Strategy Games

Moti Karmona
Jan 12, 2015 · 4 min read
StarCraftII

A few things I have learned from *countless* hours playing Strategy Games for more than 35 years (e.g. Chess, Go, Risk, Archon, Warcraft, Red Alert, AoE, Age of Mythology, StarCraft, etc.)

Plan a head | Map ALL possible “Candidate Moves” | The idea of candidate moves was first put forth by Grandmaster Alexander Kotov in his book “Think Like a Grandmaster”.
In it, Kotov recommended looking for several moves that seemed feasible — the so-called candidate moves — and then analyzing those moves one at a time.

Adapt | You must adapt very quickly if you want to win

  • OODA loop — Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (developed by military strategist and USAF Colonel John Boyd) | An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage.
  • “If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
  • “It is not the strongest of the species that survives but the most adaptable~ Charles Darwin

Strategic Patience | “Timing Is Everything” | Sometimes you need time to place your pieces in the proper position before you can attack effectively; a premature attack will backfire.

Speed Matters | Have you ever experienced a “Zerg Rush” @ StarCraft? — If you are fast enough, you can win in less than 5 minutes.

Know (+ Play) your enemy

  • “To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” ~Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
  • “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them… I destroy them” ~Orson Scott Card, “Ender’s Game”

The Art of Sacrifice | In his book “The Art of Sacrifice in Chess”, Rudolf Spielmann distinguishes between real and sham sacrifices. A “sham” sacrifice leads to a forced and immediate benefit for the sacrifice… On the other hand, “real” sacrifices, according to Spielmann, are those where the compensation is not immediate but more positional in nature.

Sometimes it is worth losing and not to sacrifice the queen ;)

“Threat is stronger than the execution” ~ Aron Nimzowitsch | The idea is that by threatening an action, you can nudge your opponent in a certain direction. But actually carrying out the threat may cause as many problems for you as for your opponent.

“The best form of defense is attack ~ Carl von Clausewitz

Determination | “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” | This is true both ways. Don’t assume you won until the end and don’t assume failure until the last minute | “It is not sufficient that I succeed — all others must fail” ~ Genghis Khan

Easy is bad — If it goes too easy, something is wrong

Good opponents make you stronger | “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Play the hand you’re dealt | Improve incrementally and be PATIENT. You will have your chance to win many times.

Different phases of the game require different skills.

Master your Emotions | “An action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure” ~ Genghis Khan

Think outside-the-box. You must be creative with surprise moves to defeat a human enemy.

Play by the rules. Follow the rules or you might be disqualified.

Focus and Mass Matters | Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time

Deception | “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near” … “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak” ~ Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”

Synergies Create Better Results | Leveraging the strengths of your armies so that the units are protecting each other while pushing forward is a timeless strategy in RTS games

Resources Management is crucial | Queues, priorities and timing can make all the difference with your resource management | “An army marches on its stomach” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Never mistake tactical success for strategic direction | Make sure that when you’re investing in short-term returns, you’ve also got plans in place to make longer-term strategic investments.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link | Know the strengths and weaknesses of your team. You can’t win alone!

Counter-offensive | A strategic offensive taking place after the enemy’s front line troops and reserves have been exhausted, and before the enemy has had the opportunity to assume new defensive positions

Economy of Force | Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts

Intel is key | Scouting your enemy is crucial

Master the Micro | The best gamers excel in both Macro and Micro | Amazing strategy will not survive mediocre execution and vice versa

Study (game) history, because history has a weird tendency to repeat itself

Yobsi* | Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings about Leadership, Management, Strategy…

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