What civs would make for the most challenging game without playing them inappropriately (e.g., early war with Kuriotates or no coastal cities with Lanun)? My noob version (haven't tried all civs): 1. Sheaim 2. Luchuirp 3. Svartalfar *** Why I'm asking: While I like AoE, every game that I have had so far has been too easy, and I have been playing on Deity without reloads or tech trade (on small maps, but I loathe micromanagement). The only way not to win, apparently, is to get really unlucky with barbarians early on (e.g., a pegasus that can attack within your borders, or an unusually experienced wraith). That is certainly underwhelming, as you get attached to a map and want to play till the end, but it is simply too clear that you have already won. I suppose the only solution is to switch to one of the losers in worldbuilder, but it appears convoluted. This thread suggests the following are the 'best' (presumably, all reasonably strong): 1. Scions of Patria = Balseraphs 2. Calabim 3. Khazad 4. Amurites = Lanun I tried the following: Mekara Order - absurdly overpowered, get a +50% anti-melee 2-speed slave-capturing unit early on, then can turn all slaves into strength 6 units; Lanun - a little better, but get too much food, and essentially free endless 4-strength units that can capture coastal cities; Khazad - widely considered to have the best economy, basically impenetrable defence, very powerful dwarven mines, outrageous prod; Mazatl/Cualli - even the AI usually manages to do well with these; Kuriotates - defending the huge territory of the early cities is a fun challenge, but the cities get too proddy and powerful early on, so you produce 350+ hammers pretty early on. The Sheaim were fairly challenging, and AI Sheaim are usually at the bottom. However, they required a lot of tedious micromanagement. The Svartalfar were also pretty tough, but probably because I got unlucky with my starts, as the AI performs well with them. The Luchuirp also seem fairly weak because the golem worker takes forever to build, and Mechanos tend to be weak when played by the AI (haven't really tried them). I also found some complaints about Chislev and Kuriotates on the forum, but the latter seem rather strong to me. P.S. Whoops, forgot the Dural in the poll.