Difficulty: Emperor Civilization: Venice Map type: Pangea, standard on everything (sea level, age, etc) Map size: Large (10 players) Pace: Epic Victory: Diplomatic Social policies: Tradition (full), Patronage (full), Commerce (just the first). Ideology: Freedom Other: Random personalities Screens: http://imageshack.us/a/img542/4815/2qkp.jpg http://imageshack.us/a/img856/4061/08pz.jpg I've been playing on Prince for a long time, felt that it was too easy so I launched up a game on Emperor instead. Picked Venice mainly because I wanted another victory type other than domination (I usually go down that road), but I also picked them because of their UA: the inability to build settlers and annex cities, instead getting 2x trade routes. In retrospect I feel that my starting position was just golden: Spices, Gems and Stone close to the capital, as well as 1x cow and 3x sheep. Venice was settled with the coast to the east, and a mountain range to the north. That mountain range meant everything later on, when the Mayans decided to wage war on me. I had maybe 2 archers and 3 warriors when their army, twice the size tried to kill me. But I thwarted that attempt easily by positioning 1x warrior and the 2x archers to the north of Venice. That choke point was too much for the Maya to handle. The first CS I purchased was Geneva, followed by Malacca. I never felt that the lack of Settlers hurt me during the early game - because the "empire" that I had wasn't spreaded out. While the Maya wasted their military to the north of Venice, I got a larger army and conquered Copan. After that he begged me for peace and I got some 600-700 gold out of the treaty. Once I got engineering I manually built a great wall around myself using forts, and suddenly Venice had turned into something of a "Mordor". Germany was initially my closest friend: the peace between us was more or less forced upon Bismarck due to our symbiotic trade relationship. I'm not sure that the AI takes this into account but it felt like Germany didn't declare war on me because they couldn't afford it. I don't know for how many hundred years Bismarck was grumpy like a grounded teenage daughter, but it was a long time. In the end I switched all my trade routes to the Maya, and declared war on Germany when I found out that the entire world hated them. The economic and diplomatic leverage I had was simply amazing. During the mid game I was allied to at least half the CS, and was affecting global politics. I managed to get Freedom as the world ideaology and catolicism as world religion. This angered like, the entire world - especially Bismarck who believed in Autocracy. I got surprised though that the world ideology thing didn't hurt him more - it wasn't until the 1900's that he had a revolution and the people demanded Freedom instead. There was only three times where I felt vulnerable: -Early game, against Maya, when I didn't have a lot of military. -At the end of the industrial era. Bismarck created a huge navy of Battleships, but was unable to attack me due to our trade ties. Instead he wandered off with his entire fleet to fight Poland (lol). Once his navy was gimped I had to declare war on him, because I felt that in order to win a diplo victory I had to stand allied with the rest of the world. So politically I did a 180 here and in the end got allied with the Poles (who in the end voted for me for world leader). The third time I felt a bit worried was during the end-game: I had lagged behind on tech because I relied to much on having my spies steal from Bismarck. After a while I noticed that it simply took too long to steal tech from him (he must have had some techs/wonders/buildings to protect him). The Maya and the germans both where ahead of me, and both of them completed the Manhattan project and the Apollo program before me. I beelined the atomic bomb, praying that there would be at least one tile of uranium inside my borders (and I had!!). Once I had 3 nukes (and 1 nuclear plant) people started getting afraid Both my ally, the Polish, and my enemy, the Germans, feared me after this acquisition. A few turns before I won, I sent off a carrier with an atomic bomb to the east: Mongolia was becomming a nuissance. They had conquered 3 ally CS' from me (Poland liberated one of them later on) and was attacking the 4th: La Venta, when my nuke hit one of their biggest cities. After the blast they immediatly signed my peace treaty - and once again I got a big lump of cash! Cash was never ever a problem for me, except maybe during the big war vs germany when Bismarck killed off like 2/3 of my trade fleet. But even then it was easy to recover. I must say that this was one of the funnier games that I've played so far. I saw in the Civ elimination thread earlier today that people really don't like Venice, and after a game like this I simply can't understand why. YES, Venice IS different! That's the whole thing about them! I do not think that they are so different that they are game-breaking though, and I do not believe that this game becomes something completely else when you play them. Instead I highly recommend everyone to play as Venice at least once. Their greatest strength: money, allows them to become the master manipulator of the world. So if you want something a bit different than you should try them out!