I see a lot of questions about this, so here's a quick little exercise to practice a strong, generic opening: 1. Research worker techs that 1) improve your food and then 2) hook up other resources 2. Get bronze working and pottery 3. Cottage your green flatland tiles 4. After pottery, go straight to monarchy 5. Revolt to Hereditary rule and grow your cities onto as many improved tiles as possible. Only work improved tiles. If you are growing too quickly, build or whip more workers. Mandatory buildings in all cities: -granary Optional buildings: - Barracks (put this in cities that build military units, put this in most cities) - Monument (build it if you need a border pop) - Library ONLY in capitol or strongest commerce city + 1 city running scientists for GPP. The rest of your hammer go into units. Workers, settlers, and military. 1.5 workers/city is a good starting rule of thumb, but eventually you get a feel for how many you need on a given map. After monarchy, tech writing. If the AI has alphabet, trade for it if you can. If you think you can get it 1st after monarchy, research it yourself. Your tech priorities after alphabet are currency and code of laws, but do trade for whatever you can get. Don't build courthouses. Don't build markets. Don't build libraries outside of anything but your capitol and 1 GP farm. Code of laws is often around the time where you don't want to whip any more because your cities are big. Switch to caste and try to run at least 4 scientists in 2-3 cities if possible. Pacifism helps - if you can use it your tech will go wild. Now, since you aren't building any buildings, your hammers are going into military. A mix of siege + whatever strategic resources allow is an excellent basis for defense and opportunism. The less land you have, the less workers/settlers you build so the more military you get. If someone is looking weak techwise or unit# wise, go ahead and take cities. This will happen often especially below immortal. The great scientists you spawn get used as follows: - academy in bureaucracy capitol - bulb philosophy (can do it before academy if you can use pacifism or if you found the religion) - bulb education - bulb liberalism (must have aesthetics/math/alpha/metal casting/compass but not machinery, if that's too much to remember don't worry about it) - Bulb your pick of astronomy, printing press, scientific method, chemistry, physics based on available trades and your needs. Sounds like a lot? A SINGLE city using pacifism or the philosophical trait can farm 5 great scientists in 63 turns on normal speed. 42 turns if you mix them or bother with national epic...or you simply run them in multiple cities this way. This means without infra and in a semi-worst case scenario you are getting your 4th great person before 1000 AD. If you need more hammers for units, it is a good idea to use farms instead of cottages in hilly cities to quickly work all the hills, or to stay in slavery and whip if you can press for war. The point here, however, is to play out an exercise where you build as little infra as possible ---> it matters less than you think and you should be able to get respectable defenses this way. Where most people screw up is getting /health cap boosters too slowly and not prioritizing tile improvements/growth enough. Note: If you are *really* sure you don't need more units, try just building wealth. Later in the game, once you have democracy, communism, etc you can go ahead and put together some production and build improvements if you need them.