It's all about the Pentiums... er SGLs. I played a Deity 20k game on a standard sized map as The Byzantines. My opponents? The Zulu, The Mongols, The Arabs, and Japan. In *this* game I didn't want any industrious tribes so that 1. they couldn't start on The Pyramids early and 2. they couldn't develop their land... as industrious tribes often have a tendency to develop quickly. For the same reason there's no one agricultural. I didn't want anyone scientific to slow the tech pace down. I didn't want anyone commercial or seafaring so I could pop an SGL on Writing, as well as for other reasons really. Also, since we have every *cheap* tech on the table from the get-go an SGL until they spend the commerce for Masonry or *gasp* actually research a second-level tech. The problem with this set-up, though as I found out, comes as that Arabia and Japan can research Mysticism and get started on The Oracle. 80% archipelago, wet, warm, 3 billion. So, I searched for a start for a while. After discarding a bunch for a while (I do use MapStat in game, I don't use MapFinder for starts)... some of which might have worked well, I found a start which had three cows after I moved my worker and a fourth once I founded Constantinople. It looked good, but I kind of felt concerned as I only had one hill. I *did* have several bonus grasslands and three forests. Looking back and thinking over this, the forests help a lot. Unless I had sugar, a luxury, or gold in a hill, a forest works better for this sort of game in depotism since I don't need to develop it. Consequently, I can add in workers as soon as I want, to get production up quickly. A turn off The Colossus gives me 3 culture a turn sooner, *and* then at the 1000 *year* bonus gives me 6 culture. The 1000 *year* bonus then happens over a period of more time since turns drop from 50 years per turn at the start to 40 years or whatever and so on. See why an early SGL can make such a difference for this game? In the same vein a temple or library before a wonder (as long as you can get it) I'd expect would make more sense (though I haven't done the calculations). Also, this hopefully helps anyone... including myself... get over that queasy feeling of having a despotic golden age in a 20k game. Who cares if you have less shields going towards a wonder, as long you have an older wonder sooner, right? Hence, Spain also makes for a good choice for a fast upper-level 20k game... *fast* temple, coastal start for The Colosuss... think of it a cheap version of J. S. Bach's really, it gives you extra happiness via commerce early on at least, and it produces 6 culture for much of the game. On top of this the extra commerce surely has to help to speed your science rate up, which you want for the next wonder and a chance at an SGL. Even though I really had so much extra production that before I got Shakespeare's Theater, I had every tile producing at least 2 shields per turn (the hill tile didn't) *and* still had about 5 extra food in the box. I think I had 26 shields at size 12 pre-Republic and 27 shields post-republic. Maybe 28. Oh drat... post-game I loaded from a save and forested a cow, which I hadn't done in game. I could have had three shields for those cow tiles instead of 2 once I got into The Republic. That's 30 shields, implying that 20 turn build on Bach's and Sistine. So, now I and you know a way to possibly better this game (of course you can't beat those SGLs, as they give you an early Shakespeare's Theater... culture-wise, you know which wonders you want, right?). As something I find fun since I irrigated all 4 cows I had 2 turn growth without a granary from size 5 to 6, if not 4 to 5 also. Play as agricultural, start on a river, and you'll only need three food bonuses. Tech-wise I went Writing, Philosophy-Literature as freebie, CoL, The Republic, Currency and traded/got the rest from The Great Library, then something like Monotheism, Theology, Education, Astronomy, Banking, Printing Press, Music Theory, Democracy, Free Artistry (4 turns), Chemistry, Navigation (I ran out of builds, built a harbor and then pre-built Magellan's, which I used as a pre-build for Newton's, and then I built Magellan's), Physics, Theory of Gravity, Magnetism, traded for Metallurgy, got Nationalism as my free tech, Economics (or did I do it sooner?), Steam Power, Industrialization, and so on. In the games I've played like this so far I've often not liked my research rate... meaning I get worried about not having the capital producing culture at some point. So, instead of training a curragh and then some workers, I had my capital spit out a settler. Then it spit out a worker. Then it went Building-date completed Palace-4000 BC The Colossus-2070 BC The Pyramids-1450 BC-I had started on The Oracle, but Arabia beat me to it... so I switched to The Pyramids... it's more expensive than The Oracle, but after this game if I have to pick one for a 20k game I think I'll pick this, since I have a late expansion phase. Library-1400 BC Temple-1325 BC Great Lighthouse-1025 BC Museum of Mausollos-825 BC Great Library-510 BC Hanging Gardens-190 BC Cathedral-170 BC I had sold some medieval tech to get cash for this and keep research up... I drew Feudalism as my free middle age tech. Sistine Chapel-270 AD University-280 AD Coloseeum-290 AD Copernicus's Observatory-440 AD Shakespeare's Theater-610 AD J. S. Bach's Cathedral-620 AD Newton's University-750 AD Magellan's Voyage-870 AD Smith's Trading Company-1000 AD Universal Suffrage-1100 AD Theory of Evolution-1170 AD Wall Street-1210 AD Hoover's Dam-1275 AD Intelligence Agency-1300 AD Battlefield Medicine-1330 AD United Nations-1410 AD Research Lab-1415 AD The Internet-1470 AD SETI-1485 AD The Cure for Cancer-1535 AD The Apollo Program-1560 AD Longevity-1570 AD Finish Date-1600 AD I popped SGLs on Free Artistry, Genetics, and Ecology. I used them for J. S. Bach's Cathedral (after I finished Shakespeare's Theater), SETI (even though I had already put some shields into this, I deicded to finish it quicker, since I was near the end), and Longevity... which I wouldn't have gotten to build otherwise. Maybe some screenies later.