You must constantly grow your clan and improve your food supply. Techs are nice, but should be secondary to food. When you take a tech like fire, you lose a turn that you could use to improve your food supply. You should NEVER take techs two turns in a row because you will fall behind in food production.
Each turn you will produce a net amount of food after feeding. You should set aside enough food to purchase the next higher card possible. The rest should be spent on expansion. This accounting should avoid spoilage.
If you have an option to get a grain card, get it. Grain is a secure resource. You do not have to worry about being first to get a scares food supply. This means you don’t have to be “last” to pick first and frees you to jump into the lead with the threat of starvation. In short, the more fields you acquire, the more likely you are going to win.
The above overall strategy is sound, however, as with the original Power Grid game; position in the turn order is critical (and slightly confusing). This tactic may cause you to adjust your plans. I like to think of it as a bike race, the 1st place person has to deal with the friction of the wind, while the last biker can conserve energy. However, at some point, the rear biker needs to take the lead in order to win. This applies to the board game “First Sparks.”
The last position player gets first pick of the technology and tools (but not necessarily the best). They also get first stab at the food supply when harvesting. This could lead to starvation for the leader.
So the main question is: When do I break away from the pack?
Always grow as fast as the other players. You can choose to be 1 behind the leader or a head of the pack in order get a prime turn order position. Keep in mind that you can only grow a maximum of 5 people per turn. So if you fall behind it is hard to catch the leader. You should start to think about being the leader around when the group starts to break the 7th clan mark.
If you can do this and not get prevented by the other players, consider yourself lucky. With the amount of food you will produce, there is no way you cannot build 13 clans before everyone else.
Enjoy the board game Power Grid: First Sparks!!!