When they first revealed this, I was interested, but I had reservations. I loved the idea of the Dark Ages being harsher (having cities immediately flip to Free Cities) but I was unsure of how I'd like not having Dedications anymore. After playing a couple games with this mode, I can say that I absolutely LOVE not having Dedications. Converting the Dedications into Wildcard policies was a phenomenal idea because it creates much more interesting gameplay and strategic considerations. I used to always go for Monumentality in the Classical Era, but now I find myself actually slotting in the Exodus of the Evangelists quite frequently to get a Religion, Mandala State when I'm done expanding or if I'm building a lot of Wonders, etc. It's refreshing that every playthrough becomes different instead of just Monumentality over and over and over. As for Dark Ages, the penalty of Free Cities flipping is just awesome. It makes the stakes so much higher for me and I find myself desperate to avoid Dark Ages! I also love that Free Cities exert Loyalty pressure now - it's the icing on the cake. To summarize, I've been pleasantly surprised by this mode and I won't play without it anymore. If you haven't tried it yet, give it a shot. PS - If you're open to using mods, I've created a couple mods for Dark Ages that I think enhance the gameplay a lot. Darker Dark Ages - This mod adds a couple other penalties to Dark Ages: -1 Amenity and -10% growth in all cities. It was based on the original concept the devs had for Dark Ages. I made it because aside from Free Cities flipping in Dramatic Ages, Dark Ages can sometimes feel unintimidating. You can use this mod with or without Dramatic Ages. Dramatic Ages: Free Wildcard Slot in Dark Ages - This mod gives all civs in a Dark Age an extraWildcard policy slot. Only works in Dramatic Ages. I think it creates more interesting decisions by giving you better opportunity to try out those powerful Dark Policies. Plus, if you or the AI were just devastated by important cities flipping when you hit the Dark Age, this gives a better chance to crawl out of the Dark Age alive. I am finding it helps the AI from immediately collapsing after a Dark Age.