One of the great things about OW is that the events change the game enough that it is really hard to give you good pointers. But let me take a shot at it.
I’m playing in the forum game, but really haven’t played much recently. In particular, the changes to Garrison probably affects the game more than I thought. Also they switched what skills are good for an Ambassador, Charisma now affects foreign opinion, which makes more sense than wisdom, which has totally changed my tutoring strategy.
I can win at Glorious and I have won at Magnificent but only by some save scumming.
Much like Planetfall, I think it’s easier to pick a few countries to get good at the game. For me, that’s Egypt, Babylon, Rome, and Greece. Egypt is arguable the hardest country to play because one of their big bonus is a 25% reduction in the cost of adjacent improvement. This means you really need to plan ahead your improvement build order. I think Babylon is one of the easier builder countries, Rome is hands down the easier warmonger, and Greece is a decent mix. @Velociryx thinks that Assyria is one of the best countries, to play. I’ve only dabble with them, but they’re very much a warmonger country, a poor builder country.
I’m very picky about starts and only spend more than 10 turns on 1/3 of my starts.
It is all about the order, for at least 1/2 the game you’ll be short of orders, almost every turn. So be constantly be thinking about how to minimize the # of orders. Ideally, workers should only make a single move to build their next improvement. Range units> mounted> infantry, because ranged units use less orders. You can park an archer in a forested hill and you may never need to move him again through the whole battle there will always be a target. In contrast, you’ll need to move most of your mounted, or infantry every turn in order to attack. Mounted units can attack and defend quicker than infantry, so less orders.
Zoning. I think of my cities much like I do in Simcity, with your R,C, and I zones. There is a farm, quarry, mine,and lumber zones On most maps forests and hills are far less common than good spots to build quarries or farms. Then in mid-game I start building lots of urban improvements. I try and build these in improvements in flat, and arid areas,without water. Hamlets, most wonders, and shrines can be built anywhere so you can build two of those and start your urban zone. Early improvements in particular the Garrison I build in any starting urban hex. Do leave some spot adjacent to your capital center hex open, because many wonders have to be built adjacent to the city center.
Tall vs Wide. I think you need at least 6 cities for an ambition victory. So that’s 2 free sites, 3 barb cities, at low to medium difficulties. At Glorious and above 1 free city 1-2 barb cities and 2-3 from a minor tribe.
Getting those cities from a minor tribe is for me the most challenging part of the game, because the major also are grabbing cities. For a double victory, you’ll need more than 6 cities.
Religion. Always take cleric as one of your families if you have the option. Your 2nd city should be a cleric city. Don’t worry about building disciples too early. Your first disciple should be built when your Holy city, gets developing culture so you can build the unique religious building. The second time to build a disciple is as you are researching monasteries. Each disciple should build 2 or preferable 3 religious building, before spreading the religion or choosing a theology. I think having a religion is very important for a builder game, and entirely optional for a warmonger.
Resource and research: I almost never have enough orders, civics is also tend to be scarce, shields I generally have a modest surplus, and almost always excess amounts of money.
I buy resource as needed, especially wood early in the game. I really avoid selling resources, except for small quantities to get options choices during events. I think selling at 1/2 price is generally a waste, Instead, I simple stop making improvements, if I have a big surplus. There are lots of sinks (units, buildings, wonders, events) in the game to get rid of any resource you may have a surplus off.
I probably don’t rush units enough, except for settlers, and when I can rush things for money, I do so… But again I think planning ahead to anticipate what you need rather than trying to learch from one emergency is more efficient. Discontent is relative minor price to pay for rushing things. But after level 4, it is very noticeable reduction in growth.
I do prioritize forestry, but other than that I find the techs nicely balanced with no must have tech. I do generally grab any bonus card I can
Culture: Your capital and Holy City are really the only two cities you need to consciously build culture improvements, so you can beat the AI to higher-level wonder. The other cities should evolve fast enough with a religion, a luxury resource, a shrine, maybe an Oden/Theater. Your first 6 cities should all hit strong culture in the early 100s, which is good enough for most ambitions etc, and your best UU.