I have found the SE to be an interesting alternative to the CE. I agree that it is fun and provides a different feel to the game. I also would like to disclaim that I hold several of it's supporters/adapors/creators in very high regard (Futurehermit, iamdanthemanstan, Wodan... I think Sisiutil hinted towards it a time or two (We're not worthy!! Gosh, I hope you're not too young for that reference), and I know I'm forgetting a lot of others). That being said, I think anyone who supports the idea that the SE can hold a candle to the CE is letting the alternative fun blind them... severely. Reasons: 1.) It has been often stated that the SE is highly dependant on getting the Pyramids. Any strategy that is dependant on getting the most sought after and expensive early wonder is flawed. Period. The argument could stop here. 2.) In the event that you DO acquire the pyramids, there's quite a few viable options that apply to the CE, most notably US - an extra hammer per town means that commerce based cities make their buildings faster, then can either a.) help support the military cities' production or b.) "produce" coins or beakers, plus the option to use the incredible amount of cottage-based $ to buy buildings, units, etc. is a powerful tool as well). 3a.) There have been thorough articles explaining that SE scientists (under rep) produce more beakers than a town produces coins. This is false; the math has been tailored to optimal SE development vs. incompetant CE dev. Scientists under rep produce six beakers and super scientists produce 9. The often-assumed number of coins by a Financial civ's town is 5, but think a little harder here: 4 Town +1 Financial +1 Printing Press +2 Free speech +1/3 assume 1 out of 3 towns is next to rivers, which is underestimating ------------------ =8 1/3 So, each fully developed town equals slightly less than a Rep SS and significantly more than a Rep Scientist. And there's that extra hammer from US that more than compensates for the extra 2/3 of a beaker that the SS provides. 3b.) Also usually left out of SE justifications is that for all but two free specialists you have up there (which the CE, under the same parameters has as well, -6 beakers for Rep) there has to be an irrigated grassland farm to feed it which could have been a town. So now it's not 8 1/3 vs. 6, it's 16 2/3 vs. 6, 277% more beaker production. 3c.) As hinted at in 3c, SE justifications often imply that the SE player has wonder or resource advantages and then compares it to a CE player who doesn't. This is merely trying to defend a losing proposition. If both acquire pyramids, then the CE is actually MORE likely to get consequent wonders due to that extra hammer in all those tiles that would have been farmed for specialists. 4.) Another proposed stance is that food resources can help the SE get more specialists. This has the same impact (-3 beakers) on a CE. Yes, the CE player does run specialists in these cities as well. They may not outperform the SE rep specialists, but the cottages have already done so. These CE specialists are added AFTER the cottages are already outperforming the SE specialists for further icing on the cake. 5.) Another SE justification is that the CE often has difficulties with its finances. While this is true, the case is usually simply dropping the research slider to 80 or 70% (on monarch for me, at least) which covers the cost. Note that 70% of the 277% research increase of CE vs. SE (noted in 3b) is still slightly less than 200%, so at 70% the CE research is still just shy of doubling the SE research. Another option/reinforcer: the ability to acquire the pyramids is probably about the same difficulty as picking up a two-headed hydra, which can support an empire almost excusively (Yes, the SE could do this as well, but the basis of this support is in response to the SE justifier's claim that the CE has difficulty paying for it's empire.) 6.) As there is no way to start the SE until you can acquire the specialists to do so (minimally writing), there would seem to be a case of workers having to go back to cities to reorganize the empire to accomodate the SE. This is wasted worker turns, which could have been much better spent getting new cities up and running or, better yet, getting cities acquired through hostile takeover to start paying for themselves. This case actually holds much more weight than would seem immediately apparent on paper - On prince/monarch, I find that I usually only have to raze the bottom fifth or sixth junkiest cities as the new acquisitions start to work 2-3 cottages from the very turn they are overturned. 7.) Civics: SE justifiers seldom look past the two categories that address Rep and Caste when comparing to CE, and usually digress that once the CE gets Liberalism, the SE is a lost cause. They forgot a very major element in the equation that occurs much sooner than Lib: Bureaucracy. This civic (obtainable very early through a CS slingshot) adds 50% to (hammers and) coins in the capitol, but not to SE beakers. The capital very likely has more coins than any other city in the empire as the cottages have had time to become towns by this point. The only SE compensation that even chips away at this advantage is the GL, which comes much later. Regarding this, it is again necessary to assume that the CE player has acquired teh GL as well, so the difference between a CE and an SE is not 12 beakers, it's 6 (rep differential). Those six beakers equals the bureaucracy differential of >2 1/2 towns, and the CE at this point has quite a few more than 3 towns in its capital. 8.) Another CE strategy (that I have yet to post or see posted, sorry for introducing it here) is quick and major defensive bonus not applicable to SE. The largest war losses occur when someone declares a war that you are not prepared for. With the CE under FS (and to a lesser degree before FS), bringing the culture slider to 100% the very turn such a war is declared will provide a significant defensive bonus as a cities' culture adds to the cities' defensive modifier (bring it back after 2-3 turns, of course). 5 or 6 towns each producing 8-9 coins adds another 50 or so culture per turn, which means in the two turns it takes for the aggressor to move into position, the city defenders have significantly increased odds - this is just icing on the CE cake. All in all, the SE is a great idea, Kudos to it's developers for increasing the replay value of the game. It's fun and different. In these strategy forums, however, there is a strong emphasis on min/maxing. To enjoy the SE is great, I partake in it. But arriving at the conclusion that the SE is even in the same league as the CE is a conclusion that can only be arrived at by either letting the fun of it impair your judgement, or assuming that the CE alternative wouldn't have or utilize some aspects acquired by the SE alternative.