...because it seems to me whether I win a game or not almost entirely comes down to whether or not I can survive the ancient era. Now I totally understand that there are a lot of players here better than I am, but I'm no slouch either - I play and win on deity the majority of my games... *IF* I can survive the ancient era. But I swear, sometimes the game just puts you in an unwinnable position, and I'm not even talking about those "worst start ever" kind of starts either. Here's how a lot of starts go in my experience: 1) Think to myself "ok, this looks an interesting start, should be a fun game". 2) Find that an AI has spawned right next door to me - on the default settings no less. I find that the more fun and interesting a starting position looks, the closer your AI neighbor will spawn to you. The map generator hates you. 3) Churn out a handful of troops with my one lone city with no improved tiles to defend against the inevitable AI surprise war declaration. Use them to try to keep barbarians in check, but at the same time keep them close enough to my lone city they can help in it's defense. If I'm lucky, I might even get enough gold to buy one unit before the AI comes. 4) AI declares a "surprise" war, promptly shows up with an army twice as large as mine (after all, the AI has plenty of cities to train units). Not only does he have more troops, but he also has chariots going up against my handful of warriors and slingers. Plus, on deity, as if this isn't hard enough, they get a big ol' combat bonus on top of it just in case the AI doesn't have enough of an advantage already. 5) Still, I gird my loins and decide to attempt a defense. I move what meager armies I have to prepare to defend my one (or two if things have gone particularly well) city in what will most likely be a bloodbath... 6)...only for a barbarian camp to spawn with it's stupid scout right outside my borders to the rear of my armies. Here come the hordes! ***Bonus points if said AI is Teddy, Monty, or any AI that can make this even harder!** I feel like I'm doing everything I can to defend against this - I'm focused purely on training troops, I send delegations to every AI as soon as I meet them (nothing I'd rather do than send a chunk of my meager economy to an AI that's just going to come at me anyways), I try not to antagonize them where possible (sometimes it's not)... and it just doesn't matter. They have such a huge starting advantage if they want to steamroll you, they almost always can. What really sucks about this is that it ends up making my games feel very similar. Most of my games end up having either the coast to my back (which makes defense and barbarians a ton infinitely easier to handle), or lots of mountains that make full scale attacks on my few cities difficult. I'd love to play a game where I spawn in the middle of a continent surrounded by other civs... but these are so difficult to survive at the start I hardly ever get to. If I survive the ancient era, I'd say I'll win 9/10 games no problem. That alone tells me it's not balanced, but I'm curious what other people's experiences/thoughts are. Tl;dr version: AI are overly aggressive early on and barb spawns can be pretty stupid.