If you are joining a world that has been going on for some time, you should adjust your strategy. Of course it is still important to secure a good resource production. And you should protect yourself from plundering by your neighbors. Construct a wall, upgrade your hiding place and produce a couple of Defensive Units . Sometimes a nice message to you attackers can make a big difference also. Once you have managed to increase the size of your village you can try to get some resources by plundering other players. Plundered resources will help you develop your village even faster.
There are a few major differences to the usual progress, which you usually do not perform:
Do not make the mistake to concentrate solely on the development of your first noblemen. It may seem logical, since after all you want to rule several villages. But this is a potentially fatal mistake. Much stronger players that play for a long time in this world with will try to secure villages in your area of the map, to establish a strong second base here for the further course of the game. If you invest all your resources in buildings and a strong offense, you are easy to conquer for these players! They have the possibility to take all your possessions without even suffering great losses. Once you are attacked, it is usually too late already.
The only strategy against this is to take many defensive precautionary measures, such as producing many spear- and swordsmen. You should not be an attractive and cheap target at the same time for these players. If they suffer a great loss in an attack, they will usually leave you alone. In this situation morale can can be a great help for you. The attacking troops could be weakened by up to 70%!
This security phase will cost you time, but the defensive troops are not useless. They will help you a great deal in the future. If you have a good defence consisting of at least 1200 spearmen and 1200 swordsmen, you can start creating a noblemen and putting together Offensive Units.
You will probably be able to tell by the surrounding villages, that it was well worth it...