I am really stumbled by question how Wastin got his results both maintaining huge tech rate and been able to get considerable force from only 2 cities. Second city with double gold is cool but it's still only 2 cities (and he saved all forests to chop OU in 1 turn w/o stone ). Also it's Stone - not Marble is hard to reach on this map, no need to go for Darius IMHO. Conquering Darius instead of Mansa.... Mansa does have stone. And his cities open clear and fast access to the islands. The question is do you actually want these islands? We want 1pop/turn growth? ~20 Sushi resources are enough for that in most of our cities, no need to pay huge maintenance for settling islands. I am actually chocked you been able to maintain 100% slider during spread phase. That's really impressive! My guess delaying Sci Meth was worth it, but more importantly you been at war with AIs who were enough to escape to islands and postponed you settling them instead. These AIs actually did you a favor. I could not open my game for last 3 weeks, from memory: Early SM was really a bummer, was nowhere near yours 2800 beakers per turn. managed to lib Medicine though. Got Sushi in 580AD having WS in Delhi same turn Had 14 island cities After Medicine research went Communism (Start Kremlin), Astro ( wasted around 1200 gold to upgrade ships), RP, Steam Power, Steel (wanted IW, probably a mistake) Stopped there around 680AD, could not decide if go for AL and whip factories/CPs or RailRoad and start Mining ASAP. Also 25 turns GA ended (another bummer) and I was in CS. Was 2 turns from finishing Kremlin, planning to fire up 3rd GA, revolt into Slavery and whip-whip-whip. BUT! At 680AD if I remember correctly I was losing 800Gpt with 100% slider (40% break even) and I had only around 1800bpt with 100%. Even 1700 gold trade missions could fund my research for 2 turns only. Upcoming GA would help of cause, but not up to the level I saw in your game. Dunno, may be with early Sushi + Kremlin I could catch up later on. Hopefully I will eventually grab my PC with last save and check it out.