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Summary of techs by level showed how expensive it is to research the top-level military techs and why you have to balance military research with researching civilian techs that enable you to build advanced research and industrial buildings and to pay for their maintenance. So it's vital to know in which order to research the set of techs you're aiming for.

The recommendations on this page are only general guidelines, because you will have to adjust to the information you gather about what your opponents are doing. For example if they are following a more militaristic research path than usual, you should at least prepare to defend your empire; and if you can do just enough military research to survive in good shape you'll be ahead in research and / or industrial and / or financial and / or farming techs, and that's probably a long-lasting advantage that should win you the game.

Most guides focus on production-oriented races, because these are generally thought to be the strongest. This guide will cover these, and also research-oriented and Creative races. The only races not covered here are blitz races, because they do as little research as possible and because blitz races vary more than other types since they must try to catch their victims by surprise.

It also says far more than most guides about what's built where at each stage, because research is not an end in itself, its objective is provide the tools to build a strong economy and then win wars.

Production-oriented races[edit]

These races colonize fastest, but are usually rather weak in research early in the game; this is especially true of UniTol races (Unification + Tolerant) as their production is not limited by pollution and they will often put all their non-farming population into building Colony Bases and Colony Ships. The only way they can get any research at all in this period is from the flat-rate 5 RPs that Research Labs produce without any scientists, so Research Labs are their first priority. A typical sequence is:

  1. Electronics -> Electronic Computer
    Meanwhile have 1 worker stockpiling production for the Research Lab.
  2. Optronics -> Research Laboratory
    Build the Research Lab immediately.
  3. Nuclear Fission -> Freighters, Nuclear Drive
    After researching and building Freighters they may colonize any usable planets in their home system and use them as Housing colonies.
  4. Chemistry -> Standard Fuel Cells, Extended Fuel Tanks, Nuclear Missile.
    Now build 1 or 2 Scout ships to look for system to colonize. Then design the most expensive possible Battleship and stockpile production fast - Colony Ships are expensive at this stage.
  5. Cold Fusion -> Colony Ship
    If the Scout ships find a few good systems, the homeworld now builds 2 to 4 Colony Ships flat out, relying on the 5 RP from the Research Lab to keep their research moving.
  6. Advanced Engineering ->Reinforced Hull
  7. Advanced Construction -> Auto Factories
    Build the Auto Factory immediately. Now they can move some workers into research.
  8. Astro Biology -> Biospheres
    Not actually needed yet, but a prerequisite for Soil Enrichment or Cloning Centers, which they need as soon as possible in order to have more scientists. Build Biospheres on the homeworld when 1 short of full, to maintain its population growth for a few more turns.
  9. Advanced Biology -> Soil Enrichment or Cloning Center.
    Build whichever.
  10. Artificial Intelligence -> Neural Scanners
  11. Positronics -> Supercomputer
    Build one on the homeworld immediately.
  12. Capsule Construction -> Battle Pods
  13. Astro Engineering -> Spaceports
    Build one on the homeworld immediately.
  14. Robotics ->Robo Miners
    Build one on the homeworld immediately. They can move a few more workers into research when they want.
  15. Physics -> Laser Cannon, Space Scanner, etc.
  16. Advanced Metallurgy ->Tritanium Armor if Tolerant, otherwise Deuterium Fuel Cells
  17. Advanced Fusion -> Augmented Engines
  18. Fusion Physics -> Fusion Beam
  19. Advanced Chemistry -> Merculite Missile
  20. Molecular Compression -> If Tolerant, Iridium Fuel Cells; otherwise Atmospheric Renewer
  21. Nano Technology -> Zortrium Armor.

The largest colonies will be following the same development sequence as the homeworld, but a few turns behind. This race's economy is now growing well and its production capacity means it can build a fairly powerful fleet - when it does, it should research Ion Drives.

Non-Creative research-oriented races[edit]

Research-oriented races have the opposite problem to that of production-oriented races: their research is faster but their production is slower. In particular research-oriented races are seldom Tolerant, so they urgently need the production boost provided by Auto Factories, especially the pollution-free 5 PP that an Auto Factory produces on its own. Then they stockpile production while researching the techs needed to build Colony ships. Multi-player research races are typically Lithovores, and can colonize without needing Freighters to feed the new colonies. So a typical starting sequence for them would be:

  1. Advanced Engineering ->Reinforced Hull
    Make 1 worker stockpile production for the Auto Factory.
  2. Advanced Construction -> Auto Factories
    Build the Auto Factory immediately. Possibly build Housing colonies in the home system - assuming this race are Lithovores, and do not have to wait until they have Freighters in order to feed their new colonies.
  3. Nuclear Fission ->
    Stockpile production for Scout ships.
  4. Chemistry -> Standard Fuel Cells, Extended Fuel Tanks, Nuclear Missile.
    Now build 1 or 2 Scout ships to look for systems to colonize, then use a dummy Battleship design as a production stockpile to speed up the building of Colony Ships.
  5. Cold Fusion -> Colony Ship
    If the Scout ships find a few good systems, the homeworld now builds 2 to 4 Colony Ships as fast as possible, probably having to put up with 10 PP lost to pollution. That still leaves 2 or 3 scientists carrying on research (but they're enough, because this is a research race, with Democratic government and / or Artifacts Homeworld).
  6. Electronics -> Electronic Computer
  7. Optronics -> Research Laboratory
    Build the Research Lab as soon as the last Colony Ship is finished. Then build Freighters to move spare people from remote Housing colonies to the homeworld. Then switch some of the homeworld's workers into research, until pollution drops to a tolerable level. But keep stockpiling production; most research races are Democracies, and need to build several Spies very quickly when they make contact with another race.
  8. Capsule Construction -> Battle Pods. Design a more expensive Battleship as a production stockpile.
  9. Astro Engineering -> Spaceports
    Build one on the homeworld immediately. Although most research races are Democracies, they need more cash to buy things when half built.
  10. Astro Biology -> Biospheres
    Later than for production races as a Lithovore research race does not need Soil Enrichment. Build Biospheres on the homeworld when 1 short of full, to maintain its population growth for a few more turns.
  11. Robotics ->Robo Miners
    Build one on the homeworld immediately, and move a few more workers into research until pollution ceases to be serious.
  12. Artificial Intelligence -> Neural Scanners
    Later than in the production race's sequence, which is risky if the government is Democracy (weak in counter-intelligence). But research races usually need Robo Miners first in order to build a Supercomputer quickly - and the objective is to build one, not just to research it.
  13. Positronics -> Supercomputer
    Build one on the homeworld immediately.

The rest of the sequence is similar to the production race's. The largest colonies will be following the same development sequence as the homeworld, but a few turns behind. This race's economy is now growing well. It cannot build ships as fast as the production race, but its greater cash income means it can buy ships when about 75% built (50% of a Battleship is rather expensive even for a Democracy at this stage). It should usually research and build Stock Exchanges to improve its ability to buy warships; and when it starts producing a real fleet it should research Ion Drives.

Creative races[edit]

These are really a special type of research race: go though tech levels more slowly than non-Creative research-oriented races because being Creative cost them some research-enhancing race design picks; but they get all the techs at each level, and their research strategy must maximize the number of directly useful "bonus techs" that they get at each stage, especially in the early game. Additionally, they build slower than production-oriented races.

That means their colonies may come under attack before ships can be built to defend them, and in any case Creatives usually lack spare Picks for low-tech combat bonuses. So their early research must include planetary defenses, and their new colonies must stockpile production for these defenses - but only build them when enemies appear. The slow start means the empire cannot afford to waste money on maintenance of unnecessary buildings. The lack of early warships also means this race is more likely than most to have its colonies blockaded. This can be mitigated somewhat by the use of Hydroponic Farms and moving the entire population into research while leaving production to the Auto Factories and Robo-Miners, which on their own produce 15 PP altogether with no blockade penalty. But they can't let blockades go on forever, and if necessary should design and build a small ship when they have the techs - a Destroyer with level-2 armor, level-3 shields (Class 3) and all a Creative's bonus techs will usually beat a non-Creative level-1 Battleship! If you're feeling nasty, you can then use the Destroyer to blockade an enemy-occupied system.

There's no need to spell out every single tech in a Creative race's research path as they get them all, so this sequence lists the key techs and takes the prerequisite ones for granted:

  • Research Lab - with Dauntless Guidance System/Optronic Computer as a bonus. The first bonus techs: in a MP game, you re likely the only one to have them. Dauntless makes large salvos of stray missiles quite dangerous, and the computer is an early equivalent of taking a +20 combat pick.
  • Hydroponic Farms/Biospheres - each Hydro-Farm effectively allows one homeworld population to switch from farming to research. This can create a HUGE research dividend when implemented early on since each researcher also gets the Lab bonus. Biospheres pays off best for you when 1 HW farmer can feed 2 extra colony researchers.
  • Reinforced Hull with Fighter Bays/Anti-missile Rockets - you will be grabbing this tech level early on anyways to get to Auto Factory. Most non-creatives will take Reinforced Hull. But Fighter Bays, when combined with some of the other early techs you will researching anyways, gives you excellent blitz capability if the opportunity presents itself. The best defense is offense.
  • Auto Factory - with Missile Base/Heavy Armor as bonus techs - you need this early on anyways to boost industrial production, and you get your first planetary defense tech as well. All your starbases also automatically upgrade to Heavy Armor (and Reinforced Hull, which you picked up earlier as well).
  • Deuterium Fuel Cells/Tritanium Armor - a tech often necessary for early exploration, and now your starbases/ships/fighters are upgraded to Tritanium. You probably have the best armor of all the empires in the galaxy at this stage.

Up to this point, the path choices and their order to research have been fairly straight forward. From here on in, what you are likely to do will depend upon the situation/threat/opportunity you are facing:

  • Cloning Center/Soil Enrichment - population is good. More pop = more income, more production, more research. Even without these techs, you can use the 1-pop colony trick to accelerate population growth. However, it is an extra bonus that creatives get to do this on steroids using a Cloning Center. By farming more efficiently using Soil Enrichment, you can maximize the number of your homeworld/farming-world population given over to production or research. This tech level requires only a third of the total research necessary for Supercomputers, and the sooner you have it the quicker your populations will grow.
  • Supercomputer/Holo Simulator - one of the first "mid-level" techs you should consider, Supercomputer grants you the raw research power you need to quickly grab all the low-mid level techs asap. Build them on every planet. Holo Simulators grant you a 20% output boost to farming/industry/research on all planets where they are built. Having the benefits of both of these excellent techs starts to mitigate the disadvantages of creative's slow start.
  • Spaceport - not much synergy here, but it is an important tech to note, since creatives need cash to pay for upkeep on all those extra buildings they have. Build one on all non-Housing colonies when their populations make Spaceport profitable.
  • Robo-Miners/Battlestation/Powered Armor - Let's face it, everybody in MP is shooting to get Robo-Miners asap, or seriously fall behind in the expansion/production war. On top of this, creatives simply have more things to build to get all the "perks" from their bonus techs. Robo-Miners goes a long way to ensure they can accomplish this in a timely manner. Without it and combined with a slow start, you will seriously lag behind everyone else and it is unlikely you will be able to leverage many of the advantages your research can bestow. This tech level requires approximately the same total amount of research to reach as does Super Computer, hence it represents a difficult situational choice to make as to which to go for first. Battlestations are substantially better armed and harder to kill than a starbase, especially with all the upgrades you are likely to have, but also take substantially longer to build. The extra CP bonus is just icing on the cake. For colony stockpiling - without Star Bases the most expensive stockpile item you can build is a Battlestation. Powered Armor is one of those techs that only creatives have that together makes their troops nigh invincible later in the game.
  • Tachyon Communications/Tachyon Scanner/Battlescanner - most MP races will grab Battlescanner, to compensate for -20 Attack since it is such a popular racial pick. Creatives get both scanner techs and hence a boost to both beams and missiles. Communications increases the command points granted by each starbase. This might not seem like much in the very beginning, but each starbase you build will allow you to add one more destroyer to your fleet. Since creatives have plenty of options leveraging technology to make destroyers quite deadly, all three of these techs are a substantial boost to your own threat-projection.

All Chemistry tree techs. Yes, every single level of the chemistry branch contains great bonus techs for creatives. You get improved missiles AND better armor. You get all the pollution-control techs and increase your operational range. It's easy for non-creatives to overlook that there is a manufacturing bonus midway up this tree as well. When in doubt, the Chemistry tree is a good place to invest research.

  • Merculite Missile/Pollution Processor - most MP races will forego Pollution Processor for Merculite missiles, since mirved-merculites can punch through most mid-level shields and armor. Pollution Processors (and later on Atmospheric Renewers) built at your shipyard colonies starts approaching the same production advantages of Tolerant races.
  • Zortrium Armor/Nano Disassemblers/Microlite Construction - picking up Pulson Missile, Atmospheric Renewer and Iridium Fuel Cells on the way - means two successive tech levels provide 6 immediately useful techs! Most non-creatives will likely choose Zortrium, or they risk having inadequate ship protection against the mid-level weapons likely in use about now. This means creatives pick up two exclusive bonus techs that immediately boost their industrial production everywhere! Your manufacturing planets now have the technology to be competitive with any production-oriented or tolerant race. Not to mention at this level, your Merculites can now be mirv-ed, making missiles salvos extremely deadly.

All Force Fields tree techs. Every single level of the forcefield branch contains game-changing bonus techs for creatives. You get all the shields AND all the defensive jammers. Your troops get awesome upgrades. You get stealthy ships. You get Mass Drivers and Gaus Cannons, two excellent armor-piercing beam weapons that serve well into the mid-game. You get Lightning Field, Warp Interdictors, Stasis Fields, Planetary Shielding, improved spying. The list goes on and on, this tech tree is just chock-full of funness.

  • Class 3 Shield/Radiation Shield/Warp Dissipater. The route to this Force Fields tech level provides decent shields and AF Mass Drivers for Star Bases and warships, Radiation Shields to protect Missile Bases, and several other useful techs such as Inertial Stabilizer, which makes its ships hard to hit. Non-Creative races' early military techs usually come from the Physics tech tree because that leads to Subspace Communications (more Command Points and hence bigger fleets) and the most powerful late-game beam weapons, or from the Chemistry tree (for missiles). But Force Fields gives Creatives more bonus techs that are specifically combated-related, which Creatives need because they are still going through the tech levels relatively slowly and they build ships slowly. The level 2-3 Destroyer design that beats a non-Creative level 1 battleship is based on these ideas - level 3 Force Field tech gives it Class 3 Shields and AF Mass Drivers, which are lethal against unshielded targets. Warp Dissipaters are automatically installed on all starbases, which makes them likely targets for enemy raids. Hence keeping a fast stealthy frigate with a warp dissipater in-system during battle is a sure way to mess with the raiding plans of your enemies.
  • Stealth Field/Personal Shield/Stealth Suit - Personal Shield and Stealth Suit will be useful in their own right, but the minituarization bonus allows the empire to design a Battleship with Class 3 Shield, Inertial Stabilizer, Battle Scanner, Cybertronic Computer, Structural Analyzer and a lot of AF Mass Drivers. The military sections of this guide will explain why this is a very effective design, possibly the most powerful in the galaxy at this time.
  • Research up the Physics tree to Battle Scanner, which is essential for effective use of "beam" weapons. Creative races usually have the best computers, as other races forgo ship's computers in order to get research buildings. Having better computers allows Creative races to rely on "beam" weapons from the start and they should usually do so, because missile shoot-outs generally involve significant losses on both sides, which Creative races cannot afford.
  • Cyber Security Link followed by Cybertronic Computer + Autolab + Structural Analyzer - these 2 levels change the balance of the game for Creatives! Cyber Security Link plus Neural Scanner, which the Creatives get on the way to Supercomputer, makes it very hard to spy on them. The Cybertronic Computer + Autolab + Structural Analyzer level provides 2 powerful combat techs plus Autolab. All colonies, even the smallest, should stockpile production at the start of the research in order to build Autolabs as fast as possible, since these usually increase the research rate by about 50% at this stage.
  • Research the Sociology tech tree to Stock Exchange, build Stock Exchanges wherever they are profitable, to provide cash for a possible invasion campaign.

This has covered more tech levels than the previous examples, because: Creatives have to be very careful about the early research order; it shows how Creatives get useful bonus techs at an accelerating rate; it shows their unusual military tech route, and its economic consequences. If they come through the next 10 turns in good shape, they are in a very strong position, and it is already very dangerous for any other empire to attack them.

What happens next depends on the situation:

  • If there has been contact (more likely), prepare to launch an invasion campaign by researching Force Fields up to Class 5 Shields and Gauss Cannon, a combination that is usually deadly (as the military sections will explain); this research costs a total of 4750 RP, so the Autolabs are needed! Then research Power up to Ion Drives - this comes after Class 5 Shields and Gauss Cannon because drive upgrades are immediate and free. Then attack! This race must exploit the advantages it has at this stage, otherwise opponents will simply outgrow it.
  • If there's no contact with other races (unlikely), this race needs to grow its economy by:
    • Colonizing new systems. Probably the only good ones left are guarded by Space Monsters, but this race is now building Battleships that can beat any "normal" Space Monster single-handed and then defend the new colony until it's strong enough to take care of itself. But this race must be careful that a Battleship doesn't blunder into Orion and get destroyed by the Guardian; it should send expendable Scouts to unexplored systems first. If a system gained in this way contains a large rich planet (or better), it should colonize the rich planet and that should build an Auto Factory, Marine Barracks, Colony Bases, and then a Warp Interdictor (if allowed) to protect the less rich colonies while they are still too weak to make their own defenses; then the rich planet develops itself into a shipyard. Usually gaining just 1 system in this way will cause contact with another race. Attack! The Creative's fleet is small but its ships are deceptively powerful - 1 or 2 Battleships are enough to conquer a system at this stage.
    • Research Biology up to Terraforming and terraform colonies where 1 terraforming project gives a big gain in population capacity. Of course this goes on hold if colonization leads to contact: shipyards build warships, the rest build Stock Exchanges then Troop Transports.