I usually play just to play, not to win, in epic/huge games. On of the problems I've had is the cliff-like difficulty curve, ie, hard early, easy later, that make it a bit of a problem to play on higher difficulty levels without a focused strategy. Then I stumbled on the Songhai. It's basically fun to thump barbarians anyway, and I saw they had the triple-gold for encampments trait, so thought, "why not". Man. These guys are studs. A lot of the other civs have multiplier advantages, ie, when they get into the mid-late game they get an overall improvement for (gold/resources/tech/pick-em), and the Songhai trait is a "flat" bonus that doesn't scale so well. But, there's an implicit multiplier to getting gold early, and I've found that the ability to exploit that while setting up early infrastructure completely changes the way the game flows. At 225 gold a pop, you can finance basically anything early if you've a good detection system (first honor policy and good exploration) along with a mobile early force. In one of the other threads, a poster was asking how the AI could possibly ally with a CS by turn 14. That is, of course, completely trivial if you're playing Songhai. It's so easy that you can depend on supplementing food intake with an early maritime CS ally or two. This in turn means you can position your capitol and early cities to maximize production and dependably expand population with the CS food intake alone. This in turn typically leads to excellent early wonder production in the capitol. Likewise, you can leverage early gold into key first- or second-production buildings in new cities, giving yourself a hefty advantage in early city development. And again, if you're going to concentrate on hunting down and destroying barbarians early, you can save a huge amount of production on barracks and the like - you can develop your troops solely on experience from fighting barbarians. And finally, through the industrial age there's really no boredom factor. Every encampment that pops up triggers the early-warning system and a race to get your troops there before nearby civilizations, which in turn promotes a more peaceful, growth-oriented play style. This just snowballs incredibly. From buying that first scout, through earning enough encampment money to finance mid-game research agreements, it completely changes the game flow in a very entertaining way. I can't speak to smaller scale games, but for epic/huge "just piddling around" games if you haven't tried Songhai, I'd highly recommend them. I'd also recommend not trying for any one victory condition, it's too easy - instead, I try for all simultaneously. (Policy city count limitation keeps your country fairly small, domination keeps you militarily active, tech keeps you able to compete with larger polities as well as eventually winning the space race, etc.) On Immortal it's just totally fun. The late-game city plunder bonus is nothing to sneeze at either, btw.