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Subject: How do you get better at strategizing? rss

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Scott H
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Wolf_Dude80 wrote:
I've caught someone cheating a few times


I have found the odds of me winning go up when I don't play with cheaters.

Also, know the rules much better than others; you'll know how to play the game, and it reduces cheating.


Disclaimer: I only win occasionally.
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April W
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I don't win all the time, but I play most of my games against my husband and we are usually about 50/50. While playing in a larger group, depending on the group, I win a fair amount of the time.

I have found that for me certain games just click and winning is easy but others I have to work much harder at. So I guess my suggestion would be to try different types of games, maybe you'll find something that just "clicks" with you.
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Pete Belli
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Quote:
know the rules much better than others


Having a firm grasp of the rules is essential.
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Matt Drown
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The "joke" answer is you need to stop playing with cheaters


To answer your question more seriously, you need to figure out how to look at turns beyond the one you are playing. If you are making the best decision on the current turn, you are playing tactically. For some games this is optimal, and the best way to play. In other games, you need to figure out the best action for this turn, that will give you the best options for the next turn, or the next multiple turns. This action may not be ideal for the current turn.

For a soccer/football reference. You need to know where the ball will be, not where it is.

How you do this depends on each game.
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Walt
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It totally depends on the game. For any kind of economic game, you have to set up your economy before you start harvesting points. And I mean economic in the most general sense: in some games you need to build your character's stats and equipment before taking on harder tasks.

I don't know of a magic bullet to plan strategy in a random game. I won the last two games of Splendor I played, one by 20 points, but it the case of Splendor, I'm not executing a conscious plan, which I usually am.

I'd suggest playing games with little hidden information. That make planning easier.
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Martin Ralya
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I asked a somewhat different version of this question a few years back, and got some great advice: How do I get better at board gaming?

My biggest takeaway, the piece of advice that burrowed the deepest into my brain, was "play fast and make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes."

For what it's worth, in the past six years -- after that thread -- I have gotten better at board games.
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P Santos
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Perhaps, a brief post-game group discussion with the winner(s) and players. If players are not insecure about giving their 'trade secrets' then the winner could discuss what actions were critical to his victory, what was initial plan, biggest decision, things like that. Or get comments from other players about possible areas you could have done better.
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Pete
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Spend as much effort trying to evaluate your opponent's moves as your own.

Pete (offers a good starting point)
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Josef Estabrooks
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One few like to try, but what makes a huge difference is to ask the winners what you did wrong. And actually listen the their responses instead of defending your choices.

Easy, it is not.

Useful, very much!
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Glenn Massey
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Try to achieve goals that the game rewards you for. While this may seem obvious, it is not always clear. For instance, in Concordia, it is easy to get caught up in walking/sailing around to build cities, which is necessary--but ultimately the cards are where the real value is. If a game is a stock game, don't get distracted by battles or other ancillary activities--buy stocks. If it's a worker placement game with limited actions, look for ways to get more actions. Also, pay attention to what other successful players do. Good luck!
 
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Cameron Harris
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I think the key is finding mid-level games that only have a few things to worry about to practice strategic thinking.

Patchwork is a great example... only 3-4 aspects to worry about throughout the game. Several strategies that can be explored.

I would also recommend Caverna or Fields of Arle in 1 player mode to practice chaining actions together over multiple turns.

Above all, practice practice practice!
 
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Posthumous Jones
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ppsantos wrote:
Perhaps, a brief post-game group discussion with the winner(s) and players. If players are not insecure about giving their 'trade secrets' then the winner could discuss what actions were critical to his victory, what was initial plan, biggest decision, things like that. Or get comments from other players about possible areas you could have done better.


It's one of the best parts of game night, kicking back, and doing the post mortem, while basking in the warmth of a game well played.
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If a game is strategic, then it rewards bigger plans over small tactical wins. So in those games, you should start the game thinking about how it's going to end. Ask yourself:

* How do I win?
* What are the strongest paths to achieving that?
* What are the likely obstacles I will face?
* How can I deal with those obstacles?
* What will my opponents be doing?
* How can I make it harder for them?
* What aspects of the game do I have control over, and which ones do I have to work around?

Your plan should be flexible enough to deal with things that happen, but if you don't have one to start with then you'll be in trouble.

Some things that you might want to consider are:

* What are the chokepoints, and how can you control them? (For example, can you hoard the most valuable resource?)
* How much control do you have over when the game ends?
* Is it better to take a strategy that is reliable but slow, or risky but fast?

And note that all of the above are things that you should review throughout the game, if they're relevant. Maybe you can't end the game this turn, but in five turns' time maybe you can, and you should do it while you have a good lead. Slow and steady strategies are usually better if you're ahead, while the person who's behind may want to take a risk to turn the tables.
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John Farrell
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Do it for a long long time. Eventually you learn to recognise structures of games that you've seen before, and strategies that can translate from game to game. I can be listening to rules, develop strategies as I go, and then hear a rule that negates that strategy and then I start to appreciate the uniqueness of the game. Learning rules and seeing their implications and hence the structure of a game is a skill that can be learned by practice.
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Ryan
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I think, as others have said, it comes down to practice and taking some time (during or after the game) to reflect on what worked, what didn't, and why. We tend to learn a lot by analyzing experiences, especially mistakes.
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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• A lot of advice boils down to doing two contradictory things, and developing an intuition for when to do each one: Think ahead. Have a plan for how to win the game, but don't get stuck on the details. Be flexible when opportunities present themselves. Keep some extra uncommitted resources around to be able to move in quickly on unexpected openings, but also avoid stockpiling things ineffectively and do only the actions that advance your plan.

• Think two to three turns ahead. Be aware when the end of the game is and plan accordingly; long-term advantage that arrives after the game ends is useless.

• Try to identify equivalences and fungibility. If one worker nets you one gold or two food, then an action is a gold is two food. If you can use an action to turn a gold into a victory point, then an action is half a VP. If you're choosing between a card that grants you another worker and a card that grants you three VP, then the former is better if there are more than six turns left in which to use it. This is more transparent in some games than in others.
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Trevor Taylor
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I'm reasonably good at games and tend to just 'get' them (don't worry I'm deficient in MANY, MANY other ways shake). Thinking ahead and planning is part of what I do for a job and that tends to gel well with gaming.

However, I obviously don't win every game. I do, however, learn from every defeat (and most wins). I find it useful to have a quick think about where the gaps were between me and the winner (what key moves turned the game in their favour). Even if you win, you'll have probably spotted things your opponents did that were clever (and remember it for the future). If you're playing with the right sort of gamer (as in meet this requirement, not that other gamers are wrong!) you can find it quite enjoyable to discuss how the game went around the table. It can be an interesting insight into others strategy (and perhaps why it didn't work) but also a nice way of venting frustration over something that lost you the game (in a friendly way of course).

None of this really of course helps you get any better at playing a game for the first time. That mainly comes from experience with many games and learning what are universal strategies for types of games (a slow strategy which has a big crescendo/a race to the finish strategy to end a game early with you winning as people haven't completed their engine/a hoarding strategy which stifles others to name a few). But in a longer game, paying more attention to your opponents can help you get an idea of their strategy (if order to mimic it if it's paying off, or perhaps to trip them up).
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Chris Robbins
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I recently jumped back into some online gaming and forgot my own old advice. Find what you think is your best possible move ... then do something else.
 
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Tim Nagels
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Captain1957 wrote:
If it's a worker placement game with limited actions, look for ways to get more actions.


Not necessarily, imo. I played Caverna for the first time a couple of weeks ago. One of the players did his best to get more actions by having additional workers. This took him 2 whole turns with the 2 starting workers. In the meantime, I was stacking up animals and resources that worked great with some of my scoringcave rooms. I ended up winning with my 2 starting workers and only having selected 2 actions/turn (while ignoring the poorly explained expeditions).

Of course, this does not mean my strategy was solid (as the other players may have just been terrible). But it goes to show that making the most of the available actions can prove to be more beneficial than investing in more actions.
 
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Jim Cavallari
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I don't win often either, but over the years I've realized how many games I've lost because I didn't pay attention to the victory conditions, both mine and my opponents' (if they're different). Be aware of what you need to achieve in order to win. I sounds obvious, but it's easy to forget when you're playing something like a heavy multi-player Euro, or one of the COIN games.
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Tom anonymous
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Santiago wrote:


• Try to identify equivalences and fungibility. If one worker nets you one gold or two food, then an action is a gold is two food. If you can use an action to turn a gold into a victory point, then an action is half a VP. If you're choosing between a card that grants you another worker and a card that grants you three VP, then the former is better if there are more than six turns left in which to use it. This is more transparent in some games than in others.


Similar to this, sometimes games will have a kind of null action. The best example I can think of this off the top of my head is the special powers in Small World. One of them is (iirc) worth 8 VP. What this tells you is that if you can score more than 8 VP off a special power then taking that is likely to be an optimal move, less than 8 is not good - you should be scoring 8 points from any special power.
Of course this is game condition dependant but as a quick rule to seeing if a particular move / action / whatever is worth doing, it can be helpful.
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Steve C
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I lose a lot.

But, while losing, I look at what I'm doing (or think I'm doing) and compare against what others are doing and what their results are versus mine.

Maybe I think I know how to do well and I'm working towards some goal, but everyone else gets there faster. There must be a reason, right? If I can figure out what they did that worked better, or how they chained things together, I'm already going to do better next time.
 
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Dave Sinclair
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I don't think this has been specifically mentioned, so here's my piece of advice . . .

Know and remember the victory condition(s) i.e. How do you win this game?


Don't get caught up in "doing stuff" without understanding how the stuff you're doing helps you win. (I know . . . Easier said than done.) Evaluate your position frequently in comparison to your opponent(s). Am I ahead or behind? What did I do to get to this position? What did my opponent do to get to that position?

If you evaluate throughout the game, winning strategies will probably become more easy to identify and hopefully execute.

If you don't evaluate your position throughout the game, you can get to the end being no wiser as to why you won or lost . . . only that you "did stuff".

And always "steal" good gameplay ideas from your opponents! cool

edit: spelling
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Bryan Thunkd
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When you lose, learn from it. Why did the other guy win? What did he do right? What did you do wrong? What could you have done better?
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Mike Jones
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Continued play.
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