I played a little into the first start (cows/silver) earlier today and.... (~500 BC) Spoiler : I'm fine (although barbarian galleys are truly annoying). The start didn't feel that difficult for me, I'm in a very good position. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - There was more to it than that. I decided against it when Pacal made the SoZ and because Peter lightbulbed philosophy meaning I wouldn't be able to make any trades (war with Pacal and Peter had philosophy already). I also found relations going to friendly quickly a likely (due to how the religion spread and fav. civics) so tech trading was more beneficial.