I played as Venice, Continents, Immortal difficulty, standard speed. No other custom map settings were enabled/disabled. I pretty much knew the only shot I had was a diplo victory, mainly because of the two runaways on the map, William and Cathy. In fact, Cathy had finished 5 of 6 spaceship parts before I got the win! Now I admit, I was swimming in gold. I had all of exploration and commerce filled out, plus the double trade routes of Venice and MoV's to put me WAY ahead of the AI in gpt. I had a solid bank of 20K gold (and counting) by the late game. However, gold only takes you so far in a diplomatic victory. Yes you can buy up all the CS's, and bribe the AI to a certain extent, but to say that a Diplomatic victory is a money victory is an oversimplification. The victory condition is plagued with obstacles. For example, I needed 27 delegates to win the World Leader vote, but only had 24 delegates, even with all CS's allied. I had to find a way to get those extra delegates, and FAST, before Cathy finished her spaceship. I had to use my position as world leader to make Freedom the World Ideology, and I beelined Globalization to get the extra delegates from diplomats. However, nothing could prepare me for Cathy's information-era army, compared to my barely modern divisions (I had to keep my military on my western coast to protect my capital, couldn't afford to send big armies over seas). She took out my puppeted city on her continent, and at one point she had 3 atomic bombs on my borders. Not even close to having bomb shelters at the time, it was pretty nerve racking. To make matters worse, I had no consistent allies throughout the entire game. I declared war on a friend in the early game, and then the whole world hated my guts. At one point, almost everyone was allied with Cathy, the tech giant almost a whole era ahead of me. However, in the late game I had one ally to take the brute force of Cathy's military might - the Netherlands. We were at war in the past, he coveted my lands, I honestly thought he would be my biggest enemy in the late game. I believe the only reason we were allied was because we shared the Freedom ideology, even though the rest of the world chose Order. I got him to declare war on Cathy, and the fine soul even took 4 atomic bombs to the face. Spoiler : Spoiler : You also have to be VERY careful with wars if you chose the diplomatic route. Wars mean less trade routes, which means less gold to spend on buying CS allies, which are crucial both for the vote and buying time. I also didn't go the traditional rationalism route, but I feel like I made the right choice when it comes to policies. So to those who say that Diplo is the 'default victory', play on higher difficulties and you'll see that's not the case.