Late getting back to this one to check on it, but the short answer is simple @elitetroops : I'm not very good at this game I don't understand a lot of the aspects and relationships between certain courses of actions mostly due to the game's complexity and my inexperience with it. I have vague ideas of strategies that work, for whatever reason that they do e.g. doing anything earlier is better, Currency being important recovery tech, Cuirs rush very strong, etc but as far as the type of optimization you speak of I'm just not intimate enough with the game. For instance, all I wanted to do in the beginning was kill Shaka off, abuse Washington for a while then kill him too, and settle the continent for myself. No greater plan than that. The (rampant, I guess) razing came about because I only have a vague idea about keeping early conquest cities: they are expensive, and if the city doesn't contribute enough to offset it very quickly after coming out of revolt I feel better off just replanting it later, else I'll stagnate and never get out of the hole. When I looked at Ulundi all I saw was how much food it had, how far away it was, and that settling it 1N would gain yet another fish (also that if I did re-settle it 1N i wouldn't have to put another city down to claim said Fish in question). Is any of that a basis for good decision making? Probably not, but I don't have the frame of reference through the knowledge of what I should do; I know more along the lines of what I can get away with and that's about it. I used to go into strike at least 1 turn during REX all the time, so I've learned to back off a little bit, at the very least before Currency and contact with more AIs. As another example, after winning this I shadowed Pedro's Deity opening where he axed Washington to death so quickly. The whole time I was thinking "how the hell did he do that so fast?" and the type of optimal micro used to do so is not beyond me but I never would of thought of it. It would take the knowledge and experience he has, to know beforehand how effectively to pull it off. I know NOW how such a thing could be done, sure, but only from trying to do what he showed first. Believe me, I'm always happy to receive the advice of others such as yourself, critical or not, because it at least helps me to understand I'm not where I should be. Clearly I make a lot of things harder on myself, especially since I like to play expand heavy and build big armies (habits from other games that can be bad in this one). But I can say that since coming here and learning from community members on and off this forum (Lain's YT series' are boss teaching-wise because he's very meticulous about decisions and less gung ho than say, AZ) as well as just slowly learning about the game through my own wins and losses that I can at least play it the way I like to at a level that still a bit of a challenge. I mean, I still suck, but I'm sucking at Immortal level now thanks to you guys! It nothing like trying to tackle Deity (which seems as daunting as ever) but a far cry from playing only on Noble like I did before.