Just finished a game with the Owls of Minerva. Amanitore - Prince - continents - small map. I've played as Voidsingers and Sanguine Pact before and wanted to try the other two. I decided to focus on the Owls on a lark. As Nubia, I started off near a desert and was able to get four cities with a Nubian Pyramid by the city center and circle it with cheap districts. Obviously I slotted both Diplo policies and made quick use of the additional envoy and had my first suzerainty by turn 20. I didn't realise that you receive an envoy EVERY time you send a trade route to a CS. On my continent there were only two CS, so by the end of the game, I had over 30 envoys at each. I shared my continent with Gilgabro and a grumpy Tamar. They were consistently at war with each other, which made me happy as it kept them out of my hair while I focused on my cities. By the time I got to the medieval era, I was putting harbors on lakes just to get the extra trader. The other continent had Kristina, Mansa Musa and Tomyris. This was good as Kristina meant that we were getting all the Nobel Prize contests. I went for all the spies so I was gaining 1000 or so every 6 turns from Mansa Musa. Sadly Tomyris was penned in and beaten down by Kristina and didn't do much the entire game. I ended up settling 8 cities and (flipping one of Tamar's) ending up with 14 trade routes. I started to focus on a culture victory and ended up with a Diplo Victory around turn 350. Kristina joined the Voidsingers and I would have slogged through at least another 100 turns to finally top her on culture. I was close, but she closed her borders to my Rock Bands after I leveled three up to 4 with concert tours through her wonders. And I had just got two near her capital to reduce loyalty by 40 each, and had a spy ready to drop her loyalty as well. Pros: Insane amounts of gold at the end. In the Atomic era I was pulling 2,000 GPT with 30k in the bank. Absurd numbers of Envoys. I slotted the 1 GPT/Envoy policy in the medieval era and left it there for the rest of the game. I must have ended up with over 100 envoys. I was Suzerain of all the city states for all of the Modern era and beyond. Mastery of Spycraft. Had my spies stealing gold, stealing techs and causing riots in Mansa Musa and Kristina's cities. Kristina had stolen one from Tomyris and I never let her have a moments peace there. She had placed a Neighborhood in it and I was recruiting partisans every 6 turns just to distract her. Mansa was bleeding gold to me in a ridiculous fashion. I had a spy in every one of my cities to protect my commercial hubs and still had 4 to throw at Mansa and Kristina. I'm not sure how the "Your CIties gain +4 Loyalty, +1 Amenity when a spy is in their territory" works. I presume it means that each city needs a spy to gain the benefit, or is it just 'one spy grants it to everyone as long as one's at home.'? I didn't really need the loyalty bonus as I played nice with the Hermits on my continent. Cons: Aside from offensive spy missions, my interactions with the AIs were to stay friends and allies with everyone but Tamar. I converted everyone on my continent to my religion and dealt with barbarians. It was a low-key builder game. I just wanted to see how this SS played out. It was slow. Until I was able to get to Medieval era, it was basically just slotting in the Diplomatic League. Once I got the additional traders and the gold boost, things started to take off. All in all, it was interesting, not as in-your-face as the Voidsingers or the Sanguine Pact, but once you get the groundwork down and plan your cities appropriately, you'll be raking in the gold and spies. I wasn't sure how I was going to play the game, so built holy sites and then realised it wasn't worth it. I knew a military game wasn't going to pan out easily (all those early walls with Tamar and not poking the War Cart bear.) Next time I try them, I'm going to use a Civ better suited to their benefits (extra spies... extra policy slots... etc) and have a sharper focus from the beginning.