By all accounts, my first BNW game seems to be a classic "Retire" early scenario. Me = Ottomans (no experience with this Civ, Large Standard map King, 22 Civs, 20 CS) Piety I typically enjoy playing the religious domination game, so my culture focus was Piety. I started near a coast with one fish and two crab so I beelined to Work Boats. Noting that the Ottomans seem to be a naval civ, I delayed expanding with new cities to go for the Great Lighthouse. Nothing like complimenting a strength with another strength, right? I lost the Great Lighthouse gamble so I purchased a Settler with my nest egg and built a new city in the middle of 10 iron by the coast. With a third city along the coast I focused all production on Faith buildings. I was the six player to take a Pantheon Belief (God of Sea) and I didn't want to lose out on a religion. I lost out on a religion. Invasion My focus on Faith cost me militarily. I shared a continent with seven other civs who all seemed cool with me as wilderness kept most of us apart. But I'm a veteran Civ player and I know you need to be careful when Shaka and Monty are neighbors. I had two Swordsman in production when Monty invaded. Two things happened quickly. My land and sea trade routes were plundered sending my GPT into negatives. My first road was interrupted as a worker was captured. Science collapsed. Decision I estimated that my two Swordsman, along with a Composite Bowman garrisoned in my capital could defend against the five Jags, two catapults, and three Composite Bowmans on Monty's side. But losing my Swordsmen during the defense would be disastrous as I had no idea what Monty had hidden in the Fog of War. I had to keep them in reserve and protected. It was this time that I decided to double down on Piety. Rather than open Liberty, Tradition, or Honor, I said screw it and devoted my culture to closing out Piety. Religion be damned! Victory, then Loss With negative GPT, I tried every diplomatic trick in the book to get me back on track gold wise. I would have had a Crab to sell, but the Greeks came begging a turn before Monty's invasion. Additionally, my population growth had launched me into Unhappiness. Against all odds, I beat back Monty's invasion. I focused all fire power on the ground troops. The Swordsmen stayed out of battle until a Jag was weakened into the red. The turn after I killed the last Jag, Monty's catapults and Bowman destroyed the last HP of my capital. If the Greek Phalanx sailing by my capital had decided to rush in at that moment, I would have lost my capital. But I guess the free fresh crab meat paid off. At this point it was a mop up operation. Monty offered peace terms, I rejected, and he fled. My Unhappy citizens got back to work rebuilding my deficit running capital. But additional storms appeared on the horizon. Austria was massing Pikeman and Composite Bowman around my second city. A weakened Swordsman pursued the Aztecs across the frontier to their border. I plundered their trade route, killed a couple more units, and killed a Great General. But the bloodlust came at a price and my Swordsman strayed too close to the Aztec capital and died. It was worth it though as Monty offered Copper and Gold to end the war. The Hammer Drops After a few turns of Austrian troops playing musical chairs around my border, Maria attacked. I was negative GPT with zero gold, negative Happiness, dead last in research, dead last in overall score, still pursuing Piety without a religion and minus an important unit (veteran Swordsman). But the war was less about what I had and more about what Maria didn't have. She had no military strategy. Maria led her troops like a schizophrenic. First they attacked my second city then pulled back after some losses. Then my weakened capital. Then my second city again. Each switch cost her units health and time. She sacrificed units to pillage my resources, but most of my resources were in the ocean catching fish and crabs. I brought two more Swordsman online and kept them in reserve for mop up. Austria's invasion was eventually crushed. Most shocking, she had no reserves defending her capital. I sent some units in and pillaged before retreating. Maria was devastated. She offered a treasure trove of booty to end the war. Conclusion? After the war with Austria, I was able to build two sea trade routes with India. My first road was finished, and two Marketplaces were built closing my budget deficit. Even better, my third city converted to Christianity allowing me to build a mosque with Faith. Two turns later, it was converted to Judaism by the Celts, allowing me to build a Pagoda and Cathedral. My happiness is now +18. I had built a Christian missionary before my city converted to Judaism so I'm in the process of spreading both religions to my first two cities so I can build all of the buildings. I've concluded that the early game mistakes in BNW aren't as game ending as I had expected. I'm still dead last in Research and Score, but the civs aren't dog piling me as my military remains a deterrent thanks to all of my iron. I'm Friendly with the other civs and even Monty says our past war has no negative diplomatic impact. I've gambled on a Sea and Religion strategy so it remains to be seen how I fair at later stages of the game.