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The Top 10 Technologies in Civilization V

March 30th, 2011

This post was written before either expansion, I ended up playing this game for over 1000 hours so perhaps I have some useful though now dated insight. I also jotted down some other thoughts about the changes introduced by Brave New World and before that Gods & Kings. This is my original list of 10 key technologies in Sid Meirer’s Civilization V.  They are in the order you will most likely research them and may not reflect the latest patches to the game as I play on my MacBook Pro and we get patches later than PC users do.

  1. Writing is probably the most useful early technology as it is needed for so many other techs and lets you build a library plus two other buildings that help boost your research capabilities.
  2. Mining is required to access Gold, Silver, Iron, and likely Marble, Coal, and Aluminum too.  In Civilization V more Iron is better so researching the tech that lets you see it and use it is a must early on.
  3. Animal Husbandry might sound lame, but domesticated animals and the availability of large beasts of burden was one of the key things that allowed different human civilizations to thrive, read Guns, Germs, and Steel for further details.  In Civilization V this tech allows you to make use of sheep and cows and to find and train horses.
  4. Iron Working is necessary to reveal and harness Iron in the game.  It also lets you build Swordsmen which are powerful but not as powerful as Long Swordsmen for which you need to research Steel.
  5. Optics may be researched even earlier, such as directly after Writing if you have an island start, the invention of optics in Civ 5 allows you to construct the Lighthouse city improvement but more importantly lets your land units embark upon ships and sail to other islands.
  6. Wheel may prove more important than Optics in many games, it allows you to build roads as well as Water Wheel city improvements and Chariot Archer units.
  7. Construction lets you build the Colosseum city improvement which will keep your people happy, it is also necessary to build a lot of other city improvements and allows your roads to have bridges.
  8. Steel may be the key military technology in the entire game, funny how it appears in the title of Jared’s book.  As mentioned above it allows the creation of Long Swordsmen which are better than any unit that comes before it and better than some units that come after it in the tech tree.  The Japanese Civilization can build super Long Swordsmen in the form of Samurai.
  9. Navigation helps explore the world, but in Civ V it lets you build Frigates the first fearsome navel unit as well as the Seaport city improvement which can provide a boost to coastal cities.
  10. Scientific Theory is one of the most important techs to research so much so you may want to research it earlier.  It lets you build Public Schools in your cities which are a big boost to your research and culture.  It also reveals Coal which you then mine and use in factories.  There is no concept of pollution in Civ V, the first Civ game not to have such a concept.

If your game progresses into the Industrial Age most every technology is useful and required to go further up the tech tree.  In the Modern Age some techs are less important if you’re pursuing a peaceful VS violent course throughout history.  Don’t forget about Globalization which lets you build two awesome wonders and makes a diplomatic victory possible.


  • Muskie says:

    I’ve recently started playing the game again while unemployed, you know in the evenings after I’m done looking for a job that day. The game has been rebalanced several times and now the Mac version is almost at feature parity.  Haven’t played multiplayer yet, I know some people who wish to try it.  I’ve been working my way up the difficulty ladder and trying to earn badges by trying various scenarios.

    The buildings that produce happiness now produce less happiness, but major changes have been made the to the ‘social policies’.  I wouldn’t remove any techs from this list but Printing Press which enables you to build the theatre is even more key.  I also have a soft spot for Economics as it makes a lot of terrain improvements better and I diligently improve my countryside.

    As for the social policies I strongly prefer Liberty of the opening three.  I used to hold out for Patronage and skip to it ASAP now there is incentive to finish off a tree completely even if you are not going hard for a cultural victory. As it has been improved, Piety now makes more sense as it become available early and although the first few options aren’t the best, some of the later ones can be quite powerful. Freedom is another well regarded, ie powerful social policy. The fifth one doesn’t matter so much, Rationalism conflicts with Piety which is hard to pass up in some games. Commercialism never seems that great, but on maps with lots of water, it can be worthwhile. Order is the last social policy to become available so late in games I sometimes try it, I never seem to go for Autocracy…

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