I wanted to share what I consider to be one of the best openers to gobble up a large amount of land, resources, and, just as importantly, secure them with city garrisons. This approach works on any map besides archipelagos / island maps. Okay here goes: Tech Order Trapping Pottery The Wheel Animal Husbandry Mining Bronze Working Trade Fishing Explanation: This sequence gives you everything you need to garrison and connect your cities, while uncovering Horses and Iron on the map. Once you get Trade and Fishing you'll then be able to make every city profitable and be able to see Fish for maritime start areas, like a peninsula, and your Scout will be able to embark and explore the entire landmass they can access and survive. Policy Order Progress Liberty Equality Fraternity Explanation: The worker and improvement construction speed makes connecting cities easy. Equality is the best wide economic policy of the Ancient era, followed shortly by Fraternity which is the best wide scientific policy. Capital Production Order Monument Shrine Scout Archer Archer Settler Option 1) Farming if you can't build a Warrior before Bronze Working Option 2) Warrior to give you a flanking buddy for your initial Warrior Statue of Zeus Archer Settler Archer Settler Archer Settler Explanation: Starting off with Monument and Shrine is important because you want a Pantheon and you want to get your Policies faster. This is even stronger with Ethiopia and their Stele. Scout should be obvious, but how you use it won't be. Before Fishing, a Scout is actually very limited in their ability to explore. Your Scout is a flanking buddy for your Warrior until you can embark. The Archers are there to garrison every city you have, which greatly facilitates your ability to deal with Barbarians as you go, in combination with your Scout and Warrior units breaking up camps. The option is based on your capital's production. If you can get a second warrior you'll be able to send your Scout off to explore a bit more while waiting for Fishing, because two warriors can break up camps just fine. Statue of Zeus might be a head scratcher, but the free Forge is the kicker. You'll crank out the last three cities very quickly if you get it. This depends a bit though. Sometimes the AI just gets a crazy amount of culture early on and gets this, but SoZ is not a popular Wonder for the AI as far as I've seen. Nowhere near as much as Pyramids or Temple of Artemis. If you don't get it, it only costs you some extra hammers and you'd be trying for it anyway so you get started on the last three cities faster. Settled Cities Monument Shrine Market Explanation: The idea is to keep up with your Policies as you go. You could invest in Monument if you're Carthage, but if you're not, just set to Production and leave them be. It's worth pointing out that a coastal city with high production potential like Hills, Iron, Horses is the perfect military-industry city. You can build your navy and army in the same place with Heroic Epic and Ironworks, freeing up your capital to focus on Wonders. Pantheon Normal Pantheon: God of Commerce Explanation: This is something I consider requisite. Expanding this fast is expensive, especially when you add up the costs of new buildings. I was considering doing Earth Mother for India, but what you gain in static hammers is lost more severely in gold if you don't have any mining luxuries, like Copper, Gold, Silver, Jade, Salt, etc. I've never lost a Religion from doing this and it has a supplementary effect with Equality. How I Use Those Five Cities Capital - Civic Engineering I slot Engineers and Merchants with an emphasis on building Wonders. The ability to freely adapt to building a Wonder that is just available is critical to getting them on time. Also where I build NWs like Scrivener's Office, National Monument, School of Philosophy, etc. It just makes sense - who doesn't want their capital to be the sexiest city in the world? 2nd City Coastal - Military Industry I also slot Engineers and Merchants, but the emphasis is on building your army and navy. If you put Manufactories here and are fortunate enough to have Stone, Iron and/or Horses, this will be a juggernaut of a military training city. Heroic Epic and Ironworks are the NWs you want here. 3, 4 and 5 - Writer's Guild and Science Cities These cities I slot with Scientist, Merchant and Writer slots. The point of these is to keep your techs and policies coming in fast. How to Handle Aggressive Neighbors Credit goes to Krullehoofd. Conclusion That's the opener. Hope you guys enjoy it and find it useful!