There are a couple of strong pre-gunpowder plays: axe/chariot rush, horse archer rush, rapid expansion, and catapult rushes. Catapult rushes have somewhat gone out of style since warlords, but catapult/elephants are still a reliable way to win the continent. So let's talk about catapult rushes. Usually I just REX then transition into construction, but we can probably come up with something quicker and more powerful. For now I'll start with some main details # of cities. More cities = more production, but lower research rate. Build order: when horse archer rushing, it is often advantageous to get gold/cottages up earlier even if you delay your first settler. But you need more production when catapult rushing, since you're hitting later, and have to take on more units. GP/wonders: my last test I settled on marble and oracled construction, although this probably isn't reliable at higher levels (lower levels, you can dump beakers into monarchy while you tech. The other issue, you can either bulb mathematics (not bad) while setting research to 0 while teching masonry, then go 100% to construction. Or you could make an academy. Or you could settle it. Other Techs: monarchy is a big one. Once you hit construction, you can 2 pop whip catapults, overflow to sword/axe, repeat. You can build up population earlier, even into unhappiness, for quicker production. You want to trade for monarchy and possibly HBR. You could possibly skip bronze working for faster teching, but it could backfire, and building up axemen/swords while waiting for construction is good. If you get construction too soon (as in my oracle attempt), you may -not be able to trade for anything. Building up axemen/swords while teching to construction, so you can focus mainly on catapults. And of course, stack of doom tactics/composition.