Sorry I was late to see this thread. I can't remember everything that was written in it, so if I overlooked something, forgive me. Anyway I just wanted to mention that prior to 1.22 you could always get to Philosophy first and choose Lit as your free tech. After 1.22, I was no longer sure to be first. but I still had time to get the GL first with no real prebuild. The value of going the Philosophy route is you may get an SGL or at least reduce their chances of getting one. SGL is the main way for them to beat me to the GL. I often do not even need to start with Alphabet to get the GL. The way I do it is to crank out extra workers from my second town and eventually even later towns. I take those workers and start to move them to the capitol when it is around size 5 or 6. Those workers will road and mine tiles and then join the city to drive it up to size 10 or better. This city will be much larger than any AI city and can use a simple 3-5 turn prebuild to jump start the GL. If you are using a no alpha start for the AI, you should not have any problem being first to Philosphy on an archipelago map. I would add that I have not tried this on a standard map, only large and huge, so the cost of research could make it harder to get to Philosphy first.