This article draws inspiration from Drakan’s ailing civilization strategy and some of Moonsinger’s Sid games. Maybe this will just serve as a bump of old knowledge. If so, hopefully, it will serve as a bump for newer players or as a reminder for older players. I’ll present two basic tactics for catching up in tech on high levels. They do not require researching the right tech in time. In fact, they require very little research by the human player at all.
1. Tribe A has military units in your territory, and you can tell tribe A to “leave or declare war”. You also want to go to war with Tribe A. So, turn the science and luxury sliders to 0% temporarily and perhaps even change as many citizens as possible to tax collectors as possible. Next buy as many techs from Tribe A for gold per turn. Demand a city from them at least until their attitude becomes furious, if not a few more times also. Finally, tell them to “leave or declare”. Change all your citizens and/or science/luxury rate back to previous settings and enjoy your new technology. You will not suffer a reputation hit using this tactic.
Warning: this may NOT work if you have a much stronger military than the AI. By all means, hit F3 and check with your military advisor on your relative strength with tribe A. This CAN work for least aggressive AIs, though undoubtedly it works more easily when you have the agression level higher, and relative military strength ratings matter less.
2. Tribe A has one city left and you feel confident your military can capture their last city this turn. Note: you can check to see if tribe A has any cities left other than their last one by opening the diplomacy screen and seeing if they have any names under cities. If they don’t, and you can see a city with their borders, they only have that city (and possibly a settler or two) left.
Now, as with strategy 1. turn your science and luxury sliders to 0% and/or change citizens to tax collectors. Find another tribe B who knows tribe A that you stand on the verge of exterminating. Sign a military alliance with tribe B against tribe A and tie in them giving you techs for gold per turn or even resources or luxuries. If you then capture/raze tribe A’s last city and they have no settlers elsewhere, they will no longer exist, you’ll get those techs for free, and you will suffer no reputation hit whatsoever. If tribe A still has a settler floating around somewhere else, you’ll still have your gpt deal intact. In such a case, hopefully you or someone else can finish that settler off quickly enough so that you don’t lose that much cash.
Of course, with strategy 2. you need embassies and you need to already have a successful war about to finish. With strategy 1. you need to stand ready to war with tribe A. For both strategies it will help to have markets, banks, and/or stock exchanges in uncorrupt cities (in which case you don’t want tax collectors *in those cities* also).
Both tactics probably work easiest on pangea maps with maximum opponents. With maximum opponents, more tribes know the techs available, so they become less expensive. For 1. the more tribes, the easier it becomes to find a weak tribe that you can attack and accidently puts military units in your territory. For 2., you have more tribes that you can potentially purchase tech from using that tactic, as you could also sign a military alliance with tribe C against tribe A tieing in their techs and your gpt and tribe D and so on. Additionally, you can get techs faster, since maps with maximum opponents have smaller empires, and thus you can “purchase” techs this way earlier, as well as techs becoming available more easily.
For both tactics, also, The Republic comes out as the government of choice over Monarchy *even if you need to use the luxury slider in your wars*, because if things work as planned, you’ll only lower the luxury slider for the gpt “deals” before the turn ends, and by the end of the turn you can turn it back up. And with a Republic you have more gold per turn than with Monarchy.
If you like these strategies and feel confident they can work well, then I’ll challenge you to play a high level for you with all scientific opponents. For a Large or Huge map make that all the scientific tribes with the rest filled by seafaring and commerical tribes of your choice. Maybe you’ll have more spears to kill in an early war, but you’ll have a faster tech pace with a way to catch up, and thus you should reach better war technologies earlier. Gifting up could also help here.