for the reasons stated above, especially with Civilizations that can boost this initial advantage and have as one or both their leader traits as Philosophical, Spiritual, or Industrious (all but the Incas, Japanese, Mongols, Persians, and Romans).

    Comments on other Techs

    Writing and Pottery – These are musts. Your Civ won’t go very far without them, because they are at the core of almost everything. Besides, getting Pottery is one of the ways to get to Writing, along with Priesthood and Animal Husbandry. Do note that it’s fairly easy to forget the importance of Pottery if you get Writing from Priesthood. Machinery requires Metal Casting, and this requires Pottery and Bronze Working, as you can see below:

    Machinery Metal Casting Pottery The Wheel
    Bronze Working Mining

    Animal Husbandry is the least of your concerns (unless you have a lot of Pastures to be developed and Horses to be found).

    Critical Techs and costs

    In the end it all comes to what you can afford.

    Mysticism (50), Agriculture (60), Fishing (40), The Wheel (60), and Mining (50) require a total of 260, or 300 if you also want Hunting.

    How you get this is not in the scope of this analysis, because we’re focusing our attention on the Tech Tree (and a few side road incursions), but this is what you need to research these early Techs, and these you must.

    I plan to return with changes and more details when I complete my Excel sheet. Meanwhile, I’ll be following this post as closely as possible, and try to include comments, corrections, and suggestions.

    Thank you.

    Attached Files:

  2. CarvaJP

    CarvaJP Chieftain

    Jan 11, 2006
    Lisboa, Portugal
    I plan to have an update some time this week (Level 11 will be finished tomorrow).

    Edit: The Excel 2003 basic spreadsheet is done! I apologize for any mistakes, mainly in the (red) colouring of tech alternate requirements, or some missed tech's in the first 10 or so sheets (not available for the reasons below).

    I'll publish my analysis this week, or in about 2 to 3 weeks (I'm going on a ski vacation with the family next week:) ); meanwhile, feel free to post comments and use it for your own comments and analysis. Technology is only part of a very complex setup and the 19 levels to attain some is non-linear.

    Due to the limit of 500K upload I had to cut it, but you get the overall picture:goodjob:

    Take care.

    Attached Files:

  3. CarvaJP

    CarvaJP Chieftain

    Jan 11, 2006
    Lisboa, Portugal
    Tech analysis 1

    How to use the Excel sheet?

    It’s not easy, I grant you, because it details every tech bottom up.

    That said let’s look into some practical uses:

    1) since it’s bottom up, it means you can track your tech at the left columns and work up your needs to the right;
    2) you can split it to your usage, because it’s complete, and analyse the branches you wish;
    3) you can use it to better understand your tech options, because its flexible.

    What does it tell the gamer?

    There are 12 terminating Techs. Archery and Horseback Riding are rather limited, but the rest can be pretty much of a mess.

    From a game perspective they can be confusing as you develop more cities, because you have no tech inheritance from city to city, that is, each city is unique, although sharing the overall current facets of your civilization. Let me give you an example: say you successfully develop a market (building) in your capital; it does not propagate automatically to other cities in your civ: you have to develop each one.

    As a more elaborated example, you are hard pressed if you have 5 cities to develop a Space programme, and all of them have the proper requirements to do it. It’s not good enough.

    This should tell you one simple fact about tech research: you don’t get all of the techs in all of the cities concurrently.

    Basically you need to develop a minimum number of techs, and these must be spread to all your cities, although some micro-management is required for optimum results. In other words, you must develop techs towards your strategy goals, but you have to keep a balance to the degree of specialization you ask from each city you create.

    Minimum Techs

    Assuming you’re beginning at 4000BC, there’s hardly any doubt to what techs you want.

    The following table shows each tech by occurrence, up to the end of detail, and dependency of all tech research (level 19). Although it’s a debatable issue as to where to draw the line, I would say this is your major source of concern. Do note that those marked in red are themselves dependent on others, and Animal Husbandry is a special, important case, because it is an alternative to Writing.

    You’ll have to get each an every one of these techs, though you may select (if you’re careful and micro-manage) the way you go about to get them.

    Tech Counts Lvl 19
    Mysticism 1951
    Agriculture 1183
    Polytheism 998
    Meditation 766
    Priesthood 759
    Fishing 747
    Pottery 676
    The Wheel 676
    Hunting 508
    Animal Husbandry 507
    Writing 506
    Mining 460
    Masonry 245
    Monotheism 238
    Bronze Working 215
    Machinery 170
    Metal Casting 170
    Mathematics 157
    Monarchy 155
    Feudalism 151
    Currency 113
    Code of Laws 100

    Not all of the techs you’ll require are here, irrespective of your goal, but these are fundamental to any player, and most are really required, whatever your strategy.

    In game terms you have to get Mysticism, Agriculture, and The Wheel as fast as possible (Fishing is also a must, if you are close to a river/shore/coastal tile, though it can be developed later in the game). Then Pottery, not because of Writing, but due to later techs you will need.

    Do note that Hunting is as low as the first dependent techs, but provides Scouts, so you also need it quickly and early in your game to explore, rather than be explored (other units you can develop early in the game are more costly and less effective).

    This is where your first major decision is done, not on techs, but on other game factors. As far as Techs are concerned you need to have most of discussed above.

    Frequency tells you to go to Writing, and it’s a good option when it becomes available. Whatever you do or want to do, Writing is going to be in it, so get it as soon as possible. And yes, you will also need every other tech in the table above, more or less in their frequency order.

    Do note that some of these initial, important, recurrent techs are bound to the game to create a period of revolution/anarchy to most civilizations. The way to cope with these factors are detailed elsewhere, but not in this article. Also, rushing techs is covered in detail in other posts from different contributors.

    Decisions, decisions

    Civ4 is about decisions. Some fundamental, strategic decisions are taken based upon the type of game you decide to play, while others give you a lee-way of sorts to decide for yourself. Tech decisions go along, but a bit of planning are required, because there are terminating techs that DO limit your strategy.

    Planning for the end game, you have to consider the following terminating techs, which are at the root of my spreadsheet. The following list is a focused one on these issues, being all contributors to the winning game (Archery, Ecology, Horseback Riding, Mass Media, Medicine, Military Tradition, and Robotics are not included in this list, because they cannot contribute directly to winning conditions, although this is open to argument):

    Terminating Techs
    Future Tech

    The first three in the table above are Major Civics, while the last two are not classified in a way to impact the game in such a direct fashion.

    Democracy and Fascism are Government Civics requirements. Democracy is also a Labour Civic advantage. Communism is an Economic Civic plus.

    This tilts Democracy as the best option in the game, so this is your best strategic goal.

    This is where some careful analysis of the spreadsheet comes into order. For the sake of argument, let’s assume we want to get to Democracy as fast as possible.

    Democracy starts at line 188 and ends at line 294. A simple copy and pasting, plus a change in Counts to a working sheet gives the following sorted table:

    Tech Counts Lvl 19
    Mysticism 43
    Agriculture 23
    Polytheism 21
    Meditation 17
    Priesthood 16
    Fishing 12
    Pottery 12
    The Wheel 12
    Animal Husbandry 11
    Hunting 11
    Writing 11
    Mining 6
    Masonry 5
    Monotheism 5
    Code of Laws 4
    Monarchy 3
    Civil Service 2
    Currency 2
    Feudalism 2
    Mathematics 2
    Theology 2
    Alphabet 1
    Bronze Working 1
    Constitution 1
    Divine Right 1
    Drama 1
    Machinery 1
    Metal Casting 1
    Nationalism 1
    Paper 1
    Philosophy 1
    Printing Press 1

    This actually lists all the techs you need to develop to get to Democracy. The frequency counts should tell you the relative importance of a certain tech in the branch you’re looking into; the more frequent are usually earlier requirements for your Civ, and constitute major dependencies.
    Less frequent dependencies, like Printing Press, are later requirements.

    You can also use the spreadsheet to calculate some basic costs involved, and I’m working on this to give you a quick, simplified version to do just that.

    How to use it?

    During the game it is easy to lose focus due to the changes and occurrences happening all the time, and the decisions you must take which are not tech related. The way to keep track of this is quite simple: use a Tech/City matrix, like the attached example provided, print it out, and tick the appropriate boxes. By quick comparison towards your tech goals, you’ll know quickly what you’re missing or overdoing.

    This is a management task, and you should refrain from accepting the end of turn, before checking your cities and units progress. That said, you need to create a habit to micro-manage your progress, especially at critical turning points, which tend to happen at every 3 turns, broadly speaking.

    You should carefully track a few things in each city, and how their modifications interact for best results:

    1) your ratio on investment percentages;
    2) your city management menu options;
    3) Food and Production, Health and Happiness bars.

    All of these interact dynamically with your tech options (plus a few other aspects of the game). You should explore changes, before accepting the end of the turn.

    Tech is mainly connected to beakers available and gold. Judicious use of Great Persons is also a plus, so don’t be complacent on micro-managing these facets of the game.

    This concludes this first instalment. I hope it was helpful to you, and your comments will contribute deeply to my second instalment of Tech Analysis.

    Thank you.

    Attached Files:

  4. Chimera

    Chimera Chieftain

    Mar 30, 2003
    It seems like you've put in a lot of work, but how do you interpret the spreadsheet?
  5. CarvaJP

    CarvaJP Chieftain

    Jan 11, 2006
    Lisboa, Portugal
    Your answer is posted above. Thank you.
  6. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Chieftain

    Oct 8, 2002
    I wanted something like this when I first started playing Civ4.

    But then I realized this does not show the best order to research techs. It does not show extra techs that will speed up research even though they are not on the list. And it does not show how trading or using Great People for research can speed up your progress.
  7. CarvaJP

    CarvaJP Chieftain

    Jan 11, 2006
    Lisboa, Portugal
    You are absolutely right on all accounts, but this is only the first instalment. As for your specific points:

    Speed up extra techs: This is a hard topic, and requires me to dig into the available code, which I have not yet done.

    Trading: from my experience you have two ways to look at trading, related to tech; you trade techs, or you get indirect boosts from trading stuff. This is relevant on both accounts, but it also links to other game issues.

    Great People: the role of Great People (GP) cannot be understated, and you have several strategic options to use them; should you "pile" them for a bigger boost, a golden age, or use them as they come about? The quick answer lies with the gold you have available at the time, and the research help they can provide. Assuming the resources are there, does consuming the GP give you the tech you need? No table can do it for you, because GP's are somewhat random (but based on your city's specialization, current techs, and available resources). Sure, you can improve your chances to get a GP, but how often is he the one you really need, due to the effort involved?

    Most of GP occurrences let you instantly research your tech, at a cost. This is a LEAP in Knowledge for your Civ, so to speak, not a normal tech development. You may get it, or you may not, no matter how hard you try.

    As you know, some techs help compound the attainability of other techs, as well, beyond the dependency tree which I've posted, usually through indirect means (building something, or making a certain resource available).

    I'm not backwards-reengineering the game; I aim to provide simple, manageable clues and tools for Tech choice and decision, if possible, and at this stage.

    I would like to point out that, as the game progresses through the eras, your tech choices become harder and costlier. My attempt to mapping them with fairly easy tools does not replace the decisions players have to take due to inumerous factors, which in many cases are independent of technology. After all, this is not a technology-only game, is it?

    I'll try to address other issues, when I complete my next contribution (second instalment), but you have to bear with me.

    Thank you.

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