i usually play monarch level occassionally upping to noble when i want more intensity. i often use a cultural strategy, especially when space race and diplomacy are disabled. sometimes even when cultural victory is disabled. i love culture. i'm good at that angle. i've won resounding cultural victories on both monarch and noble. i'm still too green to tackle anything higher. my early plan is to appease everyone who approaches me until i stabilize. i go full charge on technology and science early building any wonder that is science, cultural, or engineer related. i don't really stablilize until i have tanks rolling off the assembly lines. then, i will fear no enemy. oh, bombers too to lower city unit piles to feebleness. i do explore other units-navy to protect my shores and perhaps launch a harrassing invasion from the sea while my main forces are bludgeoning on the other side of their civ, choppers for pillaging, mech inf for defending the cities i capture and quieting rebellions. but armor can give one quite an edge. anyway, once tech is on a roll, i go for engineers and artist GPs. the engineers get used up on the big projects like 3 gorges, pentagon, and any wonder that has a potential to generate great artists. i usually end up with a crop of 4-6 great artists. by this point, i'm also expanded to the max as are most other civs (i usually play reg-large pangea with 4-6 civs). it is then that i start looking for spots two squares from any city that is on the border of another civ. i start converting to farms in my border areas at this time because i end up with lots of close cities and they all need feed. i creep forward with carefully planted cities focusing all of my cultural advantages (synagogues, cathedrals, etc) in these new cities. if things are tight and close, i'll send elvis in to stage a concert. even without elvis, i have had major expansions doing this while my culture wraps around enemy cities, beckoning their downfall to a flip. this scheme works best with only conquest/domination enabled. otherwise, i just win a cultural victory before any fireworks start. i will sometimes play on after a cultural victory if it looks interesting enough. anyway, my culture creep goes on for years as my colors slowly eke into neighboring civs. meanwhile, i'm only generating cash and military with my fully grown cities. the military keeps the other civs off my back and the cash pays for the cultural buildings (suffrage rocks at this stage). then, every 25 years or so i go 100% culture with all cities producing culture. i'm not sure what this does, game wise, but i like to think it helps my cultural borders penetrate enemy territory. eventually, i get bored and start hassling the civ that gave me the most grief in my early game buildup. spies descend. wires are cut. 'pleased' beelines to 'annoyed'. if they do not declare war, i have another angle. hopefully, one of the civs was so pleased with me that a defensive pact can be invoked. no matter what, at some point, civs get too crowded and someone declares war on someone. usually, it's not me. my military is very strong by this time. since most civs are pleased with me because i placated them during my growth, they will often ask me to join in. this, i will do on one condition-will it expand my empire? one particular game, victoria, who had hassled me up to the modern age with demands of radical social change and technology, was attacked by lovely catherine, with whom i had a defensive pact. her idea. well, the pact was cancelled but she invited me in anyway after a few turns. i didn't even hesitate. i only took 3 border cities but i laid to waste vickies stacks with endless stealth bomber runs as russian armor rolled in. i don't know what was up catherine's butt but she wiped out every city. razed them all. halfway through this, i approached vickie and offered peace. she accepted. but i knew she was finished as mao had also entered the fray from the other side of the continent. i went back to suffrage and wealth production except for a few cities. those cities i set to produce settlers. i followed the russian and chinese forces across england, planting settlers in key locations in their wake. by the time they eliminated vickie, my civ had doubled in size. it was loads of fun expanding so rapidly so late in the game. it was like early game with no worries. no wonders to build. no tree chopping. no track laying. just plant, defend, and start rushing (with suffrage) first cultural then economic buildings in the new cities. i only used one artist. it was to quiet a major victorian city i had captured that was enwrapped in british culture prior to elvis' concert. i also had a couple dozen workers on automatic trade route building and they were like a swarm of ants once hostilities ceased. so here i sit with 4 artists left, all is quiet, and two cities (ghengis' and mao's) just flipped my way. i see a spot that is exactly 2 squares from any other city and right on the chinese cultural border. mao is pleased with me. catherine's looking like the hair-flipping charmer she prevails to be. onward i plunge.