This has become a common problem for me. Even with a good commerce start, REXing = economic crash. How do I balance economy and expansion? Another part of the problem is that every time I use the whip is a hit to the economy, since that's more unhappy citizens and fewer tiles worked. Settling too fast, building too many units, not building cottages, and whipping too much all damage my economy. Here's a sample game I played through the classical era a few times and have been struggling with. I rolled Gandhi, two wet corns forested start. I think I moved my warrior and found a third corn, and spent a turn moving my settler to get all three corns in my BFC. Lots of forested grassland in the BFC, and lots of jungle outside of the BFC. I started teching Agriculture then BW. The first time I played through, I prioritized Iron Working before Alpha/Currency to start clearing jungle, built the fourth and fifth cities before Currency, and my economy crashed (~20% research rate, ~50 turns to Alphabet). And that was with my capital cottaged up. Once I got Alphabet, I was pretty far behind in tech, and couldn't catch up since my tech rate wasn't improving. The second time I played through is the savegame you see here (I can't take screenshots with my setup, sorry). I waited for Currency before I put down those southern cities, then Justinian attacked. I took his first city, but he's going to whomp me, he has a ton of units on the way (I played ahead a few turns, I took but couldn't hold Adrianople.) Anyway, expansion-wise, I feel like I should have settled more than 5 cities by 660AD, and I have room for at least two more good ones in the west (Corn/Gems, and Fish/Iron) and maybe some filler ones later, but I dislike settling cities with no useful resources nearby. But when I push to settle that quickly, I can't make it to Currency. I just don't know how to find the balance. Any pointers?