My build order has been worker-warrior-settler. I did try to build the settler first for a time, but they kept getting killed by animals. As for new york, I didn't build it next to a city; the civ did. I wasn't having a problem with culture for the longest time, no idea how he managed to push back the border. As for my religion, I chose it to be allied with hammurabi, because he was the only civ that didn't hate my guts. Even if I did adopt the same religion as everyone else, it probably wouldn't have done much good. Isabella had already declared war on me like four times before that. Everyone hated me just for attacking her, even though all I did was try to re-take my own city. Note that hammurabi was elimiated from the game; I think everyone else got so big by taking his cities. Carthage also settled a continent with no one else on it. He also took a few of her cities a few turns before that save was made. I think that is right after I was forced to declare peace on her while I was just getting ready for my coup de grace.
As for the wars, I can't remember how it all played it now. So much went on and it was days ago. I think I declared war on her at least once to re-take the northern most city she took from me. As for my units, she never had a massive stack. One time she slaughtered a stack of over a dozen units without losing a single one. Looking at her stack, SHE ONLY HAD ONE UNIT. So, she attacked over a dozen times in a single turn with one elephant and massacred everything. Wtf? As for the trebuchets, a lot of those honestly were probably killed by her fudging elephants while they were on their way to the front line. She was using the things to attack my reinforcements on their way to save that one city to the north. We went back and forth on that city quite a bit before she finally became insurmountable. I had no iron, and only spearmen to counter those elephants. Turns out, they're not a good counter. I tried building my own elephants, but it didn't do any good (probably due to her elephants getting promotions from killing my spearmen). I realized I need to make pikemen, but I never had any iron to do that. I never built any macemen either, or cannons for the same reason. It was only recently I teched enough where I could build non-bronze-age units, though I was still attacking her with trebuchets when I had navy seals! Seriously. I literally couldn't build any better siege units. And no one was willing to trade me iron, not even my one ally, though he did give it to me for free for a few turns. Of course, I was sorta in a rush to re-take my city (and carthage managed to take one in the far east of my empire, which was fun), so I wasn't waiting for tech to build better siege units. I also declared war a number of times just to take revenge on her. I was going to raze every one of her cities, but carthage ruined that for me by agreeing to shield her after taking two or three of her cities. I only got the eastern city back btw thanks to a vote. I didn't re-take it myself. It didn't have the border problem at all just a few turns prior when I still had it.
Also, I know I severely lacked hammers. I was mostly relying on forests to build stuff, it wasn't until they ran out that I discovered that I had no production. Fun times.
And yes, I realize I got blinded by revenge for Isabella. I didn't see anyway I could win with my set-up, so I decided the closest thing to victory I could get was to wipe her off the map. I failed in that, obviously. If I had succeeded in taking her territory earlier, I may have had a chance, but its obviously too late for that. I was going for a high score victory btw. I was thinking of switching to a space race victory, but I doubt I have enough turns for that, especially with how slowly my cities are producing everything. And yes, I was whipping all the time. My cities had so many unhappy faces most of them were starving for a time they had so few people working. I was mainly using it to churn out units to try and stop isabella from taking the northern city. She just slaughtered them one after the other. Even when I did manage to re-take the city, she just took it right back over and over again.