Donblas' Early Technology Guide

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Donblas’ Old World Early Technology Guide[edit]


Technology selection in Old World is a crucial part in the early game, and with so many options can be overwhelming. Technologies are places in tiers of increasing costs (80, 120, 200, 400, …), and unlock buildings, units, laws, and other bonuses.

This guide is one player’s (donblas) thoughts on the early game, which is being defined as Tiers 1-3. By the time you reach Tier 3, you should hopefully have a stable empire and can explore the other 5 tiers in the mid and late game.


In the early game, I only have two goals:

  • Expand to all nearby empty and barbarian city sites
  • Have enough military to be able to survive an early war

Depending on your chosen civilization, you may also be trying for early wonders, founding a powerful religion, or starting a dominate culture. However most games are founded on having enough cities and being able to keep them.

Give those priorities, let’s work backwards:

  • We need to produce a number of settlers quickly, which requires growth in at least one city and significant food.
  • We need to produce a number of military units, which requires sufficient training in at least one city.
  • Tier 3 military units (Spearmen, Chariots, Archers, Macemen) require wood or iron, which are advanced resources requires technologies to unlock improvements to produce
  • All of those improvements require workers, which require growth and food.
  • Bonus is anything that gives us additional orders to move all of these around efficiently

Research Categories[edit]

Each research can have more than one benefit, but I categories the early game one into four buckets:

Resource Unlock (Trapping, Husbandry, Stonecutting, Forestry, Rhetoric)

  • These unlock either Food, an advanced resource (Stone/Wood), or Civics
  • Civics technically isn’t an early game resource, but if you are going “tall” and building civil buildings or specialists it is critical.
  • Military Drill and Metaphysics also unlock the first tier improvement/building for training and science, but those are less critical early game, so I ignore them here

Unit Unlocks (Ironworking, Trapping, Phalanx, Battleline, Composite Bow, Spoked Wheel)

  • At least one tier 1 unit tech will be unlocked at the game’s beginning.
  • The tier 3 units techs are 25% stronger and have some unique bonus (range, AOE, pierce and anti-cavalry)
  • It seems good to prioritize at least one in your pathing
  • Some empires have bonuses to one unit type (Cheaper Ranged) or have families (Riders, Hunters) that may change your decision here.
  • Each one requires different resources, so if your area is rich in one good (say iron) and weak in one (say wood), it may change your decision as well.

Other Strong Unlocks

  • Labor Force unlocks Slavery law, which provides a powerful flat +5 orders
  • Aristocracy allows ambassadors which are required to end wars, and Vassalage which reduces all unit upkeep by 50%
  • Some tech unlock “Boosts” and “Free” units, which can be hard to pass up. 200 stone can be a huge amount early game

General Guidance[edit]

With all of that background, what are my suggestions:

  • Most T3 units require wood, so Forestry and it’s required technologies (Polis, Stonecutting, Trapping) are high priority unless you are going Macemen.
  • Iron working and labor force are also high priority, not only as Phalanx requirements, but they are also powerful (Warrior, Slavery) as well.
  • Anything that gives growth is good, so Husbandry is good, specially if you start with iron working.
  • If the game is going more peaceful than expected, then the lower section (Administration, Rhetoric) led to Archers and Archives.
  • Due to research options being semi-random cards however, no two games will play the same so you have to be flexible
  • The cost difference between Tier 1 (80) and Tier 2 (120) is relatively small, but Tier 3 is almost twice as much, so be selective in your choices there in the early game. Forestry and one advanced unit may be enough for you.