Ok, so I picked a 70% water archipelago map with the Byzantines, but I won my first DG level game! I still have a long way to go though before getting comfortable at DG, but it feels like I have the right kind of momentum going after a substantial amount of miserable failures. Perhaps to serve as an inspiration for those still struggling for their first DG, let me briefly summarize my game. I also have some questions, wondering how more experienced players handle this. I started on a fairly large island of my own, but easily exploited the seafaring trade to establish contacts quickly. This resulted in a quick tech lead at the final stages of the AA. I have to give every credit to Ainwood's CivAssist II... it really makes ALL the difference in tracking the progress of the AI. Being a tech leader, the demands started pouring in. I usually gave in to whoever was alone on an island, but refused the rest. I then used my tech lead to forge alliances that I kept in place for numerous turns. This was the start of many wars, which lasted a long, long time. Any effort of the AI to bother me was easily dealt with... dromons rock! The GA was well timed too. As a result of the wars, the development of many AI opponents was severely hampered. This really helped me staying in first/second place well into the middle ages, not to mention being able to conquer some more land with knights without too much resistance. Question 1: would the war-forging tactic work on continents, picking on the AIs reasonbly far away? If not, how to keep up? Stop researching yourself and buying when several AI's know the techs? During the MA I focussed on developping my core cities, apart from building a stack of knights to conquer another island. Libraries, unis, marketplaces and banks. Expansion also lasted until well into the MA. Non-core cities would build settlers or workers, leaving them undeveloped for a long time. At the end of the MA I started falling behind to powerhouse Babylon, who started on an island of their own, and Portugal even though I dragged them into alliances which they seemed to take very seriously. The turning point of the game was when I bought Magnetism and Theory of Gravity at close to monopoly prices, then selling my free IA tech getting me all my money back and more! I had reduced the other two scientific civs to one city, which led to an opportunity to get into the IA with all three starting techs and a huge income! Question 2: What to do with non-core cities? It seems that in the first two eras of the game they serve little purpose: they generate no income, they are not productive. One could get them up to size 7 or more for extra unit support and getting a few scientists or tax collectors, but I am reluctant to do that because a) the workers needed for the terrain improvements (irrigation especially) probably are more useful getting the core towns up to size 12 quickly by joining them to those cities and b) to get 7+ cities and keeping them happy you will need ducts and marketplaces which take forever to build or need to be rushed (an investment I am not sure will pay off so easily). To me leaving the non-core cities undeveloped until civil engineers, building workers until then seemed a good strategy. In the IA I never gave up my tech lead, using the enormous funds of democracy AIs to fuel my economy. The funds stopped though when I dragged my closest competition into a MA against the Hittites that had finished off the Egyptians after many a century of wars that I had instigated. The Hittites were now the biggest AI civ by far, though behind in techs. Worried about a possible runaway AI, I went after them, dragging Portugal and Babylon with me. They soon went into Fascism, drying up my funds. I eliminated the Hittites, controlled 40 % of the land and went on to launch my spaceship in the early 1600s without serious competition. Question 3: For my spaceship, I supposed having research labs would cut the required research times, shaving off a decent number of turns. But it didn't... at least not that I could tell. I made similar observations for libraries and unis, they have no significant result on the research you are doing at the moment they are getting online. I do know that if you DON'T build them, research in an era or so later is really hampered. So I am not saying they are useless, but this observation strikes me as odd. What's the explanation for this? So there it was... my first DG win! A favourable map of course, but no iron, horses or salpeter on my home continent, and only one luxury. I'm going for continents next.. Question 4: Any tips for a continents game?