Well, this current game continues to throw up curve-balls, for good & ill. Just managed to slip into a normal age within the 10 turn countdown to the modern era, but then some well timed industrial era building construction & the conquest of Baghdad managed to secure me a Heroic Age instead......my very first ever!!! Baghdad proved much harder to take than I'd anticipated, as Saladin was clever enough to ship in a Mameluke, a Field Cannon & a Frigate. All of which kept my forces at bay for awhile. Bringing in reinforcements & a Frigate of my own (coupled with a Great Admiral) finally gave me the victory.....driving the Heathens from my lands altogether! I also finally managed to talk Roosevelt into swapping one of his Portraits for one of my religious works (thus helping the both of us towards theme bonuses). I was also greatly pleased to see a few preemptive offers of Alliances by the AI. I am also more than a little disturbed by how poorly I am doing on the tech tree, compared to several of my AI opponents.....& have been gazumped on several Wonder Builds (the Ruhr Valley was particularly galling for me!) That said, though, I really am enjoying this game immensely, and am finding the AI more than a little challenging-in a good way. So far, nobody has acted in a way that wasn't entirely in character!