Currently, I'm trying to wean myself off of phi-cre-spi leaders, as I'd developed a taste for specialist driven science, but I want to take a step back and perfect my cottage driven economic skills to the same level. But I've got a few questions on how to properly leverage a couple aspects of slider based science economies on the higher levels. First, as you've guessed from the title is how to manage a good GP farm. I'm finding that instead of running scientists, I'm running merchants, and that my financial cities are essentially merchant ones. After whipping/chopping infrastructure, I slip into caste system and have a couple food-heavy cities running merchants. I just don't feel that I'm getting enough out of it though, merchants are only getting me +3 gold per specialist and not much else. Just as bad, is that when I do manage to gain a GM, they're only offering a +7 gold if settled, bulbing down a different and often less desirable tech path, or a trade mission which becomes less of a factor when you manage to get 3-4 of them in a hurry. I guess, is it better to have a stockpile of 6000 gold and run a debt, or break even at 90-100% science? Another question about the GP farm is whether or not I should make my specialist city a priest factory instead. It's harder to mine priests [caste not applying], but using them to build shrines and turn those into economic powerhouse cities. I usually manage to have 2-3 religions by mid-game, but spreading religion and mining those priests seems to cost a lot of hammers, diverting precious resources away from military. But +2 gold for the Priest and +6 gold for the GP are not that far off the merchants. I'm hesitant to be running a science GP farm since I'm trying to avoid the SE, and without the pyramids/representation, it's a far less attractive option, although arguably the bulbing potential is much greater. As an aside, now that I'm off representation, I'm also trying to leverage HR. It's not something I ever took advantage of on lower levels, but I'm a little gun-shy on trying to exploit it. I don't like the idea of spreading my forces evenly across each of my cities to gain happiness in core cities never likely to see battle. Secondly, with US coming up in the later game, I fear that having an HR pumped city will leave me with massive unhappiness if I decide to switch. Another deciding factor is unit maintenance. Unit costs will be much higher if I decide to pump my core cities with more units, plus the extra units I have on the border cities and invasion forces. Does the additional happiness, population and extra worked tiles actually offset the maintenance? Especially since most if not all of the commerce off those worked tiles is going to science? Or should I just pump more units in those merchant cities to allow for more specialists? Please, any advice on how to properly leverage the CE is much appreciated.