Played a test game myself(who hasn't at this point), but I was pressed for time, so I only played it at Prince level. The barbs were a pain in my ass. They spawn readily at the edge of the map in the one or two fogged tiles I can't see into. At one point Greece attacked me while a string of Barbs were heading towards my city. Luckily, roads were numerous at this point and I used the barbs as XP gifts to my units. I would walk out and premptively attack barbs for the points then in the same turn would get back to the city in question for defense when Alexander attacks. This trick worked pretty well. I haven't played Monarch yet, but I'm conifdent I'll be competitive. There was something about the crowded nature of the map that led to faster religion spread then I'm used to. Hope it is comparable one level up.