5 Ways to Win a Strategic Board Game

There's a fire that burns. The flames cannot always be sourced, but the heat can always be felt. It's that winner's urge: That compulsion towards dominance, and the satisfaction that ultimately comes from watching delicious tears gently dance down the face of the opponent whose home planet you just mercilessly wiped out. The same opponent who was not as quick to manage the spread of an apocalyptic disease as you were, or who you out-resourced to the point where merely chirping them wouldn't do the situation any justice at all.

Victory: Everyone craves it, few earn it. As Sun Tzu pontificates in The Art of War, the most effective generals study both their opponents and the battlefield extensively before any combat ever takes place. Regardless of the game being played, knowing ALL of your available options -and understanding how to apply them- is the surest way to balance the scales and win through to absolute victory.

In sticking with our regular Taoist teachings here at JADE, here are 5 tips that should always move you in the direction of victory when playing strategic board games.

But never mind games because Taoist's just don't swing that way.

 Tip 1: Capitalize on your starting position.

We've all been there: Sitting down to play an epic looking board game with its succulent cover art, beautiful design, and general awesomeness, only to be elegantly reminded during turn 1 of just what the F@#$% we've gotten ourselves into.

Sweet Jesus!
With so many layers of strategy - and so many directions to pursue - to the untrained it can simply be overwhelming. This is why it's critical that you know all elements of the game so that you can recognize how your character/faction's starting resources/special abilities (whether pre-provided or randomly determined) relate to the environment surrounding your starting territory on the board - and then formulate your strategy accordingly.

If, for example, you aren't drawing enough mana to field your big creatures early, re-tweak the balance of your Magic Deck. And if your starting resources (and territories for harvesting them) are high, then obviously pursuing a more economic/technological strategy may be in your best interest during games like Ad Astra and Space Empires.

Tip 2. Upgrade your Technology as early as possible.

Let's face it, the reason why the Empire straight up owned prior to the Rebellion was because they had the Death Star. They had superior technology.

Enough said.
Many games like Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead and Space Empires offer insanely cool technological upgrades that can pimp you out faster than Snoop Dogg. So why not up that street cred right from the get go?

Technology upgrades always unlock some pretty cool contextual efficiencies that can make you a deadly attack force - or help to grow your resource pool. In Magic, we know that getting hit with Artifacts and Instants can cause enough frustration to make your heart disappointed in you and why? Because you let the enemy tech-up. Even though sometimes resources must first be spent in other areas if a player's starting environment isn't exactly conducive to being Nikola Godamn Tesla, investing in any available technology early on is a solid strategy- if for no other reason than providing a powerful boost to your victory campaign, which may or may not follow traditional paths.

Tip 3. Don't be afraid to pursue the obscure victory condition. It will confuse the hell out of your enemies.

In the case of Civilization it's the cultural victory, earned by investing in the arts and building wondrous monuments to milk victory points from their cultured bosom.

Culture = So many boobs.
But when you're desperately trying to prevent your home territory from being overrun by a massive armada intent on shaming you right out of your pants, focusing on obscure “maybes” just isn't gonna bring it home for ya.

Ain't nobody got time to control Twilight Imperium's Mecatol Rex for 6 turns when enemy War Suns are merrily delivering armageddon to your homeworld. We understand. This is why the obscure victory condition is just that: obscure. It takes a certain amount of happenstance within the game to set the stage for this win condition to materialize, as well as a keen player to recognize their relation to these conditions- and capitalize accordingly.

In other words, go for victory the traditional way, but don't be afraid to risk it all and take the obscure route if optimal conditions and resources present themselves.

Tip 4. Determine the most valuable and easily attainable resource and MILK IT DRY.

Pablo Escobar is the globally celebrated legend he is today because he provided a resource that a lot of people wanted - and that he had a lot of.

Be it gold, food, metal, or mana every game has a resource that, whether granted by default or acquired through upgrade, is the fuel to the raging fire of your bloodthirsty competitive spirit. Many a player tries to go the route of constructing big elaborate plans in the hopes that the symbolism of their hubris will somehow carry them to victory, but no. The key is to keep it simple and figure out the resource that can be harvested, sold, spent, or fielded quickly and frequently - with little additional cost -and then proceed to milk it with a delightful grin upon your visage.

Who knows, you might even discover a more efficient way to victory in Ad Astra than just building terraformers and straight cashing in victory points. It is all about rolling with the punches after all.

Tip 5. Adapt.

What's that? You were just about to stack your creature into a 6/6 with flying but your opponent made his creatures immune to your deck colour? Well it's a good thing you spent that extra mana on a card to reverse that enchantment instead.

Disenchant people. Classic Card.

This is what it's all about in the realm of gaming, much the same as it is in the real world: The ability to adapt will always win you the day. What tends to limit growth is being too dogmatic in belief, and the same happens to be true with regards to being too rigid in the pursuit of any one strategy. Oh you wanted to complete that secret objective and earn the fleeting approval of your comrades? Well regrettably you're being invaded so perhaps taking your fully upgraded army and wiping out the enemy would be more agreeable.

As was the case with embracing the obscure victory condition, having the intuition-  and the courage - to reallocate resources when a sneaky opportunity presents itself is what separates the foxes from the sheep.

And there you have it: 5 dynamite ways to up your board/card game and look like a total boss in the process. With all the extra synapses firing in your brain, there's really no telling what you'll be capable of. So the next time you assemble the troops for game night, be prepared to impress them with the extent of their decimation. If you're lucky, you might even lose a few friends in the process. ;) Happy Gaming.

Written by: Jeff Clive

Image Source:  https://www.deviantart.com
5 Ways to Win a Strategic Board Game 5 Ways to Win a Strategic Board Game Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 1/19/2015 10:45:00 am Rating: 5

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