I must say i am getting a little frustrated by the mechanics of the game as they just seem to create roadblocks to any kind of advancement or choice and not in a fun way.
Part of the reason i play games like this is to build something up. I always play from ancient era to start with nothing and enjoy the experience of building up my nation and watching it grow and progress. But whenever i see an opportunity to grow or advance the game turns around and slaps a big wall in my face to say i'm not meant to.
Sometimes this is an obvious wall such as happiness of my empire but other times it's slightly less obvious.e.g. France declares war on me so i see this as an opportunity to grow and grab a few extra resources.
Everyone seems to hate France as well so no one should really be bothered what i do to them.
I grab a couple of cities and now my happiness is in the bin everyone now everyone thinks i'm a war mongerer?
Then because i am now a 'war mongerer' one of the biggest civs who are camped on my border suddenly goes from best friends to hated and declares war on me?
You can't build many cities as your happiness goes in the bin, everyone hates you because your too big and you will never get any social policies.
You can't grow the cities you do have as your happiness goes in the bin so your stuck with small cities. You can grow them by trading for luxuries but eventually all the AI's will hate you and stop trading with you so you end up with a huge happiness deficit.
You can't defend yourself as your happiness goes in the bin and everyone starts to hate you either because your military is too big or because you actually aim to cripple your opponent so they can't attack you again.
You can't attack anyone as your happiness goes in the bin and everyone starts to hate you.
If you don't expand your happiness stays ok but you'll fall far behind in tech, still can't compete for a cultural victory as the AI cheats and will just come stomp on you as you have no military and are far behind in tech even if you do have some units.
It's a challenge, but it just doesn't feel like fun as you never seem to be rewarded for your efforts in any way, all that ever seems to happen is no matter what you do the game just tries to slap you down and spit in your face.
When you do succeed you don't really feel like you've achieved anything or that you have won you feel more like you were lucky enough not to lose this time.
It seems the only choice you really have is to conquer and burn everything in sight. Which again goes back to my issue of restriction, if i capture a city i want the reward of capturing it or at least the choice of what to do with it, not only have the choice to burn it or have my empire go to pot through unhappiness.
Looking at choice specifically, take techs. basically you have to rush to every military tech as fast as possible or you will lose.
If you go for anything other than military the AI will just attack and kill you eventually and you will be essentially defenceless as they out tech you militarily.
I just feel that once you get into any form of challenging level you simply have a single path to follow and if you deviate off it in the slightest, at best the game will do everything in it's power to push you back onto that path and at worst you will simply fail because it's designed so you can only succeed by following the single path laid out for you.
This isn't meant to be a rant, if it sounds like one, more a statement of my boredom with the game through it very restrictive design.
Every time i play it seems i am always pushed down exactly the same old path and its simply not fun.
Maybe thats just me...
I really want to have fun with this game but everytime time i do i just end up going "oh man! here we go again..." Then i stop playing for a while, feel the urge, get all excited and then "oh man! here we go again..."