By Phalanx and Abbalke
Kickoo has the best potential and the worst potential. You highly dependent on your spawn cause unlike other tribes Kickoo can get godlike spawns and really bad spawns. But this shouldn't make you feel down cause even with a bad start with given enough time Kickoo can become a god. Your basic goal should be stalling the game till you get your economy going. In most games it's a war between economies. Kickoo has the advantage they have best CH (customs house) spots.
When you start a game you should look at your surroundings. First thing to look at is whales. If you have any whales within your border you can start calculating your next moves. It's easy to plan out with Kickoo since your goal is almost the same in every game, namely getting CHs. Your second focus should be expanding, how can you find more cities. If you have land connections then go explore. If there is more than one land connection, then make a another warrior and explore that way too. If you only have one direction to go, then don't make a second warrior. If you have no land connections then you should go for sailing early. After getting sailing try to see if you can pass through shallow waters and find another city. Don't get navigation until you've gone everywhere you can via shallow waters.
Normally you should be safe in the early game so you don't want to spend too much stars on navigation, units or things like that. If you are not safe early on try to get giant battleships. Getting a early giant battleships means you control the water and no-one can get you. You should pressure other people defensively and stall the game till you get your CHs. To sum up, stall the game till you get your CH, don't give control over the water. After you get CH, it's basically a slow win. This is a clash of economies and no one could match yours after you get what you wanted
Now, if you can't get a decent CH, you will probably have to play aggro.
However, if you get a "bad potential" spawn there are still other avenues you can take.
First, the difference between having a good and bad potential is dependent on where your city boundaries, land and water tiles are are located. If custom houses can share ports, that helps a lot to have a "great potential" spawn. If you have lots of land and few water tiles, then going for custom houses isn't the best idea.(edited)
If you have a normal archipelago spawn, which is what Kickoo spawns with often, make sure to keep claiming cities and leveling set cities. Don't worry about getting aquatism or navigation tech as you will most likely have no need of them for early or mid game. But getting the sailing tech should be one of the techs you should consider getting for exploring and combat purposes. Now when placing ports, consider how units could get an advantage from location from that port and where custom houses can connect up to the ports. If you think that the game is going to last a decent amount, investing into custom houses can be a good/bad decision. This is because custom houses take some turns to start making a profit and it is also heavy for tech cost.
If you spawn with a narrow archipelago, which is when you have very slim stretch of land. Now although these spawns are great for high level custom houses, they are not always the best choice to go with. Get the sailing and probably navigation as well. Work for a small navy of ships. After you get a navy, get defenders. Now sometimes you will need to get defenders earlier due to enemy aggression. After you have navy and defender combo, you can probably go and get custom houses as you have a decent defense.
If you happen to get a big island spawn with lots of land but very little water, custom houses are not going to be worthwhile. Instead, try going for getting archers and riders. This is very effective combination if used correctly, and also heavily improves when you use roads as well. Make sure to mindful of knights and not clump up your entire army. Also make sure to use the dash ability for both units and the escape ability for the riders.