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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in 2010 and has not been updated since that time. We have placed it our archive.
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Reach for the Stars
Having made a mess of our own planet constructing a spaceship and setting off to colonize Alpha Centauri may seem like an attractive prospect. In order to win a Civilization 5 scientific victory that’s exactly what you’ll have to do. This means focussing on technological advancement through research, building the Apollo Program and then constructing a huge spaceship. You can build the spaceship parts across your empire but they’ll need to be assembled in your capital before you can blast off. You’re going to want an advanced civilization with several powerhouse cities if the scientific victory is your aim.
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Best Civilizations for a Scientific Victory
Once again it is possible to achieve a scientific victory with any civilization but these choices will give you a boost.
Babylon has double the normal birth rate of Great Scientists and you’ll get one when you research Writing. They can be used to discover new technological advancements or to build academies which will boost the science output for that tile.
The Chinese are a good choice for a domination victory but because the Paper Maker gives you +1 science for every two citizens they can be a good choice for the scientific victory as well.
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Best Wonders for a Scientific Victory
- The Oracle
- The Pyramids
- The Great Library
- The Great Wall
- The Porcelain Tower
- Brandenburg Gate
- The Hagia Sophia
- The Kremlin
- Statue of Liberty
Many of these wonders will give you direct scientific boosts but it can also be handy to increase your production with The Pyramids and make it more difficult for enemies to invade with The Great Wall. An early wonder that you don’t want to miss out on is The Great Library. The Kremlin is another boost to defense with a Great Scientist point and the Brandenburg Gate will give you a general and two Great Scientist points. You should also go for National Wonders like the Oxford University which gives you one free tech and the National College which gives that city a 50% science boost (so build it in your science capital).
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Best Policies for a Scientific Victory
To begin with Liberty will help you grow and later you can claim a production bonus with Republic. Obviously the most important Social Policy branch for pursuing the scientific win in Civ 5 is Rationalism because it offers all kinds of research boosts including the big finale – the Scientific Revolution for two free techs.
Freedom can help you by reducing the food that specialists consume and increasing your chances of getting Great People. Order is great for ramping up production - Communism offers +5 production per city.
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Best Buildings for a Scientific Victory
- Public School
- Research Lab
All of these buildings will boost your science output. You can only build an observatory if you have a city next to a mountain. Make sure you remember to balance these buildings with some others to make sure your economy is strong and you maintain happiness.
When you get towards the end of the game you will need to make sure you have a ring of highly productive cities that you can use to construct the spaceship parts. It’s best to make sure they are all close to the capital because all the parts will need to be transported there for assembly. Pick four or five and make sure they have factories, workshops, windmills, water mills, sea ports or whatever else they can get to boost that production.
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General Strategy for a Scientific Victory
You will need a big population to get the best out of science and so if you are planning a major scientific capital then make sure food production is high. You can also combat the food problem by befriending maritime City States who will then supply you with food.
In the early game it can be useful to use Great Scientists to build academies on unworked tiles which will also provide production. It’s worth noting that they’ll instantly clear a forest by building on a forested hill for example and you’ll get the production bonus too. Later on you should use them to develop free tech.
As long as you are happy and solvent divert all resources into developing more science. You’ll need a decent army to keep threats at bay and the scientific victory is not incompatible with a fairly warlike approach to your opponents. If you end up in a space race with another civilization hit them with everything you have to try and disrupt their spaceship construction. Also make sure to heavily guard your own spaceship parts if you are moving them to the capital (they have no defense).
Once you have built the Apollo Program you will need to start constructing the spaceship. Make sure you research Robotics as early as possible because it allows you to build the Spaceship Factory to speed up the spaceship parts production and the SS Booster spaceship part. You’re also going to need Satellites for SS Cockpit, Nanotechnology for SS Stasis Chamber and Particle Physics for SS Engine.
The scientific victory is quite tough to achieve but hopefully these tips will help you. If you have any suggestions or comments then please post.