When you 1st play this game it is certainly hard and confusing - come one guys you all remember all the posts about wtf I can't build my city up.
1st things first - makes sure you place your 1st city right next to a patch of grass - that is going to allow you to build 3 houses once you build on it.
Create your city and build the beacon of faith
If you find the assistant guy hire him and put him in your city. (Janik I think) he will help to jumpstart your tech tree
Once the exclamation shows over the grass area - build on it
takes like 2-3 turns to complete - keep your sovereign close to the city encase of sneak attack
Once you have the 1st hut - build a couple of peasants
On the second hut being built build workspaces
You want to build a basic defense and start tech research - use civilization to like 3 or 4
then work on basic military upgrades - at the same time you should have enough cheap troops to sent 2-3 with your sovereign and keep 2-3 at home, so you can explore the lands.
get leather armor and spears as early as you can and _ like to research teams and forts - to increase city defense
When you are comfortable and you find another food source get a pioneer - escorted with 3 peasants and build second city next to that.
Immediately start research on Diplomacy - you want to at least get the caravans upgrade.
build caravans and send 1 from each city to the other -
Once you have a decent economy and good start force - begin building Alchemy huts - or whatever they call them to research magic.
Focus on the spells that you have a shard for - if you don't have the proper shard type - find it in the wild and build a city next to it.
there are other tactics - but this works well enough for me.