@Seraiel: Yeah, I'm aware of the tech costs and there are certainly advantages to going early alphabet. Indeed, for what it's worth, I'd likely be suggesting going the same way to alphabet as you if @HeliosDisciple were playing on a higher level. After all, @HeliosDisciple is playing on a pangaea, so the benefits of going early alphabet for trades are even greater than usual because he's assured of neighbours to trade with. However, the issue I have (or had) with going alphabet in this particular case is that @HeliosDisciple is not only playing noble but has a two gold start. My thoughts when I made the earlier post were therefore that it might actually be possible to get an earlier rush by self teching HBR instead of investing extra beakers into alphabet. For what it's worth, I've since confirmed this by running two very quick shadows. Of course, this advantage comes at a clear cost – of not getting alphabet early – so going alphabet still has a huge amount going for it, even on noble. However, not trading with the AI this early also means the AI is denied access to techs it might pick up in those early trades too of course, which isn't a bad thing if they're going to be a rush target. To be absolutely fair though, the difference I noticed teching BW and then HBR > hunting > archery directly – which I found five turns quicker than getting to writing > alphabet > HBR and trading for backfill (EDIT: including hunting and archery) in my shadows – was probably less than I expected. That likely means that I'm also making the same mistake you note of not going to alphabet early enough in general. So thanks for the heads up @Seraiel. Fortunately, on this occasion, any error on my part is unlikely to be terminal. It'll be interesting to see what @HeliosDisciple does in the next turn set.