the wiki answers a good deal of your questions: power weapons like sledgehammer take the barricades faster and realistically, how well do you think attacking a barricade with your bare hands would work anyway?
the game view unfortunately does not live refresh, you need to stay active and click game view every now and then in order to refresh the and events and be sure that you'll make it.
most deaths will happen when you arent logged in, so the primary concern would have to be to make use of the wikis guide for every class to survive. for the most part, new players that start of as humans will have the hardest time simply because unlike vamps and zombies, once the human dies it could be a while till they get to be a human again. while the wiki has great tips on starting classes and skills to ensure survival and quick exp as a human, id suggest recommending new players to refer to the wiki with a link on the top of the registration page, something like "hey don't choose youre class yet! this guide for a human/vampire/zombie is guaranteed to keep you alive longer than not reading and has some GREAT starting class tips!"
most characters are screwed from the word go simply because they dont know how to prepare themselves. while the game is pretty unforgiving for most new player's favorite class, the human, ive yet to hear concern that a zombie character was killed because death probably effects those im-too-good-for-rigor-mortis bastards the least. most players dont take death as an opportunity to try a different play style as another class, so id also suggest a message upon a players first death being the "benefits of playing as a zombie/vampire" followed by things like easy hunting or the sudden lack of concern for ones health points, or easy exp from hunting the race people probably register most as.
at the end of the day, though, expecting things to be easy against a level 15 zombie is asking a bit much, and any player who thinks combat solely based off of fighting other players who probably hit harder and more often than you do would be easy, you're not gonna have a fun time.
also, I always though the vampires ability to sense the presence of others should be nerfed a bit, there was a good reason rangers only had a chance of discovering hidden players simply by crossing the square they landed on in scrollwars. vampires are strong enough already; they probably have the highest attack potential and the one of the best starting weapons and accuracy that they can NEVER lose. What happened to vampires NEEDING to live off of blood? there were good reasons for vamps becoming weak when without a source of blood in literature and movies, to make the superhuman abilities come with a cost. if not, why WOULDNT you want to be a vampire?