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Winning the Space Race Peacefully – The Endgame

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by Orion071, Mar 17, 2006.

  1. Orion071

    Orion071 Home School Tutor

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    **New Edit** Since Beyond the Sword has a vastly different modern age and tech path, it has its own post. Read about the BtS path here.

    **Edited for Warlords 2.08**

    Don’t you hate it when you’re racing an AI into space and he launches his ship just a few turns before you can? I know I do. So I devised a strategy to research my way through the Modern Age and get my spaceship in the air as quickly as possible. I’ve used this strategy successfully many times on Monarch, and recently have been succeeding with it on Emperor, including GotM 4.

    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), 1-2 secondary production centers, and the rest can be anything. That’s not a problem if you play on Large or Huge maps like I do, but it’s still easily doable on Standard maps. You also have to 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 8 to 10 techs after Rocketry that need to be researched, so that’s at least 50-100 turns depending on your game speed.

    Here’s my research order through the Modern Age, along with the appropriate spaceship parts:

    0) Rocketry – When this is complete, you can build the Apollo Program and the SS Casings. Your best production site should build the Apollo Program as quickly as possible. Once it’s done, don’t tie up your good cities with the 5 Casings. Build them in any old city, even if they take 25 turns to complete. Who cares? You still have plenty of time.

    1) Computers – This should be your first tech after Rocketry. You need Radio before you can get it, but I usually research Radio before Rocketry because it’s much cheaper. This unlocks the Laboratory, which will help you speed through the other techs. Build labs in all of your science cities. The AI’s tend to research this later than you, so you can get a jump on researching right away.

    edit: In the 1.61 patch, the Laboratory also gives you a 50% to building spaceship parts. So this is a vital building that should go in every city, not just the science ones anymore.

    2) Plastics – This doesn’t enable any parts, but it’s necessary for you to get to Robotics. It enables the Three Gorges Dam, which is a nice wonder, but one that I rarely get. The AI seems to prioritize Plastics way ahead of me, so I'm not able to beat them to this wonder. You really only need 2 or 3 good production centers anyway so I just end up building Coal or Nuclear Plants in those cities.

    3) Satellites – This one is relatively cheap to research, and the AI’s love to get it early, so you’ll get some bonuses and it shouldn’t take you long to get. This unlocks the Thrusters. You need 3 of them, but like the Casings, they should be relegated to minor cities to build. Don’t tie up one of your top 3 cities to build these. Edit: Originally, I had this much later in the list, but in Warlords Satellites are required to build the Space Elevator. Therefore, I had to move this tech ahead of Robotics.

    4) Robotics – This tech will unlock the SS Docking Bay and the Space Elevator. Although the Docking Bay costs the most hammers to build, it’s actually easier than the Stasis Chamber or the Engine because of the bonus you get with Aluminum. Start the Space Elevator in your best city that can actually build it (has to be near the equator) and the Docking Bay in one of your secondary production centers. If you can rush build the Elevator with Universal Suffrage or a Great Engineer, then even better.

    5) 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, so just put it in any old city. Don't tie up a good production city with this.

    6) Fusion – You get a Great Engineer for getting this first, but does it matter? You can’t rush any of the spaceship parts and you should already have the Space Elevator by now. If not, then use him to finish it up. The important thing about Fusion is that it unlocks the Engine. The Engine is the hardest piece to build and your best city needs to be all over this as soon as Fusion is discovered. Often, the AI’s leave this piece until last, and this can definitely be to your benefit (as I’ll explain later).

    7) Genetics – This requires Refrigeration, so you have to research that first if you don’t already have it. It also 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 and the Stasis Chamber will be done at approximately the same time.

    IIRC, Vanilla 1.61 has the Engine and the Stasis Chamber as the same cost in hammers. In that case, you'd want your second best city to start the Engine, and you best city to start the Stasis Chamber after you research Genetics. Then you should finish both parts at about the same time.

    8) Ecology – This is the last tech that you’ll need to finish your ship. It also has the easiest part besides the Casings, 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. Often, I’ve started the Engine as soon as I’ve discovered Fusion, yet I still research the rest and finish the Life Support piece before the other pieces are done. Either way, you’ve achieved a Space Victory! Enjoy the spoils!

    Even after all of this, you still find yourself behind in the race, there is a way to win. You simply need to take a Spy to your rival civ, find where he’s building the Engine, and sabotage it. As long as you can stop the Engine, you’re home free. 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!

    I hope you enjoyed my first strategy article!
     
  2. tombeef

    tombeef Chieftain

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    straightforward and simple, will definately try this path out, it's really the first good one I've seen.
     
  3. juballs2001

    juballs2001 The Sultan of Sweat

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    key is to sabotage the engine! excellent!

    i did this in civ 3 sometimes, with smaller success because often the AI would build the engine or the casing in the capital meaning production would happen in 3-4 turns.
    10 turns is a lot in civ 4, great strategy thank you!
     
  4. jimbob27

    jimbob27 Chieftain

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    Hmm.. well my tactic doesn't really count as peaceful, and it's backfired a couple of times.

    The moment I realise there's a chance of another civ beating me.... I nuke all their production cities. It wipes out a load of their population and the fallout makes the city less productive as well. Their spaceship usually gets crippled by a single SS casing that now needs 200 turns to complete.

    Its backfired though..... I did it to a neighbour which then went and razed about 5 of my cities. I did it to somebody else once, without scouting all their cities, and ended up getting nuked about 20 times the next turn.
     
  5. Mutineer

    Mutineer Chieftain

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    Well, I never have anyone to have Nukes in my game.
    I simply build UN and first resolution I pass is nonproliteration treaty.
     
  6. Smokey McDope

    Smokey McDope Chieftain

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    Simply building any wonder first, isn't so simple on monarch+
     
  7. solvero

    solvero Chieftain

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    Good strategy, but I believe that going for rocketry before finishing all industrial era's techs is better. After that I go for computers like you do, and then when I have labs and am faster on research I go back to finish the industrialism path, sometimes before I finish my apollo program. Than I usually went for satelites like the AI, but from then on I think your strategy is better.
     
  8. jpowers

    jpowers Chieftain

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    On Prince, I've been researching the minimum path to robotics, then turning off research for as long as I need to buy the Space Elevator, then turning research back on. I usually lose 4-5 turns of research but gain 8-10 turns of parts production.
     
  9. Orion071

    Orion071 Home School Tutor

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    Going straight for Rocketry and Computers before finishing up the Industrialism route can be effective for research, but I usually like the security of having Tanks in case I'm attacked. I don't like Satellites that early because I'm making an effort to get to Robotics first to beat the AI's to the Space Elevator.

    Unless you think an AI is going to beat you to building the Elevator, I don't think you gain a whole lot by stopping your research in order to buy it. The Elevator comes in handy by helping you build the Engine faster. That's the limiting factor to the Space Race. I'm already heading straight to Robotics in an effort to build the Elevator. I still have a bunch of techs to research before I'm done, so there's plenty of time to get the Elevator built. The other parts don't matter as long as they'll be done before the Engine. If your best city is still building the Elevator when you're about to finish Fusion, then you can stop for a turn or two and rush the build. But until then, I wouldn't do it. Who cares if your Casings or Thrusters get built faster by the Elevator? They'll still be sitting around until the Engine is done. Don't get fixated on getting each piece done as soon as possible, just worry about getting the whole ship done first. I've had times where an AI has finished 8 pieces to my zero, but I've still won by popping all 13 parts at roughly the same time. That's all that matters.
     
  10. RemoWilliams

    RemoWilliams Chieftain

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    Not to mention the fact that industrialism reveals aluminum! I'd seriously consider trashing the game if I didn't have aluminum before building Apollo, but in the end I'd probably just try to get along without it. I usually try to have a really large land mass by then though, so I can't remember this being a problem in the past.
     
  11. Sisiutil

    Sisiutil All Leader Challenger

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    You neglected to mention that Plastics enables the Three Gorges Dam Wonder, which will boost production in all of your cities. I find I get Plastics well ahead of Robotics, so if I can build the Dam, it provides a more long-term boost to spaceship part production than the Elevator. Usually by the time I build the Elevator, most of the parts are complete.

    The other advantage of the Dam is that I can now produce military units faster in all of my cities. This boosts my power rating and makes the AI more reluctant to attack me. You don't want to fight a war while you're in a tight space race.
     
  12. Orion071

    Orion071 Home School Tutor

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    I tend to not bother with the Three Gorges Dam. My specialized production cities already have a coal plant in them and if I'm in a really tight space race then I don't have time to waste on the Dam. Plastics is a very expensive tech to research, so I almost always use the research bonuses after Computers in order to get it.
     
  13. Ballisto

    Ballisto Chieftain

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    You didn't say much about using spies to pillage aluminum.
     
  14. Orion071

    Orion071 Home School Tutor

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    I tend to play large or huge maps where each civ tends to have multiple sources of aluminum anyway. I don't think that pillaging resources is as effective as pillaging the production of the key spaceship components like the engine. Only a few of the pieces even get a production bonus from aluminum.

    One thing that I did notice is that in the 1.61 patch, a Laboratory gives you a 50% bonus to producing spaceship parts! This is a huge bonus and I think it really makes the Space Elevator much less important. I'll still build it, but I won't be too disappointed if I don't get it.
     
  15. Lexad

    Lexad royalcrownchinpokomaster

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    An argument in favour getting Fusion first - you can use the Engineer for Golden Age (if you have more GPeople), speeding up your space ekements production and research of remainins space race techs.
     
  16. Orion071

    Orion071 Home School Tutor

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    After being away from Civ for many months, I started up again after getting Warlords for Christmas. I just finished a Monarch game where I won the Space Race over Augustus Caesar even though he had a big advantage in land, score and power and a small advantage in tech. I used my above system to finish the last part 4 turns before he would have. I did notice something that caused me to change my tech path - apparently now the Space Elevator requires you to have Satellites. I couldn't find out when that change was made.
     
  17. lilnev

    lilnev Chieftain

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    I generally use the same order except that I postpone Genetics until after Fusion. The engine takes so long, I want to start it as soon as is reasonably possible.

    I've also started to wonder whether the Space Elevator is really that important. All my cities have a 2.5 multiplier anyway (forge+factory+coal plant+observatory), with 3.5 in the Ironworks city. I feel like the space race is really research-limited rather than production-limited, as I'll launch within about 5 turns of finishing Ecology. Not having the Space Elevator should only add a couple of turns to that.

    I think it's also worth extending your order backwards in time to some of the key targets: Democracy (emancipation for a cottage economy), then Astronomy (observatories, plus oversees trade routes; can often trade for this), then Assembly Line (factories + coal plants; forget 3 Gorges, it comes way too late), then Railroads (production boost from mines), then I think Industrialism (aluminum), though it might be possible to go straight to Rocketry. The order can obviously depend on trade possibilities and defence needs, as well.

    peace,
    lilnev
     
  18. Orion071

    Orion071 Home School Tutor

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    The problem with postponing Genetics is the fact that the Stasis Chamber is just as hard to build as the Engine. That's why I had it earlier so you have time to finish it in a lesser production city. In the last game I played, I started the Engine in the best city I had as soon as I discovered Fusion. I researched Ecology and finished the Life Support in my second-best city on the same turn as the Engine.

    I agree with you about the Space Elevator now. Pre-1.61 patch (when this was originally written), the Elevator made a bigger difference when you didn't have the Laboratory bonus, but now it's just not that important. I'll still try to get it, but I won't cry if I don't.
     
  19. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    a few tricks to shave off some turns of production :
    - $ 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!
    - with all the productivity buildings (lab, factory, power, ...), a chopped forest is worth a lot (100+ hammers). If you have still forests around when deciding to go for space, keep them for the final rush : you cannot poprush 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 :lol:
    - 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.
    - golden age : this is well known, but it is so efficient that you really shouldn't forget it :lol:
    - 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.
    - if you are spiritual, bureaucracy for the final rush is superior to free speech. If you aren't, anarchy is the worst possible move :lol:
     
  20. lilnev

    lilnev Chieftain

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    Good points, cabert. I'd expand on starvation by saying that I often plan on it for my last 1 or 2 cities. Turn population growth off, max out the food bar, and have hordes of workers on hand. As soon as it's time to start that last part, replace all those windmills with mines (pre-railroaded of course), cottages and farms with workshops and watermills, etc.

    Here's a question: do you folks bother with State Property? I generally feel that it's not worth the anarchy to get into (unless Spiritual), though my opinions aren't firm on the subject. (Communism is generally easy to trade for if it's wanted. I wouldn't spend turns researching it).

    peace,
    lilnev
     

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