I love having a system to nominally mark the current era the world is in. This is very useful mechanically. But, anyways: I have to imagine that the reason the different ages feel hollow is that the Loyalty system is something that's relatively "solved" by most people here. We all know how to play so it's never an issue, even when we are in dark ages and the neighbor in a golden. You also don't want dark ages to be actively punishing in realms of science/culture/etc - not only could that approach lead to cascading dark ages, but it definitely takes on a stereotype of what these ages are. Look at when Spain & Portugal explored the new world and claimed huge tracts of land, gaining great era score and gold doubloons. Then they kind of stopped being eminent on the world stage, as Britain and France rise. To me, era score is sort of capturing the empires doing things in the history books, with other nations plodding along in a normal age, and some nations essentially not doing much of note and becoming stagnant (like late ottoman empire.) But anyways, it's a tad disconnected because you do things in one era and then get rewarded in the next. I actually think dedications should be only half the system and should focus just on era score; a "plan of attack" on how you are going to do things. I would move the concept of golden age dedication bonuses to the end of ages and make them more like rewards; and some of these would be competitive. The empire establishing the most new trade posts could get a reform the coinage style boost; etc. I think the era score dedications are generally okay but some need a balance pass. The golden age ones are as mentioned, all over the place. So loyalty effects would be tied to how many things you do in an era; the bonuses would be tied to how many more things you did than your rivals. Carefully choosing things that do not directly make the runaway or the leader always win them, like creating the most new trading posts, (because if create them all in one era, you'll have none the next) would keep it balanced. Limit the number of bonuses a civ could could claim to 1; 3 for heroics. TLDR I do think what we have now would be fine if it affected loyalty more. The geometry of loyalty effects all but guarantees that as long as you settle in a blob, or at least have a triangle of cities near each other, nothing but a fully stacked Eleanor can ever take them from you. This is because of the pop effect dropping off 10% per tile. Maybe it should be some other thing. I'm no game designer but that fundamental geometry is where i would start.