I had a very standard game with 4 city tradition. The cataphract was not needed, I built 2 dromon for exploration and the UA well... I got an extra hammer for boats out of it. As always it's a nice bonus but nothing fantastic. Byzantium is really a lackluster Civ. You don't really have to balance Aesthetics since it doesn't have many good policies beside the %tourism at the end, the culture bonus for city with wonder and the finisher (musicians for faith). So most of it is mid to late game stuff. Meanwhile Rationalism has 2 godly policies (opener and secularism) and 2 good ones (+%GS and 17% university). My usual path is 6/6 First tree, 1/6 to 2/6 Aesthetics (Policies while waiting Renaissance), 4/6 Rationalism, 3/6 Ideology and then bouncing between Aesthetics, finishing Rationalism, getting tier 3 ideology, maybe open exploration for Louvre. Your policy acquisition will explode once you reach archaeology + world fair. Order varies and depends on what makes most sense right now. Note that I mostly use great writers for culture boost. Ideology is a tricky subject for CV. Assuming no futurism shenanigans, either you go for the best tree (Freedom) or you go for the tree most likely picked by the AI (Order). I usually pick freedom because I win so fast that the AI doesn't have a long time sitting around with order ideology but it is possible that for longer games Order is a good pick if initial pressure is a worry and the combination of no differing ideology penalty + Cultural revolution is good enough if your culture leader also has order.