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Science victory (Civ5)

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! 

This article discusses the ways for achieving science victory in Civilization V. It was written for the newest expansion - Brave New World - but it may also serve older versions of the game.


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 Aluminum, but only while they are under construction. Therefore, you can build the whole spaceship while only having access to 1 Aluminum Aluminum, as long as you build the parts one at a time. However, it is faster to build multiple parts at the same time, so try to obtain more Aluminum Aluminum - with Recycling Centers, if nothing else.

Finally, you will have to bring all parts to your Capital 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 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 civilizations or gain many city-state allies. 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 civilizations 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.

General Considerations[]

Of course, the goal being to research as many technologies as fast as possible, your first concern should be Science Science production. The main key to scientific progress isn't territory or resources, but a large 20xPopulation5 Population and wise building management. Unlike Culture Culture and Faith Faith, which are produced only from buildings, each and every active Citizen Citizen in your empire (excluding those in Resistance from recently captured cities) adds 1 Science Science to its city's base, without you having to do anything. This means that the more Citizen Citizens you have, the more Science Science you produce automatically, again without having to do anything else.

Next, assign Scientist (Civ5) Scientists, especially in small cities (if you can afford it, of course - it's no use starving your city just to have one Scientist (Civ5) Scientist), so that you can add Science 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 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 themselves bogged down if they didn't bother to develop the captured cities. Their tech research is now 20% more expensive, while the cities they conquered won't be producing nearly enough Science Science to compensate for that, let alone enough to take them ahead!

Don't forget that puppet cities count towards the total number of cities you own in Brave New World...and they also produce 25% less Science Science than their normal output.

Using Terrain[]

Science Science is a stat which is almost absent from terrain, but there are some important exceptions:

  • Jungle - Each of these tiles will produce 2 Science 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 Gold without destroying the Jungle, but also produce extra Science Science thanks to the Free Thought social policy. Thus, you will be able to earn 2 Food Food, 2 Gold Gold, and 3 Science Science from a single Jungle tile.
  • Natural wonders that produce Science Science are an important boost for your research, especially in the early game (particularly 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 being found on the sea.
  • The 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 the number of Citizen Citizens in a city, but some of them also give a percentage increase over its base Science Science production. For example, in a city with 20 Citizen Citizens, a Library will produce +10 Science Science (1 per 2 Citizen Citizens), while the same building will produce only +3 Science Science in a city with 6 Citizen Citizens. So, build scientific buildings first in cities that will benefit the most from them. For example, build Universities first in cities with large 20xPopulation5 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 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 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 scientific building, first in your greatest Science 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 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 Science boost, a good starting policy tree is Tradition for the 20xPopulation5 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 Science, or if you're in fertile lands which promise fast 20xPopulation5 Population growth.
  • Also, you can try Patronage, which gives a direct Science Science boost per City-State ally, and will also help you to befriend Maritime City-States, which can help you in increasing 20xPopulation5 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 Production and Science Science by various means. More importantly, the Spaceflight Pioneers tenet is very helpful, as it 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 Science boosters, but its tenets considerably boost your city 20xPopulation5 Population, Specialist Specialists' performance and Great People generation, allowing you to assign many Specialist Specialists and churn out Great People like mad. Its Level 3 tenet, Space Procurements, allows you to purchase Spaceship Parts with Gold Gold without needing to build them. You should also adopt policies from the Commerce tree if you adopt this Ideology, both for the Science Science bonuses from Mercantilism and the Gold Gold purchasing discounts from Big Ben and other sources.

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 Science boost.
  • Hanging Gardens - Provides a large Food Food boost, which indirectly helps boost your city 20xPopulation5 Population and Science Science.
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa - Provides a free Great Person and increases the generation of all Great People by 25%. Faster Great Scientist generation is essential, and a free one is indubitably helpful.
  • Porcelain Tower - Provides a free Great Scientist and 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 civilizations 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 Civilizations[]

As mentioned elsewhere, invading other civilizations 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 20xPopulation5 Population and Science 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 civilizations, for reasons that will be discussed below.

Research Agreements[]

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 civilization, 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 either party declares war on the other. Always try to maintain Friendly relationship status with at least two civs, and strike up regular Research Agreements with them.

Note that you also need Gold Gold for Research Agreements, so don't waste your treasury. The initial price of an Agreement is 200 Gold Gold, but in later eras it goes up to 250, 300, then 350.


Another way of boosting research without actually working for it is stealing technologies with your spies. Note that this is only possible when another civilization is more advanced technologically than you, so when assigning spies, look for the civ with a faster technology researching than your own (you can see that by mousing over the Score of a civ in the Diplomatic screen, or in Demographics screen). Usually at some point you will become the most advanced civ, and then it will be time to turn your Spies to other tasks, like Diplomacy for example.

World Congress[]

There are some important Resolutions you want to be adopted by the World Congress:

  • Sciences Funding - It will increase generation of Great Scientists.
  • Scholars in Residence - Boosts a technology research by 20%, but only if another civilization has already discovered it. This Resolution may become a double-edged sword when you become the most technologically advanced civ, as it will allow your opponents to keep pace with you more easily.
  • International Space Station - It will provide sweeping Science Science benefits, even if you don't finish first.

Other Tips[]

  1. 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 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 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 more powerful 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 Food production to Shrines and Temples, which helps 20xPopulation5 Population growth.
    • Swords into Plowshares - Increases 20xPopulation5 Population growth when you're not at war.
    • Jesuit Education - Allows you to purchase Science Science buildings with Faith 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.
  2. The best use of Gold Gold is for Research Agreements, bribing Maritime City-States, and instantly buying Science Science buildings.
  3. Establishing Trade Routes to other civilizations grants you a small Science Science boost; the more technologies the other civ has discovered that you haven't, the more Science 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 Science.

See also[]

Civilization V [edit]
Gods & KingsBrave New World
† Only in vanilla Civ5
‡ Only in Gods & Kings and Brave New World