From the strategy guide written by Stefan Sasse
Some technologies you can purchase in the game are really no-brainers in most cases, techs that make the game increasingly difficult if you don’t get them. These are things like Hylar V Assault Laser or XRD Transporters. Other techs, however, require a more specific look to determine when one should purchase them and when not to. This will be done in detail in the following section.
Advanced Fighters (Blue) If you want to become a real nightmare to your opponents while using Fighters, you’ll want to purchase this tech. Not only can you send out the little bastards independently from supporting capital ships or SD now, but they also receive +1 on their combat rolls. With Cybernetics researched too, you have Fighters with a hit number of 7 which are ridiculously cheap. You can send them in waves at your enemy and fight a war of attrition like there never was one. Another advantage of this tech is that you can block systems cheaper than ever and save those capital ships for your actual fleets. Remember the plastic limit on Fighters, however. You may only substitute with counters as long as there is a plastic Fighter on top, so if you spread the Fighters too far you might not be able to produce anymore. A clear downside of this tech, of course, is its position in the techtree. You need at least seven prerequisites to get there.
Automated Defense Turrets (Red) This tech is a must if you rely heavily on Destroyers and/or the enemy has a large Fighter force. Not only do you get to roll an additional die for the pre-combat Fighter-killer shots, but you also get a +2 bonus on it! Four Destroyers equipped with this tech fire 12 shots at 6 against enemy Fighters, so when there are two Carriers full of them you will statistically take out about half of them! Get this tech and don’t fear to fly suicide missions in enemy Fighter clusters, because the enemy needs much more build limit than you do rebuilding them at nearly the same cost.
Antimass Deflectors (Blue) A really essential tech. Its effect allows you to pass through Asteroid Fields, turning them from obstacles into autobahns for your ships. More important, this tech is the prerequisite for nearly all other blue techs, so if you don’t start with it try to get it ASAP, except in the few games in which you think to be able to forego all the blue techs entirely, which is essentially when using Cruisers for GF transport.
Assault Cannon (Red) Who would have thought that Dreadnoughts might get an enhanced bonus? The problem is that at the point you get Assault Cannon, the enemy most of the times already has Fighter cover. Since he is allowed to sort out the pre-combat shots as he likes, he will take the hits of the Assault Cannon on his Fighters, and it seems quite a waste to research this tech just to take out up to five Fighters (in the best-case scenario). If the enemy doesn’t have many Fighters, though, you can think about purchasing it and blow pieces out of the enemy fleet before the fighting actually starts!
Cybernetics (Green) This tech is like Stasis Capsules in that it is more often purchased than really capitalized on since it is a prerequisite for so many other techs. Cybernetics boosts the hit number of your Fighters by 50% from 9 to 8, which should not easily be dismissed. It goes without saying that when you are using Fighters, you need Cybernetics since else you are robbing yourself of a third of their value.
Deep Space Cannon (Red) This tech is often researched on the way to the War Sun tech, but it offers some bonuses of its own. Primarily, it significantly adds to the deterrence a PDS can produce since you are now allowed to fire in adjacent systems; in case of an invasion that means that you fire twice – once at the fleet and once at the landing GF. It also gives you a range of bargaining opportunities since PDS fire doesn’t break TAs, so you might even sell the opportunity to take a shot at bypassing ships.
Duranium Armor (Red) If you play to do anything with Warsuns or Dreadnaughts, this is the tech to go. Duranium Armor basically allows you to negate one hit assigned to one of these units per round of combat, which is insanely strong and helps your fleet survive a much bigger punch than originally thought. It really is a must if you ever field the big ships, which has become much more attractive with this tech.
Enviro Compensator (Yellow) This tech is essential for nearly every game, since it boosts your production limit. Being able to build more ships than your opponent is of greatest importance since most builds reach the build limit before you exhaust all your resources, provided you’re not going into stuff like War Suns or Dreadnoughts. Purchase this tech as soon as you can to capitalize on it. It becomes of even greater importance when you are relying on Fighters because, yes, you get two for the price of one, but in terms of the building limit every Fighter counts as one. The same goes for the production of GF. Get them Compensators. Get them. Get them. Get them.
Fleet Logistics (Blue) This is one of the upmost techs in the tree, really hard to get and seldom researched, especially since the benefit seems almost useless. This isn’t the case, though. In hard pressed battles against your opponent you don’t want him to bide his time so he can build up. How sweet would it be to attack the system adjacent to his production center (protected by the obligatory Destroyer to block your movement) and directly after the production itself, that way not allowing him to reinforce the system? This tech could give you the one advantage you need over your opponent, since you may take two Tactical Actions every turn. Just remember that you still need all CC and that played CC keep blocking systems and fleets.
Gen Synthesis (Green) This tech is kind of broken, and I seriously recommend using a houserule on this. When you acquire this tech, one’s HS is literally impregnable in ground battles since every killed GF has a 60% chance of being instantly revived on the spot. Even if you fight abroad, GF will soon start to stack in your HS so you don’t really need to build new ones if you use it as your main production center anyway. So, if you are using GF, this tech is essential for you, since it too provides a +1 bonus on dice rolls.
Graviton Laser System (Yellow) You may reroll one missed PDS shot. I can think of virtually no situation were I want to purchase this tech over another or ships and GF even if it gives a better bonus to a single PDS than the Magen Defense Grid (75% over 60%), but if someone finds a good use, please notify me.
Graviton Negator (Red) This baby essentially says “I win all invasion combats.” It is very expensive, but in a tech-heavy game or in one with many GF walling in on their planets you might consider it. It boosts your Dreadnoughts in terms of bombardment and allows your Fighters to participate in ground combat, which gives you so many more units to blow away the enemy GF!
Gravity Drive (Blue) This is the new “must have” tech that came with “Shards of the Throne”. It grants all ships adjacent to a wormhole or a Gravity Rift a bonus of +1 to movement, and since the probability of having one of these in the vicinity is pretty good, this tech is a must-buy in most cases and can even be used to skip the otherwise so potent XRD Drive. If you have played the game without this tech before, it will seriously change the way units behave since they can fly farer than you are accustomed to.
Hylar V Assault Laser (Red) The Laser adds +1 to the dice rolls of all Destroyers and Cruisers. Should you plan on using them – and who isn’t? – you need the Lasers for it. They increase the hit chances for the Destroyer magnificently and add 25% to the hit chance of the Cruisers. Additionally, they are a prerequisite for most other red techs, so one will in most cases research them if he doesn’t start with them anyway.
Hyper Metabolism (Green) A very useful tech if you can acquire it early. It gives you an additional CC and lets you exchange a crappy AC for a potentially good one every time AC are drawn. The earlier you research it, the more you get from it though. It doesn’t really make sense to purchase it in the late game, since then there are simply not enough rounds left to capitalize on it and you gain more from simply spending the influence on Leadership Secondary to get the CC. Interestingly, the Federation of Sol has easy access to this tech, so they can gain 4CC every Status Phase! Since the tech doesn’t serve as a prerequisite and is potentially researched in the last round of midgame or in early late game, it doesn’t see much use.
Integrated Economy (Yellow) This is a very valuable tech. It allows you to produce in adjacent, already activated systems. With this tech, you can cut the supply lines to the enemy, especially later in any given round in the aftermath of battles. You will get much more versatile with this tech. You should consider buying it when enemy systems or heavily-fought-over areas come in range by it; it is not useful to purchase it in the other case because you will need to jump to your destination anyway. And if you need more than two jumps from the production center to the action, you should ask yourself what you are doing in the first place.
Light-Wave Deflectors (Blue) This tech allows you to fly through systems containing enemy ships. It’s high up in the tech tree, but if you can get it, you will scare your opponents to death since they don’t have to just secure their outer systems by putting in a single Destroyer, but also have to worry about the systems behind it. You can even bypass great enemy fleets and go directly for juicy spots. This tech brings your opponent in a shaking defensive just by existing, so its value is really worth the price. Unfortunately, by the time you get stuff like this, the game is almost over.
Magen Defense Grid (Red) As already said before, as soon as the fleets reach a notable size with Fighter cover, the deterrence of PDS fire begins to dwindle. But this tech gives you a serious edge in ground battles, since not only does the chance increase to take out invading GF before the actual fighting starts but you also get a +1 bonus since you are the defender! Nonetheless, this tech doesn’t come in use quite often since it’s expensive and one should always consider simply buying more troops.
Maneuvering Jets (Blue) If you don’t plan on getting a Fighter screen, but the enemy is seriously building up his PDS, then you might consider buying the Maneuvering Jets. They render the PDS almost worthless (hit number 8) and allow you to go through unscratched. Same goes if Space Mines are in play (which is an option I definitely don’t recommend playing with). The more important – but frequently overlooked – aspect of this tech is, however, to ignore the movement blocking effect of an Ion Storm. An enemy confident being safe behind its cover will experience a nasty surprise when you’re coming at him with it.
Micro Technology (Yellow) Everyone who wants to make use of TAs and the Trade SC should seriously consider getting this tech. It really boosts your income and even makes up for crappy TAs. This is especially useful for races like the Jol-Nar who are always well advised to give their good TA away to buy themselves a peace and so bolster their income to the level they deserve.
Nano Technology (Yellow) This tech protects your Dreadnoughts and War Suns from any enemy AC played, which is especially important regarding Direct Hit and some other nasty surprises, and sometimes that kind of safety is worth the buck. Every aggressive player will also get wet eyes by the second ability of this tech: newly conquered planets are added to yours unexhausted, so you can instantly use them. If you conquer many planets, this tech will almost instantly pay for itself.
Neural Computing This tech makes other techs cheaper. Naturally, it only is cost-effective if you research at least five techs after this one, which puts a big sign of “Jol-Nar only” on it. For most races in most situations, purchasing this tech simply wastes an action that could otherwise achieve something. Use it only if you really plan on a tech-heavy game, which in most cases you shouldn’t anyway.
Sarween Tools (Yellow) Like Enviro Compensators, you want to get this tech as early as possible. It pays for itself over time, so the earlier you get it, the more use it is for you. Always remember that the discount is per SD, so in a system with two SD you get a discount of two rather than one, which makes a huge difference in the long run. Also remember that you can’t combine those two free resources to make one unit (like a Cruiser).
Stasis Capsules (Green) If you are going for any green techs, this one is a prerequisite anyway, so you will see people acquiring it more often than they actually use it simply because it’s needed for other stuff. It is a great substitute for Carriers, however, if you plan on using Cruisers much anyway. Cruisers have a range of 2 without requiring you to research stuff like XRD, and they fight way better than the Carriers. You can also use this tech if you are planning to rely on Fighters, since you can then put all your GF on the Cruisers and Dreadnoughts and use the Carriers for Fighters (which Stasis Capsules will not let the other ships carry). Don’t forget, though, that if you are using a Cruiser force to invade enemy areas every casualty of a ship also means the loss of a GF. If you don’t think these uses are for you, always remember that the tech can easily be skipped.
Transfabrication This tech allows you to scuttle in a given round itself instead of having to wait for status. There is one obvious use for this tech, but it’s Mentak Coalition only. Other than preventing laziness in thinking of scuttling just in time, the tech may only be interesting to achieve certain objectives and to conceal intentions, especially concerning scuttling and rebuilding Space Docks, but that’s very situational. The Mentak, on the other hand, can combine this tech with their new racial tech to devastating effect, and we will explore it there.
Type IV Drive (Blue) If you plan on using Dreadnoughts, you should seriously consider going for the expensive Type IV Drive since else the Dreadnoughts are awfully slow and will either hinder the rest of your army or be left behind. Interestingly, the tech is also worth a serious look for people who like to use Cruisers, since their basic range will be upgraded to 3. Should you also happen to have researched Light-Wave Deflectors, you will become a nightmare to your opponents since you can reach nearly every system with a quick stroke, and with Stasis Capsules even conquer poorly defended planets in his back.
War Sun (Red) Allows you to build War Suns, plain and simple. Be aware of the high cost of the War Sun itself and ask yourself if you can cope with it and if you really need the “tits of war” before purchasing this tech. It is no use to have a fleet consisting merely of a War Sun but no actual cover.
X-89 Bacterial Weapon (Green) This too is a tech you see very rarely researched. After all, you lose your complete hand of AC using it, right? Right, of course. But you kill all enemy GF on the planet. You don’t need many GF and/or Carriers with this tech. The one important thing is that you are allowed to use this tech even if you don’t have any AC left, so yes, the first time you use it it hurts if you haven’t already wasted the cards beforehand. But after that, it is essentially free to use, so to speak. If Sol starts breeding like there is no tomorrow and GF are being stacked up on planets everywhere, you might consider using this baby. It is also incredibly useful when you are besieging a planet because the defender usually can produce more GF than you are able to bring in. So, if you plan to really hard press an opponent, consider going for this expensive tech.
XRD Transporters (Blue) It’s very rare to see a game without them, because slow Carriers suck. If these working tools can’t fly two systems, you will be awfully slow and, worse, predictable. The only real possibility to not research XRD is to rely on Cruisers and War Suns for transport, but that’s not really an option in most cases. Go for it if you aren’t entirely sure that you can win the game without them.
Finally, I want to add a few words on planetary discounts and purchasing strategies. There are mainly three things determining what tech you want to purchase.
First and foremost, your overall strategy. You should only purchase techs you really need, no techs that are simply shiny and neat or deter the enemy a little bit. Tech doesn’t win you the game, ships do. So if in doubt whether you need a tech, purchase ships.
Second, your race plays a big role. Every race starts with a different set of techs, allowing you easy or difficult access to certain techs. We will discuss this in more detail in the race section; for the moment be content with the information that some techs are laying more open to certain races than others.
Third, there is the price to consider. That can really be diminished by the tech discounts that are offered by some planets. If you are in doubt which of two techs you need to purchase first and the game situation doesn’t dictate it, go for the cheaper one. Remember that exhausting planets also disables the tech discount, so you might not always have the same discounts at your disposal when Technology is played next, so choose accordingly.