With all the threads at how awful the AI is, and how easy this game is, I'd like to share a story about my second ever game, emperor difficulty, one where not only did I am not going to win, but instead I am getting absolutely crushed by everyone in science and culture. Our story starts when King Phillip II of spain decides to start a city in hopes of building a world empire. Looking at Spain's bonuses, my plan was to try to build a powerful self contained religion, not going for a religious victory, but one that I could keep for myself, using stronger inquisitors to crush any invading religions, and expanding my religion in the mid game through conquistador conquest. Things did not go as planned. As I started to scout out the continent, first looks were promising. Seeing Japan in the center of my continent, then Russia to the south was concerning, but I managed to expand to a nearby natural wonder, and bought 4 of the adjacent double boosted tiles. Then, I eventually expanded two more times, got a pantheon that boosted rainforest holy site adjacency bonuses, got +3 and +4 faith holy sites in my first two cities, looked at the great people list, and... all the great prophets were taken. As I explored, I realized why this happened. Sending out galleys revealed Arabia starting on a nearby continent, which made for a very religious game. No problem, with my holy sites giving faith, and Russia and Japan warring with each other, I decided to get a wonder that reduced the amount of faith it would take to purchase great people. Wonderful, now I can start... oh, wow, purchasing great people with patronage is expensive!!! Whoa! What the heck, how are you supposed to even get that much faith? Ok, so that plan won't work, I guess I'll just continue to develop my lands with builders while creating some archers for defense in case I get in to a war. At this point I have no districts other than my two holy sites, and I'm falling behind fast. I do get an industrial zone district and an aquaduct in my capital, as there's a nice spot for a +4 adjacency bonus, and I remember from my first game how industrial zones help. Despite creating two scouts and two galleys, I've only met one city state, and worse, it's a militaristic city state. I hold my envoys for a while, this sucks, I'm not creating units in my capital. Eventually I realize why, another neighbor a continent over is Barbarosa of Germany, the jerk, and he enjoys capturing the little guys. Eventually I find a second city state, also militaristic, and... wait... Russia took a Japanese city! Uh oh, Russia and Japan fighting is the only thing keeping me safe. I have a few archers, I just researched swordsmen, and the AI doesn't upgrade units, so they could probably turn the tides of the war and make things even. With that in mind, I denounce Russia! 5 turns later, I declare formal war on them and... get denounced by Japan for being a warmonger (this is literally my first war in the game too)... Yeah, we need to fix diplomacy, Japan should have been paying me to go to war with Russia at this point. No matter, denouncement or no, I can go attack. I help Japan kill a lot of Russian horsemen, but the swarm seems infinite. It's said that Russia gives their young men and women a horse, and tells them to ride to the front lines with whatever weapons they can muster. Still, despite the setbacks, I manage to pillage a few Russian tiles before the swarms prove to be too much, and I have to retreat to my city. Russia sends a few horses around the ocean and pillages my second holy site. No big deal though, I wasn't using the faith anyway. Since I'm at war, I try to make use of alternating the +2 envoys for the first envoy and the +2 envoy points policy to get more envoys in the militaristic city states, and start creating encampments to take advantage of the city state encampment bonuses. Somewhere in there, during my retreat, I notice that Japan's units are... awful. Not helping at all in the war against Russia, like, even less than AI units normally do. I check and realize... Oh no... Japan dropped out of the war! And then, just like that, declare war on me too! With Japanese cities surrounding me, they send in units, pillaging all my districts, including a new commercial district, my industrial zone, and my aquaduct in my capital. My income is dropping fast as I'm creating encampments, walls, and crossbows to defend against the threat, and going in to the negative. It's a matter of time before I become bankrupt, and I'm not closer to holding off the Russian and japanese swarm. I retreat to my encampments and cities and shoot as many arrows as we can create at the Japanese and Russian swarms, but archers get stuck in the open desert to the south, and many die. I only manage to keep one archer from the initial attack alive, though with good military policies, and a new form of government where one man rules all (monarchy), I'm able to create just enough crossbows to stay unconquered. I'm also researching a new form of gunpowder, which could give me access to Conquistadors, which promises to turn the tide. However, things are about to get worse. People in my cities are not happy with my management. Between pillaging, lack of luxuries in my empire, and lack of entertainment, my people revolt! Barbarian knights appear in my borders as I'm trying to hold off the Russians and the Japanese, pillaging more, and even damaging some encampments. Fortunately, my walls and encampments are nearly all done at this point, which makes attacking my cities directly a logistical nightmare for the invaders. All four of my cities have an encampment, and all encampments give +6 or +8 unit production by this point. Once I finish the tech for conquistadors, more rebels appear, using the new technology before the government can even create them! Though these rebels seem weaker and less organized than normal troops, they are still a major nuicance stopping me from effectively organizing a defense against the marauding Russian horseman horde. While all of this is going on, I am bankrupt, going down to -10 gold per turn, making rebellions happen more often, decreasing my ammenities, and also auto-disbanding my first conquistador unit to hit the field. They probably went rogue and joined the rebellion. Not giving up, and trying like mad to fix all of my problems at once, I start rebuilding and building a couple commercial districts and harbors, hoping I can externally trade with Arabia. This stops the economic bleeding, though I still don't for a long time have enough money to upgrade my lone level 3 archer, who's still shooting at enemy horsemen who get too close. I get a couple of conquistadors, and decide to check my city to see if I can purchase a missionary with faith to improve its combat abilities. Turns out I can't, but... wait, this is weird... Whoa! I can purchase barracks and armories with faith! I check around and it turns out I'm suzerin of one of the militaristic city states, which lets me do that! Incredible, I have over 1000 faith by now that's been sitting around all game with no use, so I quickly purchase all of those sweet military buildings! Finally, something goes right! With a couple trade routes increasing my money, and conquistadors/crossbows stabilizing my southern front, my army is not defeated, and starts to advance against the Russian swarm. These Russians have more horsemen than Kerrigan has zerglings, it's pretty insane. I kill four in a turn, and more pop up like they were never even there. However, with Conquistadors in front, and crossbows in the back, the Russian swarm isn't much of a threat to my army, and my crossbows start to rack up the experience. I get a level 4 and a level 5 crossbow, and these ones were probably built without a barracks. My military, though not large in numbers, is strictly better than Japan's by this point (Japan is weak and falling apart), and they sue for peace. This lets me continue forward, marching against the Russian front. Russian cities all have walls around them, and the enemy city attacks are somewhat more potent than horsemen and corps of horsemen at this time, so the war develops in to a stalemate in the desert south of my border. Russia can't kill my units, while my crossbows and conquistadors feast on Russian horses. I'm researching field cannons and bombards at this point to break the stalemate, but eventually Russia offers me a peace treaty, realizing that my technologically superior army is better than a bunch of civilians with horses. They offer me their second largest city, along with a few great works. I try to change out the great works for luxuries and gold per turn, but Russia refuses the deal as soon as I... remove great works from their initial offer. Apparently Peter really doesn't like these great works. I think he's secretly wanted to get rid of them for some time. Yeah, this needs to get fixed, it doesn't make sense. So, I'm at peace, with Russia's second largest city in my empire, and I get a chance to rebuild. Immediately after getting it though... Another rebellion! My newest prize is at -8 ammenities, which is even lower than the -4 or so that the rest of my empire has! My new commercial hub gets pillaged fast, and my new campus (yes, my first campus in the game) also gets pillaged. Considering I have no units down there, and they just have a city wall, I'm afraid of everything getting pillaged, but strangely, Russia rides to the rescue. Peter, sensing the threat these rebels pose to his empire as well, asks me for open borders, which I accept, and his horde of horsemen start marching on and taking out the rebel conquistadors. At this point, its hard to overstate how far behind I am. Rome is reaching the information era, while I'm in the industrial era. I'm dead last in both civics and technology by a pretty wide margin, even behind Japan, who is pitiful. All the wars make my continent by far the least developed continent in the game, while Rome and England on other continents are doing pretty well for themselves. Still, no matter. With peace, comes rebuilding. I'm still trying to keep my gold in the positive, so I start a massive splurge on harbors, commercial districts, and entertainment complexes. I get access and switch to a merchant republic, which substantially helps my government rebuild, and with lots of new trade routes, my gold per turn starts to skyrocket. I manage to finally upgrade my archer in to a crossbow, and even better, after lots of rebuilding, I manage to upgrade all my crossbows in to field cannons. I send one of these crossbows/cannons to the formerly russian city for defense, protection against rebels, and to give it +1 ammenity. My gold comes back, but my ammenities and housing situation is a little more dififcult to combat. Seeing my ammenity situation still not be enough, I splurge, spending a ridiculous 64 gold per turn to buy off four luxuries from other civilizations, which helps stabilize my situation and contain the rebellions. Yes, it was a lot, but I was also desperate, as my civilization was between -4 and -8 ammenities per city. Now, my economy is stable but not great, given how much I spent, but going from 1 trade route to 10 really helps bring in money, apparently. So, I looked at the clock, and realized it was 6:30 AM, and decided to stop playing for the night. Russia declared war on Arabia, and somewhat scarily brought infantry through my borders to attack Saladin, and has troops surrounding me if I declared war on him again. I want to use my army to conquer Russia, given that encampments and unit producing capabilities is really the only advantage I have left, but I'm afraid that declaring war will shoot down ammenities and gold per turn, and that I can't afford another rebuilding process. My goal isn't to win this game, I've basically given up on that, but it's still been fun, trying to survive and build a thriving empire through conflicts, turmoil, and disappointment. There are definitely flaws with civ VI. There were some very stupid things that happened in this game that didn't make sense, and the combat AI still isn't good. However, I'm a pretty experienced civ V veteran, and I'm finding this game difficult. I did a lot wrong, and I'm learning. I'm not experiencing the AI just rolling over and playing dead, I won at King despite not being at the very top in science, and now I'm at the bottom in emperor due to a comedy of errors. I think a lot of you who are at the top don't realize how good you've gotten at this game, it's still a challenge for most people. Anyway, I hope you have fun reading this! I certainly have had fun playing this game. What do you think you'd do in my situation? I'll try to add some screenshots, but I'm not entirely sure how screenshots work on this computer, hence why I haven't.