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TKG ARENA: The Elemental Kings» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Game Theory 101: Understanding Mechanics rss

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Kenji Chong
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Now that you have your decks ready and prepared to play the Elemental Kings, here is a primer to intermediate strategies and a rundown of the core game mechanics. In this guide, we will focus on three main concepts – overcommitment, forcing plays and reading the board. All three concepts focus on the notion of a sunk-cost fallacy, whereby it becomes harder to make rational future decisions due to the emotional investment of past decisions.

Overcommitment: Identifying the sunk-cost fallacy

- Overcommitment refers to the scenario whereby a player has sustained losses because of choosing to commit to a singular strategy in his/her game play. Commitment to a singular strategy help simplify rules of the game and players only need to rely on simple maxims when making game decisions – such as “attack whenever possible” or “build up big plays before attacking”. Overcommitment occurs when the losses (actual or potential) outweigh the gains (actual or potential) from such a strategy.

- Why is overcommitment important?
This is an important concept to understand because in the early parts of the game, information about both sides is obscured and players are forced to stick to a strategy until further information is obtained. Understanding when to switch strategies then allows one to adapt to the actual state of the game board and punish players who have fallen victim to a sunk cost fallacy.

- How can this affect me?
Overcommitment on your side causes you to lose out on opportunities that you could have otherwise used. For example, choosing to wait out a few turns to draw into a SUPER hand would seem to be a prudent choice to secure a definitive blow to the opponent. However, if the card draws and board setup are not in your favor, an enterprising opponent can choose to instead capitalize on your compromised ability to act and punish you with a few cheap attacks. Likewise, identifying an opponent who is overcommitting will allow you to score a few attacks in the meantime. Always remember that each (basic) card will always only deal one damage, card combinations only merely make it harder for the opponent to block the incoming attack. Getting a few attacks in will quickly bring you up to parity with a single strong attack that you would be ill-equipped to deal with anyway.

Forcing Plays: Punishing the sunk-cost fallacy

- Forcing plays refers to the point whereby a player is faced with a zero-sum game – he must either continue being punished for his overcommitment or sacrifice what he has on hand to counter your attacks. In either scenario, there is a loss associated and becomes problematic. There are two* main attack strategies that players adopt throughout a game of The Elemental Kings: a guerrilla style mode of attack where the player focuses on constantly pushing attacks, and a more tactical approach involving big plays that are nearly impossible to defend against. Forcing a play allows you to force your opponent to make sub-optimal choices to provide answers to your moves.
*A third, hybrid style of play is possible as well, but such a strategy becomes hard to comment on meaningfully when both elements are being discussed at hand.

- How can I utilize this?
Firstly, you need to identify what strategy your opponent is adopting – this is done through reading the board. A ‘read’ of the board is basically looking at the cards being played thus far and analysing the possibilities of other cards that can be drawn. Having a good read of the board allows you to identify the likely strategy adopted and whether this strategy is a viable one. Once these two elements have been identified, you can then proceed to make modifications to your own strategy as necessary. Once you can identify an overcommitted opponent, make full use of his inability to respond fully to your advantage.
Generally, choosing a similar play style will give you an advantage as your moves no longer provide the opportunity needed by your opponent to draw into the cards he needs.

Attached below is a turn by turn analysis of a game whereby the player has overcommitted to a particular play and suffers as a result. Due to the large number of pictures, I have saved this case study into a PDF.

Case Study
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