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Knowledge Is Power
In gaming, going for a research-based strategy is typically effective. Spending money on research makes existing units more powerful, gives access to various sorts of upgrades, and even improves your economy and diplomacy. Galactic Civilizations II is no different, but because of its large and complex tech tree, merely researching is not enough. You must target research, so you can pick up the most powerful technologies earlier than your foes. This guide covers several ways to target your research.
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From Snowball To Avalanche
One reason a research strategy can become so powerful is the way research tends to gain its own momentum. Because researching allows you to gain access to better, more advanced technologies, which in turn improve your empire in numerous ways, spending a lot of money in research can turn you into a juggernaut. Eventually, your technology will be giving you so many bonuses that no one else can hope to compete. But to reach that point, and reach it quickly, you'll need to spend wisely.
The most obvious place to spend your research dollars is in research technologies. That said, it is easy to mistakenly neglect research technology, because it is time consuming to research and does not lead to an immediate benefit. It may seem difficult to justify researching an upgrade to your labs when it is possible to research two or three weapon upgrades in a similar span of time, but take the plunge. It will pay off massively. With better labs, your research capabilities will gradually increase over that of your foes. In ten turns, the difference is difficult to see. But in one hundred turns, the difference is massive.
Another place to spend your research dollars is on production technology, particularly those which give you an empire-wide production bonus. Not only will your factories be able to create warships and social structures more quickly, but you'll also improve your overall efficiency. Although it is never stated by the game's tutorials or tips, bonus production actually costs less money than regular production.
One area you should probably not spend to much time focusing on is diplomacy, provided you already have an edge. Becoming a skilled diplomat through research is a good idea, but if you become overly skilled, you may find yourself with little to use your diplomacy skills on. Other races are not going to part with planets, or with their favorite technology.
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Focus Your Weapon Tech
When it comes to weapons and defense technology, it pays to specialize. There is no innate benefit to diversifying the weapons available to your warships. As such, you should specialize in one field of weapons research, and spend no money on any of the others. This may seem a foolish method of research, because you might run into an opponent who has defenses directly opposite to the weapons you've been researching. You can take the edge off this problem however, by paying attention to your opponent's early maneuvers. The AI also knows that it pays to be a specialist, and will invest research cash accordingly. If you see your opponents are all using shields to defend their ships, you can be reasonably confident that they aren't going to suddenly start going for armor.
Of course, specialization also applies to defense technology. Even if you find several different opponents using different types of weapons, it is typically best to pile your research into one line of research. Even if your defenses aren't meant to counter-act the enemy's weapons, they will still work at a third of their normal effectiveness. Because defense technology is cheap to research, it isn't hard to make ships layered with so many defenses that even they are virtually impenetrable.
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Leave It To The Diplomats
A final way to target your research is to only spend money on technology that you cannot gain from other civilizations. Obviously, you need to be a good diplomat for this to be feasible. But if your race does have bonuses to its diplomacy trait, this can be a very effective strategy. There are numerous technologies, including most of the manufacturing, researching, economic, diplomatic, and influence bonus technologies, which the AI will trade. You can simply buy these off the AI, or trade them for old technology that you find obsolete.
Because you'll be buying all non-crucial technology and researching only time-intensive, important technologies like Extreme Colonization and Planetary Invasion, you'll be putting more research money where it counts. This can lead to a drastic advantage over time, particularly in terms of military power. Most of the technology that the AI won't trade is weapons and invasion technologies, which means you'll be spending a lot of time researching those techs. A powerful military will be the result.
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Targeted Research Planets
Targeting how you spend your research money is not only a matter of targeting certain technology, but also of targeting certain kinds of research production. It pays for you to try and target the production of your research by picking out planets that are specifically designated as research centers. Ideally, these planets should have some kind of research bonus available. Alternatively, these planets can simply be very large.
By targeting your research production at specific planets, you can make good use of structures like Technological Capitals and Research Coordinators which give you a planet-wide bonus to research production. Using this method, it is easy to create late-game worlds which have a research production in the 300-500 range. Add a few of these into your empire, and you'll be able to research even high-cost technology quickly.
Also, targeting your research production to specific planets allows you to take advantage of the bonus production I mentioned earlier. The planet-wide +% bonuses which are created by the Technological Capital and similar research-enhancing buildings are also considered bonus production, which means that they are cheaper. In other words, having one planet with a Technological Capital will also produce more research, and produce that research more cheaply, than several worlds containing a handful of labs each.
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The Geeks Always Win
Ultimately, these strategies are only ways of implementing the one, all-important strategy: make a research target, and gear your efforts towards it. By making a target and striving to reach it, you'll avoid one of the largest pitfalls of research spending - low cost technology. Without a goal, it is easy to put aside more time-intensive, but ultimately more important, technology in favor for easy, quick technology which gains you an immediate benefit, but which can also be easily obtained through other means.
A strategy, after all, is a long-term commitment, not a short-term affair. Implementing your research plan requires clarity of thought. Stick to your targets, and the galaxy will easily fall.