Strange, all I got out of the podcast was 1) Things were intentionally simplified 2) A recognition that more complexity and better balance would be added through patches, DLC, and expansions. 3) Some "Did you know" moments, like the thing with Monty. Written it many times, simple =/= dumbed down. You can have simple concept and make it highly appealing. Best example is GO, laying black and white stones on a grid. Mechanics are extremely simple, the game is highly cerebral. I don't think the game has been dumbed down at all. I feel the AI is inadequate and unable to deal with everything, so the game feels dumber. Face it, it takes a smarter AI to manage a battle line and diverse troop formations than to pile 50 troops onto one tile and point it at a city. AI in the former has to mange several decisions and move his troops quickly and effectively as a whole line, and make use of the terrain. It takes a smarter AI to meaningful diplomacy decisions than merely adding up the mods, comparing it to it's scripted personality and computing "I like this person +18, I don't like him -5, I don't declare war if I'm over 10 like, therefore I will not fight this person, I'll just quietly build colosseums as he prepares a death army on my doorstep." It takes a much smarter AI to say plan to achieve a space race victory, decide it wants rationalism, and then choose to avoid Piety right now than for an AI to think "I'm at war, I need more troops, two turns of anarchy to get a fascist government!" If the AI WERE capable of making these kind of intelligent plans than I don't think anyone would complain the game has been dumbed down. But by focusing on more meaningful long-term decisions and strategies it really puts the onus on the AI to make these decisions properly.