I see that denouncing an opponent 5 turns before declaring war defines it as a formal war instead of a surprise war, which halves the warmonger penalty (or was it war-weariness? either way...) So I denounce my neighbor (Teddy), wait five turns, check the diplomacy screen and, sure enough, the option for formal war is there. Others opinions of him range from slightly sour to slightly good, he's no one's BFF. I then move my troops into position, Teddy complains about troops near the border, gives option to either move troops away or DoW, so I declare war. I'm guessing this is the wrong way to do it, and you need to declare war before moving your units there. Because after I declared, I took just one of his 3 cities, and not even the capital, and EVERYONE denounces me, including Sumeria who has already eliminated an entire civ. Also, again I'm unsure if it was warmonger or war weariness penalty, but either way they are both way too steep in the game. I was only in the classical era, and I understand the penalties become more severe with era, and this very first level is completely unacceptable in both cases. For warmonger, I take one city and diplomacy is effectively out the window with everyone. And the war weariness, I was losing three amenities in the size 8 capital after just 15 tuns. I'm glad they fixed the civ5 problem where the optimum strategy is to have a very small empire and a large, sprawling empire can't compete with a 4 city empire, which makes no logical sense. But in order to make a large empire you need real estate and war is the way to do it. These penalties are way too harsh. I'm sure I'll get some helpful advice here, and I'm sure I'll master it like I did in civ5, where I was able to be the menace of the world but still tricked everyone into loving for it, because I completed the "diplomacy checklist" of getting all the positive modifiers to counter the negative ones... but I don't want to because that is the very reason why I stopped playing civ5... it became very formulaic play and make the game unenjoyable. I'm hoping there is or soon will be a mod that just removes war weariness from the game, and makes warmonger penalty more acceptable.