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Subject: Playing moves hoping for errors rss

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D S
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I was playing Agricola today and considered holding back a wood when using renovate and fence in the last round, so that if my opponent didn't notice/react I could use the fencing tile and stop him fencing.

This wasn't a 'make him fence now to keep initiative' situation. Would just have been relying on a mistake when there was a clear undeniable 'right move' (and if he did it I'd be worse off than if I hadn't tried to pull it off, as I'd have wasted that potential fence

My personal instinct is to not make moves in that way in lots of games: e.g. Go, Chess, Agricola... but I will make them in other ones, e.g. the Game of Thrones boardgame. Wondering how others play, either just out of preference or a sort of 'sportsmanship' thing of not wanting to win based on a stupid slip?
 
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J J
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Obvious Child wrote:
I was playing Agricola today and considered holding back a wood when using renovate and fence in the last round, so that if my opponent didn't notice/react I could use the fencing tile and stop him fencing.

This wasn't a 'make him fence now to keep initiative' situation. Would just have been relying on a mistake when there was a clear undeniable 'right move' (and if he did it I'd be worse off than if I hadn't tried to pull it off, as I'd have wasted that potential fence

My personal instinct is to not make moves in that way in lots of games: e.g. Go, Chess, Agricola... but I will make them in other ones, e.g. the Game of Thrones boardgame. Wondering how others play, either just out of preference or a sort of 'sportsmanship' thing of not wanting to win based on a stupid slip?


I will always make my moves based on the assumption that my opponents will make optimal decisions. I also think about what move they might make if they could read my mind.

But if it comes to a situation where I have two or more options and no real way to know which is better, and what my likely option will be next turn, then I will look into secondary options that rely on opponents missing things (and even give consideration to the likelihood of given opponents missing given things).

But this is all just a range of options I will lay out for myself, not the plan I set for myself, and I won't set myself up to need these things to happen (although I might set myself up to take advantage of opportunities if it doesn't hurt the solid options).
 
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Eric Brosius
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This is a common thing to do in Bridge (encourage your opponents to make errors.) Perhaps it's because, given that the optimal move often depends on making the right inference. You can't tell what inferences your opponents have made correctly, so you try to pick a move that gives you the best chance of success, given your guess about what your opponents will infer in the current situation.
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Larry L
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I usually play with more than 4 players, and the situations where this would be a tactically wise choice are pretty limited. Holding back in hopes of hurting one player in case they make a mistake means giving an advantage to the rest.

Trying to convince other players of the right course of action (attack her! What? I'm harmless, attack him!) is generally okay, but I can't see trying to sell a completely poor move. Putting aside ethical questions, it is bad strategy to be untrustworthy in such an arbitrary way.
 
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Quantum Jack
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Sounds like a fine, risky tactic. I personally dont rely on such moves, if I have better options. But, sometimes the situation calls for it. And it seems to happen fairly often (with skilled opponents) that such a thing does not work out.

I did try something like this in my first game of nightfall (both players first game). It has a draft at the beginning where you choose your exclusive card selections. I saw a combo potential in my initial draft hand, but it depended on my opponent not seeing it, and giving me back my special card. As indicated above, skilled opponents and all, he took the one I needed, and it crippled me.
 
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D S
United Kingdom
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Eric Brosius wrote:
This is a common thing to do in Bridge (encourage your opponents to make errors.) Perhaps it's because, given that the optimal move often depends on making the right inference. You can't tell what inferences your opponents have made correctly, so you try to pick a move that gives you the best chance of success, given your guess about what your opponents will infer in the current situation.
I love bridge! But this isn't the sort of thing I meant: this is bluffing, as they don't have the same info.

I mean a situation where it's basically undeniable and public information what the best counter is, but there's a chance they'll just not notice it.
 
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Domenic
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Obvious Child wrote:
I was playing Agricola today and considered holding back a wood when using renovate and fence in the last round, so that if my opponent didn't notice/react I could use the fencing tile and stop him fencing.

This wasn't a 'make him fence now to keep initiative' situation. Would just have been relying on a mistake when there was a clear undeniable 'right move' (and if he did it I'd be worse off than if I hadn't tried to pull it off, as I'd have wasted that potential fence

My personal instinct is to not make moves in that way in lots of games: e.g. Go, Chess, Agricola... but I will make them in other ones, e.g. the Game of Thrones boardgame. Wondering how others play, either just out of preference or a sort of 'sportsmanship' thing of not wanting to win based on a stupid slip?

It seems to me that this is a degree of advanced play in a two-player game.

At the most basic level, you make each individual move to optimize your own score, without regard to your opponent's choices. Any blocking that occurs is purely accidental. The winner will be determined due to luck (e.g., from fortuitous blocking) or due to better analysis of which moves are actually the best for your own score.

At a slightly more advanced level, you make sequences of moves to optimize your own score, rather than taking each move individually. This minor change leaves blocking as an accident rather than intentional.

At a more advanced level, you make each move to optimize your score advantage. Thus, choosing a sub-optimal move with respect to your own score when the difference between the chosen move and the "best" move is less than the negative impact on your opponent is deliberate. An opponent playing at the basic level might complain - "Hey, you did that just to hurt me!" - but that doesn't make it illegitimate.

What you're describing is deliberately planning out a sequence of moves to give yourself the best blocking opportunities. Once you've accepted that playing against the opponent is as valid as playing for yourself, I don't think this raises any additional issues with respect to sportsmanship.

As you say, against an opponent who makes no mistakes, saving a wood just to be able to block will be a negative. If your opponent is strong, they won't make the wrong move. If your opponent is weak, there's no point in humiliating them by running up the score. So I would only make this move if it was my last-ditch shot at winning the game.
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CARL SKUTSCH
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I will only do that if I'm behind in a game. Then my only chance is my opponent making a mistake so I'll play for the mistake. Why play perfectly for a really good 2nd place when you can gamble for 1st? Now in multiplayer games it gets trickier, of course.
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Kelly Bass
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I doubt I'd use a strategy where I hope an opponent does not see a good move. I suppose there are cases where there may be unknowns, like cards in their hand or secret goals, where I might take the risk. But in that case, I wasn't really aware of what their best move was.

Maybe related:
I know an opponent who will occasionally "casually" lay their hand/arm in such a way that part of their player board or face up tiles/cards are blocked from view. Almost always, when I look, I realize they are hoping that no one has noticed what they are fairly obviously planning to do on their next turn. It's clear that they are hoping no one will block them. I find it annoying. It's possible the whole thing is subconscious, but only they know for sure.
 
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Jeff Johnson
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In a game like chess, if I'm trying to win, I won't play a move if I see a clear refutation. However, when I play games with family and friends, I usually don't care about winning, and I'll often play a sub-optimal move to see what happens.
 
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Graham Robinson
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If the only route I can see to winning is for an opponent to make a mistake and me be in a position to capitalise on that mistake, then I'll set myself up to be in the correct position.

Otherwise, no.
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