Well Earthling you and I off are off to good start as we seem to be thinking along the same lines. I also feel diplomacy could be the fastest way to win this game, and more of the "sure thing". Yes I know there is no such thing as a sure thing in Civ4, but here's the deal. If we go culture, we need wonders to win this game as fast as possible. Assuming the worst, we won't nab any early wonders, we waste our production and fall behind in infrastructure, military, and expansion. This can be crippling even on emperor if our surrounding areas are not good (I imagine desert area nearby). BTW, on epic emperor, what's the timing of hindu and buddhism being FIDL? On normal it's about 8 turns.