To be perfectly honest, Acken, the way you play has always seemed to me rather gamist. That's not a dig, just an observation. It's like you always consider the numbers and then when you find a solution, you just do that all the time until you find something "better" and then you do that. I don't believe Civ was ever designed to be played like that. Ever. That sort of analytical win-only play is what spawned ICS in the heydays of SMAC. Even back then, I highly disliked ICS and won't ever play a Civ game like that, even if the systems allowed it. Point here being, the fundamental nature of the game is to simulate and live in a fictional universe, not to solve a problem. That kind of pure analytical play is useful in thinking up interactions within the game systems, but Civ systems don't stand up to that kind of rigor because they value simulation over game and theme over pure mechanical soundness. An example of a rigorous game designed like that is more like GalCiv. I don't believe that the problem is the trade routes. I get that you think that getting 70 production from a concentration of them in a small city could be leveraged to make the vic go much, much faster. That's totally doable. I just don't think that would be a problem if 70 hammers weren't enough to win - the problem is that it is. That is, the problem is that the tech is arranged in a web, and there's too few of it that you absolutely need to win. If you just want to pare it down to the barest necessities, it's basically an ultra-fast culture or Council win in Civ, which if I remember correctly, used to be doable before the Medieval era was even over, rendering everything after "obsolete." It's basically like having shortcuts through to the Space Age tech you could use to win, and being able to win scoring just one part. Yes, you could play that way, if you really wanted to, though I think playing any Civ that way kind of misses the point. I'm not sure if there's any way short of requiring you to research all the technology in the game to solve that problem. That's how all the Civs before did it, and I'm pretty sure there's a lot of that kind of thinking still in the design of the web. Its designers obviously think you should be researching a lot more than many of us actually do when on a time run. Example is that the basic strategic resource for Harmony - Xenomass - apparently comes too late to matter. That's a pretty serious design faux pas and simply removing Trade Routes or boosting tile outputs without tech isn't going to change that much. Basically, I'm pointing out that yes, you can win the game without playing most of its systems. That doesn't mean they're not there. It means the game can be won without using many of its systems.