Well, I surely am not the most advanced player around, and there's much I am still today doing wrong in terms of diplomacy, optimal tech choices and trading, and especially a proper feeling for when to go to war and how to conquer quickly - but I can asure you the step from Warlord to Noble is not that big. My first Noble win was with auto-workers, no city-specialization of any kind, no whipping and hardly any fancy expert strategies. So it's definitely possible to win Noble with rather basic knowledge. True, but to be honest I prefer playing a great game for ten years rather than constantly having to cash out 60 bucks or so for 10 or 15 hours of gameplay - and then I've seen it all... But in the end it's your choice if you want to play that sort of game or not.