Kudos to the OP; well-reasoned argument, like so many others that followed. I spent NZ$116 on the game and have not got my money's worth--having only played 56 hours so far. A few of those hours have been exciting, but most have been annoying: if Susan Faceache quotes Adam Smith again, I'll send a group of mind worms over to her cities! (With SMAC/X, I felt that I was learning a bit of science and philosophy every time I played). However, I never resent the money I spend with Firaxis because they always come good in the end. If they get a little slow to pick up on our requests for the game, the modding community always comes up with something to re-kindle my interest. Some things we lost in Civ iterations after SMAC were: really beneficial results from wonders (getting an Aerospace Complex or Naval Yard in every city was a rush). Nowadays, everything is +1 here or 10% there; hardly immersive, annoyingly mathematical when one is striving for world domination. Typical is the BE tech, 'Terraforming'--I want to re-shape my world, not put a couple of pluses down on a hex. As I said, trust Firaxis, they haven't let me down yet.