A strategy in Find the Treasure! - The Card Game should start with the end, i.e. with the clue cards
you want to move to. Ideally, you want to keep clue cards with high value treasures in the map phase and
then play them to pick up those treasures in the treasure phase.
To be able to play a clue card, you need a matching map card at the right distance from your pirate
flag. That means that if you want to keep a 2 step totem card, you need to have another totem card 2
cards away from your pirate flag and move to that totem card before any other player does so.
This requires that the following conditions are true:
You have at least 2 cards with the same map symbol.
You manage to place 1 of the cards and your pirate flag at the right distance from each other.
You take your turn before any other player interested in the same map symbol.
To accomplish this, your first action should be to place a map card matching your highest value card, e.g.
if you have a 3 step totem card, you should place 1 or 2 step totem card.
Your second action depends on how many cards of that map symbol that are in play. (Remember that there are 3
cards of each map symbol in the game.) If the 2nd card has been placed, or if you started with all 3 cards, you
can place your pirate flag 3 cards away from the map card, knowing that no other player will be interested in moving
there. However, if there is a card unaccounted for, placing your pirate flag at one space 3 cards away will invite
the player with the missing card to place his or her pirate flag at another space 3 cards away and, thanks to being
before you in turn order, move there first.
Thus, you should not place your pirate flag until either all matching cards are accounted for or there is no
place left from which another player can move.
Your following actions should focus on your second clue card. Which card do you want to keep and, given that,
where do you need to place a map card matching it to be able to move there in your second move? Alternatively if you
started with all 3 cards of a symbol, you can plan to move to the first of them in your first move and then use the
card you pick up to move to the second of them in your second move. Beware, though, that if another player moves
there before you, they will enter "your" path to the second treasure.
Does this mean that you're out of the game is you start with no duplicates at all? Not at all, but you have to
play more tactically than strategically. Instead of placing cards you want to move to, watch which cards the other
player/s place and keep cards which will let you move to them. In addition, look for opportunities to disrupt plans
by moving to non-matching cards. It won't give you any treasure but it will possibly deny an opponent not only the
first treasure but potentially also a second treasure, which you may pick up instead.
No matter whether you play strategically or tactically, always make sure to plan for your next few moves when
moving - every round where your opponent/s get treasures but not you is a lost round!
In summary, you have to use the map phase for both spatial planning (where to place map cards) and temporal planning
(when to place your pirate flag). Ideally, you will want to start the treasure phase first but the placement of the
map cards may make it possible/necessary to place your pirate flag early. In the treasure phase you will then have to
make the moves which net you the most treasures now and in the future.