An exploit of AI stupidity if ever there was one... The Settings: Large landmasses are where this works best. Huge Pangaea maps, especially with Warm/Wet/5 Billion year settings are optimal. Many of the same principles work on smaller maps though. The fewer the AI the less resources will be on the map, which is a good thing. 8AI is my favorite setting on Huge maps. The Civs: Obviously Expansionist Civs. The Americans and Iroquois are the two most suited for this style of play. Any of them can do well. The Attributes: Play your Civ to its strengths. The Iroquois can upgrade to Mounted Warriors for an earlier rush as well as pop rush Temples at will. The Americans use the Industrial attribute to build the most cities possible. Zulu's build Barracks, Russians build Libraries, and the English don't build anything. The Plan: Chariots are my new favorite military unit. War Chariots are good too, but it's better to be Expansionist. Chariots cost twice as much as Jag Warriors while having the same stats, require horses, and can't pass Mountains or Jungles without roads. Pretty good eh? So good in fact that you should hold off on obtaining Horseback Riding as long as you can. What to do with these Chariots? Build them. As many as possible. Forgo Ancient Era wars with Horsemen and/or Swordsmen just to build more Chariots. In the average city you can fit a Chariot or two between Settlers. The timing is perfect if you make the proper terrain improvements. Of course you can only build Chariots after Horses have been hooked up. Usually that takes a while to do, so in the meantime build Scouts. Try to hook up the Horses by the time the 20th Scout has been produced. Those Scouts explore the map, meeting the AI, gobbling up goody huts, and most importantly, stand on hills and mountains (with Iron in them) doing nothing but telling the AI Workers to go build roads somewhere else. Just make sure that you 'research' Horseback Riding with no funding, otherwise your Scouts will make your Chariots obscolete before you can even build them! When you meet your neighbors, make sure and give them Masonry if they don't already have it. You want the Pyramids to be built close to home. Now that you've settled into the Chariot/Settler cycle it's time to cover city placement. An Ancient Era 'productive' powerhouse needs 2 things. Each of those things is a tile that produces 2 food. That means just about any city site will do, build them everywhere, always covering up the worst food terrain with your city. A city can't build anything unless it's a city, having Settlers walk around is a waste of production. So build them tightly packed. Once you hit the number of cities corruption limit is where the fun really begins. Cities that are corrupt just cut out the Chariots and focus on more Settlers, or Workers if they are in short supply. Buy the Workers from the AI when you can, especially as the Americans. Each city becomes 2 every 30 turns. They are 'worthless' anyways, why not claim every available nook and cranny with them? Who knows where that future Saltpeter or Rubber will turn up... By 500BC you should have a commanding lead in number of cities compared to the AI on any difficulty. Always check the F8 screen, powergraph, to see where you stand in relation to the AI. Once you get a noticeable lead on any of them, renegotiate your peace treaty. Make note of size 1 cities the AI has before going into negotiations. Check each of these for availability. The ones that are unavailable have resources nearby. If you can't see them, they are still there. Send a Scout to stand on a likely area that resource may pop up. Even if you guess wrong the Scout can sometimes get in position before the AI builds a road there. The cities you can extort just keep building Settlers like the rest. On any difficulty other than Deity you can hit the domination limit on a Pangaea game without fighting a single battle! As you get a few luxuries built up, pop rush until your happiness levels can barely take it. A good rule is that for every 'spare' two luxuries, you can pop rush 1 time every 40 turns. Spare in this case means anything above the point where a city can be size 3 and not in disorder. If you've been keeping to the ICS settler flood, you should have plenty of spare luxuries. The only question is what to pop rush? If the city is size 4, rush the Settler. If not, rush a Chariot (or a Horseman if you've somehow been tricked into recieving Horseback Riding)! Then you can rush another if you aren't going to war anytime soon. Eventually the AI will make it to the Middle Ages, don't worry. All this time of spending no money on research should have built up a big bank account. Along the way your maps should have kept the AI without any spending money. Sell them every turn! The key is to save up as much as possible before Chivalry hits. 5-10k is a good target range. The higher the difficulty level, the less time you'll have to save up. Sell ROP's to every civ except your closest neighbor (target) to further increase your income. The AI pays for ROP's according to number of cities and/or territory ratio. Not sure which. Either way they should be paying from 5-10 gold per turn each once in the Middle Ages. Now the time has come for your Chariots. Trade for Chivalry and build a Barracks near the borders of your target Civ. If at all possible, target whoever built the Pyramids first. Upgrade all the Chariots you can to Knights. You should now have anywhere from 50 to 100 Knights, and none of the AI should have any Iron. It won't matter at all that your Knights are just regulars... The chariots you haven't been able to upgrade should follow along, being used to quell resistance in captured cities. First leader should build Sun Tzu's. Having a Barracks in each newly conquered city is the perfect compliment for the offensive. At the same time begin disbanding a few core cities, freeing up room for more production later on. Target suspected Saltpeter sites (from earlier peace negotiations) with your Knights. Your armies should be invincible until the advent of Nationalism. Enjoy!