I think the challenge of getting the fastest Settler finish is not at all as interesting as the challenge of playing this at the highest difficulty level you can manage. I decided early on that I wouldn't even try this one at settler. I figured that I could probably win this one on Noble level, but the large map could push the limits of my computer unless I played it really well and finished early. So I tried it out at Warlord difficulty. First attempt had everyone go on strike with like 8 cities left to conquer. I let harse archers carry most of the load, at least until they started evaporating. Note... I'm talking losing 63gpt at 0% research!!! As my units started disappearing and the enemy started taking back the now undefended cities... I called that one off (I think it was still winable). Domination was not an issue. My second try, I decided to use warrior rush a bit more. I captured a capitol before I even settled my starting worker... just walked right in an undefended city. Stupidly settled my settler near another AI... should have just deleted the settler (keep number of cities as low as friggin possible). Anyhow, I warrior rushed the second AI (with 2 warriors). Then I had about 4 warriors and warrior rushed the 3rd. Woo hoo... I now have 3 AI capitols and my own settled city, and only 5 enemy left, each with 1 city. But no more research since maintencance kills. I barely got pottery, don't even think about alphabet or currency or CoL! Once archers showed up, my warriors are worthless, and I can't get teched up to parity, so I quit. I decided I have lots to learn about what is possible on low level play and what remians challenging. So I moved down to Chieftan level to see how that afects... but then did a whole different game (Oracle'd CoL, for example, never fell below 50% research by cottaging early and often, and by getting currency early). Whipped lots of courthouses. I won it and submitted. It won't compete with settler submissions, but honestly I could not compete with those even if I played on settler level (which I won't, because Settler is for WEENIES). Maybe I try this one at Noble, just to see. I don't think Domination is really the MAIN problem until you get to Prince or higher. Unimpeded, the most cities any AI managed to settle by 1000AD was 4 (plus capitol). You can't even fill 50% of the land with that few. But they are all so far apart. Having to keep all the crap and avoid strikes is the main problem. I did manage to let Barbs take one city from me before I captured the great wall - this is a winning strategy at higher levels, I'm sure. Note, barbs at this Chieftan level are so ineffective you might as well ignore the GW, it makes little difference at Cheiftan. But yeah... Bring it on, folks. Take the challenge! How high level can you conquest victory this set-up?