Derek Porter
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I wanted to post my two cents regarding technology. After our last game, we got into a deep discussion about tech, since there are players in our group that always realize someone else is about to win, but they're in no position to do anything about it because they've been running down the tech tree. In my opinion, too many players spend a lot of time developing tech every turn instead of actually scoring victory points, and who can blame them? There are many cool techs that give you an edge over your opponents, but it should not come at the expense of winning the game.
I present to you a Skeptic's Guide to Tech. This is all my opinion, developed from playing the game and similar posts online. It's all very subjective, since some techs are all around useful and others are very situation-dependent. Almost all of them are useful in the right situation. Feel free to disagree or point out anything I missed. Part I covers the tech tree by color, Part II, each race individually. I apologize for the length.

The Basic Techs
Hylar V Assault Laser, Enviro Compensator, Sarween Tools, XRD Transporters OR Stasis Capsules
These make the basis of the tech tree, and in my opinion are the only “necessary” technologies. Each one gives your fleet a critical boost as well as opening the way for everything else. In short, there’s a reason these are all entry-level techs. You can perform admirably with just these techs, and I’d like to point out that I’ve often won using only these and perhaps my race’s unique tech(s).
Hylar V boosts your basic ships’ attack. Enviro Compensator and Sarween Tools make your space docks more versatile and able to produce more units cheaply. Depending on the race you’re playing, you’ll either want XRD or Stasis Caps. Some races, like the Mentak, want a lot of cruisers on the board. Others, like the Naalu, favor carriers. Choose one or the other and stick with it, especially early in the game. With that being said, it’s never a bad idea to have XRD, if only to move PDS or Mech units quickly.

Red Technologies
Hylar V Assault Laser - See above.
Deep Space Cannon - A good tech to have if you like having PDS units, as it makes them more useful. It's worth having as a deterrent.
Automated Defense Turrets - One of the few Red techs I’ll go out of my way to get. Absolutely necessary if you’re facing an opponent that enjoys fighter swarms, like the Naalu. It should go without saying that this is great for attacking a War Sun with a fighter screen.
Duranium Armor - Useful for races that rely on dreadnoughts. Not recommended for anyone not fielding lots of units with sustain damage.
Magen Defense Grid - If you plan on hiding behind a full PDS network, it’s great. If not, it’s likely not worth it.
Assault Cannon - Sounds great in theory and I’ve seen it decide some battles. Unless you’ve already got all the requirements and dreadnoughts are the mainstay of your fleets, don’t go out of your way for it. The L1z1x are the only race it really benefits, since they begin with all but one of the prerequisites.
Graviton Negator - Deep enough in the tree that it seems like it would be better to go for War Suns if you need to bombard through PDS shielding. Mech units preclude the need to have fighters participate in Invasion Combat. Probably not worth getting unless you want all the Red techs for some reason.
War Sun - War Suns are the badasses of TI. They’re fast, powerful, and durable, only challenged by certain races’ Flagships. With that being said, I’ve only ever fielded them twice; once on the last turn as a deterrent, and the other as the Muaat. In my experience, War Suns hit the board on the last or second to last turn, and usually don’t win any games. They’re great to have, yes, but I feel that they’re a little overrated. If you want to get this tech, go for it early and make that your purpose until you get them, then terrorize the galaxy to catch up. I would suggest that if you’re playing a race without any of the prerequisites (re: Saar, Creuss, Yssaril, etc.), you’d be better off without them.

Blue Technologies
Antimass Deflectors - Almost worthless if it wasn’t required to get into the Blue technologies, but it’s there, so grab it on your way to XRD Transporters.
XRD Transporters - See above.
Maneuvering Jets - A highly situation dependent tech. If you’re getting hammered by someone’s PDS network or space mines, it might be worth it, but in my opinion it’s only really useful if you’re situated next to an Ion Storm that you can move through to take your opponents by surprise.
Gravity Drive - Another situational tech, this one is my favorite of the new Shards techs. If you happen to be next to a wormhole or gravity well system, this tech is very useful. If you’re not within easy reach of one of those systems, it’s all but worthless. If you are using the Wormhole Nexus, this tech will allow you to strike quickly into enemy territory if you can hold Malice.
Light/Wave Deflector - This is a great tech, but it has so many prerequisites, it’s not really worth the investment. With that being said, it only comes into play late in the game, when most players will have left gaps in their defense. If you use this tech, be prepared to overwhelm your opponent or be stuck facing the enemy on all sides.
Type IV Drive - This is one of the few multiple-prerequisite techs I will attempt to get. The usefulness of this technology is balanced by how deep it is in the tree, which is probably intentional. If you are only a tech or two away and can afford it, grab it. Combined with Gravity Drive, you can make some absolutely ridiculous attacks across the board.
Advanced Fighters - This tech is great, but it’s at the end of the tree so you probably won’t see it do much good unless you set out to get it from the first turn. The only race that I can really justify attempting to get this is the Naalu, since their racial abilities and racial tech encourages lots of fighters.
Fleet Logistics - I have never seen this tech in play, nor have I seen anyone attempt to get it. Having said that, it seems like a tech for players that enjoy expanding rapidly and letting their opponents come to them. It may be useful when combined with the Naalu’s Telepathic Mind Weapon, but I doubt that I’ll ever see this in play. Go for this tech at your own risk.

Yellow Technologies
Almost all of the Yellow techs are universally useful, regardless of which race you’re playing. If the Technology strategy is activated and you can’t think of anything else to get, consider getting a Yellow tech.
Transfabrication - This tech can convert resources to Trade Goods for Objectives that specifically require Trade Goods (or more Influence than you have), meaning this is the only tech that can directly assist you in scoring Victory Points. However, unless you're the Mentak, you'll only break even using this tech.
Enviro Compensator - See above.
Sarween Tools - See above.
Graviton Laser System - As with Magen Defense Grid, it might be worth it if you’re relying on PDS units. Otherwise, there are better things to develop.
Micro Technology - While not necessary, the one extra Trade Good per active agreement is nice. Get it if you can spare the resources.
Nano Technology - Useful, but not crucial. Don’t go out of your way for it.
Transit Diodes - Another tech that’s situation-dependent, but can be used in interesting ways by the Arborec or Sol. This, along with Graviton Laser System, is probably the least useful of the Yellow techs.
Integrated Economy - If you can get this tech and play it right, you can reinforce empty (or near-empty) systems quickly, which would allow you to get around Fleet Supply if used correctly. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth getting.

Green Technologies
Stasis Capsules - See above.
Cybernetics - Almost required for races that like fighters. If you’re not using a lot of fighters, avoid this.
Gen Synthesis - This is a good tech for certain races that use lots of ground forces, and it will save you rebuilding 50% of the ones that are destroyed in combat. Only really useful for some races or if you’re expecting a lot of Invasion Combat.
Hyper Metabolism - Unless you’ve already got everything else you need, there are better choices for Tech than this.
Neural Motivator - Getting more Action Cards is always good, if only to have options. If you want this, get it early to maximize its effectiveness.
Neural Computing - Great if you are not the one playing the Tech Strategy every turn or are using Tech II for two techs per turn. It may be too deep in the tree to really take advantage of it, or it may encourage you to try to get more techs than you want or need. Again, the sooner you have it, the more effective it will be. Only get this if you plan on getting a lot of technologies.
Dacxive Animators - The creepiest tech in the game ("Go forth, my undead soldiers!"), it is not as effective as Gen Synthesis. Don’t get this unless you enjoy cackling like a mad scientist.
X-89 Bacterial Weapon - Action cards are more useful than being able to gas a planet, and it is useless against Mech units. It might be worth it against a firmly dug-in Sol opponent, but only if you already have all the prerequisites, which is unlikely. Don’t waste your time with this.

Technology in Twilight Imperium is great, and it's a lot of fun to grab as much as you can. However, everything you do should be getting you Victory Points, and in my experience too many players spend too much time on tech and have to scramble to catch up in the last few turns. Tech should help you, but it should not be the focus of your strategy.

Edited Transfabrication. Thanks to Chris for pointing out its usefulness!
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JJ Belyeu
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templarjr wrote:
I apologize for the length.


you should never apologize from the length of anything when it comes to a game that can take 8 hours to play lol
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Derek Porter
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BeerMe wrote:
you should never apologize from the length of anything when it comes to a game that can take 8 hours to play lol


Yeah, you're right. I was mostly hoping to avoid the ever-so-helpful "TL; DR" comments.

 
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Christopher Halbower
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Transfabrication is anything but useless. You can buy 6 destroyers. Using Transfabrication you can cash in those 6 destroyers for 6 trade goods. Now you can score "I now spend 6 trade goods" without ever having to take the Trade SC.

Having trouble getting to 20 influence for that "I now spend 20 influence...score 2VP" objective? Well Transfabrication effectively allows you to convert resources into trade goods, thus allowing you to spend them as influence.

Having trouble getting to 20 resources for that "I now spend 20 resources" objective? See the above paragraph.

Then there is the "I now spend 12 trade goods", "I now spend 10 resources", "I now spend 10 influence" objectives and the other one which I cannot remember (I now spend 4 resources, 4 influence, 3 trade goods??)

Transfabrication is probably the most powerful of the new Shards tech. Definitely better than Neural Computing and Duranium Armor (which are both nice). It amazes me that people think that Transfabrication is useless. This tech will enable a player to score way more objectives than most other techs.
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Derek Porter
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halbower wrote:
Transfabrication is anything but useless.


I had not even considered Transfabrication from that perspective! That completely changes my outlook on it. It's actually a lot more useful than I had considered, and probably the only tech that will actually allow you to achieve Objectives, not including the "I have X Technology Advances" Objectives.

Thanks for pointing that out! I'm going to have to re-write my bit on that tech.
 
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Christopher Halbower
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Anytime!

Transfab is subtle in its power, like Nanotech.
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