Having played a number of Monarch games, it's obvious the AI is a slow techer. I am usually happy if I can atleast get 6 cities in order to unlock the important National Wonders. I used to get frustrated/concerned when I see the AI surpass me in the number of cities. In my last Monarch game, the AI had more cities, sometimes 3 or 4 more, and I ended up winning and maintaining a nice tech lead (apart from when I warred to get more land). Those with more games under their belts and more experience could probably answer this: How long can 6 cities (or 7 cities) carry your empire with a tech lead, say ensure you win Lib or get to Rifles/Cannons first? I know for Culture wins, 6 to 9 cities is more than enough. I assume for space, later in the game, the bigger empires could start taking over in terms of tech lead with because the empire is that much bigger and more commerce/more production. Ideally in a lot of my games, I go into them with the idea that if I can get 6 or 7 or 8 cities(essentially no rexing), developed/specialized them with the proper infrastructure, once I reach Rifles (Rifles/Spies and Rifles/Cannons), I can then get more land and from there decide with VC I would feel more comfortable with. Nothing too complicated or to ground breaking. I assume that getting Gems/Gold makes a difference, but lets say simple cottages/GScientists to fuel the economy. The city compoisition I would see would be a nice capital city, 3 cottage cities and 2 production cities. Makes sense?