A list of things to have in mind.
Here are just some tips on the way
Try to build closed systems, so those who work there, will live there nearby and have comodities on the way to or from home. Meaning food, clothing, water, church and in future luxury. Longer walks = more anxiety for a villager = more stress = more need= unhappy villager. Those just ruin everything.
Tricking the villagers
Create a church or lord manor (smallest possible for now, nothing fancy) in the center of your prefered residential area. But do not start the construction. Instead, pause it , and you can check residential layer- people will love that spot. I think Churches are better, it seems so. With this trick you lose no resourses, create comfort, and when time and resourse lets you, you can start actual building.
Roads using wells
You can use wells as road building tools. Villagers will come directly to the well and stomp out a path in the grass, along which in future they will build. After building and upon necesity – wells can be sold, as they have a maintenence cost. But this lets you cut roads throw forests and villagers will build closer to the well, too.
Build only necessities
Build only necessary parts of Churches, Manors, Monasteris. You will have a chance to improve it later, but for now – to get worker, kings or clergy stars- just build small decorations, that will have no maintenence cost.
Do not give the products to the villagers right away (famous tip)
After initial berries, be carefull. I lost my first several vilages not knowing this, but this citizens are ultra greedy. The moment you provide – they start consuming. Build up granarys or warehouses of goods, fill them up and release them to a market when you are ready to cover their greed.
Aditionally, don’t think much about variety
It’s beautyfull to have tavern, boar hunter, cheese and beer with wine, but in reality – people need 2 king of foods, 1 kind of luxury and clothes. For comfortable gameplay – don’t hurry to build every building and provide all, there will be time for that.
Trading is weird
Trading system here is not very rewarding. Traders are random, sometimes they don’t buy or bring nothing, and you could have build a ton of buildings to create a product to lure them in. It’s not automatic, like in other games, so be carefull on counting for that trading.
Buildings have literary “gold” maintenence
Seems irrelevant in the beginning, when everything just magicly works. Further in game, all those maintenences can start piling up, keeping the player in tight 0 conditions. Then the fountain trick comes handy (below)
Construct a Keep, add 2 dummies, and as much decoration as you can, as that raises King’s star ranks, fill in 5 or 6 soldiers, buy them or craft (not advised, very longplay) swords,then in a tab for war (king), add swords to their characters and sent them to easy missions. Trust when it says “Easy” “Hard” “Average”. They mean it. Take them back when it’s not “Easy” anymore, let them rest by kicking some dummies, they will gradually be wounded-partly trained-mostly trained-fully trained. Then repeat operation. 2 teams of 5-6 soldiers will provide you with gold and small ammount of resources on a weekly basis and with no risk.
Using spoils of war
When the soldiers arrive, they drop their loot at the city hall. Pause the game, if you are in tight financial spot, and use the cash prize. Other resources will get to their warehouses, and all unique stuff will just appear in your resource “inventory”
Single use monks
Monks do not reassign, so keep them in exact numbers for certain work. Herbs or honey need no barrels, as does wine, so those are most production efficient luxury goods.
If your system is stable, you have created a new area for villagers, and you are ready for imigrants, hand assign priority to the houses upon building or upgrading. That action attracts newcomers, as new living spaces are created. Simply follow the notification, press green arrow, your vilagers will do the rest fast and efficient.
Read other guides
These are just my personal views, that i found the hard way, loosing and stagnating several cities in a row. Read on city structure and how to build a stable food supply in the same section. Everyone has he’s own tricks, and here is mine:
The Fountain trick
When you arrive to have researched the “fountain” in decorations – make a lil side play. Whenever you have 500 money – build a fountain where you want it and pause it before anyone notices. It provides some villager attraction, but most of all – it gives you 500 money whenever. You loose nothing at all. Say you need to promote villagers, or buy some expensive tailor house, and you are at 0. Just pause the game, sell a fountain, and you get 500 for whatever cause. Most important – works with promotions, that’s how i use them.