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Can anyone give me some advice for the game Civilization 3?

I've just started playing Civ III, and I'm getting uberboned. I'm always behind in technology; building a great wonder is impossible since the AI is always about 15 turns ahead of me; and, around early to mid middle ages, I start racking up HUGE maintenance costs--these are about equal to what I spend on science. Corruption is pretty bad, too, even with full courthouses; though, those help a bit.

I can't seem to make good enough money to boost my income far enough to get above 50-60% tech. Even with full markets, full roads, and almost full banks.

I've tried switching to Republic, but I basically can't even have 1 warrior in it because of the unit costs. Is it because I'm switching to Republic before I'm done expanding? I just thought about that this morning. But, if I switch to Republic war is basically completely off the table, right?

I've searched all over, but I haven't found answers to these questions.

Also, it seems like all the AIs develop their countries directly towards me. I'm playing on huge, and they all make it to surround my territory as fast as possible--instead of branching out wherever. -_-

Also, how many improvements should I be building in each city? I know this is where my maintenance costs are coming from, but it's like I can hardly build what I need without going into the red. I've been trying to keep corruption down and make everyone happy, but that requires a lot of maintenance.

Can anyone help me, please?

Update:

Ah, yeah. I've read that one. It has good general tips, but doesn't go into too much depth about the issues I'm having. Thank you, though.

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