The gathering stage is straight forward. Your goal is to collect as many resources as possible from farm, lumberyard, silver or iron mine tiles or alliance buildings. To improve your chances in ranking in the top 10 for this part of the event you can utilize the following strategies.
Use a 24h Gathering Cart Boost (or three 8 hour gathering cart boosts) to increase your gathering rate by 50%
Use the Guard Constance with a maxed out Resource Gathering Speed stat boost (up to 25%) or Count of Wardes who has a Prowess which provides a 23% Gather Speed stat boost
Use Equipment that provides Resource Gathering Speed Improvements. These are most easily obtained by fighting beasts or by purchasing Grade 5 designs directly out of the items store. If you are looking for a larger boost, you can frequent the Auction House and purchase fragments for rare Yellow equipment fragments.
Ask your alliance leader or an R4 to use the Nimble Harvester strategy found in the Strategy Center to increase your Gathering Speed by 50% for 720 minutes (12 hours).
Although this will affect the entire kingdom, the king can also use the Bountiful Kingdom skill in order to improve resource gathering speed by 20% for 1440 minutes (24 hours).
Reset your talent tree and apply all Talent Points to the Economy Tree. This can greatly increase the speed at which you gather Food, Wood, Iron or Silver.
Use the Instant Gather Talent on five level 7 resource tiles.
Have VIP status activated so that you receive an additional march slot (must be VIP 8 or greater) and have your Combat I research completed to provide 3 additional march slots (March Slot I, March Slot II and March Slot III) for a total of 5 march slots.
If you have a lower level castle, it is still possible to rank in the Top 10 for the gathering stage. If you use the above strategies and apply your talents intelligently in your skill tree, you can easily be one of the most successful in your kingdom. For example, if you have enough points to improve your food, but not your iron gathering speed, put as many points as you can to increase the rate at which you gather food. Then, when gathering, only gather food for this 24 hour period.
If you are really determined to reach Top 10 in this stage, you will need to gather in your sleep. Yes, this means setting alarms every 1-3 hours (however long it takes your troops to clear a tile) and send them back out when they have returned.
To earn points gather Food, Wood, Iron or Silver. Gather 20 Food to receive 1 Point, 20 Wood to receive 1 Point, 4 Iron to receive 1 Point or 1 Silver to receive 1 Point.