You'll find that ladder players are the same: very skilled, challenging, interesting. Ladder players are just random people who decided to join the ladder to get away from the quitters and "griefers" as Elledge put it. Most of the ladder players I often play also with remember playing a game with me. And they boot up their Civ and play a good game with random (ladder) people. For minimal effort you will rid yourself of all the problems you have so far encountered. This is hardly the point. Several people here have given you good suggestions on how to minimize the problems you have encountered with Civ4 MP. Hopefully the game will be "fixed" to remove some of the griefer issues, but in the interim, why suffer through them? Just because Sirian may or may not be listening to your complaints, doesn't mean someone else isn't.