Erm, the mighty War Elephant wasn't enough to persuade you to tech HBR, but the less powerful HAs would've been? From my (admittedly warmongerish) perspective, I think you've suffered from a slight case of early-game builderholism. Either that, or you've not really adapted your strat to the map conditions. Let me put it this way: with a Stable, you can build Shock Elephants. Unless your enemy somehow manages to get Formation Spears (which I have never seen this early), there is no effective counter. Of course, a fortified C2 Spear on a hill will give you some trouble, but that's about it as far as blocks on your progress are concerned. Even CG3 Drill1 Archers on a hill are at a disadvantage against Jumbos. With the lacklustre land available for peaceful settlement, I'd have thought everyone would be looking to war in the not-too-distant future. So, to my mind, it's rather odd to go off pursuing things like Aesthetics and Literature before getting so overpowered a unit onto the production line. ------------------- I believe it's time to start looking at the best ball decision. Maybe I'm just biased (and arrogant), but my save looks pretty strong from where I'm sitting - everything I tried came off beautifully, and I micromanaged much harder than I usually would at this level. Does anyone disagree? If not, then we have to ask whether it's sensible to play from my save. Earlier in the thread, ranion suggested discounting any clear winners, and I think this is an excellent idea. Let's call it Vale's Law, shall we? So, unless anyone wants to make a case for a different save, we could chalk mine up as a Vale, and have a closer look at the other options.