Your favored approach to a fast Scientific Victory

Planktonic

Warlord
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Feb 8, 2021
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There have been a number of interesting threads about getting to a fast scientific victory lately. I am interested to know how people generally look at this- I have never been able personally to get below 200 turns (best was 215 but on a Prince level game). I am talking about standard conditions, with standard speed, standard map, no game modes, random civs and city states, Deity level.

Some specific questions I have:

1. Do you favor getting a religion? I'm still impressed by ATEX' "Religious Russians" thread from a while ago and almost always go for a religion in an SV game.

2. If so, which founder belief is the best overall? I generally get Work Ethic if I have any holy site adjacency at all, but maybe Choral Music or Feed the World or Jesuit Education is actually better? If you can get those on Deity at all, of course.

3. Or, is it better to start out like a Domination game and just militarize to try to rapidly acquire cities? Especially in a Deity level game there will likely be some useful cities to conquer.

4. Or, should you emphasize culture before all else? I read somewhere else in these forums about a Chinese "3 Theater" opening that emphasized building theater squares first in order to monopolize all the early Great Writers and thereby quickly build up culture. I've also seen some old civtrader6 videos from the vanilla game where he emphasized culture as the key to a fast SV.

5. Should campus always be your first district? Especially in coastal cities I always feel compelled to go Harbor first, and in religious games I will usually go holy site first, which means campus and science are functionally delayed.

6. How aggressive are you about chopping? I'm always reluctant to chop everything from plains and grasslands as I'm afraid it will leave the city with little production for the majority of the game. But maybe it's worth it ?

Also, how would your strategy change for a Prince level game instead of Deity?

I realize things will be different depending on the Civ and the map, but still hope to get some general impressions about these things.
 

Rg339

Warlord
Joined
Jun 3, 2022
Messages
263
There have been a number of interesting threads about getting to a fast scientific victory lately. I am interested to know how people generally look at this- I have never been able personally to get below 200 turns (best was 215 but on a Prince level game). I am talking about standard conditions, with standard speed, standard map, no game modes, random civs and city states, Deity level.

Some specific questions I have:

1. Do you favor getting a religion? I'm still impressed by ATEX' "Religious Russians" thread from a while ago and almost always go for a religion in an SV game.

2. If so, which founder belief is the best overall? I generally get Work Ethic if I have any holy site adjacency at all, but maybe Choral Music or Feed the World or Jesuit Education is actually better? If you can get those on Deity at all, of course.

3. Or, is it better to start out like a Domination game and just militarize to try to rapidly acquire cities? Especially in a Deity level game there will likely be some useful cities to conquer.

4. Or, should you emphasize culture before all else? I read somewhere else in these forums about a Chinese "3 Theater" opening that emphasized building theater squares first in order to monopolize all the early Great Writers and thereby quickly build up culture. I've also seen some old civtrader6 videos from the vanilla game where he emphasized culture as the key to a fast SV.

5. Should campus always be your first district? Especially in coastal cities I always feel compelled to go Harbor first, and in religious games I will usually go holy site first, which means campus and science are functionally delayed.

6. How aggressive are you about chopping? I'm always reluctant to chop everything from plains and grasslands as I'm afraid it will leave the city with little production for the majority of the game. But maybe it's worth it ?

Also, how would your strategy change for a Prince level game instead of Deity?

I realize things will be different depending on the Civ and the map, but still hope to get some general impressions about these things.
1. No, not really focused on religion. Early holy sites means less early conquering.
2. Haven’t considered founder beliefs(as can probably be guessed by my answer to 1)
3. Yes, militaristic expansion is something I never really stop, especially on huge maps. At a certain point I reorient production away from military capacity(usually pretty early) but the initial core of units built in the ancient era I never stop using.
4. Culture is something that is easy to neglect but essential to a fast SV. You pull it together however you can. Personally, I use military expansion to plunder enough loot to buy builders and then chop in theaters and if I feel my total output is lacking from all total sources, upgrades to those theaters.
5. Well, mostly I think yeah, campus does have to be the first district. Ultimately, it’s SV: beakers are the most relevant yield. Faster the campuses get up, the faster you get there(presuming you don’t utterly compromise your ability to gain more territory, which would eventually means a lack in overall # of campuses)
6. Chop everything. Any production you expend in a city now, if you play your cards right, increases the territory you can bring under your control.

Early, if you chop in a horseman in a city with little production, you can probably use said horseman to conquer a poorly defended city with 6 forests. Chop in a few more there, take 10 cities like the pastoralist hordes of old. Total number of forests you’re now sitting on? About 40. Think of all those upgraded districts you can get with those 40 forests.

By the time you roll out enough builders to chop 20 forests, your army will have conquered another 10 cities, and you can see how this snowballs, I’m sure

edit: if a player is really trying to push win times, as a matter of general philosophy, there is no room for sentimentality. Pretty forests? NOPE. They go! A player who is exploiting everything to the maximum effect possible as soon as possible gets further than he could playing a more heartfelt, relaxed style of play.
 
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1. No, not really focused on religion. Early holy sites means less early conquering.

I beg to differ.
A high adjacency holy site fuelling work ethic and crusade, has by far yielded me the most consistent results for early warfare.
Work ethic recoups the early production spent on a HS/shrine/prayers really fast, and crusade is essentially giving you a free tech level worth of combat strength, allowing for warriors to last longer and swordsmen to behave like men at arms.

By the time you roll out enough builders to chop 20 forests, your army will have conquered another 10 cities, and you can see how this snowballs, I’m sure

Walls tend to ruin that really quick, and whether or not the AI goes for walls early is kind of up to RNG.
Horsemen are not great at taking down ancient walls, especially not when the AI backs it up with higher tech units.
 

Rg339

Warlord
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Messages
263
I beg to differ.
A high adjacency holy site fuelling work ethic and crusade, has by far yielded me the most consistent results for early warfare.
Work ethic recoups the early production spent on a HS/shrine/prayers really fast, and crusade is essentially giving you a free tech level worth of combat strength, allowing for warriors to last longer and swordsmen to behave like men at arms.



Walls tend to ruin that really quick, and whether or not the AI goes for walls early is kind of up to RNG.
Horsemen are not great at taking down ancient walls, especially not when the AI backs it up with higher tech units.
I will have to try the crusade strategy. I don’t have much difficulty doing early war with good old archers, but it’s possible the +10 reduces capture time significantly enough that it could be worth it. My concern is that early faith output may not keep up with the speed of conquest.

Horses are less useful once the walls go up, yeah. Still useful enough. They expediently capture newly founded cities while the slower troops handle the walled cities. Newly founded cities are often more valuable: you’ve got the raw terrain, the bonus tiles, all the choppable stuff. That retains versatility. Can redirect towards relevant yields for SV before the AI directs them towards useless wonders or places useless districts right over the top of them. They accomplish that purpose fast, too. Speed’s the key.

There’s the plunder aspect, too. My conquering horde typically travels with a 1use builder(repairs plundered tiles). For purposes of plunder, I still like a few horsemen present. Even once Xbows come, the horseman can move in, plunder, and take a ranged attack that would otherwise probably be directed towards a unit reducing the walls in some fashion. They move out before the 2nd city strike would break the unit.

edit: some clarification on stuff
 
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1. Do you favor getting a religion? I'm still impressed by ATEX' "Religious Russians" thread from a while ago and almost always go for a religion in an SV game. With certain civs. Work ethic with high adjacency HSs is outstanding for fast Classical era expansion, which is key for fast victory. Think Russia, Khmer, Mali, or anyone that can manage to satisfy the conditions and get the required pantheon. Moksha can build spaceports for just over 3k faith with the Theocracy bonus and faith will buy you settlers/builders/traders during Monumentality. Very viable. Many civs can use the mass gold approach however and Reyna in lieu of Moksha.

2. If so, which founder belief is the best overall? I generally get Work Ethic if I have any holy site adjacency at all, but maybe Choral Music or Feed the World or Jesuit Education is actually better? If you can get those on Deity at all, of course. Choral is too highly contested to reliably get on Deity unless you're Russia or build Stonehenge with Qin. Jesuit is pretty bad because faith should be spent on civilian units and potentially spaceports if the Moksha route is chosen. As mentioned, Work Ethic with massive adj is great. Choral and Feed the World are good too but contested.

3. Or, is it better to start out like a Domination game and just militarize to try to rapidly acquire cities? Especially in a Deity level game there will likely be some useful cities to conquer. This will always be faster on average as the AI is building most campuses for you and the ROI for conquering and pillaging is insane. Hungary can probably mop the floor faster than anyone in this regard.

4. Or, should you emphasize culture before all else? I read somewhere else in these forums about a Chinese "3 Theater" opening that emphasized building theater squares first in order to monopolize all the early Great Writers and thereby quickly build up culture. I've also seen some old civtrader6 videos from the vanilla game where he emphasized culture as the key to a fast SV. Culture is key for the same reasons as any other game, faster policies, more policy changes equal less waste, faster governments Globalization. It should be noted the selling great works of writing exploit was patched out years ago and was a reason to get the works in the first place. But culture is still

5. Should campus always be your first district? Especially in coastal cities I always feel compelled to go Harbor first, and in religious games I will usually go holy site first, which means campus and science are functionally delayed. I don't think campus first is worth it except with perhaps Korea. Early Theaters, EC for Colosseum, Government Plaza get the empire off and running. If I'm going religious science then Holy Sites get online asap or alternatively if I'm gold buying spaceports then I feel compelled to get harbors/comm hubs online asap. Some games you don't need many of these if the AIs are rich but often times it seems they go flat broke and cannot be overly relied upon. Mass campus spam will have to be a thing though, but early science is not as valuable as culture.

6. How aggressive are you about chopping? I'm always reluctant to chop everything from plains and grasslands as I'm afraid it will leave the city with little production for the majority of the game. But maybe it's worth it ? Chopping is the meta, whether some like it or not. Efficient Magnus touring will get the key wonders (Colosseum, Kilwa, Oxford, situationally a few others) and districts up and running asap. Even cities where Magnus cannot visit should chop out campus and buildings and other districts as needed. Spaceports should never be hard built, but purchased and the projects Magnus or Pingala chopped. A mega cap with 200+ cogs is fine, but not for hard building spaceports.

Prince level vs. the Deity level described above would give one more peaceful expansion room on average, but far less gold to syphon from the braindead AI. Maps such as Lakes, Seven Seas, or Highlands still have good peaceful expansion room even on Deity though. If you're playing a violent science game, Deity is clearly better since the AI will build you many cities and campuses to steal and pillage.
 

rgp151

Chieftain
Joined
May 2, 2022
Messages
68
The best I've done so far is using Spain, though I don't pretend that I've tried all the best possible strats.

With Spain I go for an early religion, BUT, not super aggressively. I used zero Apostles, other than to get new beliefs and Inquisitors. I only spread my religion to my own cities using Inquisitors. There are things you can do if you spread it more, but what I liked about this was that my religion didn't take up too much of my time and effort. I basically made minimal investment into it.

I think I went with Jesuit Education and I forget what else. I also made very few Holy Sites. Maybe like 3 in the whole game. I also did minimal conquest, but it wasn't entirely peaceful. I think I took like 3 cities for strategic reasons.

As for Domination, I think yes this does work well, however, in try not to do too much Domination unless I really need to, like I'm cut off and can't expand or some other issue. Of course Domination works well to setup SV on Deity. The ideal strat, IMO, is on Continents to just entirely conquer your Continent and then go from there.

I do think that if you can get "easy culture" its very good. You should not, however, focus on culture above all else. This is why Pericles and Khmer are so good, and also possibly China. They all give you bonus culture. Russia of course can be good too, though Russia's cultural benefits are less direct. In my Spain games I maybe could have gone faster had I done more to get more culture sooner.

The way I do it with Spain is essentially Commercial Hubs first, to get out all of the traders. Then of course setup so all of your trade routes to give you the 3X intercontinental bonus. You then yield tons of gold and faith in addition to production. I shoot for 20ish traders. And with Spain of course you get bonuses to combat, religious combat, gold, faith, and production, as well as faster building districts, so they are very well rounded.

As your trade economy comes on-line, build out Campuses and Industrial Zones in every city, then Theater Squares as warranted.

The Gold and Faith income from Trade are used to purchase buildings and units. With Spain you can generate lots of Faith without the need of Holy Sites, so you can save on the need to produce so many Holy Site districts.

Then yes, either Moksha or Reyna can be used to purchase districts, but I used Reyna and think she generally works better for Spain. I basically focus on promoting Pingala and Reyna to max level. Also Casa de Contratacion can be very effective.

The times I've done it best I had 2 Spaceports, one in my Capital and one in a foreign city.

Honestly, I ended up with so much production that many of the various boosts and use of Reyna didn't matter much. I think in my foreign big city I was able to build a Spaceport in something crazy like 3 or 4 turns or something anyway. Both my capital and the "foreign capital" had well over 200 production in them.

With Jesuit Education I was always able to get every single Campus building really fast, which I think really helped when it came to Research Labs. Between really high prod in a few cities, gold and faith, I was able to get all Universities and Labs in like 1 to 3 turns of their availability. I actually got the Spying Government building instead of the Faith purchase one, because I didn't need many troops and I used the spies to bolster research and get more gold, mostly gold since I was ahead in research and when I got good defense promotions I put spies on defense at home. I think I built the Royal Society but never actually used it because my projects were completing so fast anyway.

For me, the key to it was using a mix of gold and faith to buy almost everything, except in a few really productive cites where I would build stuff, and then constantly running projects in almost all my cities. I'd say that once I get into the Renaissance era, the vast majority of my cities were doing projects on any given turn. Usually Campus Research Grants, but also sometimes Industrial or Merchant projects as well, depending on the circumstance.

But, with Spain it is a bit dependent on being able to expand into a foreign continent pretty early, which you usually can. Then be sure to get every Wonder that gives an additional policy slot or an additional trader, make good use of those "foreign continent" policies, plus Casa de Contratacion, and all of those trade routes and you're swimming in resources. Buy everything you can and work on projects. Of course try to get Democracy ASAP. I tended to keep my traders dispersed as I was developing, often assigning them to new weak cities, and then when it came time to build a big wonder or do the Space projects I would then move them to my main cities. I think my big foreign city was a desert Perta city with like 10 desert hills and Ruhr Valley in it :p

But yeah, you may be able to do better with Khmer or Pericles.
 

rgp151

Chieftain
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I'm going to try a Mapuche pillaging Science game on Deity to see how that goes. The plan is to build out only Light Cavs (and a few archers) as my military and just keep raiding and pillaging as much as possible to see how that goes. I really have no idea how well it will work, but the hope is that the early investment in Horsemen will pay off many times with raiding and I'll see how fast pillaging Science and Culture I can really propel you.
 

Rg339

Warlord
Joined
Jun 3, 2022
Messages
263
I'm going to try a Mapuche pillaging Science game on Deity to see how that goes. The plan is to build out only Light Cavs (and a few archers) as my military and just keep raiding and pillaging as much as possible to see how that goes. I really have no idea how well it will work, but the hope is that the early investment in Horsemen will pay off many times with raiding and I'll see how fast pillaging Science and Culture I can really propel you.
For really pillage-heavy runs, I like Norway. Those longships can let you naval raid so much earlier. Larger the map, greater the effect, but it’s really powerful and widely expands your loot options. If you really commit to war with all the AI, you have an absolute ton of lootable improvement and it’s mostly effortless. AI doesn’t counter naval raiding at all well.
 
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I will have to try the crusade strategy. I don’t have much difficulty doing early war with good old archers, but it’s possible the +10 reduces capture time significantly enough that it could be worth it. My concern is that early faith output may not keep up with the speed of conquest.
As long as you picked a high adjacency pantheon for work ethic as well, you will always have enough for the first missionary.
Use that one to convert your first target city, or a strong city that you "must" annex as soon as possible.
From then on, you might have enough for another missionary just from raw faith generation, otherwise you pillage for more faith.
It's very consistent on deity, and I abuse it a lot these days for that reason.
Crusade is simply god tier for that early conquering to get the snowball rolling.
 

rgp151

Chieftain
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May 2, 2022
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Well my attempt at playing Mapuche on deity failed. Pillaging may be good, but not good enough to build around it seems. I guess its better to stick with the power civs and pillage if you get the chance. I have been tending more toward a military setup of Ranged, Light-Cavs, Anti-Cavs, Siege, and Bombers. This can still help with pillaging. It seems to me that oil is just too difficult to rely on, so basically reserving Niter and Oil for Siege seems to work well.

What this tends to mean is very early military conquest, when you can do it with Horsemen and Archers, some mid-game pillaging, then potentially late-game conquest with Artillery (and Bombers if needed).

However, Khmer also enables some mid-game conquest with their UU, and with Pericles the Hoplites can facilitate early game conquest as well. If playing Spain I will go for Melee instead of Anti-Cav because their UU is just too good, but it can still bite you when Infantry come around, its just a matter of making sure to secure more oil.
 
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