My strat is to put all vils on food after crates (herding the huntables toward the TC of cource) and then ASAP build a TP. Then a house and just get food until colonial. During advance, put most setlers on food and gold. In colonial get a stable and ship three hussars, train as many as possible and raid until fortress. In fotress get all tc's ASAP and set gather points at wood- slowly shift some off wood when there's enough so that you can build plantaitions and mills. Be sure to have as many as possible mosque improvements. Then get a fort and focus on military.
But I still got totally raped by their halbs and falcs, even though i had their counters. what went wrong? I realise scouting is an issue, but dammit its hard!!!