It's awesome to see 50+ submissions on this I played and went the path of Patronage with 2 cities. I scouted early, focused on gold, and fairly quickly had a bunch of cultural & maritime city states on my side (and military later once they were able to gift great people). Unfortunately the game bogged down a lot for me because of my slow computer -- way too much hitting enter while building two wonders for my liking. My continent ended up being covered by the Ottomans but they never attacked and had plenty of places to still expand. I would have submitted, but I got very sloppy for the last 20~30 turns I played when I thought I was about to win in the early 1500's...only to discover that you need 5 policy branches filled instead of 3. Oops! Knowing how it works now I would have played the same game but after finishing the Patronage tree held onto most/all of my policy upgrades and made a relative beeline for the Cristo Redentor. I was rather surprised that the AI never thought to attack me as I kept only a couple of Archer garrisons for thousands of years. It was also very disappointing to see that if an AI attacked my ally I could wait a 1/2 turn, tell them "it's okay that you attacked" likely for a +diplomacy, and then ask them to declare peace and they would. All of the AI's loved me despite my huge number of Allied states, no military, no land, no population, etc.