The settings in the game I mentioned, was a Large (9 Players) Pangaea on IMMORTAL It was unusual in the sense that no player dominated the cities - Sury with his stack came from 11 cities (inc. capturing Kyoto from Japan) The challenging situation is all the AI advantages allow it to build so many more units without suffering the financial penalty - I don't know exactly what it is - you get approx. 5 free units on Immortal as the player (I think the AI plays at the equivalent of Noble - I'd guess at approx. 25? - I'm sure someone knows) but also the advantage of No. Cities maintenance is reduced to 5 from 7. The 22.5% discount on stuff means the AI can produce so much quicker - Therefore more cities = more production + cheaper production + allowance for units means that very quickly the AI can crank out an army which for you to maintain will cripple you in the long term. The reality is you have to be prepared if you are building military units to make them count. Kallikrates - You mention Emperor settings - Whilst not a lot difference - Being a player that now wins 75% of emperor - I find the main difference, is that the player can afford about 7-8 cities, and you just get the extra 5 or so units, which generally means in peacetime I can maintain roughly 0.8 str to the AI as supposed to being nearer 0.6 on immortal. Also note the AI production bonus isn't quite so high. I agree that it would be unusual to see naturally 12+ cities on any difficulty level. Even the AI eventually gets overwhelmed by maintenance costs Xploring - you do make a valid point, which I often overlook - the power of Civics matching. I had a relatively lousy capital (cept for food - thus GP farm) so switched to FS (gained 35 beakers per turn, and saved 14 gpt) but I lost happiness with 2 AI - A mistake it seems I may have regretted.