Turns are expensive.
Every turn in the game allows you a modest change to the board, and yet each one is important and cannot be wasted. Good players tend to find five different things they want to do on each turn, and must figure out the highest priority action to take. Most of the advice below centers on using turns as efficiently as possible.
Do what your hand tells you.
If your hand is full of cups, create lots of pieces. If it has swords, go attack someone. If it has rods, move around and push other players around. If it has discs, grow your pieces and territories. Do not waste time trying to get cards into your hand that you want when the cards you already have can serve you in a different but acceptable way.
It takes a turn to draw cards, and you should make the most of it when you need to do it. Better to use the cards on the board as much as possible, since they don’t get discarded when used. If you do need to draw cards, discard as many as you
possibly can. If you find that you have three cards that seem to be really good, but you cannot use them right now, then you actually have three cards that are not really good. There is no shame in discarding major arcana that are not useful to you. If you must draw, you should draw at least four cards, if not five or six. Drawing one or two cards is an inefficient strategy: you are not likely to get the cards you need, and it implies that you already have four or five cards that you think are worth holding but you are not using. It would be better to use those cards and draw later.
Attack and take territory.
While you can turn outwards and grow the wasteland to a spot card, and then to a royalty, and then to a major arcana card, it takes a long time and the right cards. It is often easier to attack another player’s royalty or major arcana card
and take theirs. However, do not take a player’s last card, because he will have no recourse except to dog you the entire game. Gnostica is not a game of isolation.
Resource management is most evident in using cups. You only have five small pieces, and while it might at first be a good idea to create all of them on the board, you will often find times later that you will want to add another piece somewhere else. Make sure to balance your growth and spawning, if possible, to give you a mix of small and medium pieces.
Grow pieces only when it will be useful.
Larger pieces are indeed more powerful, harder to kill, move further, and push further. However, they take time to create, and you should only do so when you foresee a need for them. It is rare that you will actually need a large piece, because large pieces have a mobility problem. To orient a small or medium piece, you can use a disc to grow it larger and then orient it. To orient a large piece, you will need to use your entire turn, without increasing your power on the board. A large piece pointing out can use a rod to move and orient, but a large upright piece cannot even do that. Before you commit to making a large piece, look to see if other players have medium or large pieces that will likely attack your pieces.
Using rods is one of the most effective attacks you can do. Rods allow your minions to push larger enemy pieces into the wasteland or into other players’ territories. When attacking someone on a cup, you can push out their pieces as they continue to use the cup to create new ones. At some point the enemy will run out of small pieces, and you will be able to push out his last piece. In game play, rods are the opposite of cups.
If your pieces are larger, swords are effective for attacking players on rods, discs, or swords. If you attack and kill a medium or large piece belonging to an opponent, you have stolen the two or three turns that it took them to create that piece. Swords allow you to set back the opponent’s development. If you believe that a territory you control or that nobody controls is about to be lost, consider razing it with a sword before it is swiped. Do not bother attempting to attack someone on a cup with a sword. In game play, swords are the opposite of discs.
Learn to orient well.
Every action that touches one of your pieces will allow you to change its orientation. By having a lot of pieces pointed in many directions, you will be prepared for many possibilities. It is rarely useful to point two pieces in the same direction unless you fully expect to move one of them on the very next turn. It is often a better defense to have two pieces on different territories pointed at each other than pointed upright, because then they both can use either swords or rods to repel invaders. Large pieces should not usually be pointed upright.
It is not too difficult for an experienced player to remember what major arcana cards are likely to be in player’s hands, especially since the discard pile may be examined at any time. However, it is harder to deduce what minor arcana cards people are likely to have. Examine player’s discards to see what suits they have plenty of, or that they do not believe they need. Often players are afraid to launch an attack because they expect that the defender will have a rod or sword, but in fact they do not.
Challenging is challenging.
To win a challenge, you must have a good idea about what cards the opponents hold and don’t hold. You should consider how they might stop you before giving them the opportunity. When someone challenges, all opponents should coordinate their attacks, and it is perfectly acceptability to stop and discuss at length how to prevent the challenger from winning. If the challenge fails, get in position to capture some now-empty territory.