Early Building Strategy
Next major concept you need to learn is building strategy, not only what to build but when to build. Building strategy can differ greatly based on several factors: player strategy, the age of the world, your neighbors, farming, activity, and several others. I will also touch on early troop production, though I will get more involved on that topic in a later lesson.
Upon arriving with your first village your first goal is to boost your resource income. While you (and presumably your neighbors) are still under protection you have only 2 routes to do this. Either 1) upgrading your resource buildings or 2) farming grey abandons. Unfortunately you can’t plan on the grey abandons, either your lucky enough to have them or you loose out.
Your first few builds should be aimed at resource mines. Based on your activity you may be forced to build a level or two on your warehouse, but hopefully you can keep the stockpile small enough that it’s not an issue for a while. Don't bother with walls or hiding places in the first half of protection as there is no way of being attacked. If you’re later world and your stockpile isn't remaining balanced you might find a level or two of market could pay of in short order.
IF you have an abandon nearby it would be helpful to build the barracks/statue & paladin early to build a few spearmen and begin farming it for additional resources. Based on the number of abandons, your hauls, and your activity try to balance your spearmen production so that you don’t have any more than necessary to get the job done. If your playing from the world beginning don’t bother building more than 500 spears, later world no more than 1k. If you feel additional troops are needed for your farming concentrate on axes or even better LC.
Once you can afford to keep your HQ building 24/7 then you can start upgrading your HQ. There is no need to upgrade prior. Also at this point, you should build the barracks and smithy and getting that running 24/7 aiming for axes as soon as possible. As a reminder you shouldn't build more than 500 spears or swords (early world) or 1k spears and swords(late world) and should in fact aim to stop at 1/2 that number (250/500).
As you approach the end of your protection you should start building the wall up to protect yourself. The wall is more useful at defending than your troops as it not only adds a base defense value it also adds a multiplier to your defensive troops(even though they may not number great). Further your wall will hurt an opponent EVERYTIME they try to farm you unless they have siege equipment(which you should beat them too). This combined with activity should be enough to discourage any early aggressive action against you.
As you continue to grow don’t be in too big a hurry, the key is balance. If you race to get a noble or upgrade your mines, or your barracks/stables too fast without consideration for the other aspects you will find yourself at disadvantage versus other players. Based on farming, activity, and neighbors continue to grow with your goal being "building 24/7" your barracks, stables, and HQ should all be building as much as possible as often as possible. If you’re not using resources as fast as you gain them then you need more barracks, stables, and HQ. If you are waiting on resources then you need to upgrade mines, markets(if they are open), and farm more often/effectively(which often means more troops).
Note: This is what I mean by balance: The balance of income and spending, not the balance of levels of improvements. You may have only level 15 mines, level 20 barracks, and only level 10 HQ or vise versa and have level 20 mines, only level 5 barracks, but level 15 HQ. It all depends on your farms, neighbors and your own activity. There is no magic formula, no build x levels of A, y levels of B, and presto success. As a result don’t feel that you’re a failure if you get nobled or farmed on your first few times. Sometimes even doing everything "right" still results in failure.
As you continue to grow after you have nobled and started expanding there are a few base rules that you should learn:
1) Hiding places are largely useless. Don’t bother with them and preferably demolish them on sight.
2) There is no need to build a HQ past level 20. Its only points you don’t need.
3) You don’t need to build a siege workshop to max. Level 5 is often more than you will ever need.
4) A max pointed village isn't a good thing. In fact often times you shouldn't be much above 10k points per village MAX.
5) It isn't how many points a village is that determines its worth; rather the troop count is the deciding factor.
6) Things you should max without fail: Barracks, Farm, Warehouse, Mines
Your goal in determining your village builds is to find balance between points, troops, and effectiveness. Every building adds points and takes away from your total troop count. Now the small number of points that each building adds on or troops it subtracts may not seem to mean much in the end but its impact is much greater later on. 500 points and the 125 troops isn't much for one village but when you have 100 villages its 50k points and 12.5k troops with could have a rather large impact on morale. This is a rather minor difference, often you can shave 1k or more points off your villages and add an additional 250 or more troops doubling those estimates. So as you build your villages think about the bigger picture and weigh the value of the buildings prior to building them. For example, if your not having a shortage of rams you likely have little need of further upgrading your workshop; In the case of a defensive village likely the workshop is all together unnecessary, and perhaps in extreme cases even the stable (though I don’t suggest it) depending on your troop strategies.