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I've heard this term tossed around on teh geek, but never fully understood it. I plan on playing in my first tournament in November (EuroQuest) and feel that I need a strong grasp on this phenomenon to be even remotely competitive.

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Paul DeStefano
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It is the general implied strategy of an overall group of gamers.

For example, the basketball metagame is much more above the net now than it was in the 70s.

In Carcasonne online against German players, you will find their metagame is to deny you points at all costs, not gain their own points.

It's a strategic mindset.
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Pete Goch
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More generally it's incorporating anything into your decision making process that's outside the literal rules of the game.

It's when you play the other players of the game as much as the game itself. You observe how the other players play the game, what their "style" is and adapt accordingly.

It's also attempting to influence the other players by making comments about the game state, offering opinions as to who's in the lead and who should be taken down, making implied, non binding, "deals" with other players.
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Paul DeStefano
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
More generally it's incorporating anything into your decision making process that's outside the literal rules of the game.


This is a very different (and correct) definition. This applies when my son tells my daughter he won't make her ice cream if she attacks him directly.

That is not the metagaming phrase used for tournaments, but the term used when applied to social groups.

Meta game (Beyond the game) is the social war.

Meta game (the bigger game) is the strategic mindset.

It should be two different terms, but it isn't.
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Mary Ann Harrison
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Think of poker: The actual rules are simple and it looks like there isn't much of a game. All of the 'game' really comes from the metagame of figuring out who is bluffing, etc.

Or, think of chess: The actual game is the rules you can teach a 10-year-old in 5 minutes. The Metagame is found in all the books about chess strategy, chess playing psychology, etc. High level chess playing is heavy on metagame, I imagine.

Simplest example: Win, Lose or Banana. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be a game at all. (Rules here: http://aboutboardgames.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/win-lose-or-...) What game exists is all a psychological metagame.

Does this make it more understandable?
 
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Pete Goch
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Geosphere wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
More generally it's incorporating anything into your decision making process that's outside the literal rules of the game.


This is a very different (and correct) definition. This applies when my son tells my daughter he won't make her ice cream if she attacks him directly.

That is not the metagaming phrase used for tournaments, but the term used when applied to social groups.

Meta game (Beyond the game) is the social war.

Meta game (the bigger game) is the strategic mindset.

It should be two different terms, but it isn't.



It is two different refinements of a similar concept but both look beyond the game as defined.

When a group of players, whether consciously or otherwise, reach a conclusion as to the best way to play a particular game they're looking beyond any one instance of the game. They're thinking back on their collective experience of plays of that game and extracting what they think worked best.

I sometimes hear this referred to as "the local meta" or "group think" when talking about how some particular group of players plays a game. Sometimes a game proves deeper than the group think would have you believe and can be used to form a counter strategy.

A group of players that meetup near me had a group think about Hansa Teutonica that led them to believe the best way to play was to draw the game out and try to maximize most of your abilities before pushing to end the game. I used that against them by playing early network growth and bonus tokens and in game points to rush the clock. It blindsided them completely.
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Aaron Edwards
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It's a tough concept to pin down. I think the explanations so far have been good. I just wanted to throw out another illustration. I used to play a ton of Starcraft 2 and the commentators and forum discussions would often throw around the term "metagame." Now, you can certainly argue over whether they were using the term correctly, but regardless of dictionary meaning, what people meant was something akin to what one commentator called the "state of the game." This captured things like:
-Learning how recent patches will affect the units you like to use.
-Learning the dominant strategies people use and how to counter them
-People say things like "4 gate," "10 pool," or "forge fast expand," which not only describe what a player is building, but carry a lot of implications about what a player is probably up to.

Basically, it is data about the game that is gathered from outside of the game itself.
 
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Aaron Edwards
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Maybe put more succinctly: someone who understands the metagame might make an in-game decision that is based not upon what he sees on the table in front of him, but upon knowledge from outside the game, like past experience or awareness of popular behaviors.
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Andrew Bartosh

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Metagaming is understanding how a specific community of players actually plays that game and using that information to gain an advantage.

For example, let's say we are playing a fighting game with 10 characters (A-J). A is a strong character who can regularly beat B-I, but loses regularly to J. B-I are all about equally strong, but all beat J regularly. J is fairly weak (losing to B-I regularly), but can beat A.

So, let us say that the metagame that has developed is that A is a heavily played character (as they are the strongest in the game). Metagaming would be using that information to decide to play J. Even though J is disadvantaged against more characters, those characters will be rarer at tournaments and you'll have an advantage over the most common choice.

So applying this to Euros would be to understand what sort of strategies are considered dominant in the game (the ones people would logically choose) and figuring out how to beat/disrupt them. You can go way more micro level with this (Player X plays way Y so I will go into the game planning to beat him with counter Z), but metagaming is generally a bit more macro level.
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Roger Dodger
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I find this kind of stuff enjoyable to read.

I love stories about how people use their personalities or knowledge of their opponents or experience with a game system to influence the outcome of certain games.

You see so much of this in poker but you see a ton of it in board gaming, too.

 
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