I like the basic game more than Rising tide, but I wanted to try out a game with the expansion to see how I would fare. The world is Mu Arae F primordial, everything standard settings, standard size and 8 sponsors and I took Daoming Sochua to test her bonus which I think is OP... For seeding options, I think aristocrats are, like in the base game, obviously the best overall choice, Continental Surveyor or Tectonic Scanner the best spacecraft, and Laboratory best for quick pioneering even though the free Worker can be strong too. However in this game I took the unlockable colonist which gives you 50% more production for colonist and explorers. I went for an aggressive expansion strategy and built many terrascapes, combining the policies of Prosperity, Knowledge and Industry. I am going for triple affinity strategy so I want at least 15 in all affinities before winning. I avoided the free Colonist from Prosperity to get to the terrascape upgrade faster. I kept neutral with the Aliens for a while, because I skipped army early game, and DOWed my neighbour, so I didn't want too many problems. My goal is to complete all 4 virtue trees and all the tech web before turn 250 so it's very easily done with my strategy. Initially all my perks were taken to ensure I don't sink too deep into unhealth, and after I started getting positive I started concentrating on culture. It is seemingly possible to win faster in RT than in Vanilla even though you can no longer buy science or sell your useless resources. I reached the benchmarks of 1000 culture, 1000 science and 100 health in turn 184: I would soon launch Holomatrix over my cities and build Terra Vaults so I would get more than 5000 culture before turn 210 to complete the virtue trees, but I think the full tech web requires turn 225 to finish fully. To the left side of my empire, Al Falah has built the Beacon some time ago, but they need a lot of time to win and I took my time before I take them out as they are a good ally and give me good international yields for my trade routes. Sadly, Around this time a lot of "unhandled exception errors" have started to occur, and a lot of game restarts are needed. I think the game isn't optimised to support big empires, discovery of a large part of the tech web (errors occur mosly when opening the tech web), so I won't finish my game to the end. It would have been a domination victory most probably, around turns 235-240. My problem with Rising tide is that if you look at the minimap you can see the AIs didn't even bother to settle many cities. In civ 5 the AIs would try to expand until there was no more space left, so I don't understand why was the civ be AI coded differently. It's just not efficient to play with 3-4 cities, it's very weak as a strategy because you can't get good enough yields. Another big problem is the use of artifacts, which are too strong, and I'm not even sure the AIs use them too. They unlock crazy things like free Drone Sphere bonus (extra 50% worker speed), and Drone command (city works 2 extra tiles)... And international routes are way too good. 20 gold and 15 science for just one trade route should never happen, a cap should have been set around 10/10 at the very least. So there is very little challange in Rising Tide. That is not to say that the base game is hard or anything, but in RT you can get all 3 affinities high more easily, and they give you more bonuses, so overall it's easier even for this reason. Thanks for reading.