I don't mean this to be another CiV bashing thread. I've logged almost 300 hours already and the simple fact that I'm up at 1:30 AM is evidence that I've gotten pretty well hooked on this game... But, I just can't seem to get into a session anymore. I've played through at Emperor and beaten it via diplomacy (big whoop), space and culture. My last game was...well, kind of perfect for me. I had a hilly peninsula with marble and tons of gold--perfect for a wonder-whore like me. I was drawn out by some early wars and ended up with some puppet-interests on the main continent too, but I was able to pump out wonders in my core cities relatively undisturbed. It was a beaut. Now, everything else feels somewhat less engrossing. I guess over the last several years, I've spiralled down into playing CIV in one particular way--a way that IV wouldn't really let me prosper with. V, though, let's you keep up with the AI on the upper difficulty levels with small empires. I was trying tonight to go even further. I played and replayed this one peach of a start. Three marbles on an isolated island. I wanted to try to nab almost all of the early game wonders. (Truth be told, I was trying to make my son happy. I name my capital after my wife and then the subsequent cities after the kids. He wanted the pyramids in his city, but I couldn't get them built fast enough...sigh.) Just couldn't make it any better than the game I'd finished. The only challenge left was the impossible. So, I just can't seem to find any reason to play. I feel like I'm in withdrawal. I want to...I really want to, but I've got to face reality. For several years I was chasing some holy grail in IV, a particular play experience that I could never quite get. V has a lot of flaws, but for a builder like me, some of the changes were really welcome. I wonder if that might be the source of the complaints about this game. I think a lot of Civ players have become simple number crunchers. I hear a lot of people saying "all you have to do is this and that" to win. But when I hear these strategies--spamming citys and trading posts--my thought is "why would you want to do that, though?" For me, it was always the experiential aspect that drew me to the game and conquering my foes with mathematics never satisfied me. Maybe that's who the CiV team thought they were writing for, experientialists, and they didn't pay enough attention to balancing the mechanics for the hard core gamers who would go in, do the math, and come away with simple formulas to solve the game. The only thing I really feel tempted to do with CiV now is to create my own mod, try to get away from numbers and create some real character differences between the different approaches to the game. That, though, would require time and expertise that I just don't have now...and probably never will.