This is probably the best strategy that I have found to date. Early in the game corruption makes nearly all trade and shields useless even relatively close to your capital city. The only thing not affected is your food supplies. Focus entirely on maximizing food production and then just hurry everything you want to build. You need to be carefull to never let your city get above 3 or 4 people and to garrison it with 2 military units and a temple, otherwise it will be constantly in civil disorder. Any population higher than 4 will most likely need to be entertainers because the people are so upset at you contantly sacrificing them to the labor gods. Even better is to find a city with some wheat, cattle, or floodplanes. These are the only terrain units early on that when irrigated give you more than 2 food under Depotism goverment. Its even possibly to get 4 or 5 food from a floodplane that contains wheat. Build a granery in this city and you should be growing every 2 or 3 turns. You can build a swordsman or my favorate (an immortal) every two turns with a good city. Every other turn you hurry the production by sacrificing a person, well every two turns you also gain a new person. You can also build almost every other city improvement by waiting until you can sacrifice 3 or 4 population points, which is only 6 or 8 turns. Compare that to 40+ turns on a far away city getting only 1 shield after corruption. Or you could have an army of 10 of nearly any available unit in only 20 turns from only 1 city. This technique is so powerful that if the AI doesn't do they will be at significant disadvantage. Games on the Regent (Prince) level have been easy for me since I have discovered this.