Winning Strategies

I was recently asked to teach a few people how to play Egizia, a worker placement game with an Egyptian theme. I was apprehensive about this request because even after more than a few plays of Egizia, I was still a bit iffy about some of the specifics of the rules. Most of my experience was online, and I had never even come close to winning a game. When you play a game online, most of the game procedures will take place automatically. You can easily muddle through a game, even if you have no clue what’s happening. I quickly reread the rules and got everyone going. I was lucky to have a group of very experienced gamers. We had a good time, and while I didn’t win, I did feel like I finally understood how everything fit together.

I love playing games, but I am not particularly competitive. Sure, I enjoy winning as much as the next person, but I’m more concerned about having fun. I would rather experiment with a strategy that I think might work, than look through forums to find an established and tested strategy. I don’t play any single game with enough regularity to make my experimentation pay off in any kind of consistent winning strategy.

As I pronounced myself the worst Egizia player in the known multiverse, it occurred to me that I might want to see what would happen if I actually got good at a particular game. I don’t usually care about winning, but honestly, it might be nice to know a game well enough to really be competitive. It would be neat if someone thought “Jeff is pretty good at playing X” as opposed to “I like playing against Jeff on Yucata.de because it helps me boost my player score.” Yes, you know who you are out there. Admit it.

How does someone get to be good at a game? Obviously, practice is essential and like I mentioned earlier, there are forums on BBG where you can discuss strategies for particular games. I would rather just figure this out on my own, but maybe it would nice to participate in some discussions once I feel like I know what I’m doing.

I would like some feedback and suggestions on what game I should choose. It has to be something I will enjoy, obviously. Here is what I’m thinking:

  1. There needs to be a certain amount of randomness to the game. It cannot be a perfect information game.
  2. It needs to be playable in under two hours, preferably closer to an hour or hour and a half.
  3. It needs to be available to play both in person and online. I would prefer it to be something that I already own, and that is available online at yucata.de. This isn’t a dealbreaker.
  4. There should not be a single winning strategy. Obviously, this would be a problem in any game. If there is a known game crushing strategy for a game, then that game suddenly becomes very boring. Ideally, a player should need to adapt their strategy throughout the game as the situations change, whether through player actions or randomized events.
  5. It shouldn’t be a game where a winning strategy has to always include attacking another player. Blocking a player from needed resources is okay, but destroying everything they have built for the last hour is not. No wonder I suck at so many games.
Sun's coming up - like a big bald head
Sun’s coming up – like a big bald head

Here are some examples that I have been considering:

  • Patrician: I love this game, but I’m the only person I know that owns a copy. Unless I just want to play online, that really limits how and when I would play.
  • China/Web of Power: This is near the top of my list. I know quite a few people who are good at this game, and there are a variety of maps online that you can produce.
  • Power Grid: This is one of my favorites, but I think this is just too long.
  • Industrial Waste: This is another favorite, but I don’t have a physical copy and it is out of print.
  • Stone Age: This is another one of my favorites, but it has some very well established strategies. It’s also a little too random. I know you can mitigate bad dice rolls with tools, but when it comes down to it; if you roll bad, you will lose.
  • Egizia: Why not? I’ve already gotten better at this one. I own a copy and it’s available on yucata.de.
  • Chicago Express: Another good game that doesn’t get enough play, but I’m afraid this one might get a little samey after a while.
  • Thurn and Taxis: While I do love this game, I don’t know that there is enough depth of strategy to make it a good choice for what I want to do here. I could be wrong, which would explain why I lose so often at this one.

Those were just some of the games that first came to my mind. What game would you suggest? Do you have a game that you actively spent time trying to develop a winning strategy?

8 Comments

  1. Greg Pettit

    I would strike off all the ones on the list you called “favorites.” The grind of learning a strong strategy will likely remove the “magic” of a game and diminish your love for it.

    It sounds like Egizia might be your best bet.

    • Not at all. China/Web of Power or even Industrial Waste are fairly old. As long as it’s a game that I can get a copy of for a reasonable price, I am open to anything. Well, things that meet most of the criteria I listed.

  2. amy

    i don’t know if this idea is covered in your list of games, but what about a game like agricola where you can use card combinations to do better than without card combinations. (that is to say, the exact sort of gameplay that I can’t deal with.)

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