I usually play very aggressively at the beginning, both with humans and orcs (being the same at the town hall stage). For the building order, I refer to the one described in "The startup phase" which is the best one I know. Then I seek my enemies with my first grunt and attack - and here's the problem. Bad players just attack the first unit or building in sight (sometimes using the patrol trick) or try to stop the peons which are mining. Anyway, you can't always do the same:
If you encounter a wall-in with a tower, wait until you have a catapult.
Go for the peons chopping wood, NOT for the ones mining. Just give each peons a whack on his neck and he'll run away, forgetting about his former axe strokes and all the sweat and time it cost to perform them :-> . (This is like 100 lumber lost.) Afterwards, kill the peons. You should win anyway. This works even if he has a walled in tower: attack the peons chopping wood with one of your grunts and try to make them have a break!
Use "stand ground". His footman will always be attacked by three of your buddies!
Send a few extra grunts to replace the injured ones and let the others slay the peons.
To counter this attack, set up another barracks (use the repair trick if possible). Gather at least two grunts to attack the one at the bottom. Never attack the enemy one by one, or you'll lose quickly.
Bad luck? Not if his grunts are separated (looking for new mines, for instance): then, send the lonesome comboys to their creator :-) .
Always attack a small group with a bunch of your grunts. There should always be at least two who attack the same man. If your opponent is a newbie and prefers a "fair face to face duel", then you'll easily beat him.
Don't make too large groups, though, for they will waste time running around and trying to attack the same guy. Use groups of two to four men.
Always make one of your grunts go for the peons chopping wood!
Keep in mind that this is a very risky phase and that a little mistake or delay often results in a loss! Good luck!