So, it seems that leveling the monsters is just about the most important thing. I put half my stars into xp and the rest into gold, and the game became so much easier. I usually get a couple levels even when I lose (if I'm fighting at or above my level). If the monsters are too fast for you, it might be a difference in levels. If you're tired of walking around put some stars into your walking speed. You can always reassign them later.