We all love Wonders, either by building them or conquering the city which has them. I will explain the building path. Below Emperor level one can almost build any Wonders you like. The trouble arises when playing Emperor or above, due to the great leap between Monarch to Emperor (read Ision’s great article in the War Academy). One must learn to prioritise which wonders are more important to build in a game. The usual answer to this query in Civ is: it depends. Depending on whether you are a Builder or a Warmonger, depending on what type of victory condition is enabled (i.e. you need to build UNs for a diplomatic vic), what level are you playing at … I trust you already know what Wonders are key to the success in your current game; there are plenty of good articles and threads on the matter. Now the query is how can you beat the AI to build them ? This is when the concept of Prebuilding comes in. I won't mention SGL's in this article which obviously rush in one turn a great wonder in C3C. Imagine you are aiming for the Great Library. You start building your Forbidden Palace so as to save the shields generated per turn until you discover researching or trading Literature which will allow you to swap from your FP to the GL wonder. Following this strat you are able to outbuild a Wonder from the AI. (EDITED:28-06-05) At Emperor, normally, your first Wonder will be in the late Middle Ages, such as Adam Smith or Sistine Chappel. At Emperor I doubt you will be able to build many Ancient Age Wonders, besides, you shouldn't. A human can complete most medieval wonders and ALL Industrial and Modern Age wonders. You may use as a prebuild the FP, your own Palace or even some other Wonder (Great or Small), Armies being built in the Military Academy or even a city improvement, anything goes ! Just be sure that other civs do not beat you to it. You can hit the F7 key to know which AI civs are in the same wonder race as you. Look at what city it is being built on. Yeah, yeah good point but I still haven't learnt Espionage, what can I do ? Ok don't fret. Normally the best city (the one with the highest shield yield) of an AI is where it has its palace, the capital -just like yourself-. Just hit the F11 screen to see the size it has. It's mainly useful in the ancient Age when you haven't even learned Writing yet (so no embassies yet to establish) and the most important five cities (culturally speaking appear). So If you are lucky it will be one of them. Consider it a real-time espionage, you can judge by the size of the capitals if they are going to make it before you or not judging in comparison with yours. This trick is very neat because perhaps you haven't even met them yet and don't even know where they are located and despite of this you know their capital's size to make educated guesses. Once you learn Writing, you may then establish your Embassies in their capital albeit only once and use them to get an insight of those cities you're interested in. So make sure to establish it at the right time when you are really feeling pressed to know in just how many more turns they are going to complete a wonder or what's their shield output per turn. Once you learn Espionage in the Industrial Age you can use your spies to get an insight of those cities and check how many turns they have left to achieve there goal. You can even use the spy to sabotage that city and hinder their efforts, If say, you are running behind in time and it is predictable the AI will finish it off before you do. Timing is very important the higher the echelon of difficulty. Sometimes even your prebuilding is doing so well in fact at core cities that you are going to complete your Palace before even having discovered, for example, Integrated Defense. What you do in this case is go to the City Screen and turn productive tiles with plenty of shields into an artist (or even better, a taxman or scholar). In this way your shield output diminishes and you proceed to adjust it with the turn you are bound to discover ID so as to build the small wonder SDI. Beware; what may help you may also help the AI. If you have techs for building two wonders and the AI is already building one but does not have the tech to build a second GW, one must be careful when to trade this second tech. If you trade the second tech and complete the first wonder, the AI will use all the shields it spent in the first wonder and swap them over to produce the new wonder and beat you to it. This is most frustrating. It is known as Wonder Cascade and must be avoided at all costs. You may do so by delaying the trade of techs with the wonders associated to them so as to cut short the cascade. Or use your spies and sabotage their wonder production, though this is more risky if you're caught redhanded. Be sneaky and sell the tech only when you are darn sure you have the lead in shield output and it is most likely that you will beat the AI to it; even then, you might be subject to sabotage by a foreign spy and lose building it. One of the main reasons for selling a tech with a non-completed wonder associated to it is that AI civs pay very handsomely for it. You can, obviously, wait for just the turn before completing the wonder to sell off the tech to ALL civs (see articles on tech trading). Following these simple advises known to all veteran players you are now able to beat the AI wonder building even at Emperor or beyond.