This is a very interesting thread and I have lots of points I would like to make after. This game is indeed more diverse and difficult than the previous versions of Civ. It is also more difficult, but the great thing about it is there are many paths to victory. Old versions of civ were simple. Build settlers as fast as possible and as much military as possible and go kill everyone. It is very possible to win the game now without a war. I am not a great CIV player but my last game was a cultural win on noble in the early 1900's. I used to have difficulty winning cultural games but picked up many tips from this website and meshed them with my style of play to find techniques that worked for me. I never went to war in this game and built almost every building possible in every city (lots of post on here recomend not going crazy with buildings) but this particular game it worked for me. The best advice I can give is don't give up, there will be an AH HAAAA!!! moment when something clicks and you have a breakthrough and you will never look back. I can win on monarch but went back to noble to work on weaknesses because I want to win and hate losing games I put 6 or 8 hours into. I am developing my game, reading threads on this site and looking to step up in level again very soon and hopefully be much more dominate. One point I would say is a lot of the advice on here is very general and I try to incorporate lots of different strategies. Pick one and give it a try. Use something else in the next game. Try a different leader or go for a different way of winning. Find something you have some success with then build around that. Ask questions. Everyone on here is very willing to help and there is very little bad advice here, just situations that are better suited to certain method than others.