I recently went up to monarch level from prince and am enjoying the challenge. As a rule im usually happy with 8 cities on a standard map but im having difficulty expanding quickly enough. my usual strat is settler first then couple of units then 2 more settlers then mids. Its risky and sometimes I miss mids . I usually then vertically grow a little then 2 more cities and usually land grab is over.
I'd be interested in other players strats for early game expansion but im more interested in standard maps as opposed to huge maps