This is my point exactly. The change to SPs especially seem to have removed so many varied opening strategies. I know people say that SPs will be so easy to come by and SP costs are down and all this stuff (they seem to ignore that culture generation is also down but w/e) but no one can seem to suggest what these new strategies are. The only response you seem to get is: drop down a difficulty level then which is not an actual answer. I know of a few that will still work well but they mostly involve now skipping the early policies completely or as quickly as possible but again most of them involve abuses that I don't find remotely enjoyable. Maybe I'm in the minority but I like having a challenging game that I can try out various civs and strategies and see what happens.