Well, I had a lot of fun with this game.
I've actually never played as Shaka, but after reading about the Impi, I thought the beginning few turns of my game would be very straightforward. Check out my neighbors, find out who doesn't have metal, and rush them.
After playing for 40 or 50 turns, I really wanted to come here and post "I see what you guys did here...." Monty, Genghis Khan... a swarm of aggressive leaders. Ack.
Anyway, I noticed pretty immediately that Monty didn't have any copper. Genghis Khan did, and was already mining it So Monty was my first target.
I first made it a priority to found a second town. There's gold south of the start location, and the research boost it provides in the early game is a massive advantage, so I hooked that up as soon as possible. I then used both towns to crank out Impi, and declared war on Monty early (even though I only had a couple of Impi in the area, he couldn't challenge them with archers and I was able to prevent him from expanding or improving his tiles).
I killed Monty around 800 BC, by which time he had been nice enough to found judaism and hinduism. So at this point, I seriously considered going for a cultural victory. I reasoned it would be difficult given the choices of AIs, but with two founding religions it's a pretty strong thing to shoot for.
My game was pretty uneventful until around 1000 AD. I maintained a decent tech lead, and warred several times with genghis khan (neither of us made much progress though - I took a couple of his towns but the RNG was against me and I always lost a lot more units than I normally should've).
At 1000 AD I invaded Catherine. She had founded Buddhism and spread it all over the world, which irritated me because I forgot to open borders with everyone immediately and so couldn't spread my religion everywhere for an early diplo win (everyone was now a different religion from me so they wouldn't open borders). I also figured her holy city which had built the Buddhist holy building would generate a ton of gold for me.
This is where things went horribly wrong. I didn't intend to kill Catherine (only to take her most productive cities), and so had what I figured would be enough units to take 3 or 4 towns. I attacked one of her cities though, and lost 3 macemen - at an 89% chance to win, then a 91% chance, then a 96% chance - against the only defender left in the town. The town was reinforced the next turn, so I had to back off.
I had decided around this time that a cultural victory would be the most viable, however, I counted on Catherine's holy city and the other one I couldn't capture in my 9-town tally. I sued for peace and got it, but I ended up getting screwed.
This occurred because I razed one of Catherine's towns that I didn't think was worth keeping (tons of tiles overlapping her capital/holy city). What I didn't realize, is how slowly cultural population decreases in neutral territory, or in enemy territory. After suing for peace, Catherine rebuilt that town, as a level one town. However, within about 100 turns, its cultural borders had completely choked out her capital/holy city, and even with the capital/holy city generating over 40 culture/turn by the end of the game, I kept losing territory (and my population even 1 tile away from that city was only 33% over 200 turns later). So when I first captured the city, I had the standard cross, which was eventually reduced to just a single tile, even though it generated at least 12 culture per turn from the second I captured it.
This was a huge problem for me because I wasn't able to open borders with Catherine for the rest of the game. I had planned on using that city to spam a bunch of temples in, but instead had to squeeze in another town at the last minute. All told, this probably shaved 50 turns off of my win (it took far longer to spread Buddhism, and even though I made sure my lower culture towns got the cathedrals first, it was way slower).
If I had simply taken my war with Catherine a little further and hadn't razed any towns, not only would my victory have been at least 50 turns earlier, but my ending score would've been higher. Well, guess I've learned my lesson!
In any case, great game, thanks you guys for making it