I have read quite a few posts about how too many of your cities are so corrupt that they only produce 1 shield and 1 commerce. A number of people even say they are worthless. I felt the same until I recently discovered their true value. I use to try to play the game somewhat as a pacifist, but i found out that a military approach rocks. Now onto the worthless cities. make them produce wealth and keep them happy. i like to build most of the culture building improvements. it does cost money and they are a drain but the culture bonuses are well worth it. When you gain nationalism is when these cities rock. Goto war and just mass produce conscripts. If you have 10-15 cities over the size of 6 in democracy they will give you a conscript every turn. I know consripts are not that great, but they will gain experience and can become elite. The theory is you kill them with numbers and control the population of your worthless cities at the same time. I firts used this on warlord level and slaughtered everyone. I then used this same concept on prince and won the game. I am now on diety. Just my thoughts.