Great post for us newbs. I've only been playing for two weeks, and have already benefitted from being active with a squad (which I only joined a week ago).
One of the side benefits that I believe that I am experiencing, when I log in often to see who needs a troop donation, is that there are less opportunities to be attacked. If I am correct, and the mechanics of this game are similar to others, then you cannot be attacked when online.
For me, as I try to stay active, and attacking, I have found that I advance quicker, by NOT staying under protection after being attacked, so this tactic does offset that a little.
This may seem a bit dodgy, and unsportsmanlike to some, but when new, and desperately trying to save resourc s for an upgrade, or victory points for that cool objective crate, every little advantage you get, is helpful
This does not mean that I don't get attacked. I do. Still quite often (I'm probably getting hammered as I post this - lol), and yes, I lose most of those encounters, but that's the game, yes? I just think that getting plundered twice a day, is a whole lot better than five, or only one, but then waiting under protection for a day or more before I can play again.
Anywho, sorry for the ramble, and if any of this is missing a point somewhere, feel free to correct me. Just wanted to share a newb's perspective.