I love Civilization (as well as II, III, IV, V & CTP) but I'd be the first to admit that, despite my many years of playing them all, I'm just not *that* good. I often get beaten, and if I do win it's with a pretty mediocre score. Not only that, but I haven't really ventured much beyond Warlord-difficulty. Where am I going wrong? I've had a look at the strategies and they all look good, but somehow I just fail on implementation. When I read about some of the people here winning by 1AD I almost can't believe it (not that I doubt them, just that for me, by 1AD I've barely got more than 4 cities and am hemorrhaging cash on maintenance costs). My usual gameplay goes something like this... Found a city on the first, if not second turn. Instantly build a Militia to defend, then a Settler, then a Barracks to build a second (veteran) defensive unit. Use the second Settler to irrigate / mine a few tiles and build a road to the next position where I found my second city (and repeat, until I have about 4 or 5 cities). In the meantime, I try as much as possible to avoid war - because I never feel I'm strong enough to wage a successful campaign - and whack up the science rate to try and advance more quickly. Trouble is, my cities stagnate without building granaries and aqueducts but then the maintenance costs (partly due to my low tax rate) start eating away my treasury until I'm having to sell improvements only to rebuild 'em. Vicious cycle. Meantime, the Zulus are careering around in Frigates invading my shorelines and building Wonders like they're going out of fashion. Oh, and if I have a revolution and pick Democracy or Republic, it disbands my units and I get civil disorder all over the place. So government collapses and I end up back at Despotism again, just to keep a handle on my cities not falling into disorder again. Now, I've had some limited success with caravans (to get a bit more cash going) but I haven't figured out how to keep the trade internal - sometimes a caravan arrives at one of my cities and establishes a trade route but other times it just walks into the city and waits for the next command. Inevitably I end up at war (without wanting to) because the Mongols keep demanding tribute or tech or cancellations of existing treaties and I ain't giving. Then it's a weary exercise in trying to defend my cities while finding one of theirs to capture (which usually results in them offering peace, but they sneak attack a few turns later anyway). All of this keeps me from being able to realise my dream of space exploration - or, on the rare occasions that I'm not beaten to it by the Romans, I win the game with a rating of about 14% Can anyone offer me a diagnosis of where I'm going wrong and how I can improve my game?