Civilization 5 Research Guide

Civilization 5 Research Guide
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The Complete Civilization 5 Guide: Research

Technology is a very important part of Civilization 5. A civilization that performs research quickly and effectively will always have an edge against a civilization that does not. Civilization 5 research is also obviously important if you wish to go after the research victory condition. Let’s look at the basics of research.

My beakers! Where are my beakers!

In Civilization 5, as in Civilization games before it, research is represented by the beaker icon (a small beaker filled with blue fluid). As a result, research income is generally referred to as beakers. The more beakers you have, them more quickly you research technology. Your total income is always represented in the upper left hand corner of the primary game window.

So, where do beakers come from? The primarily come from your population. Each citizen generates one beaker per turn, although this isn’t readily apparent on in the city details display because his income does not show up on the city map.

This base number of beakers, however, is modified by many things. City improvements often increase beaker income by providing bonuses – the Library, for example, provides one extra beaker for every two citizens in a city. Improvements allow for a further increase of beaker income through the assignment of citizens to specialist roles at those buildings – this takes citizens away from working the land and instead assigns them to academic pursuits.

You can also increase beaker production through social policies and wonders. The rationalism branch, for example, has a number of social policies that improve overall beaker income. These overall bonuses can be a great boon to your beaker production and are a must-have if you want to go for a scientific victory.

Other Ways to Research

Besides increasing beaker production there are a few other ways to improve your research. One is through the production of great scientists, who can be spent in exchange for a free technology. There is some debate about the real usefulness of this as opposed to expanding the great scientist in the production of an Academy tile improvement, which improves a city’s beaker production.

Research can also be improved through diplomacy by entering a research agreement with another civilization. When you enter this agreement you and the other civilization receive a 15% bonus to total beaker production. You have to pay gold to enter the agreement, as does the other civilization.

Finally, you can obtain research through the exploration of ancient ruins. This is particularly effective on Archipelago maps because the AI often does not search smaller land masses, which means that you can find useful ruins even in the mid-game.

The Consequences of Beaker Mechanics

Civilization 5 Research Guide

Population is the raw production resource for beakers, so you will want to treat population as your primary resource if you are going for a technological victory. The population of your cities relies on food, so you will want to make sure your food production is as high as possible. This means proper planning of city locations, as it is very difficult to generate a high population in a city surrounding by mountains and desert.

Another very effective way to improve your population is through maritime city-states. Maritime city-states allied to your cause provide a static bonus to food in each of your cities. This bonus stacks, so becoming allies with four maritime city-states (for example) can generate a big food surplus. This means larger cities and more beaker income.

Of course, having more people means having to deal with unhappiness. If your civilization becomes unhappy growth will slow, which in turn will prevent you from fully realizing the beaker production that might otherwise be possible. Unhappiness can be combated through city improvements, but this may be of limited utility because you’re already spending a great deal of time and money on the construction of research improvements. City-states can again be a good alternative, as they grant you access to their resources when they become your allies, thus boosting happiness. You can also try to exchange your excess luxury resources for access to the luxury resources of other civilizations. Finally, you can control unhappiness by picking social policies that make it easier to control a large population


Once you understand the mechanics behind beaker production it is much easier to effectively plan how your civilization researches new technology. This will give you a big edge when you play the game.

This post is part of the series: The Complete Civilization 5 Guide

Are you a new player to Civilization 5 looking to learn the game? Or a veteran of Civilization 4 looking for some tips about what is new and different? This guide will help you become familiar with the mechanics of Civilization 5.

  1. The Complete Civilization 5 Strategy Guide: An Intro for New Players
  2. The Complete Civilization 5 Guide: Advanced City Building
  3. The Complete Civilization 5 Strategy Guide: Combat Basics
  4. The Complete Civilization 5 Strategy Guide: Culture
  5. Complete Civilization 5 Strategy Guide: Research