So, these are my survival tips so far. I have found the way to make it through the first winter and not starve quickly. However getting numbers up is still hard. Highest I got was 34 before the AI glitched.
1. Don't place your epicenter until it is almost fall. Around year 11 is ideal.
2. Use the tutorials for the free buildings, they make a difference come summer.
3. Research water, place pump, well, and reservoir, then research tools.
4. Build 2nd water pump and reservoir, as well as engineers.
5. Research farms, then eatery, then fishing.
6. Build 2 farms as soon as available. (preferably one in forest and one in grassland) Grow bloody fruit and acorns, or just bloody fruit
7. Build a eatery and start researching hospital then cemetery
8. Build 2 more wells.
9. Build a hospital and cemetery as soon as they are available.
10. research fire, and the camel perk to reduce hunger and thirst
11. build 2 piers and a 2nd engineers.
from here you can build another eatery and any other buildings you wish. And I have no issue of survival unless the AI craps out which it usually does.