I just completed my first post-patch game on Immortal, standard continents, with India. Some history and observations: Using the National College start I stayed current in tech, but then lost ground to the bigger civs, because I lacked the gold to pay for Maritimes or RAs early on. The number and make-up of nearby luxuries makes a big difference. I was also in a war with Japan from early on, which slowed me down. Getting the right balance early on of gold, beakers and units is key. Some AI spam cities to a scary degree, in light of how hard they are to take. These builds are effectively a war strategy. My neighbors were luxury-driven. I stopped settlers by buying a luxury tile on three separate occasions. By the time Japan declared war on me again in the mid-game, we were even in techs longswordsmen and knights, with me just getting cannon. Egypt (who had the FOY) had a city next to us with MI. Rome even bigger than Egypt built the Manhattan Project in 1440. Egypt was in Future Tech in the 1600s. This helps explain why theres more AI size fluctuation in the highest levels - the tech differences are potentially bigger. I signed a defensive pact with Egypt as Japan massed against me. (This is a first for me.) When Japan attacked, the Egyptian MI struck. Two Japanese cities quickly fell. I then tagged along and sneaked a knight into a city about to fall, then sold it to Egypt. Soon after Rome declared war on Egypt, and Egypt quit applying units to the Japanese war. This allowed me to take the last six Japanese cities with two cannon, two knights and a rifleman. The gold I made from these multiple sales to Egypt allowed me to rush public schools and do two cycles of slingshotted RAs. These put me back in the game, pre-patch meaning I was still way behind the leaders, but with a good chance of sneaking in a space race victory. Early in the 19th century the UN was built. As the vote approached I noticed that Genoa kept being bought back and forth. I thought that Id been right in only befriending Maritimes rather than competing for alliances. Then the vote came in and Arabia won the game in 1826! Clearly they had focused on a diplomatic victory, and bought their way to a win. But Rome had about 45,000g, and wound up with only 3 votes so they paid no real attention to the vote. And of course Egypt had Future Tech in the 1600s, but never built the Apollo Project. The AI is clearly playing much better, making the game much better. Diplomacy clearly makes a difference. My biggest conclusion from a distance is that without a tech advantage conquest will be tough to achieve, thanks to the major city defense buffs.