The penalty for not-in-the-log or busted callsign is steep especially when the margin for local bragging rights is a matter of 12 Qs in the log.
The basic Sweepstakes strategy is butt in the chair for 12 hours on Saturday and call CQ as if one is winning the game. Perhaps, calling CQ more times than not, works best for those equipped with optimal antenna systems on Saturday. However, those who are not heard on Saturday are more than likely heard on Sunday, when rates decline.
I have experienced both low power into suboptimal antenna systems and high power into optimal antenna systems. My suboptimal antenna did not 'listen' as well as an optimal and I'm not 'heard' when operating low on the frequency dial despite what sounded like a clear channel.
I learned that calling CQ high on the frequency dial, away from high power stations whom tend to cluster lower on the dial, increased my chance of being heard.
Impact of Rate Between Saturday And Sunday
On the other hand, legal power stations with optimal antenna systems have mined the bands of precious Qs for the log perhaps by Sunday afternoon? My strategy shifted from calling CQ with its concurrent Saturday rate to one of Sunday searching and logging with the dial and/or pointing and clicking the band map.
Keep in mind, the first few hours are crucial to one's success that is getting out in front of the pack because of Sunday's dramatic rate change. One tactic is understanding propagation to major population centers and which band will provide the most Qs per CQ or the most Qs when searching and logging.
I recommend studying propagation charts and if one's club produces an hour-to-hour chart then download it and have it next to your key board.
My basic strategy for Sweepstakes fun is butt in the chair, call CQ, accurately complete the exchange, maintain a competitive rate then shift to searching and logging by Sunday afternoon.