Do you want to master space? To leave all your rivals breathing your technological dust? To research everything a civilization can and head to the future? Then science victory is your victory!
Before you can construct a spaceship, you must first develop the Apollo Program project in one of your cities. Next, you need to research most of the technologies in the Information Era to gain access to all Spaceship Parts. Then you need to build the following parts of the Spaceship:
Note that each of the parts above requires 1 Aluminum resource, but only while they are under construction. Therefore, you can build the whole spaceship while only having access to 1 Aluminum, as long as you build the parts one at a time. It is of course faster to build multiple parts at the same time, so try to obtain more Aluminum - with Recycling Centers if nothing else.
Finally, you will have to bring all parts to your Capital and use the special "Add to Spaceship" option to complete the vessel and launch it into Space.
As soon as you start constructing the Spaceship by adding the first part, you'll see a launch pad appear in your Capital. If you scroll down, you'll be able to see each individual part of the ship as it takes its place in the whole skeleton, and know which parts you are missing.
Science victory is the most straightforward path to victory in the game - you just need to ensure fast technological research pace for your empire, and eventually you'll be able to construct and launch the Spaceship. You don't need to go out of your way to do anything else, like influence other nations, or gain many City-State allies, etc. You may simply develop your empire, and if you see that towards the end of the game you're making good technological progress, you may head for a Science victory.
That being said, competing against all other nations for achieving a Science victory first is anything but easy - they may hamper your progress at the very end through the World Congress, or they could invade your lands before you're ready, or someone may simply outpace you and launch their Spaceship first! That's why, as with all other types of victory, you need a strategy for obtaining Science victory.
Of course, the goal being to research as many technologies as fast as possible, your first concern should be Science production. The main key to scientific progress isn't territory or resources, but large population, combined with wise building management. Unlike Culture and Faith, which are produced only from buildings, each and every active Citizen in your empire (excluding those in Resistance from recently captured cities) adds 1 Science to its city's base, without you having to do anything! This means that the more Citizens you have, the more Science you produce automatically, again without having to do anything else.
Next, assign Scientist specialists, especially in small cities (if you can afford it, of course, no use starving your city just to have one Scientist specialist), so that you can add Science to your base.
The above considerations may lead you to believe that larger empires are automatically in a better position to advance technologically, and this was to a great degree correct until Gods & Kings. Brave New World, however, introduces a 2% increase in Science cost for every technology, based on the number of cities you own, which means that larger empires no longer necessarily research technologies faster, unless they manage their cities well. In some cases, having more cities can impede technological progress - a conqueror who took 10 cities in the last 50 turns might find himself bogged down if he didn't bother to develop the captured cities. His tech research is now 20% more expensive, while the cities he conquered won't be producing nearly enough Science to compensate for that, let alone enough to take him ahead!
Science is a stat which is almost absent from terrain, but there are some important exceptions:
- Jungle - Each tile of these will produce 2 Science once a University is built in the city surrounded by it. That means that you should try expanding into Jungle areas, and in the mid-game turn those expansions into scientific centers. Build Trading Posts in Jungle tiles - they not only produce Gold without destroying the Jungle, but also produce extra Science thanks to the Free Thought Social Policy. Thus, you will be able to make 2 Food, 2 Gold and 3 Science from a single jungle tile - pretty neat!
- Natural Wonders producing Science are an important boost for your research, especially in the early game (and this is particularly more useful if you're playing as Spain). These include the Barringer Crater, Old Faithful, and also the Great Barrier Reef and Krakatoa, although the last two may be difficult to use due to them being found on the sea.
- Academy, the Great Tile Improvement of the Great Scientist, is also an important way of boosting research, again especially in the early game. If you chose Liberty as your starting policy tree, use its finisher bonus to get a free Great Scientist and build an Academy in the territory of your best city. And of course, try building more as the game progresses.
Tech Progression and Building Strategies
Scientific buildings usually base their bonus effects on number of Citizens, but some of them also give a percentage increase over the base Science production of the city. For example, in a city with 20 Citizens, a Library will produce +10 Science (1 per 2 citizens), while in a city with 6 Citizens, the same building will produce only +3 Science. So, build science buildings first in cities that will benefit the most from them. For example, build Universities first in cities with large population, or ones that are adjacent to jungle tiles - this way you'll bump up your scientific production the most, and right away. This strategy is actually valid for any kind of building in the game, working on a percentage-increase basis.
As for the tech progression, it is pretty obvious - the most vital thing is to maximize Science output ASAP. So, to do that you work your way up the tech tree with regards to technologies unlocking Science buildings first. This means you should start with Pottery, then Writing, then try to build the Great Library (not only because it's a good Wonder, but also because it'll provide a free Library in your Capital). Later in the Medieval Era work straight to Education, then straight to Scientific Theory and Plastics in the Industrial Era, and Atomic Theory in the Atomic Era. As soon as you research the tech, start building the relevant Science building, first in your greatest Science centers, then in the other cities.
Useful Policies and Wonders
There are a number of Policies that will help you in achieving a science victory:
- The must-have Policy tree for Science victory is Rationalism, for its direct boost to Science production and Research Agreements. However, this tree only becomes available in the Renaissance Era, so you need another tree to start with.
- If you want a Science boost, a good starting Social Policy tree is Tradition for the Population boost it conveys (and it also allows you to build Wonders faster). You can also go Liberty for the possibility of founding several cities fast, and possibly taking over important territory, but only if you find a Natural Wonder that produces Science, or if you're in fertile lands which promise fast Population growth.
- Also, you can try Patronage, which gives a direct Science boost per City-State ally, and will also help you to befriend Maritime City-States, which can help you in increasing Population.
- Finally, once you have progressed far enough in the game, you will need to choose one of the following Ideologies if you pursue a science victory:
- Order - It has some Tenets which directly boost Production and Science by various means. More importantly, the Spaceflight Pioneers Tenet is very helpful, as this Tenet allows you to finish a Spaceship Part with a Great Engineer, the one thing you normally couldn't.
- Freedom - It may not have direct Science boosters, but its Tenets considerably boost your city Population, Specialists' performance and Great People generation, allowing you to place many Specialists and churn out Great People like mad. Also, its Level 3 Tenet, Space Procurements, allows you to purchase Spaceship Parts with Gold without the necessity to build them.
There aren't many World Wonders that directly aid in achieving a science victory, but you could also construct some of them for their free Social Policies. These are the Wonders you really want:
- Great Library - Provides a free Technology, and an important early game Science boost.
- Hanging Gardens - Provides a large Food boost, which indirectly helps boost your city Population and Science.
- Porcelain Tower - Increases the benefit of Research Agreements (but you still need to make them).
- Hubble Space Telescope - Boosts your ability to produce Spaceship Parts in the very end of the game, besides giving you two Great Scientists. Priceless if you're in a race with another nation to win any type of victory.
- National College and Oxford University - These National Wonders are also extremely important. Build the former ASAP, preferably within the first 100-150 turns. The latter is not quite time-sensitive; its greatest bonus is the free tech, and you can use it whenever you feel it's right.
Relations with Other Nations
As mentioned elsewhere, invading other nations and constructing a huge empire may not be the best way to achieve a Science victory. It is, of course, possible to go militaristic and seize strategically important lands containing large cities, but then you have to make them useful ASAP - as soon as the Resistance phase is over, annex the city and rebuild its Population and Science production so that it doesn't drag your research down. It is also worth noting that thanks to your scientific prowess, you should normally have one of the most advanced armies in terms of military tech - something very important for combat.
An important reason to go to war with someone is if they are close to achieving victory - a successful war will hamper their progress, allowing you to outpace them.
Still, it's much more lucrative to maintain peaceful relations with most nations, for reasons that will be discussed below.
These can boost your progress considerably, especially if you managed to get the Scientific Revolution policy, and the Porcelain Tower. But in order to strike up these agreements, you need to be Friends with a nation, and for that to happen you need Friendly diplomatic status with them. And it's difficult (although not impossible) to be friendly with someone you invaded. Also, the Agreement is immediately cancelled if any party declares war on the other. Always try to maintain Friendly relationship status with at least 2 nations, and strike up regular Research Agreements with them.
Another way of boosting research without actually working for it is stealing technologies with your spies. Note that this is only possible when another nation is more advanced technologically than you, so when assigning spies, look for the nation with a faster technology researching than your own (you can see that by mousing over the Score of a nation in the Diplomatic screen). Usually at some point you will become the most advanced nation, and then it will be time to turn your Spies to other tasks, like Diplomacy for example.
There are some important Resolutions you want to be adopted by the Congress:
- Sciences Funding - It will increase generation of Great Scientists.
- Scholars in Residence - Boosts a technology research by 20%, but only if another nation has already discovered it. This may become a double-edged sword when you become the most technologically advanced nation - then the Resolution will allow the others to keep pace with you more easily, which is detrimental to you.
- International Space Station - It will provide sweeping Science benefits, even if you don't finish first.
- Religion doesn't help too much when you're aiming for a science victory, but there are several useful Beliefs:
- Messenger of the Gods - Provides an important early game Science boost for each city with a City Connection; effect diminishes vastly in the middle and late game because the bonus remains constant (2 SP per city), while the SP requirements for new technologies grow exponentially.
- Interfaith Dialogue - It will give you Science boosts as you spread your religion in cities following another religion. Note that for the bonus to work the target city cannot be without a majority religion! That means that the moment the city becomes 'neutral', the bonus won't work anymore. This belief is quite powerful (more than it seems), because it works every time you use the 'Spread Religion' ability of a Missionary or a Prophet, regardless of what actual effect the spreading will have on the religious balance in the city!
- Feed the World - Adds Food production to Shrines and Temples, which helps Population growth.
- Swords into Plowshares - Increases Population growth when you're not at war.
- Jesuit Education - Allows you to purchase Science buildings with Faith. However, this is a Reformation belief, meaning you'll need to develop another Social Policy tree: Piety. Still, go that way if you're playing with a naturally strong religious civilization.
- The best use of Gold is for Research Agreements, bribing Maritime City-States, and instantly buying Science buildings.
- Establishing Trade Routes to other civilizations grants you a small Science boost; the more technologies the other nation has discovered that you haven't, the more Science you gain. This isn't much in the middle and late game, but it can be vital when you're producing a total of 10-15 Science.