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Tech Tree Strategies


Nov 8, 2001
Arlington, VA
I'm curious to see what tech strategies everyone has adopted. I'll post my own thoughts by age, and I'd love to see everyone else's responses. Clearly these change depending on how the game plays out, but in general it's a good road map.

Ancient Age:
Depends on the Civ I start with. If I start with a Civ that has Alphabet, then I go immediately for Writing - from there you can get either Literature and the Great Library (useful if you have a lot of Civs around you) or go on to MapMaking - critical if you are isolated on an island.
- If I start with someone who has Bronze Working, I'll make the jump and go for Iron. Just makes life easier knowing where that is, and whether I can control it.
- Otherwise, I'll tend towards the Wheel. Horses are quite useful through the early Industrial Ages, and if you don't have any, you're in a lot of trouble. Ultimately, knowing where the horses and iron are early allows you to guide your early expansion - and you can trade for the other techs later.
- Afterwards, I had been following a rather predictable pattern - I would beeline for Republic and switch over as soon as possible.
- Lately, though, I've been handling matters ina different way. I try to get in touch with as many Civs as possible in the beginning, and go for the Great Library. After this I go for Mathematics, Currency, and Construction - allowing a focus on making money and increasing city size. I'll get the other techs from the GL anyway, and switch to a Republic a little later.

In the Middle Ages, Feudalism comes first. I love Sun Tzu, and it's very convenient to be able to upgrade to Pikemen. Then Monotheism (free if I'm scientific civ), then Chivalry for the Knights. At this point I switch over and go up the Engineering branch to Gunpowder. If and when Leonardo and Sun Tzu are in place, I'm able to immediately upgrade the defense rather cheaply. Switch back to the other branch, and from here is a guess. If I've got a tech lead, I might as well get Education. (I've just learned that the Great Library works for you as long as you haven't discovered Education.)
- Basically, in the Middle Ages, I find it's all about the Wonders. You've got to plan ahead and maybe start a Palace or two once you have Cathedrals and Universities built, and if you time everything right you can get a head start building the key "Happiness" wonders like Sistine Chapel, Bach's Cathedral, and Shakespeare's Theatre. If I'm doing well production-wise, and have a couple of wonders in the works, I'll wait on heading towards Democracy, and try to get Astronomy and Economics before everyone else. The Observatory and Wall Street (as well as Adam Smith's) give you more money and science to play with, and can shorten some research times later.
- Rushing towards Navigation can be very useful if you think you know where the other continents are. You can make a lot of money getting the first trades in place and selling Maps and Communications to everyone on your continent.
- I'll go towards the Theory of Gravity and then Metallurgy and Magnetism last. Oftentimes I'll wait on Military tradition until after I've entered the Industrial Ages and learned where the coal is - I'll backtrack so I can upgrade my knights and secure some coal.

Industrial Age: This is straightforward for me. Steam Power and Industrialization, then switch over and beeline towards Replaceable Parts, then switch back and beeline towards Refining. Great, I now know where all the resources are located, and I can probably upgrade my Muskets to Infantry. Back over to nab Theory of Evolution before everyone else. Usually I can then get Nationalism, Communism, or Espionage for free from this wonder (Nationalism is also free if you're scientific). I keep going to get Electronics, then hop back and build up to Motorized Transport for Tanks. I'll buy or trade for Sanitation and the other ones I've skipped. Finish up flight and Radio, and into the modern ages. No paratroopers or marines for me - I can't even tell you what techs yield them. I think this is the easiest tree to climb.

Modern Age: I've not played through this age all that often, but from what I do recall, there are two more key resources - Aluminum and Uranium. I usually go for the Eco-stuff first - pollution starts to kick in at this point, and I can get a Mass Transit or Recycling Plant in Place by the time I research Synthetic Fibers and then Rocketry. Secure my alumnium and BAM it's Modern Armor time.
- However, not building the UN can hurt a lot. I always try to hold back a Leader to rush this Wonder. So I can resarch my way to Modern Armor first, then backtrack to Fission. I also will get Fission at any cost if I know other Civs are building the Wonder. A spy can often steal it at a cheaper cost than trading away whatever else you have.
- At this point it really depends on the game. I like to get Mech Infantry as soon as possible after I have Fission. If you're building the spaceship, you'll want to focus on that. If you're going for another victory, then there might be other priorities.
One thing that I do fairly frequently in the ancient era is to try to research "depth first" rather than getting all the leftmost techs first. There are a couple reasons for this.

The techs get more expensive as you go to the right, but there is a 40 turn max on the number of turns it can take to research any tech. So what I do is to take my research all the way down to 10% (or 0% and put a scientist somewhere). That way, I can build up some mad cash and eventually get a tech for way less a number of beakers than it's actual cost. The built up cash can then be spent by cranking science all the way up and researching something a little lower. The AI also seems to research "breadth first", so you can also use the cash to buy the less costly techs from them. Expansionist civs can also fill in the lower levels of the tree by grabbing goody huts.

As far as which techs to get, it depends a lot on the map. On huge and/or island maps, I often try to rush straight to Map Making so I can start building the Great Lighthouse and have a few galleys exploring, looking for contact with other civs and land to grab. Being able to travel in sea squares can often mean that you'll have access to land that other civs won't be able to get to until they get Navigation. Finding horses and iron is also very helpful, so Iron Working and The Wheel are nice to have. I usually don't research Republic or Monarchy myself, since at least one of the AIs is bound to do this research for me. I've never built the Great Library, as I find it's just as easy to buy the techs from other civs and it expires fairly early.

After ancient era, I like to try to get to things like Feudalism and Theology first to build those wonders. Democracy is also a fairly important one to get, unless you're continually at war. I usually concetrate on the upper half of the chart first before plowing through the bogus Chemistry and Physics roadblocks. Blech. If I have the Great Lighthouse, I try to hold off on Magnetism until I've built Magellan's Voyage, but that's not always possible. If I need to do some conquering, I'll go to Military Tradition first, and then finish off the required techs.

In Industrial age, of course Steam Power is first, but then I usually head for Sanitation so I can get my cities growing again. Communism comes next if I need to go to war right away, but otherwise I go for Tanks and build up my army while in Democracy, then get Communism and kick some butt. Usually by that point, the course of the game is pretty set, so I either go for the spaceship techs, or just aim at wonders and/or military units, depending on my strategy for winning.
Huge map/pangea

Ancient Era- If I'm expansionist, I'll start off with Iron working (if I don't have Bronze working, I will get that from my first goody hut, if I already have or am studying Cerimonial Burial). This ensures I will get Iron after 20-25 turns, and the goody huts will pick up alot of those other techs. If I'm lucky I can then go to Construction. Hopefully by the time I researched Construction, I will be out of the ancient era, because of goody huts.

Hint: goody huts only give you ancient era techs that you are not researching (unless that's the only tech left in the ancient era). So you don't want to get caught with only one branch of the tech tree left to research, then a goody hut gives you a tech that you were only a couple of turns away from researching yourself.

If I'm not expansionists, then I'll go to the techs that the AI seems to avoid (Monarchy line, Literature) so I can sell those techs if I want for others.

Middle Ages - Bee-line for techs in this order: Fuedalism for Sun-Tzu's, then Theology for Sistine Chapel, Invention for Leo's, Music Theory for JS Bach's, Economics for Adam Smith's, Democracy, then the military techs. Forget about Shakespeare's unless you just want the culture (it only affects one city!). On a pangea map you definitely want the wonders that have a continental effect.

Industrial - Steam for railroads. Then Industrial for factories, then sanitation for hospitals. Then beeline for electronics (Hoover's Dam). After that your cities will be power-houses. Then replaceable parts, then tanks.

Modern - Eco techs because of pollution, after that It depends on what I need, haven't really gone this far into the game very often. On a huge map, by this time the game is very slow, or I will have such a big lead that I don't feel like playing anymore.
On the Emporer games I've played, I've played catch up the entire game so my answer would be whatever is the cheapest that looks the most helpful. This usually works the best since, at least in 1.17, techs get pretty cheap when everyone else gets them, which usually happens really fast.

One thing I agree with here is to try to get a tech the rest of the world doesn't have. Trading that tech is probably the most help for getting other techs.

Being the French is really nice for starting tech because you're the only civ with Masonry & the Alphabet. That means you're the only one that can immediately research Mathematics. That's the only case for a civ that has an immediate hold on a tech line (barring from no one else having one of your traits, scientific, expansionist, etc...). You can trade that tech with others or be the only one with catapults for a little while (um, I usually pick option 1 :) ) Then you can try for Currency right after & probably win that race too.

Also agreed that usually, if I have a choice of techs & one of them reveals a resource, I usually go for that.
Here's some things I try to do with tech tree. Regent/Pangea/Standard to Huge/8-16 Civs

1) I never research a tech that another Civ already has (and is therefore cheap). I always try to buy that one. Exception:
you don't have contact with enough Civs to insure one of them
will buy that tech soon.

2) I usually sell a new tech I get that other Civs have not learned
to all the other Civs as soon as I learn it. As soon as the message comes up that says you learned it, click on "What's
the big picture", go to foreign advisor and sell it to everyone.
You can make a ton of money this way, especially in the Industrial Age or later (I made 250+/turn selling "The Corporation" in my
current game). The goal is to still make money while approaching
1 tech every 4 turns. Exception: if I have a larger economy
than everyone and can get a tech lead, I will hold out on
selling a tech that leads to an important tech like tank or Military Tradition. Very late in the game if I have a tech lead and am
not going broke I don't sell any techs.

3) If I have the Great Library, I will focus on the Chivalry and
Military Tradition branch and let the AI go for Education. This is obvious since as soon as one Civ learns Education, they
will sell it to another, which mean the GL will give it to you and obsolete itself. You also might get a lead on Military Tradition this way and get Cavalry first :shotgun:

4) I always forgo learning techs that are non-essential to getting
to the next Age. I can always buy them later, pick them up from
Great Library, or if desperate, learn them later, very quickly.
Exception, I might learn Music Theory if I'm hurting on happiness,
or Literature if I really need the Great Library fast because I
can't get contact with enough Civs to trade for everything.

5) I tend to go for the big military units first then fill in other
stuff later:
Ancient: Sword or Horse
Middle: Knight then Cav.
Industrial: Tank
Modern: Hardly ever matters. I guess Modern Armor, then nukes.

6) I used to think getting the best government first was a big
key, but I don't think that anymore. Once you have Republic
you will probably want to use that (or Monarchy if at war all the time). But let someone like Rome get the Republic for you and buy it off them, while you are already in Middle Ages learning Chivalry. Especially if they are nearby, since you can just
overun them with Knights and get Republic in a Peace Treaty.

7) One key to trading techs with other Civs is to trade the techs
you know right away for techs you don't know. Then trade to
all the other Civs for money. Unless you can get a tech lead it doesn't hurt to let all the Civs get even on techs with you as
long as you are getting rich off them. You can only really get a tech lead in the Middle/Industrial Ages anyway.

8) If somehow a civ doesn't have a tech that another civ does
have (this is very rare after patch 117f), by all means give it
to them immediately. You wont get much for it, but something
is better than nothing and they will buy it soon anyway from
someone else.

9) Sometimes you don't want to sell a tech, because you have a
slight tech lead and don't want everyone to get to an important
unit (like Cavalry). But, you fear that your closest rival will
learn that tech and sell it to everyone soon. You can figure out
if they are trying to learn that tech by seeing how much they
offer for it. If they are not offering much compared to other similar techs, especially if their offers go down over time, you
can bet they are learning it. So you might
as well sell it to everyone and get the cash before your rival does.
Just think how frustrated they will be when they are one turn from
learning Military Tradition and then you sell it everyone for big $$$$. Now it is worthless to them.

10) Shop around for the best deals and sell it to those civs first.
I don't know if this matters since 117f, but it couldn't hurt.

Basically, you always try to stay in the forefront of military
knowledge and let the other Civs fill in the gaps for you. ;)
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