Of course I do not believe anyone can win ever time. You may start in a crappy location or several civs could declare war on you at the same time. These things will always be out of our control, but I have found a consistent strategy works in most games. The thing I have noticed while playing both high difficulty single player and multiple player games is that the first 100 moves matter a lot. A strong beginning can help you towards any victory condition. I have seen other peoples beginning strategies, but I have found them to be lacking in explaining how to accomplish multiple things at the same time. So I want to break down my strategies and build order while playing. The First City Unless you are Australia, always settle by a river, even if you must take a few turn to find an area. Housing matters a lot for the first city. Secure your area / Search for Possible 2nd city location / find your neighbor Civs locations First use your warrior to explore close to your city. You may need the warrior to defend so never let him go to far away. At this time build 2 slingers. The slingers will also be used to explore the area close to you and deal with barbarian threat. The reason why you should make 2 slingers is that they can cheaply be upgraded to archers later (more on this later). Also be careful to not lose any units (play it conservatively) I do not recommend building scouts for a few reasons. 1) They cannot help you deal with immediate threats (barbarians and other civs) 2) A tribal village my give you one for free 3) They can be produce or bought with gold cheaply (when the city production has grown or your treasury has grown). Develop your infrastructure to first city After two slingers are built, build a builder . The reason I build a builder after 2 slingers is not just for protection, it is because the city's population will be much bigger and will benefit much more from it. After all if you improve a tile and do not have a citizen to work it what good is that. When developing your city you must keep in mind the resources the city is surrounded by. Keep the following in mind when developing city. Science is greater then Production. Production is greater then Gold. Gold is greater then Culture. Culture is greater then Faith. or Science > Production > Gold > Culture > Faith This priority list seems to be the most true in the long scheme of things. However in early game I would argue that the resources should be prioritized as. Production > Culture > Science > Gold > Faith *I do not include food because I have found it to be easily obtained. Also Faith and Culture may be more important if you are aiming for a culture or religion victory. The goal of the first city is to grow as fast as you can then get as much production as you can followed by everything else. Be aggressive and try to accomplish multiple things at the same time At some early point research Bronze Working (halfway) You should have killed or will soon kill 3 barbarian to get the boost to tech. This tech is important for several reasons. 1) You will be able to see iron resources 2) You can build encampment district 3) Your first city might have resource or you can settle your 2nd city near one. While researching Bronze Working build 2/3 more units or more units (slinger/warrior) (if city is developing quickly consider a builder too) (Do not forget to use gov policies to increase production of military units and builders) From here you must make a choice depending on the situation. If an opponent is really close or there is a city state that you want to take over then do the following Research archery (halfway) Try to build 1 or 2 more slingers before finishing archery. After archery is finished, upgrade all slinger and attack. From here on though you should build warriors, or other units to take there cities as needed. If you are over whelming them consider expanding through settling. with 6 to 8 units they should not be able to counter you unless they too were aggressive. If the opponent is a little far away Build encampment. Then build barracks or stable depending on the resources. This will increase production by 1 and add some needed housing. At this point you will have 4 -6 slingers and 1 or 2 warriors. Build a settler. Then settle in a strategic location close your opponent. Upgrade your units and attack. With this you accomplished several things. You have settled a new city, you have a city that acts as an encampment (attacking and retreating is more achievable). Note: Keep in mind to check opponents military ranking before attacking. If it is high then consider easier targets or keep your forces near you to keep your opponent in check. Tech / Civics Always try to boost the all early game tech and civics. It is common for me to switch what I am researching after half of the research finished. For civics tree your early game goal should be to develop your government as soon as possible. Get Political Philosophy (VERY IMPORTANT!!). The extra policy slots can give you a huge early game advantage over any opponent For science tree the early game goals should be to research the techs that will allow your builder to improve your city's resources. Animal Husbandry, and Mining are usually the most important. This is because Pastures and mines increase the cities production. Also both techs lead to war techs (like Archery, Bronze Working and Wheel, Iron Working and Horseback Riding). Pantheon Ways to get the faith for pantheon in early game 1) Tribal village gives you a relic or faith 2) Faith City state you found provides you faith 3) God King policy (+1 Faith, +1 Gold) (Use God King policy as a last resort.) 4) Resource or wonder tiles The Pantheons can be powerful, but people seem to choose the wrong pantheons Below are the ones I have found to be the most important. 1)God Of The Open Sky - Adds 1 culture from pastures. This will allow you to develop your early government fast. 2) Oral Tradition - Adds 1 culture from dyes, bananas, citrus, cotton, spices,sugure and silk. This will allow you to develop your early government fast. The above two are probably the best if those resources are near you. For example, in an early game +2 culture from 2 pastures will become a ton of cultures in early game and allow you to rush to a government. 3) God of the Forge - +25% production toward ancient and classical military units. Though the benefit will end after classical era, this will allow you to rush your opponent early game. There are a few other pantheons that I do find circumstantially good, but these 3 are usually the best. Few other strategies 1) Try to pillage enemy resources when you do attack this will give you lots of science and culture. If other opponents go for science in early game this can let you catch up or surpass. 2) Sometimes I have found an undefended city with an undefended science district, builder, mines, etc. I love to declare war with just one unit to mess up their game. The last game I played, I found a science district that was undefended. With one archer I pillage all their progress. Further, to deal with my archer they wasted gold to build a unit to threaten it away. 3) Uban Planning Civic (+1 Production) is usually better then God King (+1 Faith, +1 Gold). Use God King only as a last resort for a pantheon. 4) Use builder to harvest woods, rainforrests when building encampment (or any other district). Even if you are using that tile for a citizen to work on , once the encampment is built it gives that production back (in a sense) ex. 2 food 1 production tile (forrest tile) harvested creates a 2 food (grass land) Barrack/Stable gives 1 production So production gained 1 Barrack/Stable minus 1 production lost for forrest tile = 0 lost production. Also, usually in a game you could move the citizen to a hill or another tile for production. So you do not "lose" anything and you end up saving many turns when building barrack/stable. Be strategic when harvesting and you will save many turns and increase productivity. Even better if you can assign citizen to another tile. This is true for any district or building. The are a few other benefits to have a encampment. Trading with city that has one give additional production. Additional protection when wall is built. Having envoys to Encampment City State give more production to units for that city. You can build early units like Horseman and Swordsman with 1 strategic resource. You boost State Workforce Civic and get closer to a government. Final Notes: There is no point in trying to settle a new city or build a district when you can't protect it. It would be a too high of a risk to hope barbarian and other opponents will not attack you. If other opponents spent most of there time doing this, then they will be vulnerable to an attack. Having a strong military gives you more options. After an army is in place bully your weak neighbors and gain all their progress. I wrote this in part because I keep encountering online opponents who keep trying to build districts, and builders as early as possible. With only 2 or 3 units to protect there empire. Conquering them was too easy. I want stronger opponents. Hope this helps people win their games.