I agree, rushing through chapters hinders you ability to amass resources that help you immensely, later in the game, like Orcs!I do pretty minimal scouting, and having short scout times for events is a nice side effect of that.
I think I tend to take a very long term view in terms of obtaining and placing expansions. At some point for whatever reason I will be limited in the number of expansions I can place. At the same time, the demands for space increase throughout the game with new resources like mana and sentient goods implemented as well as ever-increasing costs for population and culture. So I'm not sure if having a bigger city sooner will make a city stronger in the long run. If this were the real world and there were some sort of return on accumulation of goods (like interest on savings) then it would make sense to build bigger sooner. However, there is no return for accumulation of excess goods; there is no time value of goods that is analogous to the time value of money in the real world. Therefore all that matters is one's ability to produce enough at any given point in time to satisfy the needs of the game at that point. Especially with the new tournament and Spire battle calculations, there are strategic advantages in maintaining a smaller city.
There are items that do have a time value, in the sense that they keep pace with the inflation of demand for goods as cities grow. These are primarily spells such as MMs and instants as well as spell fragments. So any strategy that maximizes the accumulation of those items will be more effective in the long term. Thus I focus on tournament, Spire and event performance rather than how big my city is or how fast it grows. There are some people for whom fast growth and new features are compelling and interesting, and that strategy would probably not be very fun for them.