Yes, inland start with flood plains, possibly bare hills. Worker first, cottage 2 flood plains. Then you can go wild with Mining>BW>IW and you will enjoy a research boost because of the many turns you have been working your first two improved tiles. I agree with you totally about staying small until you build yourslef a chance to strike. I just dont think you need to wait all the way to gunpowder. You have a great chance to do improved axe, sword and mace rushes all the way through ancient times if you play for it. Those cottages first give you the edge you need to on a narrow research path whihc should also include alpha early for tech exploitaiton. Pun intended.