Any civ that can get a second TC in Age 2, and this includes Habs through the Portuguese princess, has a pretty significant booming advantage, especially for what your playstyle seems to be. More TCs means both faster villager production and more defensive capabilities.
Beyond than that I can't give a whole lot of specific strategic advice other than "play well." This includes trying to spend a minimum amount on cost-effective units to hold the line, and stockpiling resources for aging quickly. And then it's just a matter of taking good trades in fights with what few units you have. Obviously if you lose your army you'll need to retrain it, but don't overcommit to military in Age 2 any more than you need to. This is assuming you're going for a Fast Capital.