I've read your posts, folks, and I watched a lot of videos. The problem with the videos is that many of them go too fast to make out what they are doing.
For example, the videos talking about making units in batches. I tried it but I don't understand the sense of it. If I click a unit 5 times, I don't have to wait for all 5 to be made before I can use them; I can grab the first unit made and put it to build a house, for example. Making units in batches makes me wait until all are made; I see no sense in it. So, I watched 2 or 3 videos about using shift, but I'm not using it anyways.
One of the videos mentions briefly that you can assign a producing building to a control group; but does not show how to do it; or at least doesn't show it slowly enough to see how it's done. So, I'm using ctrl, but not much.
Nifa suggested I add an allied player, but I've not been able to figure out how to do it.
As far as build order, I do now try to make a lot of food and cut a lot of wood, and make more units; but as for results, I only once won 1 game in very easy mode, and tried half a dozen times since and got wiped out by the first or second attack. The videos, like I said, don't help much because they go too fast to be able to tell exactly what they are doing. I don't even understand; I can't even believe that it is possible to build so many units so fast as the AI's attack me with. It feels to me like the game is cheating.
I play at 0.25 speed, as someone suggested, but besides making everything horrendously slow, it doesn't help much; I still get beaten to a pulp when the attack comes and have to exit the game.
So, after about 20 videos and trying again multiple times, I'm back to square zero.
Alright, I don't know what "snowball" refers to, but I do feel, intuitively, there's some truth here. Let me guess how this is programmed: Somebody tried to figure out what THE BEST build order and THE BEST strategy is, created a super-AI, and then tried to tie a hand behind its back for the easier levels. Right?
That's a bad decision. Many games are fun precisely BECAUSE the AI is dumb as monkeys; and it's hilarious to defeat. Fighting a super-AI may be fun for people playing at insane level, but I want the AI to be dumb. I want the fighting to be an "extra spice" added to the fun of building and exploring; NOT the most important part of the game.
EDIT: The problem with Sandbox is that it's not an AI anymore, if it doesn't expand or attack at all. Levels of difficulty should go exponentially from the easiest to the hardest; say for instance a repeating factor of 1.7. The difficulty of Very Easy divided by 1.7 is NOT zero. Or it should not be zero.