honestly, we all know that due to tradition being very strong and happiness being slightly harder to get now, playing tall is a lot easier than playing wide. you also recieve a science penalty for building multiple cities, which is horrible, because (technically) science is best early game and against deity or immortal ai you will have to settle really fast in order to get the few decent spots. firaxis really fu-ked up with ethiopia. stele is literally the perfect building for going wide, it has everything and costs so few hammers. the bonus could have just been the other way around, more combat strength against civilizations with less cities than you have. they have so much potential, it really is a shame they turned into yet another boring tradition civ playing safe all game long. that being said i am very surprised that the arabs have not been mentioned yet. they and the mayans are the only ones that comes close to being able to do a strat similiar to ics, maybe egypt or the celts, but not really in my opinion. due to arabias desert start bias you can (this is a big problem, too, wide is extremely map dependant, tall only needs a river..) get a great religion (if you manage to get the pantheon, which on deity often times you won't, another reason why wide is not that great anymore). caravans make it extremely easy to spread religion to nearby city states and opponents without having to spam missionaries, which means you can invest more faith into pagodas or mosques. it also means you get more gold from tithe or more faith from pilgrimage. really, faith is an early game investment which scales slowly, but works insane well mid to late game. arabas ub might be one of the best in the entire game, getting more luxuries for trading is obviously huge if you are struggling with happiness anyway. only with the arabs i've been able to successfully settle more than seven or eight cities and have them actually be decent. if you get pagodas or mosques you should be golden, your faith output lategame is absolutely insane and you should be able to buy great people every other turn, which is really helpful. if i do get a strong religion i almost always go piety after liberty, because the ai tends to prefer getting the perks for faithbuying science buildings or industrial era units, which means you can get the belief that allows you to buy all great people. a big help, especially considering liberty does not give you a gp to buy, neither does piety. generally you will have a ton of gold and a ton of faith, supporting any kind of victory condition really. another thing i love about the arabs is that even "useless" cities, for example desert cities without a river and without petra have some use: they generate one faith per tile, so one faith per citizien. give them a try, they're an all around amazing civ and the camel archer is easily one of the best uus in the entire game, definitely up there with keshik, chu-ko-nu, longbows, impi and all the other goodies.