The flow of the game changes quite radically based on what Round Tiles are drawn, and what order they appear in. You may even want to adjust your choice of race based on the order and type of Round tiles in play (the order of set-up actually allows you to select your race AFTER the tiles are drawn).
Stronghold in Round One or Two:
Playing the Giants, Alchemists, Witches, or Auren isn’t a bad choice. All these Factions benefit from an early Stronghold.
Early Dwellings or Transform:
The Halflings, Cultists, Swarmlings, Mermaids, and Darklings all can expand fairly rapidly from the start. Other races tend to invest in upgrades (Engineers, Chaos Magicians), or simply can’t expand as quickly.
These tiles add a nice variety to the game, where getting the right tile at the right time can really swing the game your way.
Overview of Bonus Tiles
Analysis of Bonus Tiles
By far the best bonus tile at the start of the game is the “Transform + 2 Coin” tile. Simply put, this tile is worth 3 workers and 2 coins, simply because every race must Transform at the least efficient rate from Round one. The next best tile is probably the “+3 Power, +1 Worker” tile, simply because regardless of your race, it will allow you to burn power and take the juicy 4-Power “Transform” Action square, which is almost as good as the Transform bonus tile. Third best is probably the “2-worker” tile, because you’ll have plenty of gold in Round one, but you may lack workers to do everything you wish.
Later in the game, the points-tiles start to become much more important, since you’ll have more Dwellings, Trading Posts, and Stronghold/Sanctuaries from which to gain Victory Points (VPs), and your economy will already be good enough to support a decent amount of building and upgrading.
These tiles are nice to get, but only the Chaos Magicians can really invest in them. For other races, they are a nice thing to have, but only a small piece of your strategy.
I think the single most valuable favor tile is probably the “2-points-per-Dwelling-built” tile (one Earth). You will build a significant number of dwellings during the game, and getting extra points every time is very valuable. Not only that, but more Dwellings contributes the most to getting the largest area scoring, so building more Dwellings is never bad, so long as you can place them indirectly adjacent to your other structures.