This is a silly discussion. You people are saying that a central game mechanic is 'overpowered.' You're right only that it's much harder to win without the forest chopping worker ability. It's even more difficult to win without using the cottage improvement, or the mine improvement, or the road improvement. Are these similarly overpowered? I don't see any of you arguing that cottages are so vastly overpowered that they relegate you to a single type of gameplay, and yet I would say that you would be hard-pressed to come up with a good sample of wins on high difficulties that didn't make use of cottages. Even moreso for roads. Clearly roads are overpowered; I can never win without them. I would really like to be able to play a civilization that never invents the wheel, but every game I'm forced into it. Chopping forests is a central game element, like any other improvement. It's an advantage that is shared by players and AI alike. Does it affect the opening? Yes, it can be decisive. So is starting next to two gold mines and two food sources.