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Preamble:

I don't care for direct science victory as a primary objective, however; I do realize the importance of science for the game. On Emperor I have no problem keeping up on science against the AI (I'm almost always 1st or 2nd in demographics), however; on Immortal I have issues keeping up.

My Play-Style:

My typical priority for a city (generally I keep by this with a few obvious exception cases):

  • Build available food buildings
  • Build a worker if needed
  • Build available science buildings
  • Build military units if at war
  • Build buildings specific for that city's strategy or civilization's strategy

I get my worker building farms immediately, I go for writing ASAP, and I build libraries as soon as possible. The only other way I know of possibly preventing this lag-behind is building the Great Library or Capturing the City that has it.

I don't always immediately go for the National College but I get it relatively early-on.

I'm always in last before I even get the chance to get Rationalism. I don't usually settle in Jungle heavy areas nor do I build trade-posts abundantly so I doubt Rationalism would save me from this seemingly inevitable doom. What can I do to avoid this?

Question(s):

  • What can I do to not fall behind in Science output on immortal?
  • Is focus on Science early-game a must do?
  • Would relations with City-States help? If so, which types? Maritime?
  • Science affects every aspect of your empire. Although it may not be your primary victory condition it's still a secondary victory condition. Without it, you'll fall behind in every meaningful metric: population, available wonders, resource production, building speed, expansion, the list goes on. Bottom line: science is essential for every other metric in the game so it should be a priority. Exceptions can be made for different play styles. For example, if you're a raging warlord, your science output will increase with each additional city, and tech costs don't scale with empire size. – FreeAsInBeer Oct 13 '14 at 14:07
  • I played the start of a couple games yesterday trying to see where I go wrong. It seems I only have this issue on Immortal and I do perfectly fine on Emperor so I suppose it's more a question of difficulty-level that I didn't notice before. Also, Tech costs do scale with empire size. Each city & puppet increases tech costs by 2%. – Shelby115 Oct 13 '14 at 14:37
  • Ah, didn't realize tech costs scaled. 2% isn't nearly as limiting though as the social policy cost increase per city. What happens if you focus mainly on research on Immortal? – FreeAsInBeer Oct 13 '14 at 15:13
  • Well, most of the time I try and fail unless I have a really nice start or a lot of trees around to chop to speed up process of getting Great Library. If I'm using a Civ like Babylon then it's really easy and I stay ahead, if I use a non-science heavy civ with some kind of science benefit like Egypt (Gets Great Library every time) then I keep up as if I were playing on Emperor (1st or 2nd, occasionally 3rd), but if I'm playing someone like Iroquois who don't have much of a science gain, then I fall behind pretty quickly. – Shelby115 Oct 13 '14 at 15:18
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As you would be playing on Immortal, which I believe is harder than King, we know that your opponents will have bonuses to progress faster.

That being said, you can do things to ensure your science output remains high, if not on top. To do this, you would have to play as a certain civilization. Babylon is your best bet for a science victory, because they get a free Great Scientist upon researching Writing, as well as a few other Unique Buildings, I believe.

Also, in Civ5, population is a great factor in science output. You can either create a bunch of cities (not recommended because of unhappiness), or build tall (small number of cities, large population). India is the best civ for this, as they have Unique Abilities for population growth and happiness, so that you can have a large, happy empire that produces a bunch of science.

Also, Korea gets +2 science for every specialist worked, so that may be an alternative, albeit not as great. The maya (Pacal) are a great civ, as you get +2 science on pyramids, which you can actually use to your advantage by building wide (many cities). The maya also get a free great person after every 394 years (Long Count calendar) after researching Theology.

One last civ that is great all around, surprisingly, is Austria. You will almost definitely start slow with this civ, but Austria has a Unique Ability which allows you to buy allied city-states (and make them your own city) using gold. If you wait until a later era (Industrial, perhaps) you can literally get a successful, strong city with a BUNCH of science output for 500 gold.

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