Brave New World is a brilliant expansion pack. It totally shakes up the mid to late game of Civilization V and makes for the most satisfying peaceful victories of the entire series. One of my favorite aspects of the expansion is the addition of the Venice civilization. The Civ series has never been huge on asymmetrical factions with different gameplay mechanics, (probably the most enjoyable aspect of Endless Legend), so the opportunity to play as a civilization with only a single city, but enhanced trade routes, struck me as a wonderful change of pace. And because I strongly prefer developing infrastructure and building wonders to aggressive expansion and conquest, Venice is not just a novelty, but rather something that exactly fits my particular play style.
Which makes it a real shame that I happened to spawn inland. It didn't even occur to me that it would be a problem until about 50 turns into the game, when I was ready to build some trade routes and realized I could not send out cargo ships, which meant that my bonus trade routes were basically useless. Not an auspicious way to start King difficulty.
Yes, I decided to try my luck with hard mode, and so far it's like a slower and more frustrating version of normal mode. My landlocked start may have had something to do with that though. My gold income is about half what it could be if I were a coastal city, and Venice thrives on gold. I'm not ready to write off the difficulty level just yet, but I may have to accept that my current map is a lost cause.
Still, increased-difficulty growing pains aside, it's nice playing Civ5 again. It turns out I'm a little rusty when it comes to the tech tree, but otherwise it's just like coming home. Everything about the game is so familiar, I was able to effortlessly slip back into it even after a months-long hiatus. Usually when I play a game after an extended absence, I have to start from scratch. Delete my save files, crank the difficulty down, and treat it as a brand new game. Otherwise, I can't quite synch myself with the peculiar logic of the game, and I find myself making a lot of avoidable mistakes.
I guess with Civ5, I've progressed beyond the point where that's necessary. Objectively speaking, I'm not a good player, by any means (else I would not be stressing about King difficulty), but I'm not sure that matters too much. Civilization V feels like my game, and apparently that's not something that goes away with time.