It's a shame this didn't get more views, this is definitely front page material. About the difficulty? Either people don't play quite right, or people skip to playing Deity difficulty, which easily gets NASTY (but was addictive for me to try to beat). I managed to win on Deity just before this review, so maybe you will too after these bits of advise:
- First off, if the first event is an ice age, you aren't gonna win, so restart if ice hits early (finding a nut grove, on the other hand, is badass (to put it bluntly)).
- You can ignore risk for at least most of the first age (have NO GUARDS if you have population space, growth is much more important), but try not to underestimate the Barbarians later on, as they will wreck you if their stats are high.
- Cheat dumb barbarians when you can, as it results in no loss, which is quite precious.
- Despite the above tip, its actually safe to have risk up to around 30-35%. As low as 5% is a ridiculous standard to go by (remember that Rebuild says 10% is fine), so put people to work if its even nearly that low.
- The strength of your guards has nothing to do with neither the stats of barbarians or storms, nor your odds of winning a fight against barbarians (at least from what I've seen).
- Don't bother getting fishing. I'm not sure if it gets better than farming for a per worker rate, but you can grow fast enough without fishing.
- Once you hit a new age, you normally get a new boost in pop cap, so get EVERYONE on food jobs if you can once the pop cap increase comes.
- As a last resort against strong barbarians, if they're after your forest, maybe your desert, it's worth it to just surrender those lands, as the forest will be useless once you get farming (get both the techs for farming). You'll need the mountains though, so DO NOT let them take that, as ***barbarian land grabs are PERMANENT*** and every bit counts when your shooting for palace building.
- If the barbs eat your people, you may actually be able to recover if you have a lightning fast population growth speed.
- Other than that, victory rides heavily on luck, mostly the lack of an Ice Age (and there can be multiple, I kid you not, MULTIPLE ice ages, despite the bad logic there assuming the game takes place on planet Earth...), so one of the only ways to get victory is keep trying and hope for better luck.
The first tech you should get is the gathering boost (2 cherries). Getting hunting seems like a decent idea, but only opens 5 work slots instead of 10, so hold off on that for a little.
The next most important thing to population growth is cultural growth for technology, but you don't unlock the desert until the next age, so you'll have to make due with getting Use Of Fire next for a higher pop. cap. I've tried stone tools early instead, but having more people earlier pays off later, not to mention *each person generates culture and production on their own, even guards*. Stone tools is pretty important too though, so get that as your third tech.
Once you start mining, work straight towards building Dwellings asap for an extra, much needed pop cap increase, and build up population from there. Cloth clothing can very much be worth it, so you might want to get Fur Clothing, **but NOT if its right when the next age is about to happen, you'll want to save it for Religion**.
Once the next age happens, get Religion to boost your tech a lot, then Building of Fire for a pop cap boost, followed by getting Trapping asap since hunting becomes more effective than gathering in the second age. You may also want to skip building a Workshop so you can build a Hunting Camp, it can help a ton.
From there, the idea is to grow as fast as possible, but DO NOT totally neglect production, as starting early can be the difference between victory and failure. You know you should be doing well if you evolve to Homo-Erectus before the third age. Quick note about the third age: if you have spare tech points from not getting fishing (and you shouldn't fish), then you should get Architecture right away to both heavily boost production cap and have a nice pop cap boost, which should be well needed by now.
If you're doing a wonderful job, you'll possibly have a totem pole in the desert, and have the farm fully staffed by turn 85 or earlier, which is when you should work exclusively towards the palace (keep upping mining tech if mountains are full, and you'll probably want one extra level in Piety). Also, you should consider boosting farming further (level up Agriculture), that's what I did.
I narrowly beat Deity on one of the last two turns, so GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN with pulling it off yourself. I think it took me at least 5 hours of trying in total, probably longer.
P.S. There's a semi-rare glitch that puts most of the barbarian invasion buttons on top of the buttons of another event. This may put a nail in the coffin if the non-barb event that ends up getting canceled is good (nut grove) or the barbs get what they want.