The difficulty level increases in Civ games have mostly been somewhat boring in that the difficulty levels differ in only more and more overall buffed AI players with more starting units and techs and also various percentage bonuses. These buffs are also not completely transparent, because the game UI itself does not provide this information, but instead the information has to be sought either from the web or game files. This gives a feel that the higher difficulty AI is "cheating" at some level. It is mostly infeasible to increase the AI competitiveness by making it "smarter", because the smarter AI would mean an increase in the computational overhead of strategic and tactical decision making of the AI. As a result, the system requirements of Civ games might have to be increased, and the waiting times for AI turns would increase to uncomfortable lengths. Another way of increasing difficulty would be to have a time limit for the player (after all, the AI is playing with a time limit). However, playing with time limit would distort the relaxed feeling of a turn based strategy game. How to make higher difficulty levels more interesting than simply buffing the AI players overall? Civ VI has gone to further lengths in increasing the distinctness of the characteristics of the AI players by adding agendas. However, they do not always work as intended: Philip II may have hard time finding friends that follow his religion because he may not even obtain one, due to his lack of bonuses to found a religion. What if instead of overall generic buffs, the higher difficulty levels added civilization specific difficulty bonuses to the AI players? These bonuses could be completely transparent so that the player knows what to expect from the enemies and as such give to feel of stronger enemies, not cheating ones. For example, on Emperor difficulty level Philip II could insta-build holy sites that do not count to district limit, and on Deity all the melee class units of Spain get the +10 escorting bonus for religious units (the bonus of Conquistador) and also are automatically permanently stacked with a religious unit. As an another example, the normally weak Norway could on Emperor build naval units with only 25% production and all units have +10 combat strength in foreign lands. On Deity Norway could attack units on coastal tiles with naval melee units with +10 combat strength and ignore city walls with all naval units. These bonuses would make the AI players even more geared towards their preferred victory conditions, and as such the AI players would be even more characterized by their agendas on higher difficulties. Also, this approach would make the AIs bonuses on higher difficulty levels more interesting and more transparent. Moreover, these bonuses could be made extremely powerful, because if the bonuses are AI specific, they don't necessarily have to be as balanced as the normal civ bonuses. The bonuses would not be available for human players and as such would not distort a balanced multiplayer game. What do you think about such bonuses? Would these bonuses add an interesting new layer to the higher difficulties? Or would overall generic bonuses suffice to increase the game difficulty interestingly enough?