I've played a handful of games on max difficulty (won) and I honestly don't understand the appeal. There's one thing there being a challenge, but there's another being limited and thus forced to following the same old religion/SP/Ideology flowchart over and over due to the happiness cap. I found that the game was a complete grind-out, and for the last time played on this difficulty level, a chore. I have much more fun playing a couple of difficulty levels down, and actually being in the position to consider which SP to pick, which religion to adopt, which ideology tenets to take, etc. Surely this game can be made more difficult and challenging through other means which don't have such a grave impact on your future options? For instance, a production per turn cap wouldn't limit your options but would require you to build what you need less recklessly. A GPT cap would require you to spend more efficiently. Perhaps a combination of the two? There are just SO many ways to spice the game up without making it a grind-out! For those who are a fan of the current setup please express your counter-agruements too. Remember though, I never said completing the game on max difficulty was an issue; just how boring it makes the game.