All we knew about this game was that there were two teams of several AIs in the game, one team per (other) continent, and that permanent alliances were enabled. So most likely, there would be other AIs on our continent as well which to befriend and forge an alliance with would most probably be necessary to be able to win.
This was the situation at the start of the game - Sirian, the game sponsor, had founded Mecca for us already.
Research had been set on Polytheism by him, and left it that way. Forging a permanent alliance with another civ on this continent would mean I had to bring this civ to friendly relations first, and the best tool to do this is to share the same religion. Founding one myself would mean I could send out missionaries very early. I did not dare to go for Buddhism though, as we were facing teams of AIs with shared beaker outputs and the AIs are more likey to go for Buddhism than for Hinduism, so my chances of founding a religion would be better if I went for Polytheism.
This led to an unusual situation, however. I am a big fan of building a worker first in the capital, even if that means the city would remain at size 1 for quite a while. I hate working unimproved tiles! Having an early worker speeds up your growth considerably. But in this game, we knew no useful worker techs, and going for Polytheism first meant we wouldn't know one for a long time. So an early worker would have nothing to do!
An alternative would be to build some warriors for scouting first. However, there was one strategy I had planned to try out for some time now: Settler first! Building a settler first meant I didn't have to work unimproved tiles as well, and would give me a second city very, very early. Both cities would then build a worker, hopefully accelerating the growth of my empire similar to a worker first build. By the time the two workers would be finished, I would have researched the necessary worker techs.
There is a problem with this opening, though: Barbarians. Our starting warrior would have to be sent out to find a good spot for the settler to found the city on, so the settler itself would have no escort. This meant that the second city had to be only a short distance away from the capital's borders. Additionally, building a settler first and then a worker would mean my cities would be undefended for some time. Here, I relied on the fact that animals and early barbarian warriors respect your borders, and only later would enter them to attack cities. I do not know exactly when this happens, but hope I will have a defense up until then!
So while our scientists were looking into Polytheism and Mecca was busy building a settler, our warrior started to move east to explore our immediate surroundings. He found a tribal village, explored it, and...discovered Fishing! He then continued to explore clock-wise around the capital.
In 3800BC, Buddhism got founded somewhere. Good thing I didn't try to get that! In 3600BC, I met both Catherine of Russia and Alexander of Greece - a lovely lady and an aggressive lunatic as potential partners for an alliance. Let's see how this will turn out, whether it's better to tame the lunatic with an alliance, or harvest the financial powers of beautiful Cathy...
In 3480BC, research of Polytheism came in, and I have been fast enough to found the religion.
Excellent! Research was then set to Hunting and Animal Husbandry. Seven turns later, the settler was finished and a worker started. My scouting warrior had been distracted by some animals and was healing south of Mecca, at a nice spot with pigs, stone and fish, so the settler headed there too under the protection of Mecca's cultural border and the warrior's line of sight, and founded Medina in 3080BC. Medina immediately started to build a worker too, while the warrior left the city alone and continued to explore the lands around me. He managed to explore two more huts, receiving some experience points and killing a hostile in the process.
The vast stretches of land I could see around me let me suspect that I would have problems with barbarians rather sooner than later, so after Animal Husbandry came in, Archery was researched next. Meanwhile, the two workers improved the cows, sheep and pigs and built a road between Mecca and Medina so that Hinduism could spread more easily, and Mecca built a warrior while growing two size 2, then another settler. Medina started a work boat to fish the fishes once Hinduism would have found its way to the city and expand its borders.
The warrior from Mecca I sent out exploring as well, hoping to prevent too many barbarians from spawning. I was still relying on the barbs respecting my borders, and so when I founded Damascus in 1920BC, my empire looked remarkably like when you run a Farmer's Gambit back in Civ 3! The only protection I had was a wounded warrior healing in the new city for some turns, before he was sent out exploring again.
Note that I now built archers, and would do so for some time, to prepare for the barbs. In fact they would be finished just in time, and successfully prevent the first barbs that entered my borders from pillaging the sheep and attacking Mecca or Medina.
More worker techs were researched next: Pottery for all the floodplains at Mecca and Medina, then Mining and Masonry for more hammers. Agriculture came next to improve the corn, then Bronze Working to be able to chop forests and more importantly, to see where copper was. My archers sitting on hills had no problems defending against attacking barbarian archers, but I expected to see barbarian axemen sooner or later - and who knows what Cathy or Alex were up to?
Speaking of relations to my neighbours, I watched the resource trade screen closely and pulled the trigger as soon as I could:
As you can see, I traded away my only sheep to Cathy's clams. This did not help me in any direct way, as I lost one health from the sheep and gained on from the clams. But negotiating resource deals (or even better, resource-for-gpt deals) as early as possible is a very good way to improve long-term relations, as you will get "we appreciate the years you've supplied us with resources" and "fair and fortright trade relations" boni earlier. Both together will reach +4 or even more in the end! Just try not to sell the AI a happiness resource, as this might help them too much.
I did a similar deal with Alex some turns later, and researched Monotheism for organized religion, then Writing for libraries next. Judaism had been FIDL in 2200BC already, and Stonehenge and the Oracle got built by somebody else in 1360BC. Confucianism fell in 925BC, but I ignored all that and built more archers and settlers in Mecca while Damascus built barracks and then joined military production. And Medina, what was Medina doing? Well, Medina made use of the stones.
Adopting representation early allowed me to grow my core cities some more, which I liked very much! Afterwards, Medina concentrated on producing missionaries, and I converted both Cathy and Alex to Hinduism. Relations with both were improving rapidly now! Both the Colossus and the Great Lighthouse got built in a distant land, and Christianity got founded in 425BC. All that did not worry me, but what did make me nervous was that in 375BC, Alex founded Taoism! Luckily he did not convert, as he had more Hindu cities than Taoist, but from then on my missionaries concentrated on spreading Hinduism to Alex' cities first, to avoid any religious tensions between us.
In 450BC, I met the Victoria/Mansa Musa/Huayna Capac team. As I did not want to fight three AIs at once, I immediately tried to improve relations with them as well - although they turned out to be the founders of Buddhism and Confucianism.
The Victoria/Mansa/Huayna team consisted of three different religions, so tensions between their team and me were guaranteed. I have no idea how relations between teams work - if I sell a resource to Victoria, will Mansa or Huanya appreciate that, too? Anyway, trying to improve relations wouldn't hurt I guess.
In 175BC, a great engineer from the Pyramids was born. Anticipating that, I had researched Alphabet and Literature in the meantime, so that he could rush another crucial wonder.
Note that I had played this game before the discussion at Realms Beyond had taken place about the possible brokenness of the CS slingshot and T-hawk's assessment that building the Pyramids and using the resulting great engineer to rush the Great Library would be equally strong. In fact, that was the first time I used the GE from the Pyramids that way, and I did not build a specialist economy thereafter to take advantage of representation. I think this combination was strong in this game, but did not feel as overpowered as a CS slingshot would have been.
But powerful it was nonetheless, especially the amount of great people points that Medina produced now. In addition to the two scientists from the Great Library, I hired a priest to create a chance of generating a great prophet, too. I could use either of the two: A great scientist would construct an academy, and a great prophet would be used on the Hindu shrine. As it turned out, I would generate two great scientists and one great engineer before getting a great prophet for the shrine...but anyway, I liked the high amount of GPPs produced in BC times, and I intended to double it by building the National Epic.
In 75AD, despite my attempt of improving relations, Victoria cancelled the open border agreement I had with her.
I only hoped I would not have to fight the team, at least not now! My military units had other orders at the moment: Capture that barbarian city that had spawned in the far west at the copper location, which I still lacked!
I had assembled a stack of chariots and archers there, and took the city. My workers built a road to it and improved the copper, and finally I felt secure. Good thing Alex (or Cathy) hadn't declared on me until now!