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Subject: Tactical vs strategic rss

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Thomas
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Can someone please explain the difference between these two ideas in board games? I never really understood the difference.
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Jake Mauch
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Tactical is a micro-concept. Each move is a tactical decision. Tactics are like a subcategory of strategy, which is all-encompassing and deals with the game as a whole rather than an individual situation.

I'm a go player, so I'll write in terms of go. I apologize if you don't know the game. A tactical blunder in go will result in losing a corner or a group. A strategic play is salvaging the situation and using those lost stones to build thickness on the outside and create a moyou, allowing you to take a large side. Your strategy was to take a large side and corner. Your tactical blunder cost you the corner, but keeping your strategy in mind allows you to maintain some profit and not collapse entirely.
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Matt Brown
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Tactical: Short term planning. Making decisions on the fly and likely often for just that turn. Seen in games with higher amounts of randomness. Less favored in longer games.

Strategic: Long term planning. Planning out decisions in a way that goes beyond a player's turn. Seen in games with lower amounts of randomness. More preferred in longer games.
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Jeff G
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“No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.”

Strategy is just your Master Plan; tactics are the movements and minutia you use to execute your strategy. You'll always see both - though some games do emphasize strategic thinking over tactical, or vice versa.

Poor strategic thinking often causes you to waste resources in a manner that doesn't support your end goal - you lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Poor tactical thinking causes you to miss threats or opportunities with enough time to appropriately respond to them - you're too focused on checkmating your opponent in three and miss that he can checkmate you in one.
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Thom0909
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Chess saying: "Strategy is what you do when there's nothing to do"

It's tongue and cheek, but tactics can be used to immediately win a pawn or piece. If there's nothing "forcing," then you have to think strategically, i.e., long-term.

EDIT: I should add that this quote is tongue and cheek because you really should always have a strategic plan. Weaker players inevitably see things only a couple moves at a time. Only if they don't see any short-term way to gain material do they take the time to think strategically.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Think of tactics as the small scale plans of how you're going to accomplish what you are doing. For example, if you are attacking something, this would be the maneuvers and and actions you'd take to win the battle.

Strategy is the big picture plan. This is the level where you'd decide that the battle we just talked about doesn't even make sense for you... you'd be better off letting that fight go, and putting your effort into something else that will benefit you a lot more.

Here's another Go example. It's all too common in Go for someone to fight for a corner where they play tactically well and win the corner, but the fight for the corner forces the opponent to surround them and build up a lot of stones that are facing the center of the board. So while, yes, they "stole" the corner and got a lot of points that way, they may have very well have given the opponent influence and fighting power that amounts to a lot more than they got from taking the corner. This would be a tactical win but a strategic loss.
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Kelly Bass
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I see that your top game is Alien Frontiers.

Maybe your strategy during a game is to focus on getting ore at the Lunar Mine and then using them at the Colony Constructor, both of which would be a lot easier if you can also get control of the Van Vogt Mts. and Bradbury Plateau. You might abandon this strategy if others get majorities there or you wind up with majorities elsewhere (by someone moving colonies on the planet).

But each time you roll the dice, you have tactical decisions to make. Sometimes they will fit perfectly with your strategy (you have triples and 3 ore), other times you'll have chance to terraform and it makes sense.

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Thomas
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chockle wrote:
I see that your top game is Alien Frontiers.

Maybe your strategy during a game is to focus on getting ore at the Lunar Mine and then using them at the Colony Constructor, both of which would be a lot easier if you can also get control of the Van Vogt Mts. and Bradbury Plateau. You might abandon this strategy if others get majorities there or you wind up with majorities elsewhere (by someone moving colonies on the planet).

But each time you roll the dice, you have tactical decisions to make. Sometimes they will fit perfectly with your strategy (you have triples and 3 ore), other times you'll have chance to terraform and it makes sense.



Ok, I understand more now that Strategy is more of a long term thing but what about when people say a game is more tactical vs strategic or the other way around? Are they just generalizing?
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Bryan Thunkd
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LunarSoundDesign wrote:
Ok, I understand more now that Strategy is more of a long term thing but what about when people say a game is more tactical vs strategic or the other way around? Are they just generalizing?
Games where the situation changes often and rapidly are going to be more tactical... it's all about taking advantage of the situation as it is right now... Games where everything you do builds on what you've done before, and you have to plan how you're going to win from the outset, are going to be more strategical. There are games which favor one over the other, and others where they are both important.
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Chris Robbins
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If any of it can be analogous to wargaming:

Tactical = Several squads mucking about over several square miles. Strategic = All of Europe in the same table space.

Tactical = Individual ships within a few miles. Strategic = Fleets battling all over the Atlantic.

Tactical = Dogfights between individual aircraft. Strategic = One counter per bomber squadron.

And as with anything, many variations can be found in between.
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Roman Kowalewski
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LunarSoundDesign wrote:

Ok, I understand more now that Strategy is more of a long term thing but what about when people say a game is more tactical vs strategic or the other way around? Are they just generalizing?

Most games have parts of both, strategy and tactics (unless they are completly random). However distribution vary a lot.

I would point out Neuroshima Hex! as a typical tactical game. You react to hexes you draw by chosing right 2 and placing/using them gaining a tactical adventage, the only thing you may consider strategic is being more defensive or ofensive depending which army you play.

Agricola is a typical strategy game. You choose your strategy at the beginning, which depends on your cards and execution. You have most of informations about a game right from the start. Tactics involve taking best actions with your family members when an occation comes.
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Andrew Bartosh

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LunarSoundDesign wrote:
Ok, I understand more now that Strategy is more of a long term thing but what about when people say a game is more tactical vs strategic or the other way around? Are they just generalizing?


More or less. It is an indicator of how you tend to think about the game and what type of decision making guides the game.

For example, Dominion is much more a strategic game. Knowing how you are going to build your deck is much more important than the exact details of what you're going to buy on your turn.

Dominant Species, on the other hand, relies on moment to moment decision making as the board state can change rapidly and dramatically from turn to turn. While you can attempt a larger plan, it is entirely possible for that plan to be completely invalidated in the space of a round, requiring you to reassess the board state.
 
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Christian Gienger
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I just try to explain with a couple of games you logged plays of:

7 Wonders: A strategy is defined here by going for the green cards, or even one sort of green cards while the tactical decisions are each card for itself.

Kingsburg: Here your strategy lies out for which buildings you go or plan to get and which you don't want to while the tactical decisions are each turn's dice placement.

A great example also is Dominion where your strategy is to decide which cards you want to buy in the course of the game but the tactical decisions are then there in every turn when you decide what to buy. (you have other deck builders logged, so I think you played this one too at least once).
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Andi Hub
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Lyear wrote:

Strategy is just your Master Plan; tactics are the movements and minutia you use to execute your strategy. You'll always see both - though some games do emphasize strategic thinking over tactical, or vice versa.

I like your statement. I also have problems to distinguish between tactics and strategy. I would say that tactics is the execution of your strategy. But this is really a very blurry distinction, because how can you really differentiate between the concept of something and its execution?

Only very few games are purely tactical in the sense that the strategy is "every turn I look how to get the most VP for that turn". But I have problems to really formulate a strategy for some games, which are considered strategy games. I have played Power Grid quite a few times (I did not log plays on Brettspielwelt) and consider myself a decent player, but I do not follow a real strategy besides some rules of thumb (from mid-game only buy plants contributing to your capacity goal of 17; garbage plants 06,14,19 should be avoided). How much to bid on a plant and if to make a push in turn-order, I usually decide rather intuitively. And I feel like this in many games, which do not have special player powers or specializations. Am I missing something?
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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ringo84 wrote:
Only very few games are purely tactical in the sense that the strategy is "every turn I look how to get the most VP for that turn". But I have problems to really formulate a strategy for some games, which are considered strategy games. I have played Power Grid quite a few times (I did not log plays on Brettspielwelt) and consider myself a decent player, but I do not follow a real strategy besides some rules of thumb (from mid-game only buy plants contributing to your capacity goal of 17; garbage plants 06,14,19 should be avoided). How much to bid on a plant and if to make a push in turn-order, I usually decide rather intuitively. And I feel like this in many games, which do not have special player powers or specializations. Am I missing something?

Power Grid isn't a game that I'd hold up as a strategical game. There's only one path to victory... power more plants than everyone else. Most of your decisions tie in to what other people are doing... where they've expanded, where they might block you, what they've bid, what resources are they competing for, will the sum of their plant cards give them a better turn order than you, etc. It's all situational and very little of it is long term.

When I think of strategy I think of a plan where you say "I'll do this and this and this and that's how I'll win the game." For example, in Agricola I might say, I'll build a room, grow my family, build a food engine around grabbing animals with support of the pottery... the clay supplier will help with that, then I'll build a lot of fences because I also have the fence builder card.

Trying to make any sort of statement like that about Power Grid seems impossible. You have no idea what cities or power plants you'll likely be aiming for... and depending on what people do the ones you pick out before the game may be horrible choices. There simply aren't really long range plans that can be made about this game. Power Grid is much more of a tactical game.
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Eric Johnson
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It should also be noted that a strategy (game plan) may need to change due to your opponent's tactics (moves they make to accomplish their strategy). I note this, because so far it sounds like a strategy is set in stone... but if it starts to fail... you can make tactical decisions to buy time for a new plan.

Also: Sometimes, tactics are moves you make to confuse your opponent and have nothing to do with your long term strategy.
 
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Brook Gentlestream
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A game is generally considered strategic if there are multiple ways to play and win the game. If I can't simply make the same choices each time I play the game, but can still win the game by making different choices, it's likely to be a strategic game. Generally, the question a player asks himself in a strategic game is, "How should i play the game THIS time? What things should I do differently from the last time I played?"

A game is generally considered tactical if it has many meaningful choices throughout the game, preferably every turn. Generally, the question in a tactical game is, "What should I do now, and what will be the consequences?"

The two are not mutually exclusive.
 
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Krawhitham B
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Thunkd wrote:
Power Grid isn't a game that I'd hold up as a strategical game. There's only one path to victory...


I see many games described as strategic when they are actually tactical. The 'problem' stems from a whole genre of games being described as 'strategic' meaning 'not a luck fest'.

So it is hard to separate tactical from strategic in board games, but any business textbook will give you a definition of the difference.

In an overly simplistic board gaming terms I would define each as:

Strategic: The broad plan to achieve victory in this game, e.g. I'll specialise in X, or be diverse. It can change as a game progresses.

Tactical: What you do on each turn in order to achieve your strategy.

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