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I don't really know much about the English version of Age of Empires, as mine is in French, so if I put one or more of the units names wrong or you have never heard af one I use, such as I might have "Forum" for town center, Ecure for stables and some other stuff I really don't care about.
For starters, Age of Empires has a rediculasly low population limit of 50. This makes long games hard to play, as you need at least 25 villagers. A good goal is to train up to the gold age quick - I have played games in which my one centarian took on 20+ axe men. Against an army of slow moving troops, your best bet would be cavalary archers. Personaly, I think monks suck. Raiders attacking your base? Build lots of walls with towers every so often to act as senteries. Dont plan on having permanent base defenses too long-most of the time an experianced player will just attack en-mass and crush your walls. of course, as in any strategy game, leap-frogging in defensive structures is a pretty good offensive. Just be sure to have your towers cover each other.
Age of Empires lacks a large choice of ships to choose from. To kill catapult ships, which you can do with just a basic ship, isnt that hard. with just 1 or two, you can sit and fire, moving in a random direction when they fire at you. The catapults rarely hit this way. If there are a large group, say 13, get next to one, they all fire at you, get the hell out, and the shots will probably take out a few of their own, or atleast severly damefe them. Was, lather, rinse, and repeat.