Thanks all, always happy to get some feedback. Well maybe not always... But you're right @Snowbird, I will definitely concede that I could and should have phrased that better and I am genuinely thankful you took the time to answer my questions. I am just trying to get a feel here for other peoples play style and choices in the early game, which is easily the weakest part of my play (next to diplo). I just wanted to compare playstyles which I tried to translate to absolutes, because shades of grey are less easy to compare. No harm or stupidity intended. @Fippy: I still experience that research hole you mention at immortal difficulty quite frequently, at around the time I need to decide on research for Alpha or Aesthetics (or maybe Monarchy or other variants), and it is annoying me greatly. I typically get out via building research/wealth/failgold/raising happy cap, but it usually takes a while to get any of these options available. The only way I see to avoid it is to not expand past 4 to 5 cities, but the feeling I get from the veterans here is that you should typically keep expanding if there is room and as fast as possible at that (like 8 cities by turn 100 if possible, that sort of stuff). So do you (or any other veterans) have any advice on how to avoid this typical first research hole? Or is it binary, in the sense that you will always (well not always, but you know what I mean) experience it if you choose to expand further than a set amount of cities in your early rex game? And how do you (and others) typically get out of it?