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Subject: To read or not read Strategy Forums... rss

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Joshua Noe
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"The objeective of the game is to win. The point of the game is to have fun."

I love this quote, but it embodies a mentality that I think explains why I am very selective about what Strategy articles I read on BGG. It's quite easy to get into the habit of playing a game once, getting crushed by your opponents, and walking away with a healthy "I'll get them next time" mentality leading to brushing up on some of the community strategy of how to win.

But I have found while that accomplishes the first statement of winning, it devalues the second. To me, having fun is discovering the road to victory, not having someone else telling me how to get there. Yes, this will easily result in me losing more often than winning, but I liken it to having, say, math homework done for you. You'll get the answer right, but you have a less clear idea on how you got there. In addition, since many "perfect information" games are, to some degree, an ever-changing puzzle manipulated by the players, knowing exactly what you need to do to win makes the replayability go down more than I would like.

I find that I tend peruse articles of games that are so long that I rarely get them to the table, and want to actually have a chance to win when I do play. Or ones that are so complicated that I need the strategy to at least set a frame work for how to play. The former occurs much more frequently than that latter, but both exist. In this case, I prefer the Tsumego style in Go, where you teach how to think in order to solve the problem, rather than give the solution.

I am curious if anyone else out there feels the same way.
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Brad N
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schuwa wrote:
To me, having fun is discovering the road to victory, not having someone else telling me how to get there. Yes, this will easily result in me losing more often than winning, but I liken it to having, say, math homework done for you. You'll get the answer right, but you have a less clear idea on how you got there. In addition, since many "perfect information" games are, to some degree, an ever-changing puzzle manipulated by the players, knowing exactly what you need to do to win makes the replayability go down more than I would like.

I feel the same way and I practically never read strategy articles. The only time I have is when a friend has written one or I feel like I am extremely experienced with the game and something catches my eye. Generally, I avoid strategy articles and I am not interested in reading them. I love to talk strategy with people who I just played the game with... to me, that's part of the fun.
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CHAPEL
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In general I don't like reading strategy guides, as I like to find those strategies on my own. But on the flip side I do read them for 18xx games, as each one has it's own eccentricities, and I like to see the gotchas. I've played 18xx type game enough to understand the basic ideas.
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Steve B
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Reading strategy articles before playing the game for the first time? Hate it. To me it even feels like cheating! But people who read them after a few games, why not!

Back in uni we used to edit Wikipedia articles related to some homework assignment. We would change facts and figures. Then when someone presented their homework with these made-up figures, we knew we had weeded them out.

I wonder if people do the same with strategy articles?! Post a really crappy strategy before a game group meetup, then revel in the victory over the people who fell for it
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James Palmer
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I like my games to be close - if I own a game, chances are I'm playing it more than any particular friend of mine is, so if I start reading strategy guides, I'm probably going to stomp them and it will be no fun at all. On the other hand, if I'm going to play a game for the first time with a friend who is experienced with the game, I might take a look at what kinds of strategies there are, just to try to level the playing field more, as I don't want to get stomped either.

The "discovery" of strategies is fun, but for me, the most fun is having a close, tense game, and I will read or avoid strategy guides if I think it will help me achieve that.
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J C Lawrence
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I read everything and then make up my own mind and do whatever it is I want.
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This is why I still have an unsolved Rubix cube. I want to work it out for myself. I just haven't put the effort in yet, so it is still unsolved.
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Austin Andersen
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I see nothing wrong with reading strategy forums as there is still an element of executing the strategies that needs to be done. I find that understanding a game better leads to better choices and makes playing a game more enjoyable. I would also like to mention that not every strategy mentioned is always a good strategy. Just like advice, sometimes you get bad ones. All in all though, I don't tend to read much on strategy guides. I find that for the most part, I usually have a pretty good grasp on what I did wrong or what I can do to improve. If a game repeatedly beats me down though, I will probably take a peek to see if I'm not playing correctly and/or if there is something I'm forgetting.
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I don't and I rely on the people I play with not to.

Otherwise it will just turn into an arms race and when one beats the other it's not really their own achievement.
 
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Kevin Ice
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If a game is completely ruined by pointing out an optimal strategy, then its a bad game. I want to be able to analyze a game, and if a little community input ruins that for me the game didn't have much to think about in the first place. That being said, I generally don't read many strategy articles, but thats simply because I play alot of games that don't invite deep analysis, and I also don't get enough of an opportunity to explore the games that do.
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Dave Eisen
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I do not read them upon first coming to a game. I prefer to figure things out for myself: that's half the fun.

But once I know a little about the game, yes, I will read them. I prefer to play games at the highest level possible and prefer that my opponents do so as well. I have read hundreds of chess/bridge/poker/go strategy books over the years (actually, probably tens of thousands), I don't see why reading what Alexfrog has to say about Puerto Rico is any different.

If a game suffers from players knowing what they are doing, and some do, that does not speak very highly about the game.
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tim thorson
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I don't read them. But it also helps that my wife is my main gaming partner. So when I'm learning a game so is she. There are games like dominion and agricola that after playing a bunch I read some. Mostly because playing the same person diesnt force me to try new approach. I do try on my own but sometimes I read soemthing and think differently about after reading a little
 
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Andrew Roy
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I hate the idea of strategy guides, and having other people tell me what to do in any game.

Unless it's, "Dude, you can't do that. It's not your turn."
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Andi Hub
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royboy_9 wrote:
I hate the idea of strategy guides, and having other people tell me what to do in any game.

Unless it's, "Dude, you can't do that. It's not your turn."

Can you point out a strategy guide of a deep, modern game (last 10 years), in which a strategy guide tells you exactly what to do? I such a guide for the different possible strategies in Tzolkin and I assume such guides exist for Puerto Rico. But when I look in strategy forums for most games, I do not see a detailed description of the execution of a certain strategy. It is then rather vague or pit falls are pointed out.

I think you can also explore the game, when you follow a certain strategy that someone mentioned in a guide or forum. You are maybe even more aware of the game and what is happening instead of aimlessly trying some things out.

Reading some strategy guides is also not an instant win. Heck, I tried to implemented a certain strategy in my 2nd game of Tzolkin and failed in execution (the strategy guide was silent about other players putting their workers on MY places. surprise Outrageous!!!).
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Pieter
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Of course, not at first. Strategies usually do not make sense anyway if you haven't played the game once or twice. But after that, why not? If a game has a dominant strategy, reading about it can indeed spoil the fun. But few games do -- it is mostly about the interaction with other players and responding to their moves.

Let's put it another way: you can play Chess with your novice Chess buddies, and have some fun. But the game does not become less fun if you read about good strategies -- in fact, it may become more fun, because with some knowledge you can really get into the game's intricacies.
 
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Andrew Roy
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ringo84 wrote:
royboy_9 wrote:
I hate the idea of strategy guides, and having other people tell me what to do in any game.

Unless it's, "Dude, you can't do that. It's not your turn."


Can you point out a strategy guide of a deep, modern game (last 10 years), in which a strategy guide tells you exactly what to do?


I have no interest in doing so! Your example below is proof enough of my point

ringo84 wrote:
I tried to implemented a certain strategy in my 2nd game of Tzolkin and failed in execution (the strategy guide was silent about other players putting their workers on MY places. surprise Outrageous!!!).


As others mentioned above, I would rather try to discover these strategies on my own than let somebody else do the hard (and in my opinion, fun!) work for me.

As an aside, I even stumbled upon a strategy guide for Dixit the other day! As others rightly pointed out, if you're spending effort outside of the game to work out ways to maximise your score, you're certainly playing it wrong.
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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I think the premise of the OP is wrong: in the strategy forums there are very rarely game changing articles to be found. Most of them are nothing but concentrated general heuristics gleaned from a dozen plays or so; completely unlike the exact knowledge you need in order to crush the opposition without quarter every time. You will not find in-depth articles on opening, midgame or endgame theory, discussions on the inherent worth of particular combinations of game material, positional analyses, and more. Exceptions do exist, of course, but they are few and far between these days.
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Jarrett Dunn
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Flyboy Connor wrote:

Let's put it another way: you can play Chess with your novice Chess buddies, and have some fun. But the game does not become less fun if you read about good strategies -- in fact, it may become more fun, because with some knowledge you can really get into the game's intricacies.


I would actually disagree to some part with that, I think it can end up killing the game. Look at how chess is played today competitively, it is not longer about thinking X moves ahead, predicting your opponent's actions, driving them to open themselves up and executing a good strategy. Rather it is about learning as many openings, mid-game, and end game actions possible so you have the greatest amount of knowledge to pull from and just pluck what is needed at the moment out of your memory. It is no longer about thinking but rather about simply having the largest collection of previous games played by others in order to win (evident by Deep Blue beating Kasparov, it simply took the most valued decisions based on a repository of previous games and standard tactics, something Kasparov blew up about after the game and something all chess players do even if they don't want to admit it). It's also why chess strategy books these days focus on proper moves to implement at what times rather than as the ones in say the 50s and 60s did where they focused more on thinking and actual strategies.

In other words it cheapens the game on a competitive level IMO. Now that is not to say it doesn't server a purpose, in the case of some games such as Mage Wars it allows developers to see an overwhelming unbalance in card/deck design and allows them to design counters around it (such as one of the Wizard deck builds in Mage Wars is largely undefeated and has been shown to only result in a loss when the player gets stupidly aggressive).
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Gary Tanner
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I read them... hard to resist reading up everything on a game I like, or am interested in. But I try not to use the strategies listed more than once. Then I try to avoid using what's recommended, and coming up with my own. Sort of that part of me that says "That's the best? Oh yeah.. watch this."
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Brad N
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ElSethe wrote:
I don't and I rely on the people I play with not to.

While I don't read strategy articles, I don't have any expectation for my opponents to read or not read them... that's up to them.
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Derek M
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When I am researching a game prior to buying it, I quickly browse both the strategy and general forums to determine if there is any dominant or broken strategy folks are complaining about. If I see these complaints, I'll read up on the strategy to see what it is, and then make a decision on buying depending on whether or not I think it is something me and my group(s) would tolerate. I do this because while I agree with the sentiment that part of the enjoyment I get out of the game is discovering good strategies, I instead get rather pissed off when I discover a game-breaking strategy.

If I don't see specific complaints about abused or broken strategies, I don't read the strategy forums at all.

(The Zeus monster-cycling strategy had me pausing on Cyclades for around a year...)
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Maarten D. de Jong
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The BGG Hivemind is particularly adept at spotting broken strategies which are anything but; instead indicating groupthink, inexperience, impatience, and rules errors. Only in a few rare cases does the Hivemind hit on something which resists quick solution. My response to all these complaints about dominance and brokeness is therefore: play a dozen times more, then return the results to us. Few complainers ever do: the game is found to be disfunctional and sold on, goodbye and good riddence. Hundreds more to chose from, eh?
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Ian Taylor
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I never read strategy articles for a game I have only played a few times, it's more fun to 'discover' it on my own. However, if I play a game a lot and I like it, then there will come a point where I will want to take my play to the next level and I will start reading strategy.
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Piotr Frąckowiak
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I enjoy reading strategy forums after a few games. It can be helpful and shed some light on a few things. It also makes one think. If I intend on using some advice of how to play I tailor it to my needs. I never copy the exact thing.
 
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James Palmer
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In "collectable" games (miniatures games, CCGs, LCGs, etc.) posts and guides on strategy can also help influence your purchases.
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