So if you are picking up Near & Far for the first time, then I would dive into the Character Mode first and leave the campaign for another time. Pick a random map and a couple of characters (avoiding the two player characters), and kick off the game.
The mechanics are in the book, and the overall aim / feel of the game is hopefully in the review, but if you are looking for some quick tips for how you might win…
During the game:
Mining: This is key – it gets your camps out which brings you closer to finishing the game and it scores you points for those camps. If all that’s not enough then this move also gets you basic goods which help you through the game.
Getting the band back together: Got your first camp in the mine; well it’s time to get a new character to build out the gang. Each new character will give you swords to fit, hands to gather, and potentially extra movement. Over time you can build up the team to allow you to get to key locations on the maps – getting through the bandits, or just travelling very long paths. Each character of one type allows you to get the next one cheaper – helping you to build through the game.
Don’t underestimate pack-birds: Getting pack birds is more important than it seems at first – you need them for movement and you need them to keep items that you find along they way. These items can get you points, can get you key bits of “luck” later in the game.
Gamble earlier than you think: The easiest way to lose this game is to spend too many turns in town. You just don’t score your points there. Getting out of town as early as possible even if you are taking a risk is going to help you win or stand a chance of it!
Bandits: These guys are cheap points at the end, but also they get much harder as the level steps up. Killing the early bandits gets you more scores but also makes it much harder for your opponents to get across the map. This second part is often under-rated!
Hearts: This game has a bit of output luck and also makes it costly to move long distance on the map – the only way to combat both of these features is to increase your hearts. Keep getting heros and items that give you hearts! Normally you will finish with around 10 hearts!