One possible difference is I went for Economics before Archaeology. I generally don't get new techs until I can fully utilize what that tech provides... so for example if I can't feasibly afford museums yet, I focus on other techs that will benefit me right away. I vary my tech path and policies based on circumstances of the game. I do always beeline to Acoustics in culture games though... to great-engineer the Sistine Chapel, even if it's not a good time to start building opera houses yet. I think the number of cities we can get for a culture victory just depends on the map size. The key is how much land we can grab peacefully. I don't think it's possible to expand beyond 6-8 cities on standard/large maps without going to war or leaving ourselves vulnerable to early attack My intuition says any warfare is a setback for culture victories (though I haven't analyzed that hunch in detail). Even if we don't have any significant military expenditures, just being at war blocks a potential DoF for 5-20% boost. I try to end wars as quickly as possible if there's any hope of signing a DoF later. Some leaders hold a grudge... but I've designed most warmongers to be opportunistic. Just like a smart human conqueror they attack weakness and befriend strength, even allying with enemies if there's a benefit for them (the "enemy of my enemy" situation). Copying over some information on policy costs here from the Policies thread... I shifted policy costs in v7.0 when I realized I'd made the total cost for victory higher than intended. This is the cumulative base culture required to reach the cultural victory condition: Basically, we used to get 1 free policy in each of the 6 eras. Now those 6 free policies are instead spread out over time. Modifiers discussed earlier in the thread alter these base costs. Total cost same as vanilla (closest I could get was within <100 culture). Early policies are 45% less than vanilla, and 25% less than mod-old. Overall, victory can be achieved sooner than vanilla because income is higher from the Opera House and Museum. I feel favoring early policy generation better matches the distribution of policies over eras. There's lots of trees at the start, and fewer available towards the end.