I once spawned right next to King Solomon's mine as Spain -> you can't imagine the things you can do with +12 hammers from turn 1! Also, Tercios are really good if you can get them early. They make easy work of all the AI's mounted UUs and can also stand their ground on city assaults. Conquistadors are just scouts really, but really good ones at that. I just wish they had more applicability to real combat. Assyria: many consider the siege towers OP, but for me they are just the thing that can save you when your closest enemies have really bad, defensive terrain. Their UA is also nice in that it lets you play in unorthodox ways instead of always having to go 100% scientific, which is usually the case on higher difficulties. England: Longbowmen are great, Ships of the Line are great, and twin spies are great. But you really do have to play offensively if you want to benefit from their bonuses. Spies help in that you can usually steal all the scientific and cultural techs, and just tech the military ones yourself. Oh, and the Ships of the Line really are great. Carthage: Can make money pretty easily, and quinqremes can even take an early city. Elephants are fun but not super-strong. Crossing mountains can really, really help sometimes; more than you'd expect, actually. Even settlers can do this, hint, hint I only wish Carthage's automatic harbors would work with the 'Messenger of the Gods' pantheon. As it is, the science bonus only activates once you have actually researched compass (unless you have built road connections, of course, which don't really suit Carthaginians other than for military use). Portugal: No money or happiness issues, ever. That's actually a really solid strength to them. With the money you can maintain a large fleet of ships too, so you will lose less cargo ships even if you play aggressively. You can buy all the important buildings if you run 100% money trade routes, or you can do mostly food routes as just one or two money ones can keep you in positive income. And Naus are quite the exploring ships, and spamming them will actually help late game too, as they upgrade to ironclads and then destroyers. Indonesia. I don't know why, but I don't find their abilities that compelling. I've yet to try them and I don't know if I actually will. Of the above, Spain is still my favourite. They do require some restarting (cause they really need to have a natural wonder) but the fun is that you get to play differently, while their UUs are versatile too.