Normally, Civilization penalizes players for expanding empires too fast in the early game. Unit support costs and city maintenance are real killers. Then, if you're playing with the Revolutions mod on, poor finances can kill you. Fortunately, with the addition of new techs and units, particularly, the trade caravan unit; one can literally ignore their gold per turn. When you start a game, either in advanced start or regular, build a few workers quick and research bronze working. Once you can chop trees, build all the early wonders, particularly Stonehenge for it's culture bonus, quickly, using the tree bonuses to "1 turn" many of them. Now, find a rival civilization near you, and build a road to their border and donate some techs to allow "Open Borders." Now, once your capital is size 5 or so, with a some farms or cottages around it, begin building cities, many cities. Just churn out as many settlers and protective units as possible. Start settling them. You should keep your science slider at about 70%, so you still research; ignore the fact that you may be losing 20 or 30 gold per turn. Now, when your reserves run low, build a trade caravan; hopefully you researched trade by now. Send it to your friendly AI to receive a nice cash bonus. Build more cities whilst ignoring your mounting gold deficit. See, just like the real US Gov, you can ignore your deficit as long as you have cash to burn. This way, you can have 10-15 cities very fast, using up all the available slots on the map. The AI's will expand much slower with maybe only 3-4 cities each. Now, with your massive production abilities, it should be easy to build up armies and crush the AI before the industrial era; just don't forget to leave one until the end as capturing cities and those trade caravans power your finances. Who would have though those weak caravan's were useful after all?