Say I have lot of open land and I want to go liberty. If I choose tradition opener first and then going down the liberty tree, it will hurt early starting from the 3rd policy onwards, and then late game for delaying the powerful later policies. But going straight for liberty hurts my capital development mid-game when I stop building settlers. I don't have access to my third ring tiles, my population is stuck in the teens with unemployed citizens and a handful of tiles in 1st/2nd ring are usually desert or ocean. See, tradition opener is not for the +3 culture at all, it's for the reduced culture cost of spreading. The capital has a dozen things to build, monument is low on the list and tile-buying 3rd ring is too expensive. If I knew how to quantify these effects, I could do my own math. I don't even know where to start.