First, it sounds like the leader you are describing is Hammurabi, but he only applies for Age A and 1 (he will die at the end of age 1), so there's no way he should have been impeding bids for Historic Territory 2 (an Age 2 event card that by definition couldn't have come out by then). Are you sure you're playing everything right?
Also, you don't mention if you're playing the Advanced Game or the Full Game, but it's important, because there are significant differences between them in what works and what doesn't. I'll try to highlight some of the important differences. But here are some things to think about:
- Science is probably the most important thing in the game, barring your final culture score (of course). Not resources, food, CAs or anything else, but science. You can work around most other things, but science is the wellspring from which all the advances you can make are. Also, unlike almost everything else in the game, you can't really have too much of it. The first strategic question you have to answer is "where am I going to get more science income". It can be from Alchemy, it could be from Printing Press (which is only so-so but is sometimes necessary), it could be from the Universitas - whatever it is, figure it out. Alchemy is probably the card I reach deep for early most often in the game, and if it's the last one, it's almost a must grab. I can't emphasize this enough: when in doubt, do something to increase your science.
- Next, of course, comes CAs. Civil Actions give you a lot more options and control over your fate. Science is what allows you to gain CAs (mostly), so that's one of the reasons for science's supremacy, but if you don't increase your CAs, you can't troubleshoot effectively. And that's what TtA is, in the full game: you're troubleshooting problems from turn to turn, keeping your civilization as efficient as possible. Try and plan out what you're going to do here. Early Monarchy? Were you lucky enough to draw Pyramids? Are you going to reach for the first age 2 government that slides out and revolt to it? Whatever you do, try and keep your science balance at a point that will allow you to make your governmental switches efficient. And don't worry about losing some resources to corruption! A couple rocks is a small price to pay to switch to something like ConMon.
- Probably the next thing I look at is military. Trying to win with military is a crapshoot. You just might not draw the cards you need to make it work, and if you overinvested, somebody else is going to clobber you on points. But while you can't be sure about winning with military, you sure as heck can lose the game with it. I always check, every turn, what my relative position is, how many D/C cards I am back of the leaders, how many cards they've been drawing and how many I'm about to draw and everything else. If I am vulnerable, I have to fix this problem. If there's only one person that's in a position to whack you, maybe you can get away with it - especially if there's a juicier target out there! But you have to be aware of your position with everybody else and then take steps to fix things.
- Now, you get to make progress on other stuff. Try and increase your resource production first, because that enables you do do most other stuff (although you can use a high CA civ with yellow cards to cover for a lack of rocks pretty well). Food, you just want to keep at a reasonable level, you can over-invest in it pretty easily. Try and see how many cards people are seeding in the event deck and guesstimate if you need to keep some troops available for colonization. But if you've fixed those other problems, you can start applying your discretion here.
- A word about events: don't just seed them with no good reason. Don't put something in you think you might benefit from. Just put it in if you're reasonably confident. And if you're behind on military, particularly early in the game, don't seed anything! You're just helping your opponents get gnarly stuff like Border Conflict, Uncertain Borders, Raiders, Foray and all that other stuff out faster. Don't help them out, make them do all the work. Then, maybe when you get back on top on military, there will be some of that junk still left in the deck to take advantage of.
Note that nowhere in there did I mention culture. That's because, by and large, culture is an accident not a goal up until mid-to-late age 2. That's not true if more than one person sprints early, then you might have to invest some just to not fall too far behind, but if there's only one clear culture leader, I don't worry about it. Don't build Dramas or the Taj Mahal - those rocks are better spent on Bread & Circuses and the Universitas. Invest in infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure and then when you hit age 3, you'll be able to crank out a ton of culture (and slaughter them on impacts).
Hope this helps.