(no mods, no dlc from R&F onward) It was a morning like any other non-working day. Nothing on the agenda. Coffee in the mug. Might as well take a shot at winning with a civilization I had not yet. Today's subject would be Victoria. A fairly versatile civ, I determined my battle plan. Cultural victory would be in my sights today, meaning my early game would require careful setup. By 20 turns in I have found myself in the middle latitudes, and highest yield outputs and best resources of a continent I share with Hojo tucked safely behind a mountain range to my north, and Saladin behind a thick rainforest to my south. My typical emphasize cavalry early approach is scrapped in favor of talling up my cities and providing stout defenses. It is about now I discover the Giant's Causeway, and race a settler from east to west to be certain I can place an encampment right alongside it. On the way I find a goodie hut housing the Cauldron of Ghesuntheit. Looking at some tables, I realize nobody has founded a religion yet. While I had been feeding Stockholm early, Yerevan and it's Suzerain bonus of apostles choosing any promotion just became a bonus to me and a deterrent to Arabia's religious conversion bent. Check the box for strategy vs. Saladin. Already knowing Theater squares, campuses, and holy sites were going to be central to my early-mid game, and great people to my late game, I had already taken my old standby pantheon of divine spark. When it comes time to select a religion, I found I like turtles with the beliefs stewardship, and reliquaries to triple the output of relics the turn after Saladin founds Islam. Before I can send my first intentionally martyred apostle to meet the first wave of Islamic missionaries, Hojo has become frustrated with his attempts to sack Stockholm, and thinks England a less resilient target, netting my first of over thirty declarations of war. The easiest city for him to reach is currently my capital, where a well placed encampment, walls and a single horseman battle off four horsemen, and three warriors led by Aethelred. About 5 turns elapse of no response, tidied up with a generous gold and luxury resource peace deal package. The start of a multi-millenial trend for Japan. Fast forward a bit, and England has taken to the seas of the medieval era, forging trade deals with India, Russia, and Greece, but finding little unoccupied territory. My book of the month club with Gorgo begins here. My civ's productivity is a bit lacking at this point with my focus on cultural, science, and religious output. As a result my army, while defensively sound, is not enough to trust to my culture-as-a-side-benefit-of-conquest strategy. Looks like five cities it is. Yerevan has proven most beneficial, stripping Arabia of it's less than stellar envoy development, filling my reliquaries to spilling over, and slowing the incessant evangelism of Islam. Just north of Yerevan lies Carthage. These two cities would serve as my western shield, taking the brunt of casualties in all my 30+ wars from anyone who was not Hojo. Just northeast of Carthage sat Buenos Aires. My lack of interest in their production bonuses left them a ripe target for Japan to have an ally to pressure me from the west during our engagements. As this was about the sixth time I dealt with such an example, I had had enough. Noticing Yerevan and Carthage laying siege to Buenos Aires, I casually strolled in and sacked them in a single turn with the first knight promoted to a tank. It was at this point that without declaring a single war, Victoria would be known for the rest of time as a warmonger. Next turn Hojo offers me yet another bankrupting peace deal. The turn after, would change this game by leaps and bounds. Next turn button, and the now all too familiar jarring "SCHINK!" of war at hand. Saladin's pissed. Next screen; Ghandi has extended his hand in friendship after slapping mine away for about 300 years! Hell yeah, I'll take it! And while we're at it, how about an alliance? Sure! All's good, right? Wrong. I've recently settled some of the only ground left between two city states north of India, and outside it's borders I see a lone Varu. This wouldn't ordinarily be cause for alarm. But this Varu had a targeting reticle around it. WTF? Time for a test. Activate the city range strike, and click the Varu expecting the "Do you want to start a war with India notification." Nope, it just fires. A quick check of the leader icons shows the blue flags under Ghandi. No "make peace" button on the diplomacy screen. It was now Shroedinger's war for the rest of the game. It was shortly hereafter this game became hilarious. The lions share of India's territory was across the ocean to my west. The widest patch of ocean in the game. Out of the western ocean's fog of war, what do I behold but a veritable tidal wave of Varu and field cannons beginning to disembark west of Carthage. My mind begins to swirl with visions of Hannibal, brow raised, mouthing "Well played, you magnificent bastard." Two battleship armadas go to work breathing life into Gitarja's greeting statement while Yerevan and Carthage cement their pedigree as the unsung heroes of that conflict, soaking damage to any part of my empire proper, and making short work of any forces to pass my naval blockade. My west coast slowly becomes a ready source of artifacts for my 'roided up archeological museums. As a pachyderm lover, I'm torn. Over the next 200 years, I reduce Ghandi's 3500 strength army to about 1000 without leaving my territory. All while engaging in lucrative trade deals with him. My final hurdle would be the already amassed cultures of Gorgo and Peter. Gorgo wasn't hard to overtake, but Peter... The close wasn't my usual comfortable glide. In the final 20 turns I checked the cultural output EVERY TURN. My output would nudge up, then his ceiling lifted. These roles would switch every turn. My army can't make it there in time. Theater square festivals in every city wasn't building tourism fast enough on it's own. Only one thing left to do; espionage. Sabotage industry, recruit partisans, sabotage industry, recruit partisans, and finally... Steal a book. Thanks, Novgorod! I Abbie Hoffman'd my first win with Victoria. And that's how 30+ wars I didn't initiate, global negative perception, and Ghandi's passive resistance still couldn't sink the English empire. Art and life and all.