I like starting in mountains, with wood, near water/lake/river as well. I start with the trapper’s knife because there’s no gain in buying the other 3 tools - they’re pretty much the very first thing my carpenter makes anyway, and I set a carpenter ASAP (so I can get some beds down quick).
I reroll until I can get a few high minds, 2 high body/compassion (one with 6 compassion), and 2 high body. if I can get 3 high body/compassion, it’s even better. I immediately clear the surrounding area of trees, make the leader unit my carpenter (a 6 in mind, and highest of high minds in other stats. I’ve had a 6/6/6 before, so perfect leader there), and get him to craft the tools, and then get working on beds. after that, the basic windows and doors so I can plop down preset shared housing for everyone. Every new crafting tool goes to the high mind hearthlings, although I’ll save a high mind for a blacksmith and put the next highest on mason (so carpenter>weaver>blacksmith>mason), before putting the mason on stone fence duty. the weaver gets to maintain 3 bundles and 3 thread, and will eventually make winter clothes a few days down. I give a high body hearthling a hoe and make him farm immediately - if I do it quick enough, I get a new hearthling by the next day, although I’ve done it without a farmer before, just requires going far to pick berries or a lucky merchant. I set a high body/6 compassion to hunter, and switch them to shepherd ASAP, passing the knife down to the next high body/compassion (gotta get them pets, man). the leftover high body gets put on the sidelines for a few days so he works on the town - workers are precious, and on the first few days, a warrior isn’t. I still make a sword and shield just in case, but it’s generally unused until the goblins show up, and by then I have a few more hearthlings.
what usually stops me from getting the 2nd hearthling usually isn’t food, but net worth. I usually don’t even finish the first building until the 3rd day, but luckily partial buildings still give partial credit to your net worth, so that’s not an issue, and wood is plentiful, so I don’t really have to worry about harvesting anything and can focus on building.
after a week, I’ve got 2 shared housing and 1 dining hall, and have already set a 3rd shared housing to be built. I also have all the crafting stations lined up next to the “raw material” stockpile (raw resources and “valuables” go here, so wood, ore, gold, plants, etc), with another stockpile on the other side of the crafting stations carrying only finished goods (fences, tools, etc). I place another stockpile next to the raw material stockpile carrying food, but by this point I’ve already moved it down to the farms. I’ve also got 2 farmers, 1 footman, 1 of each crafter (except cook), a shepherd, a hunter, and several workers. it doesn’t take long for my blacksmith to make steel armour, but that’s unnecessary to face the goblins, and (unless I’m lucky enough and get the bone hammer from a trade) my soldier usually makes do with a wooden shield and a stone mallet. it’s more than enough to fend off goblins (although if I get the bone hammer, I can one-shot the goblin king, so I don’t really have to worry at all). hopefully I also have some stairs in the cliffs as well, and I usually try to get a road set up by now.
I’ve never gone much farther than this, but then again there’s currently not much else to do by this point, as there’s no new threat or progression yet.