The Three Expansions to Winning
Early in a game you should decide on your strategy for winning a map and this requires committing to one or two of the expansions: military, trade, or technology. Each of these three offers a path to victory points but each need to be supported with a different economy and overall plan.
Military Expansion: This is the most straightforward expansion and the easiest to understand. You build a big strong army with a good general and go out and conquer the world. To support a military expansion your economy need to produce plain and fancy food, weapons, horses, wheels, and coins. You will need a lot of living room to support standing armies. Having multiple generals and armies is useful. You can improve your army with a few technologies. Victory points available to the military player include capturing certain specific sectors, Emperor (most sectors), Generalissimo (defeating the most enemy soldiers), and Field Marshal (largest army). Military expansion can also help gain the Sun King point by capturing neutral sectors. It can also damage other players by taking away their sectors or blocking a trader from reaching port or marketplace sectors.
Trade Expansion: Trade is very powerful if your opponents don't interfere, because you can establish trade routes to supply many of the goods you will need. This means you won't need a large self-sufficient economy or large population. Support the trade expansion by producing wool, cloth, garments, iron, jewelry, horses, and wheels, which are needed to train traders. Then you can trade garments and jewelry for coins and use coins to buy many of the other goods you will need. Trading for a lot of coins will allow you to take over neutral sectors with bribes, even ones well defended. Trade board expansion can garner victory points and prestige. You will probably need to build an army to defend your access to a port or marketplace sector, and to defend yourself if you are close to victory. Trade expansion can lead to victory points for Special Trading Outposts (unique posts on the trade board), Most Trading Outposts, and Banker (most coins). Trade can also provide a boost toward the Sun King point (most prestige).
Technology Expansion: Build clerics at a church and send them to monasteries to research lost ancient technology. These technologies boost your economic production and the strength of your armies. Support the technology expansion by producing logs, paper, books, plain food, fancy food, beer, and jewelry, which are required to build the different types of clerics. Clerics may also be used to overtake neutral sectors through proselytizing. Technology expansion may require a military presence, at least for defense. Technology expansion can lead to victory points for Fountain of Knowledge (most technologies), Genius (special technology), and Bishop's See (first to build cathedral).