Xerxes of the Persians, 1630 AD, Monarch: What this old warhorse sees: First of all, what’s your victory condition? If it’s conquest or domination, your immortals should have cleared your continent for you ages ago. The rest of this analysis will operate on the assumption that you want a military victory. If you’re going for score or culture, it's a different ballgame and my analysis my be useless to you. With that in mind, my first order of business would be to kick everyone off of the continent. The AI is pretty awful at naval invasions, and I don’t see anyone who can attack amphibiously yet. Being the sole occupant of your continent provides a lot of security until the AI builds up enough units to mount a decent invasion. At this level, that means that a few stacks of cavs placed around your (cleared) continent will be able to protect it. At Monarch, stacks of ~4 cavs, placed where they could reach any invaders, is plenty. And a cav can travel 9 roaded tiles. That's a lot of ground. I see Florence, a core town, at size 6 and building wealth? Build an aqueduct for the unit support. Wealth gets you +1 gpt. Getting to size 7 gets you from 1 unit support to 3, plus adds all the other goodies that those citizens bring to the table (shields, beakers, etc.). That’s better for your empire. You have a forest you can chop to speed up that build. Also, why so many units in your towns. In a republic, you get no MP value out of them. Either use them or lose them. Build a ‘shell defense’ along your borders, but no need to keep units in your inner empire. Your workers (of which you have too few, 11 natives and maybe 5 slaves?), are in groups of 1 and 2. Get them stacked in larger gangs and build a rail line from your core to the edge of the foreign territory on you continent. Raze any cities you conquer for the slaves. Then go back and start railing the whole empire. If you can buy any workers from the AI, do so. Again, I'm operating from the point of wanting a military victory. With that in mind, I’ll look at your towns. You only have 37 of them. So, let’s go town by town: Perseopolis: Your capital is only size 7. Your land isn’t fantastic, but you should have been able to get to size 10 or 12 by now. In Despo, you should have ‘mined green and watered brown’ tiles. That’s a good rule of thumb for getting the most out of tiles without triggering the Despo Penalty. Food bonus tiles (which may have already triggered the Despo Penalty) are an exception. Look at them case-by-case. Temple, Colosseum, cathedral and Sistine. Those are fine if you want a culture victory, but a complete waste of shields, or even a drain on your economy if you want to win by war. Why build a cannon here? It does not benefit from the rax. London: Obviously captured from the English, but building a library. It’s generating 34 gpt, but 29 of it goes to corruption. That means that only 5 of those gpt can go through that library for the multiplier effect. And it’s going to cost you 1gpt in maintenance. Set that bad boy to starvation mode and build workers. They’ll come out as foreign slaves. Slower than natives, but no gpt in upkeep. Lisbon: Also a capture, but 19 of 22 gpt is going to corruption. IMHO, that’s too high to warrant a courthouse. Looks like a cannon and settler farm to me. Opporto: 9 of 25 going to corruption. I’d probably build a courthouse here, but I’d ditch the temple. With 16 gpt going through the multipliers, it can be a worthwhile producer. York: Temples, temples everywhere. 10 of 12 gpt gong to corruption. Also, lots of English citizens. I’m not sure if workers would come out natives or slaves, but I’d find out…. By building workers here until I got it down to 1 English citizen. Then maybe let it grow. Aspen: Culture buildings everywhere. Also, you need to get those hills mined. Guimares: Look at corruption before making build choices. Courthouses can only do so much and some towns are beyond hope. Make them farms. Balata: same story, different place. At that point, I gave up on checking every town. I scrolled through the next few and found the same issues: lots of culture buildings, barracks in towns that aren’t building units. If it has a barracks, it should build units. Specifically, attack and defense units. Bombard units do not get any benefit from barracks. So build attackers and defenders in rax towns, bombards in non-rax towns. (Except in the very early game, when you may not really have enough towns to sort them like that.) Spot checking the rest: Florence: Why are you building wealth here? I’m guessing that you feel low on gold. As I mentioned earlier, swap to an aqueduct, get that unit support up. That will get you more than the 1gpt that Wealth does. By reducing your unit support by 2 units (from supporting 1 unit to supporting 3), that gains you 4 gpt. Then add in beakers, food, etc, and it becomes a worthwhile investment. Florence is netting 7 shields per turn. That’s a 12 turn cav. Get it to net 8 and it will get you 10-turn cavs without even cash rushing.. For a military victory, this is winnable. Not necessarily easy, but certainly winnable. Your problems all date back to the ancient age. You don’t have anywhere near enough workers, which means that your tiles aren’t improved like they should be. That’s costing you money, and it’s been doing so for a long time. That’s why you’re behind in research. You've wasted a ton of shields and gold on culture buildings when immortals and settlers would have served you better. Just for giggles, I went through and tuned the empire for recovery the way I would play it. I’m not saying it’s the best way, but it would be my way. So let’s look at where you are in your save: 146 gold, 8 gpt. Medicine is 4 turns out, with the science slider at 50%. Lux slider is at 10%. 77 units, which is 18 over your limit of 59, costing you 36 gpt. 1 settler, 11 workers, 5 slaves, 7 spears, 4 pikes, 3 longbows, 3 muskets, 2 rifles, 12 cavs, 9 cannons, 1 frigate, 5 galleons, and 17 immortals. Tuning the empire: Rename Persepolis to Aabraxa and save this game as “Aabraxan of the Persians.” That way you don’t confuse my save with yours. Generally speaking, I’m going to sell all of your culture buildings and remake this empire with war in mind. I will also fire all of your clowns and sell off obsolete or otherwise useless military units. At Monarch, you can pretty much run a purely offensive campaign. Once you jump to Emperor, you’ll have to have a few more defensive units, particularly for overseas invasions. At DG, my (limited) experience was that you danged well better be ready to fight defensive wars. Once I'm done with the changes, my save has: 441 gold, +117 gpt; Medicine in 4, slider at Science 40%, Lux 10%; 69 units, a limit of 59, so 20 gpt in support 1 settler, 11 workers (+ 5 slaves), 1 archer, 2 pikes, 3 longbows, 3 muskets, 4 rifles, 12 cavs, 9 cannons, 1 frigate, 5 galleons and 17 immortals I swapped builds around so that you’ll be getting more settlers, workers and offensive units. I left a handful of defensive unit builds the way they were. Rifles are a pretty decent defensive unit, and will be good for protecting an invading force. Besides, they upgrade to infantry. Mind you, I didn't advance any turns. This is the 1630 save. I also didn't do any trading. I hope this is of some help.