Not many postings on strategy yet for this delightful game, so maybe I can help “prime the pump” a bit...
Keeping in mind that these thoughts are based on only a handful of plays limited to the solitaire variant against “Hal” (is this a sly 2001: A Space Odyssey allusion?), here are some initial thoughts regarding some basic strategic/tactical principles for this elegant and rather addictive game...
First of all, clearly district control is a major issue requiring attention during all stages of the game in terms of both urbanizing and carefully targeted construction (keeping in mind the increased costs), which can quickly shift the balance of power in a district or radically change districts by breaking up large ones in advantageous ways. Efforts to gain and consolidate control of districts (especially larger ones) is critical, along with challenging in districts controlled by your rival where feasible. Indeed, it seems really crucial to seize and maintain control of at least one tile in a district controlled by a rival (especially a big one) so he doesn’t get the double point score at the end. So this is one factor always bearing on choices to be made during your turn.
In addition to this district control factor, my preference at this point is to prioritize efforts to acquire (via targeted construction) cards which provide bonuses in terms of resources (top priority) and tiles (second priority, unless you’re running low) early in the game so I can get an “engine” going which will open up more and better options (some of which are likely to involve higher costs) later in the game. Thus I generally ignore cards which would provide SPs early in the game, and focus my exploiting and urbanizing efforts as much as possible on gaining the maximum number of resources and tiles possible, hopefully amplified by cards providing permanent bonuses along these lines.
Then, around the halfway point, I start watching for construction opportunities which will result in acquiring cards (usually 2 or 3) which provide endgame bonuses, and then start aligning subsequent efforts to maximize their benefits as much as possible.
It is the various interactions among these major factors which makes each turn’s choices (limited somewhat by the cards available to you on that turn) so interesting and delightfully complex. And then there are some additional factors which may arise, further complicating things -- e.g., “maybe I better overbuild one of his tiles right there while I have that card (which will seize control of that district from him and also give me a good permanent bonus card) in order to return those resources to him (hate to give him those SPs, but...) so he doesn’t end the game on his next turn, as I need another couple more turns to crank out more SPs with that other card’s end game bonus ...”
Indeed, pulling off a turn which synergistically and simultaneously serves a number of purposes (as in the example above) is most gratifying in this game. And although sometimes you can to some degree actively work toward a specific opportunity despite not knowing exactly which cards will be available to you when, at other times such an opportunity just kind of presents itself unexpectedly -- and hopefully you see it when it does...!
An elegantly deep game, indeed -- and, being just a beginner, I feel like I’m just “scratching the surface” here in terms of possible strategies and tactics. I’m hopeful that other more experienced players will share their thoughts and insights here?! Thanks.