I wouldn’t really know. When I started using the internet it was still the norm for forums to have branching threads, so that issue wasn’t really as big of a problem back then. I started hanging out on a Civilization II forum, but eventually I drifted away from that sort of PC games after Alpha Centauri or thereabouts. I hear they’ve got as far as Civilization VI now, but it’s not the same thing anymore. Ah, the memories of playing Civ II. But you were always in trouble if you started close to the Mongols, the game was a bit unbalanced that way.
I liked Age of Empires III myself.