I'm a long time lurker on these forums. Back in G&K I usually played immortal, always on standard map size, and used to win about 80% of the time. Now on BNW, for my first couple of games I rolled Emperor, standard map, and pretty much cruised through to culture and science victories with minimal effort. Feeling pretty secure, I stepped it up to Immortal but tweaked it be a large map - and not the default 10 civs + 20 city states, but 13 civs and 13 city states instead. Holy hell. It turned out the be about as perfect as I could imagine. I got a map with 5 proper continents, not just 2 like in standard. I didn't just have 3 or 4 civs make it into the late stages of the game (typical of standard maps and which ends up making the late game a cakewalk since there's usually just 1 runaway who you can take out), but fully 10. I got no wonders built at all till Hubble, so I was miles behind on culture and only middling in science. A diplomatic victory was impossible even with all city states allied, especially with other civs having extra delegates from wonders. After I got pipped to space in that game, I tried another with the same settings and put in a fair bit more effort to play as optimally as possible . . . and into industrial now, I'm still totally uncompetitive in science, culture or domination. I'm going to move down to Emperor next and see how it turns out. What I'm suggesting is that if you want to up the challenge but without the cheese of stacked AI bonuses, you should definitely try a larger map with fewer city states and more AIs. For people who like me are always standard map players, it also feels a lot more epic. Some people might worry about performance but I didn't really feel like late game turns were that much worse than on standard. I know this isn't a groundbreaking suggestion but seeing so many threads complaining about difficulty I thought I'd throw it out there.