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Subject: Investing in the Science tech track rss

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David Stahle
Sweden
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I find the Science tech track to be the most intriguing (and in my game group underused) tech track and am trying to wrap my head around the benefits of investing your knowledge there. I decided to share some of my musings.

The Science track is an income track and it is therefore more beneficial to invest in it early. If you invest 1 step (or 4 knowledge) in round 1 it will give you 5 knowledge in return over the next 5 rounds. A total net of 1 gained knowledge (+ possible VP benefit of having taken 1 tech track step at end-game-scoring). The downside is the opportunity cost in tempo, by investing in the Science track you delay the benefits you would have gained from the other tracks (delayed expansion or fewer total resources).

Since the yield of each additional step is constant you get no additional bonus for focusing your tech track increases on the science track. For each step taken during round 1 your net yield is 1 knowledge (+ potential VP benefit). In later rounds your net yield will be a loss of knowledge in addition to the loss in opportunity cost/tempo.

If you, at the end the game, have not advanced beyond level 2 on the Science track your maximum benefit is a net total yield of 1 or 2 knowledge. Offset against the opportunity cost (or tempo cost) in investing early in other tracks makes it inefficient.

The whole point of investing in the Science track seems to be the potential extra end-of-game VP awarded for advancing on tech tracks beyond level 2. So, to consider advancing on the Science track you need to invest very early and only if you plan on advancing high, preferably top spot. With early heavy focus and in last round taking top spot you might have gained an additional 26 knowledge compared to not investing there at all. That translates to 12 extra VP from top of Science track and an additional 1,5 tech steps on other tracks compared to non-science track strategies (and an extra gain of 3 power in round 5 or so).

Is investing early and heavily the only way to use the Science track? And even if you do are the additional late game benefits worth the delayed expansion or less total resources in an economical snowball game like this? In which situations or setups do you consider advancing in Science track?
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Jon David
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Depending on if I need range or if I have QIC available to get me moving, if I am planning on getting a lab on the table with a bonus that will help my position, I will take Science for a bump and then bump it again with my knowledge. In one game I was getting 6 or 7 science a turn and it was worthwhile for me to bump it up to the top getting me an enough knowledge for 4 bumps (which happened to be enough to bump to the top of the Terraforming Track). In some games it works. Especially if you are having issue moving influence since you can just set up other tracks to cycle 3.
 
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Dave C
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I think you're generally right about the fact that if you want to take science, you typically want to go in hard from the start in order to get some sort of payoff by the end of the game, aiming to maximize your end-game engine for the most VP. That being said, the science track has a couple of other uses.

If you really want the tech tile at the bottom of the science track, it can be prudent to take it since as long as you take it by round 2, the investment into science will become a wash. There's also the consideration that the advanced tech tile is too good to pass up. Also, level 5 of the science track can offset the inefficiencies of picking up levels in science later in the rounds.

I would view it as a sister track to the economy track: where economy lets you more easily build higher tech buildings to get tech tiles to move up research tracks, the science track simply gives you knowledge to do the same.

In 2p games, for example, one of the ways I use the science track is counter picking a red or orange race with firaks and rushing up the science track as early as possible. Firaks can get an incredible number of research steps doing this, and if you counter pick against orange or red, it means you will likely have less competition to spread out later in the game (although you might be wary of geodens terraforming a lot to get in your way). Obviously there are a lot of other factors to account for (the economy track can also work very well for firaks, for instance), but it is an example of how the science track can be used.

Another example would be using it by combining a late round research bonus scoring tile with a research advanced tech tile to gain 4 points per research track step.
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Phil Hendrickson
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Seward
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The beauty of this game is that almost every choice is situational, based on the factions in play, location of technology tiles, advanced techs in play, board layout, end-game scoring, round bonuses, and round boosters.

Increasing your knowledge income even a little works well with certain factions, such as the Nevlas, who have additional ways to get knowledge. You can fairly quickly build the ability to pay for two tech steps per round, which can help in other areas of the game. But this tactic might not be as competitive in some setups.

I tend to agree that investing in the science track will usually be something to focus on early, or not bother with it. But if you get to a spot where you have three knowledge income from buildings, and are likely to stay there for a couple of rounds, it might be worthwhile to bump science up a step, to make your income a usable four knowledge. Again, it's situational.
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Joey Leang
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I've struggled in seeing the value (with respect to ROI) in going up the knowledge track up until recent.

I think this really depends on your building schedule specifically the science based buildings (Research Labs and Academies). With my limited playthroughs, the one thing I hate is after income phase, is having 1,2, or 3 knowledge because it's essentially a worthless resource during that turn (you can take knowledge power action but at the trade off of taking other actions).

I haven't done so yet, but if you invest in the knowledge track up front and build a research lab for the knowledge track (and go up the knowledge track). Then you'll get a steady income of 4 knowledge in round 2. Yes there are trade offs here (primarily ore, QIC, access to gaiaformer, and/or additional energy) but you'll guarantee the ability to research every turn from there (assuming you did nothing else with science buildings). I mean it doesn't sound like much right here but that's a decent amount of extra researching potential.

 
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Bokken B
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The long and short of it is I can see a reason to go up once (early) and I can see a reason to go up all the way (again, as early as possible) I see no reason to invest 2 or 3 and not advance to the 5th track. I cant imagine any strategy, nor any advanced tech tile that would lend itself to being worth going up the science track late, and/or not all the way.

Im sure someone can come up with a unique situation, but i'm willing to bet that it would be some failed early strategy lending itself to a last ditch effort for most points available. But typically, Go up early, and either 1 or all. (1 being for the 4 knowledge per turn, all being for the return of total knowledge and tech scoring points.)

4 bumps is a 16 knowledge investment (12 for the Nevlas). If done in turn 1, you could return 20 knowledge by turn 6, + 9 for a total of 29 knowledge. But likely you will hit 3 on turn 1, and 4 in turn 2, for a total return on investment of 28. 28/4 = 7 EXTRA bumps you wouldn't have gotten. Will that 7 extra bumps = more victory points than investing those initial 3/4 bumps in something other than science? hard to say, but the 7 bumps will average out to about only 12 - 20 victory points as you will build less federations to make it to 5th tracks and some advancement will be though non point generating tech ranks. still, 16 points is nothing to sniff at.

Alot of generalizations in there, but I feel my logic is fairly sound without Massive data analysts. So, try taking a race up to lvl 4 early and see how it works (I recommend either white race, or bescodes) or try one step just to gain the 4 average knowledge per round and never touch it again (I recommend Der Swarm or Gleens.)
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SAM Etake SBROIIIO
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Well, I find the Science tech track works well for the Lantids.

I am still not 100% sure: this is the best way to play the Lantids, but it looks like it works with quite a number of setups.
 
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Philip Morton
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samtang wrote:
Well, I find the Science tech track works well for the Lantids.

I am still not 100% sure: this is the best way to play the Lantids, but it looks like it works with quite a number of setups.

Could you expand on that a bit? What about Lantids makes you lean towards the science track with them?
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Jon Kern
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I don't really like taking 1 step in Science to often, although their are situations where it can be useful. The reason is that taking the one science step often is an attempt to get to 4k income, which in practice is better accomplished, typically, not always, by upgrading RL -> Academy, Upgrading a TS -> RL, or by taking the 1c +1k tech using early tech steps to prioritize methods of attaining these buildings like moving up on economy and/or navigation.

I do think that aiming to reach the top of science can be very beneficial as long as you can reach level 4 by round 3. Each tech step on round 3 still provides 3/4k which late game probably produces about 3 points not to mention the 2 1/4 tech steps provided by level 5 on the last round.

With all this in mind, I would recommend an all or nothing approach to the science track, unless the setup specifically required 1 step in science to reach 4k income because your strategy is not planning on making enough RL, Academies, or not taking the 1c+ 1k tile to reach 4k income by round 3. The reason that staying on 3k income for 1 or 2 rounds is reasonable is that you can supplement the k income with round boosters and the power action for 2k. If you are going to miss 3 rounds however, it often becomes more cumbersome to supplement the k income rather than establishing more k income.

Edit: I don't really like sitting on 5k income on round 2 or 3 because I took an early step in science aiming to get 4k income when in reality I could have used a supplemental method. On the other hand, sitting on 6k or 7k income makes additional steps fairly easy to obtain so the balancing factors are interesting and depend on the setup and your faction.
 
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Michael Gonzalez
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Limitless333 wrote:
I don't really like taking 1 step in Science to often, although their are situations where it can be useful. The reason is that taking the one science step often is an attempt to get to 4k income, which in practice is better accomplished, typically, not always, by upgrading RL -> Academy, Upgrading a TS -> RL, or by taking the 1c +1k tech using early tech steps to prioritize methods of attaining these buildings like moving up on economy and/or navigation.

I do think that aiming to reach the top of science can be very beneficial as long as you can reach level 4 by round 3. Each tech step on round 3 still provides 3/4k which late game probably produces about 3 points not to mention the 2 1/4 tech steps provided by level 5 on the last round.

With all this in mind, I would recommend an all or nothing approach to the science track, unless the setup specifically required 1 step in science to reach 4k income because your strategy is not planning on making enough RL, Academies, or not taking the 1c+ 1k tile to reach 4k income by round 3. The reason that staying on 3k income for 1 or 2 rounds is reasonable is that you can supplement the k income with round boosters and the power action for 2k. If you are going to miss 3 rounds however, it often becomes more cumbersome to supplement the k income rather than establishing more k income.

Edit: I don't really like sitting on 5k income on round 2 or 3 because I took an early step in science aiming to get 4k income when in reality I could have used a supplemental method. On the other hand, sitting on 6k or 7k income makes additional steps fairly easy to obtain so the balancing factors are interesting and depend on the setup and your faction.


I'm inclined to agree with you , the more I try to just use a little bit of the Knowledge tech track... it just isn't worth it. All or nothing is a good approach, usually.

Even with the Nevlas, who get that first bump for free, I got 168 points against the automa the other day without ever going another step up that track. I actually got 4 tech track bumps in R1 (AC + M, but using the Nevlas' power to get 4k more and bump again) and R1 was the 2vp/tech bump, so that was a nice little start. But, I never saw any need to rise up that track beyond the initial setup bonus. In fact, I ended up with 5k income for a couple of rounds, just incidentally, without going up the Knowledge track.
 
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Dave C
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I've actually had some good success with going up just to level 1 of science (often with the 1k/1c tile or the 1o/1k round booster) just for the 4 knowledge bump. In that way, you get the "wasted" tech bump you invested in to science immediately back the following round.
 
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Jon Kern
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I've actually had some good success with going up just to level 1 of science (often with the 1k/1c tile or the 1o/1k round booster) just for the 4 knowledge bump. In that way, you get the "wasted" tech bump you invested in to science immediately back the following round.


This can work depending on your strategy, but it typically means that you are not planning on getting more k income in the next few rounds. Otherwise you will be sitting at 5k income which I often find to be a bad number to sit on.
 
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James Ataei
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Getting a set of 4K knowledge per round in any manner is pretty important. When taking 1 step on Knowledge or +1c+k tile or both you don't tie down your strategy options down as much.
 
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Jon Kern
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Getting a set of 4K knowledge per round in any manner is pretty important. When taking 1 step on Knowledge or +1c+k tile or both you don't tie down your strategy options down as much.


I feel like you are attempting to disagree with me, but you are not being very clear and I actually feel like we agree. I am saying that getting 4k income turn 1 instead of 3k income, when you plan to build a RL in R2 or R3 doesn't make sense. Instead supplement the additional knowledge you need prior to making the next RL or A instead of moving up in science to avoid sitting on 5k income for half or more of the game.
 
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Mark van der Werf
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Rotterdam
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It's a pretty weak track i feel that is only worth it for 3 reasons imo:

1. Your race starts with it
2. You have somehow no need for the tracks that are fundamental for expanding early, ie navigation and gaia/terra forming. Sometimes you can go hard on science and still get crucial techs at the time you need them.
3. You expect to be at 3 science next turn(s) somehow and step 1 is interesting as it effectively pays off very fast by allowing an extra tech the coming turns.

The Most common is to make 1 or 2 steps in round 1 because you have no better use for tech and because it won't delay your critical tech, navigation lvl 2 in round 2 for example. A temple opening into 2 science advances with the intention of getting navigation 2 round 2 is nice for the races that start with nav or tech. From there it is possible you might want to go up higher tech because the power and end bonusses look appealing. But usually i think its an error to invest more than after round 1 into it.
 
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Michael Gonzalez
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For what it's worth, I just had my first 200+ scoring game (automa), and it was by using the 1k+1c tile in R1 to go up the Science track, plus another bump. I went up one more later, and I had an AC opening with Itars (their Academy has an extra k income), so maybe that's a special circumstance. But I leveraged the mess out of that k income to fly up other tracks (albeit, assisted by the Itars' PI ability from R3 onward). I even did well on the Sectors and Fed Buildings final scorings. And I scored 40 points for tech levels alone.
 
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Jon Kern
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The science track mainly benefits when you can heavily capitalize on round scoring on R5 and R6 and don't care much about round scoring before then. The science track guarantees a solid minimum amount of points. In summary, the benefit of the Science track is inversely correlated to the tempo of the round scoring. If you need to expand early the science track is worse. If you can wait to heavily expand until R4, go science. The in between cases are more complex and depend on the setup and other game factors like advance techs and race selection etc.
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