A guide to technology beelining

sabrenity

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beeline2.png

Introduction


This guide is the result of reading too many "Is Technocracy worth it?" threads, playing and optimizing tall empires and dealing with personal frustrations about some Ascension Perks being locked behind technologies.

The guide contains quite a lot of text and it is assumed that the reader is going to use the information to adjust their own gameplay. By no means are the provided examples optimal for every empire.

FAQ

What is beelining? What are the benefits?
Beelining is following a dedicated research path in order to unlock a powerful technology. In Stellaris, one can benefit from this for quicker achievement of the following:
  • unlocking pre-requisites for various Ascension Perks
  • unlocking special options (terraforming, wormhole and gateway travel)
  • unlocking and improving pop-related mechanics (robots, robo/bio-modding points, habitability)
In other words, players planning to make a highly specialized empire can benefit a lot from beelining.

But Stellaris uses tech card system, how is this possible?
The basic principle is actually the same as in the other games - do not research "undesired" technologies. Of course, some additional Stellaris-specific rules apply.

Can I beeline to anything I want?
This method works best for up to mid-game technologies (technology tier 3, or tier 4 without too many pre-requisites). Anything higher will require a lot of researching anyway, so don't expect unlocking Mega-Engineering after 20 years in-game.

Basics


The card system and research alternatives
Stellaris uses technology card system - that means that each time a technology is researched, a player is given a choice to research one of the N available technologies. N is the number of research alternatives and most empires will start with three.

Increasing the number of research alternatives allows for better control of what can be avoided.

Cost and weight
Each technology has cost and weight values.

The higher the cost, the longer it takes to research that technology.

Weight value represents the relative chance to be selected as a research option. The higher the weight, the more chance the technology will appear. Additionally, if a technology appeared as a research option, on the next selection its weight will be halved.

Example: Dandy has just started a new game and has Planetary Unification, Heritage Sites and Genome Mapping as research options for society. He picks Planetary Unification as his first society technology to research. Once the research is finished, Heritage Sites and Genome Mapping will most probably not appear among the next research options, because their weights are halved. However, once Dandy finishes researching his second society technology (let's say, Biodiversity Studies), Heritage Sites and Genome Mapping will have their weights returned to normal.

The weight halving is an important mechanic which allows to avoid roughly twice as many technologies as seems possible at first glance.

Tiers and areas
All technologies are divided into five tiers and three (physics, society, engineering) areas.

Technologies from higher tiers will only appear after a certain amount of lower tier technologies have been researched. By default, this amount is six.

Technologies from different areas can be researched simultaneously. The tier requirements are calculated per area!

Example: Gene wants to research a tier 3 physics technology. First, he'll need to research 6 tier 1 physics technologies. After he researches them, tier 2 physics technologies will start to appear. He researches 6 tier 2 physics technologies and now he is eligible to get tier 3 physics technologies among his research options.

It is important not to forget which tier the technology being beelined is - it will never show up if too many lower tier technologies are being avoided!

Pre-requisites
A lot of technologies have pre-requisites, which must be met in addition to tier requirements before a technology will appear as a research option. Most of the time these are just other technologies, but some of them are locked behind different ethos/civics. In some cases, the pre-requisite can be a technology from another area.

Example: Spike wants to research Droids, a tier 2 engineering technology. He has researched 6 tier 1 engineering technologies, but the Droids card won't pop up. He checks pre-requisites and notices that he has not researched Colonial Centralization from society, which is a requirement for Droids.

Example: Scarlett wants to research Droids as well. She knows the pre-requisites but one of them - Robotic Workers - doesn't even show up as an option despite this being a tier 1 technology! She checks further and notices that Robotic Workers is unavailable for machine empires - and she plays as one.

All pre-requisites of the technology to be beelined should be taken into account when planning the research path.


Reverse engineering and anomalies
There is an exception to every rule, and reverse engineering is one for tiers, pre-requisites, and weight halving. Some technologies can be obtained (or even fully researched) as an option by examining debris left from battles, other can appear from anomalies or events. Some technologies can be obtained only from reverse-engineering/anomalies/events. Most of these are weapons and ship component, with some exceptions.

One cannot expect to always get a particular technology this way, but once unlocked, it will appear as a yet additional research option on every draw.

Fields, rare technologies and influencing weights
In addition to being divided into areas, each technology has a field. Most of the technologies' weights may be increased by 25% by appointing a scientist with the matching field speciality (research speed increases a bit as well).

Some of the technologies are rare (indicated by a violet outline in-game), which means that in most cases their base weight is halved. This should be taken in consideration if pursuing a rare technology - appointing a scientist with a matching field speciality would be very beneficial.

There might be some additional conditions which affect weights of some technologies.

Where to look for information

How did Gene, Spike and Scarlett know about the tier and the pre-requisites of a given technology? Gene used the technology tree visualizer, Spike consulted wiki and Scarlett looked in the game files (/Stellaris/common/technology/).
 
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sabrenity

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Beelining

The idea

The basic principle of beelining is to not research technologies introducing too many research options. At the same time, the necessary pre-requisites and enough lower tier technologies need to be researched.

A good research plan is essential to ensure successful beelining. Making one can be ensured by taking the following steps:
  1. Identifying the desired technology;
  2. Selecting enough technologies from lower tiers, while taking into account their pre-requisites;
  3. Making avoidance list.
Simplified research trees from the sections below can be used as a reference.

Simplified research trees

While the sources provided in the Basics section are good if one needs detailed information on the technologies, they aren't suited to quickly estimate how many technologies there are in each tier and which pre-requisites they have.

The research trees presented below are by no means newbie-friendly - in order to keep them as clean as possible, a lot of information like weights and description was omitted. These trees should be used in combination with wiki or technology visualizer.

Some technologies have coloured indications:
  • a blue solid border, a pre-requisite from physics tree
  • a green solid border, a pre-requisite from society tree
  • a yellow solid border, a pre-requisite from engineering tree
  • an ugly violet dashed border, indicating special requirements
  • an ugly violet solid border, indicating the technology's requirements are ethos-locked
  • a red dashed border, indicating the technology can only be obtained from debris
  • a red solid border, indicating machine empire-only technologies
Remarks regarding machine empires (mainly related to the society tree):
  • a lot of machine empire-only technologies share the icon and pre-requisites with their biological counterparts. These technologies are not specially indicated. There are two or three cases where such a replacement technology doesn't have a corresponding pre-requisite equivalent, so one must pay attention;
  • some technologies are not marked as not available to machine empires;
  • some of the commonly available technologies can be researched by certain specific MEs (like Driven Assimilators or Rogue Servitors), while being unavailable for regular MEs. There is no special indication for such technologies.
Physics research tree
stellaris-tech-tree-p.png

Physics is the smallest and easiest to traverse research tree. It is so compact that one actually might have difficulties getting past tier 3.

There are two big offenders here - Blue Lasers and Administrative AI. As the Administrative AI path boosts an empire's research - including +1 research alternative - picking Blue Lasers to avoid out of these two is recommended.

It is then possible to get past tier 3 following either the sensors or the shields path. The general approach would be to go for the sensors and pass on the shields provided one discovers a wormhole (thus meeting Wormhole Stabilization special requirement); picking the shields and skipping the sensors otherwise.

It is worth noting that the Interplanetary Research Initiative pre-requisite is just Colonial Centralization (tier 2 technology), while Singularity Core requires Galactic Administration (tier 4) and has a lower weight. Thus, organic empires can boost their research a bit earlier than machine empires.

Reaching tier 5 should not be a problem if either shields or sensors are skipped, even without Galactic Administration.

Society research tree

stellaris-tech-tree-s.png

Beelining for society technologies is really, really hard. Not only because of the sheer size of the tree - on top of that, it has quite an amount of tier 2 technologies that are problematic. They are either not helping to unlock tier 4 (no tier 3 follow-ups), but crowd tier 4 options the moment one gets to it, or are just dead ends. A considerable number of technologies appears in tier 2 with no means to block them in tier 1, so it is really hard to effectively beeline without a bonus to the number of research alternatives. Finally, there are no technologies that can be blocked by salvaging debris.

Genome Mapping and Colonial Centralization are the prime candidates for blocking. Blocking Colonial Centralization should be done with a lot of care, as it is the pre-requisite for many other technologies (droids, planetary buildings upgrades). About the only time it is worth doing, is when rushing to get a particular tier 3 technology in other areas (e.g. Wormhole Stabilization and Star Fortress) or pursuing Gene Seed Purification.

Unless the Biological path is absolutely required, skipping Genome Mapping would be optimal. In this case, it comes down to the number of research alternatives and putting the right scientist in charge to "sink" some of unwanted military / habitability / terraforming technologies. It may be worth hunting for Regenerative Hull Tissue from space monsters to be able to reshuffle a bad draw.

Non-servitor and non-assimilator machine empires benefit a lot from not needing to research any of habitability, farms and genetic technologies.

Engineering research tree

stellaris-tech-tree-e.png

The king of research trees, the biggest and meaniest of them. Surprisingly enough, it is quite easy to get what you want - a lot of technologies can be obtained from debris and the tree in general is nicely structured.

Nearly 2/3 of technologies can be blocked by skipping Coilguns and Destroyers. If one does not care about robots, dropping Robotic Workers is a viable option.

Whether to skip Destroyers or not mainly depends on one's wish to beeline for Synthetics. If one does want to do it, going for missiles/torpedoes + thrusters while completely ignoring strike craft, armour and kinetic weapons will get enough tier 3 technologies to get to tier 4. Another viable reason for dropping Destroyers is going for Star Fortress in order to unlock Voidborne.

A special note about Mega-Engineering - without ruined megastructures its weight is so low that it will face tough competition from repeatable technologies. Ignoring kinetic weapons, strike craft and defense platform repeatables should raise the odds.

Additional tips

The more research alternatives there are, the easier is it to beeline. This is due to the technology weight halving mechanic (see above in Basics) - it basically multiplies the amount of possible ignored technologies by two per each additional alternative. Researching Self-Aware Logic technology, adoptiong Science Divison tradition, selecting Technocracy/Natural Neural Network/Static Research Analysis civic, all increase the number of alternatives by 1. In general, having 4 research alternatives is the bare minimum required for beelining in society and engineering.

When going through tiers, the technologies that have benficial follow-ups within the same tier should be picked as soon as possible (e.g. Powered Exoskeletons -> Robotic Workers, if both are selected to reach for the next tier); ones which unlock undesired follow-ups within the same tier should be researched last (e.g. Fusion Power x Improved Reactor Boosters, if only Fusion Power is selected to reach for the next tier). This is to minimize odds of ending up with a hand full of undesired options.

Getting reverse-engineered technologies from debris virtually increases research alternatives by the amount of received salvaged technologies. This is unreliable for lower tiers, but as the game progresses, quite a pool can be built. In some cases it can help to reach the number required for unlocking the next tier.

When going for higher tiers, it helps a lot to match the scientist's speciality with the field to which most technologies listed in one's research plan belong. Not only will these get researched faster - increased weights mean that higher tier technologies will show up more often as research options, reducing the need to resort to the lower tier leftovers.

Testing the results

Once the research plan is created, it is always a good idea to test it. Starting a non-ironman game and using "finish_research" console command is a quick and reliable way to test the result in more or less "real" conditions.
 

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sabrenity

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Examples

Climate Restoration - Machine Empire variant

Scarlett plays as a regular machine empire and wants to unlock Machine Worlds, which requires Climate Restoration technology. It doesn't have any special pre-requisites, so focusing only on the society tree will suffice.

Climate Restoration is a tier 4 technology, so 6 technologies from tier 3 need to be researched in order to unlock it. As Scarlett plays a machine empire, she doesn't have any genemodding, farms and habitability technologies. She decides to go for Ecological Adaptation, Embodied Dynamism, Resource Processing Algorithms, Field Repairs, Refit Standards and Command Matrix because none of these technologies have tier 4 follow-ups. The three remaining tier 3 technologies (Doctrine: Support Vessels, Doctrine: Interstellar Warfare and Galactic Bureaucracy) are to be avoided - in fact, these can be blocked on lower tier(Doctrine: Fleet Support and Doctrine: Space Combat on tier 2; Positronic CPUs on tier 1).

Scarlett then checks tier 2 to see what she needs to research in order to get to tier 3. Interstellar Fleet Traditions, Maintenance Command, Colonial Centralization and Terrestrial Sculpting are required for what she has in mind for tier 3. To improve her research and unity gain, Scarlett decides to research Xenobiology and Planetary Communications. She notices that Stellar Expansion adds two tier 4 technologies, so it goes into her ignore list as well. Adaptive Combat Algorithms adds one tier 4 option, but its prerequisite, Positronic CPUs, is already flagged as one to avoid.

For tier 1, she only has 7 available technologies (not counting tile blockers) - as Positronic CPUs is already struck out, that leaves exactly 6 technologies needed to reach tier 2.

As a result, Scarlett has the following research plan:
scarlett.png

Any other technologies will neither benefit, nor hurt her research plan. She'll avoid them if possible.

Extreme Star Fortress beeline

Gene plays a Life-Seeded species and wants to build habitats as soon as possible. To unlock Voidborne he needs to research Star Fortress technology from engineering. Unfortunately, this one has a special weight reduction until year 2250. This means that Gene may need to research most of the tier 1-3 technologies before Star Fortress will appear, which doesn't make him happy.

Gene notices that he can avoid about 5 technologies if he skips Colonial Centralization from society, and convinces himself that hoarding a ton of minerals instead of upgrading those puny planetary buildings, is a brilliant strategy - habitat buildings are much cooler and do not require researching separate technologies. Excited, he decides to skip Fusion Power from physics as well to eliminate another 4 possible research options.

As Star Fortress is a tier 3 technology, 6 technologies from tier 2 are required. Starhold, Space Torpedoes, Ion Thrusters, Modular Engineering, Advanced Corvette Hulls and Improved Structural Integrity all look fine to him - the last three don't have direct tier 3 follow-ups and the first one is required for Star Fortress anyway. Ion Thrusters will allow faster ship movement (thus more goodies from exploration) and Space Torpedoes is there because the rest of the options are better avoided.

With Colonial Centralization and Fusion Power ignored in their respective areas, most of the other tier 2 technologies can be blocked by avoiding Destroyers, Coilguns (tier 1) and Mineral Processing (tier 1). This leaves only two other technologies: Plasteel Materials - somewhat expensive option with a tier 3 follow-up, which can be perma-ignored by salvaging pirate ships debris quite early; and Improved Strike craft - even more expensive and mostly useless for Gene. They join the avoided club with their respective tier 1 predecessors.

Gene checks tier 1 - Improved Corvette Hulls is a pre-requisite for one of his chosen tier 2 technologies; Geothermal Fracking, Nanomechanics, Powered Exoskeletons and Standardized Corvette Patterns seem fine for him. He is not sure about which technology to pick as the last one, but decides to give Robotic Workers a go - it is quite expensive, but Gene really needs it to fill his huge homeworld as soon as possible.

The rest of tier 1 is best avoided, though this is easier said than done - the avoidance list already contains 5 technologies. Most probably, Gene will need to research one of the following three: Assembly Patterns/Machine Template System/Afterburners.

Provided the above plan went off without a hitch, Gene should only have Star Fortress, Armored Torpedoes and Plasma Thrusters as valid tier 3 options, which usually means only one needs to be researched before Star Fortress will show up.

Visualized Gene's research plan:
gene.png

Other tier 1 technologies to be avoided if possible.

Synthetics beeline

Spike raises the bar by planning to go for synthetics. Now that's quite a 'beeline' - he needs to reach 3 specific tier 4 technologies from all three areas: Positronic AI from physics, Galactic Administration from society and Synthetics from engineering.

Positronic AI is quite an easy one: avoiding Blue Lasers and Improved Deflectors is pretty much it - Spike hopes to encounter a natural wormhole for his last tier 3 technology. Planetary Power Grid, Extended Combat Algorithms, Subspace Sensors, Wormhole Stabilization and Antimatter Power is pretty much all he needs. Depending on how well he'll time Galactic Administration, the research options left for tier 4 will be 6 to 8, 3 of which are rare technologies, so that's really not super-scary. Finally, Spike adds AI-Controlled Colony Ships and Improved Reactor Boosters to avoidance list.
spike-p.png


For society Spike can more or less follow Scarlett's beeline approach, though he'll need to avoid Genome Mapping and Atmospheric Filtering as he is not playing as a machine empire. Actually, to reduce the number of tier 4 options, it might also be worth following Atmospheric Filtering and Hostile Environment Adaptation on tier 2, and then grabbing Tomb World Adaptation on tier 3, but ignoring Foreign Soil Enrichment and Terrestrial Sculpting.
spike-s.png


Copypasting Gene's bizzare idea of ignoring Colonial Centralization will not work for Spike, but the general approach remains about the same - avoiding Destroyers, Coilguns, Ceramo-Metal Materials and Carrier Operations, with the addition of Fusion Missiles, should do most of the work. Assembly Patterns, Mineral Processing and Afterburners will be required to unlock Construction Templates, Advanced Mineral Processing and Advanced Afterburners in tier 3. All this, with the addition of Colony Centralization follow-up technologies, will take him quite some time to push through on tiers 1 and 2, but on the bright side, Armored Torpedoes can be replaced with Corps of Engineers to reduce tier 4 options and there is no need to research corvette technologies.

spike-e.png


Additional tools

For some extra number crunching this PowerShell script may be used:
beeliner.png
 
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sabrenity

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Thanks! That was quite a time investment I must say.

Amazing write-up, especially the visual examples part.
Yeah, that's actually what has delayed this guide - I found out that without visual representation it is really hard to follow the text. Let me know if something is not clear.
 

Fjolsvid

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Thanks! That was quite a time investment I must say.


Yeah, that's actually what has delayed this guide - I found out that without visual representation it is really hard to follow the text. Let me know if something is not clear.
Everything looks great and reads well, no complaints from me.
Though, to be honest, at this stage all this is instinctual knowledge for me. I've played a few games with "debugtooltip" on to know the weights and studied the wiki and the files extensively.

My game experience gives further advice for techs:
stay away from ship techs, get administrative AI, planetary unification (bonus unity) , heritage sites and mining techs early. For ships get engines (useful for civilian ships as well) and at least gravitic sensors and computers.

Ship techs can be initially acquired from pirates. "Blue lasers" from the anomaly. If space combat is a concern, get armors and missiles. Early on missile corvettes, solve most problems. Especially when it's 30 of them (at about 3-4 planets).
 

Less2

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Quite the excellent post. I knew all of the basics but trying to figure out the paths using the wiki without a visualization was just not worth the effort. Now I see how awful that Genome Mapping I always tried to get early was.
 

Badesumofu

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This is a really helpful piece. Great visualisation to go with the text. I'm generally happy if I can just keep all the pre-reqs for key techs in mind. This opens up some extra avenues to try to stack the deck in favour of what you want. Makes me wonder just how early I could get Synths if I tried.

In general I still suspect Mining Guilds is better than Technocracy, since early minerals are so key and Mechanist already gives you Robots.

And actually a problem with the Synth beeline I see is that it involves researching Biolabs and Physics labs which means your sectors will be able to incorrectly choose to build those over engineering labs. I try to avoid researching physics labs until quite late when I want the Empire Unique research building and often never research biolabs.
 

sdeezie

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This is excellent, and I hope it finds its way to the development team, so they can consider what this means for the game, and whether or not the "tech decks" are all playing out the way they would like. :)
 

Alswinn

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I do understand this post, but I don't feel able to transfer the information to a selfmade research plan.
Can OP (or anyone else) make me a research plan for an early science nexus, please? (Is One Planet Strategy still doable in 2.0.X? Haven't played yet)
 

Kaigen

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I do understand this post, but I don't feel able to transfer the information to a selfmade research plan.
Can OP (or anyone else) make me a research plan for an early science nexus, please? (Is One Planet Strategy still doable in 2.0.X? Haven't played yet)
Start with the Star Fortress beeline detailed in the post to get Habitats. Then beeline Zero Point Power, which, combined with the Habitats perk, will let you get the Master Builders perk and gain Mega-Engineering as an automatic research option, bypassing it's normally terrible weighting and prereqs.

Edit: Filling this out in a little more detail now that I'm on desktop instead of mobile.

So the Star Fortress beeline will get you started, but you'll have to deviate to pick up Fusion Power sooner or later so you can eventually get Zero Point. How early you do that depends on whether or not you're in a hurry to start getting Habitats up while you tech to Science Nexus. If you don't care about Habitats much, you don't need to beeline Star Fortress because even with unfocused engineering research, it's not hard to get Star Fortress (a Tier 3) before you reach ZPP (a Tier 4) on the Physics side.

The physics side is going to be the main focus, then. Unlike Spike, we don't have as many prerequisite techs to worry about, but we're still going to avoid Blue Lasers to keep weapons tech from crowding our tree. The big question is how strictly you want to limit your options. At the highest extreme, you can avoid Administrative AI and Colonial Centralization. Then your ideal research options would look like this:

T1: Fusion Power, Quantum Theory, Automated Exploration Protocols, Improved Deflectors, Field Modulation, Global Energy Management.
T2: Cold Fusion Power, Shields, Shield Capacitors, Hyperlane Breach Points, Gravitic Sensors, FTL Inhibition/Lythuric Gas/Curator Computers
T3: Antimatter Power, Advanced Shields, Planetary Shields, Wormhole Stabilization, Hyperspace Slipstreams, Subspace Sensors

At that point, if my count is correct, you should have roughly 11 research options for Physics floating around including Zero Point Power. Since we don't have Self-Evolving Logic, we'd better have Science Division, it'd help to have Technocracy, and we should have a Particles specialist running the research to increase the odds of seeing ZPP. With both Science Division and Technocracy you'll probably see it in the first two draws after unlocking Tier 4, definitely within three. With only Science Division, it may take three or four draws for it to show up.

Edit 2: Realistically, though, skipping Colonial Centralization is probably a bad idea, as it gates several Unity building upgrades, among other things, and you need at least three ascension perks for this strategy. Instead, a better move is probably to skip Sensors entirely. The modified research list would then be:

T2: Cold Fusion Power, Shields, Hyperlane Breach Points, plus three of Applied Quantum Physics, Shield Capacitors, Quantum Energy States, the two Curator Computers, or FTL Inhibition
T3: Antimatter Power, Planetary Shields, Wormhole Stabilization, Planetary Power Management, Advanced Shields, Hyperspace Slipstreams

Avoid Galactic Administration until you have ZPP being researched. You still have roughly 11 possible options when you unlock Tier 4, however, so the previous note about research alternatives stands.

Just for the sake of comparison, let's see what we can do with researching Administrative AI, since Self-Evolving Logic is so useful. Unfortunately, that section of the tree doesn't provide enough Tier 3 techs to allow us to avoid both Sensors and Shields. Sensors and Shields are equally cluttered, but we can go Sensors and hope that we don't have the strategic resources in the vicinity of our empire to trigger those techs. We're going to avoid Physics Labs because they aren't any help in Tier 3 and add unnecessary clutter to Tiers 2 and 4. My suggestion:

T1: Fusion Power, Administrative AI, Global Energy Management, Automated Exploration Protocols, Specialized Combat Computers, Auxiliary Fire Control
T2: Cold Fusion Power, Self-Evolving Logic, Hyperlane Breach Points, Gravitic Sensors, plus two of FTL Inhibition, Lythuric Gas, or the two Curator Computers
T3: Antimatter Power, Planetary Power Management, Wormhole Stabilization, Hyperspace Slipstreams, Subspace Sensors, Extended Combat Algorithms

You end up with something like 14 research options. With Science Division, you'll have 5 research alternatives, but that still leaves a lot to sift through. Even with Technocracy it could take as many as four draws to get ZPP.

tl;dr: The fastest way to beeline Zero Point Power (and thus get Master Builders and automatic access to Mega Engineering) is probably to skip Sensors, Blue Lasers, Administrative AI, and Galactic Administration.
 
Last edited:

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I have a weird research question:

At what point of research speed does it make sense to pick the fastest research item, rather than something else, just to force the game to give you some additional choices when you know you have unlocked the tier and tech you want?
 

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I have a weird research question:

At what point of research speed does it make sense to pick the fastest research item, rather than something else, just to force the game to give you some additional choices when you know you have unlocked the tier and tech you want?
This is a tricky question, because it has as much to do with tech unlocks and weighting as it does with (relative) research speed. Say, for instance, you've just unlocked the tier and tech for getting Zero Point Power, and you didn't get it on your first draw. If you research Blue Lasers next because it's the fastest tech available, you'll dump four new potential techs into your pool, all of which are roughly twice as likely to be drawn as ZPP, making it very unlikely to get the tech you want on the next draw. On the other hand, if your other options on the first draw are Hyper Shields, Gateway Activation, and Space-Time Theory, then it might make sense to research Blue Lasers anyway, since you'll be able to research several cheaper techs in the time it would take you to do one of those Tier 4 options.