So the question is how subtle is the difference. For example, lets say a Tradition player gets their 3rd policy just a few turns ahead of a progress player. If they are both culture strained on a wonder, that means the Tradition player can start the wonder 2 turns earlier. Now progress perhaps has better production....but its probably not enough to make up for 2 turns. So both start the wonder, the Tradition player gets it...and suddenly the snowball begins. Occasionally glancing at the leader board and looking at policy numbers, it may not look that different (in fact the majority of the time all of them may have the same policy numbers as you mentioned), however, a few turns could be making a big difference when it comes to things like wonders. Then again...maybe it is the free population. We need to test out some of these ideas, and I think I have a way to do it, I'm going to ask the devs.