The "Town Hall stage" after the barracks
Well, you've had your chance of stopping your opponent's production before it was actually built up.
Just a few tips in random order:
- build your farms early enough. 2nd one with 5 people, 3rd one with eight, 4th one with 11. Don't let your production stop just because your food production is too low.
- After a while (with about 20 people), make sure you build one extra farm. Farms are hard to protect since you've got a whole lot of them and they are the weakest builings (after towers). Thus, a quick attack that costs you a farm a) won't hurt you and b) maybe makes the opponent think he's stopped you for a while and stop the raid and c) you'll have more time to get rid of the attackers.
- Usually you should have a second town before the upgrade to keep.
- Always build peons, and build enough grunts (at least 6) even with a wall-in to stop an early catapult. Personally, I build a whole bunch of grunts and a few axethrowers (totally at least a dozen soldiers) before I upgrade to keep.
- Upgrade your men ASAP! Build a blacksmith as soon as you can! The first two upgrades are a real bargain, and a level 4 footman will easily kill his level 1 companions.
- After a while, build a lumbermill to get a few archers/axethrowers. They will improve your attack because only up to three or four footmen (theoretically up to eight, normally only two or three) can attack an enemy at once, and your archers will help to kill the enemies faster. And they help against wall-ins. And their production time is shorter and they cost less gold. Don't underestimate them.
- Don't upgrade too early to keep/stronghold! I've read somewhere that you should have at least 17 peons; on some maps, you should have even more. Also make sure you have an extra farm because you will want all of you peons to get resources for new grunts and blacksmith/lumbermill upgrades. Keep in mind that you should not have to cancel an upgrade at low resources because you'll lose the oil. This is devastating on land maps at low resources (all upgrades plus the blacksmith cost 800 oil, and you've got only 1000). Never upgrade just to get the 10 extra gold! Another peon speeds up the production too at much less cost.
- Explore! Don't wait for the flying machines! They are great and perhaps the most important unit in the game (good scouting makes the difference in many games), but you should already know where to send them when you get them.
- Don't stop building units just because you think the ogres will replace them anyway. You will still have to wait some time till then. As an alternative, you may build axethrowers or a catapult if you haven't already got one. If you stop making grunts and are attacked, you will certainly lose. (Keep in mind that the ogre mound needs also its time to be built, after the upgrade to keep).
- Building a second barracks before the upgrade to keep is not a must on all maps, but you should do so unless you are separated from the enemies. You won't be able to replace some lost grunts quickly enough with only one barracks, and you won't have enough resources left while upgrading.
- At sea, an early grunt raid may be devastating. Always build a port before you upgrade. And feel free to use a transport before you could scout the territory with flying machines. It may be worth the risk of having six grunts not available.