I'm going to suggest just going to 1000AD.
My game left off with a Prophet building the conf shrine (which immediately started earning 8gpt). Also I was finally getting metal hooked up.
Ragnar had declared war on Pericles, and came asking for me to join in. I declined.
Ragnar and Pericles are both accommodating personalities, they'll trade even if you don't kiss their ass. This is in contrast with all the other nutjobs on this island. Also Ragnar and Pericles are the same religion, which means in the long run they'll probably end up allies. So I stay out of their war.
Anyway I continue to pump out settlers, even before investing in metal units (mainly because the metal was still being connected), alas despite my negilence towards military, I STILL manage to lose a good city site:
In spite of my fortress on his borders, Toku has decided to simply expand around it.
Fortunately this was basically the last good site in the south, I thus focus on the north and found a couple of cities in quite nice locations.
For a few turns nothing much happens, I do a little trading with Bismarck, picking up Monarchy and Meditation for Code of Laws and Polytheism.
Unfortunately for me, it turns out this is "Declare war on your religious allys" day.
Bismarck has a stack which is alarmingly optimized for not being defeated by chariots. Yes - this is something I quite deliberately coded. The AI WILL train armies to counter it's intended victims, to within certain limitations. It's not perfect, but it works better than not having anything in the way of counter logic.
My chariots are obviously useless and the first metal units are only now rolling out. But the poor city is clearly doomed, with only a warrior and an incoming sword to defend it. I evacuate the city.
Fortunately Pericles will come to my aid - At least trading me Construction for Alphabet Meditation and Priesthood. Unfortunately I can't get anyone to actually declare war on Bismarck.
The city is of course razed to the ground.
More ill comes my way, since every day is "Declare war on the Human Day" for Monty!
It is quite possible that Bismarck bribed him here, but he's Monty, it was coming sooner or later.
Meanwhile Bismarck had been continuing his pruning of my expansion.
I obviously can't take on both these nuts at once. So it's time for reinforcements:
I had been really hoping that I could let Bismarck get away with his little invasion with no diplomatic harm done. But that would have involved defeating his army, and frankly, I needed my army to defeat Monty. So I had to get Bismarck off my back and that meant bringing in a war ally.
Bismarck predictably turns his stack around and runs away from my capital, my army does precisely the same thing leaving my capital barely garrisoned.
Pericles continues to be of use to me and I trade CoL and Monarchy for Calendar and Archery.
Due to the width of my empire the force dispatched from the capital ("The Imperial Swordsmen") took a long time to march to the Aztec front, fortunately I had manged to muster enough axes to thwart Monty's main attack:
Although it's quite possible some roll luck was in play there, in getting a favorable outcome.
The fighting with the Aztec scum births a Great General, for reasons more fanciful than any I created a GG unit:
I guess I just wanted a sword-totting mascot to call the Aztecs filthy currs and cut them down. It's good for morale anyway.
With my empire basically secured I re-found Matara
Obviously it can't stand up to Bismarck (whom I'm still at war with), but I'm relying on Ragnar to keep him busy.
Over at the Aztec front I set up a bit of a chokepoint where Belisarius stand vigil and screams "BACK YOU CURS!" and "THOUGH SHALT NOT PASS!"
You'll note that Monty is promoting all his axes with Shock. That is another of the AI's counter-abilities, Monty has noted that my army is nearly exclusively melee, and thus only bothers with Shock.
The war with Monty continues to rage and I generate a second GG, which gets settled in my city which is destined to be home for the Heroic Epic:
Pericles continues to be an "Ally" of sorts, and I manage to trade to him Aesthetics, in exchange for the last quarter of Currency and 270g.
Things go my way and I bag the Great Library:
This is a hard wonder to pass up when you have Marble. In retrospect I may have been better off getting Horseback Riding as to train Elephants for my wars, but the GL will certainly do good things for my economy.
Also I finally decide that Bismarck is worthy of peace, and give him Aesthetics to seal the deal.
Rather predictably, Pericles, who has been chasing religion type things all game, builds the AP:
I decide to give my vote to Ragnar, on the logic that if you must share space with a big hairy Viking, it's best if said Viking actually likes you. In any case Ragnar is a decently dependable ally, while Pericles is one of those girly men who are about as useful as tits on a bull when it comes to war, so the greatest benefit is definitely in befriending Ragnar.
Pericles actually wins the vote (Bismarck voted for him, not surprisingly), but I still got the diplo bonus with Ragnar.
1000AD is celebrated with a feast of moose steaks (the giant beaver moose harvest becomes a recurring event).
Notes on the Era:
Most of this span of time was taken up fighting the wars, basically getting my army in shape. Most production was sunk into units, other than the wonders, although at the end I resumed infrastructure. I also declared peace with Monty for some loose change he had lying around.
I believe a mistake here was not prioritizing Horseback Riding for Elephants, since going toe to toe with Aggressive leaders in "Axemen wars" is not too smart - better to use shock Jumbos.
Although I ended up with less cities than I had at my peak, I don't tend to think I overextended myself. Losing fringe cities is not the end of the world, and the risk of it happening is acceptable in the name of expanding faster. Indeed grabbing more territory gives you more cities to lose in wars, making it more difficult for enemy stacks to reach the heartland. Speaking of expansion, Tokugawa has continued to claim the wasteland to the south. This terrain was so bad I couldn't really justify founding cities there (not when I needed to train army). While it's annoying being englufed by Tokugawa, I take heart in the fact that I have exceptionally high quality terrain for my cities, while he's stuck with highly marginal crap. Also it's not like it matters - the only troops which can attack from that direction are his own, and he's Tokugawa, he sucks.