hmmmm... quite an open ended request.
The build times aren't so bad once you get used to them. Actually they play a key role in the attack planning you showed interest in. You simply have to move your horizons forward more. Sometimes the waiting period will give you time to notice something important to your plan you would not have if you had attacked right away with available units.
The best advice I can give you is to pick a smaller area, with a region you have interest and/or familiarity with to play. A region with natural resources to trade and exploit is a bonus. Then play that region a few times, as many as necessary. Each time you play, concentrate on a new part of the game. If your neighbors keep attacking you too early for your liking, then work on learning the diplomatic end of things to calm them down. If your economy won't support you plans, then work on that. Each time you play, you will add another layer of knowledge to your repertoire and another aspect to your plans, keeping what works and changing what doesn't. The concept of playing the same region repeatedly is to remove the effort of learning the quirks of a new region while you figure out the nuts and bolts of the game.
I hope I helped in some small way, feel free to ask more questions as they arise.