Right now I'm around the year 200ac with 3 cities, one my capitol as gold producer only (lvl5), then two as tech producting cities (currently lvl 3 each). This game, I started off doing civics research (For housing and faster tech learning) only and was able to keep my 'faction power' rating above the two kingdoms next to me by doing this, therefore they never bothered me, next step after civics research I went into warefare research and was able to get all the armor upgrades done very quickly due to my high amount of studies turned libraries (Like 2 turns for the first war tech, 3 for the next, and so on), then I went with the weapon techs (blades only). Now with my full armor/weapon sets available I'm loading up my few kids and other heroes making them 1 man empire killers considering it's so early in the game still (The other empires' techs are pitiful in comparison).
I picked up very few goodie huts and only did so at the start of the game until I found my wife, which kept down the amount of empires that knew where I was.
Most other games I've tried to get leather armor before going the civics tech route resulting in many more problems keeping up with neighboring factions 'power' rating (hence they attack you)
I'm certainly not the best player out there, & I know I 'turtle play' way too much, but it works for me. Just know that a lvl 5 city goes a long way towards victory.
Note: I play without any magic what-so-ever, though this will most certainly change when the ai starts using some. Then it will be defensive magics primarily (protecting my cities & units from magic attack). I can't remember the race I used in dom3, but same philosophy, strong armor, no magic.