I can give you a list of mods I've enjoyed over the years:
Caveman 2 Cosmos is one of those super mods that throws everything in including the kitchen sink. Despite having so many techs to choose from, I have yet to see gunpowder in the game, because the length of the game is really extended, It takes a whole lotta turns to get out of the ancient era, and you'll probably have killed off all your neighbors before you even develop iron working. How many types of caveman weapons can you think of? You'll be surprised, this mod is like the definition of 'bloated'.
Rise of Mankind: A New Dawn is alright as far as features goes, it includes most of the little mods that most big modpacks run with these days. It has a strange loyalty mechanic that makes it so you can't expand super fast in the beginning. As for progressing through the ages, this plays out like an expanded vanilla game, with a slightly longer ancient era. Biggest thing I liked about this mod was building and manning a fort will expand your borders as if it were a city.
Realism Invictus expands all the eras, adding way more military units and penalizes you for having large stacks of doom by adding debuffs if you have too many units stacked up together. Each nation has its own cosmetic units, so Americans have Sherman tanks, Germans Panthers, Russians T34s, etc. One thing I didn't like about this mod was the fact that each era has it's own nation-wide debuff. So progressing to the Renaissance, for instance, automatically gives every city +2 unheathiness. Realism in name only, I guess.
Pie's Ancient Europe is probably the mod I've enjoyed the most so far, though I haven't played it in quite some time. The units are balanced, and you're encouraged to back up large stacks with supply wagons. Battles will also effect your cultural influence, so you can actually have border skirmishes and fight over resource tiles rather than being forced to deal with turtled up cities. Fun.