I usually know pretty quickly whether or not I'm alone on an island. Sometimes you can be fairly sure even by 3500BC. And only rarely am I not alone if some AI scout hasn't found me by 3000BC. If you can post enough sentries to keep many barbarians from forming, an isolated island, even one a couple tiles away from another island with an AI, seems a reasonable place to try for one of the more "exotic" (i.e. not early war) strategies. Two that seem popular are the Civil Service (CS) slingshot and choprushing the pyramids. It doesn't seem feasible on higher levels to be able to snag both. With the pyramids, you can choose to run representation which will help if you have few happiness resources on your island (and there are always too few). With CSS, you can run bureaucracy instead. So, the choice seems to be: pyramids: representation some delay in bureaucracy some delay in academy probably won't found Confucianism CSS _big_ delay in representation bureaucracy early academy possible confucianism Or, do you think it's just best to expand quickly on your island and maybe cottage spam in preparation for a culture victory or a delayed invasion?