Strategic Games and Developing Strategic Sense: Playing strategy games is a great way to gain facility in acting strategically.
February 7, 2023
4 min read
Games of strategy provide a fun way to iterate through prescribed scenarios and develop intuition and experience into strategic thinking, planning, and execution. They are learning tools and provide accelerated learning opportunities.
Because games are fun we tend to play them more and learn faster and because they model engaging applications, the lessons tend to stick.
Playing games aids in brain development. The brain is plastic. We learn and adapt. Old school board games offer developmental opportunities for mind expansion. We can reap big benefits from play.
Gaming provides a no risk, low stakes environment for gaining intuition around the dynamics of a subject. It takes theory and puts it into practice on a bounded field with rules.
Old school board and card games offer developmental opportunities for mind expansion.
Strategy games give us a framework to rehearse and practice thinking, reacting, adapting, and competing. They come with the added bonus of enjoyment. Delight and enjoyment are key components of accelerated learning. If you enjoy the process, you do it more and that is how you get good.
Here are a few classic games of strategy:
Chess is like a metaphor for strategy. If you search “strategy” lots of chess board images come up.
Everybody should have a chess set. It just looks classic and feels homey like having a piano or fireplace. The rules are easy to learn and the permutations of play are vast. The game is usually divided into three stages: openings, middle game, and end game. There are many opening sequences that have been developed over the years and they are well worth some study. One of my favorites is the Nimzo-Indian.
Go is an ancient Asian strategy game for two players. The aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. It is played on a beautiful board with black and white pieces. It also has relatively simple rules and its permutations of play are orders of magnitude more than chess. While chess is rule-based in a way that allowed it to be programmed successfully by computers to out calculate human competitors, Go had to wait for artificial intelligence learning to outstrip human champions.
Risk is a mid century modernist strategy board game of diplomacy, conflict and conquest. Risk is a political strategy game. Two to six players can play risk. Risk is played on a board that depicts a map of the earth, with territories, which are grouped into continents. Risk is a great party game with friends.
Diplomacy is another mid century modernist political strategy board. It has game theory elements of Prisoner’s Dilemma in that players form alliances and cooperate, or defect and betray each other. It also has negotiation phases.
Texas hold ‘em
Entrepreneurs can learn a lot by playing poker like: calculating the odds of success, the percentage of winning when weighing decision options, reading other people and competition, evaluating risk, getting comfortable making informed decisions with incomplete and imperfect information, the value of luck, and the entrepreneur as the X factor.
Texas hold ’em is a variation of poker. Two cards, known as the hole cards, are dealt face down to each player, and then five community cards are dealt face up in three stages.
The stages consist of a series of three cards (“the flop”), later an additional single card (“the turn” or “fourth street”), and a final card (“the river” or “fifth street”).
A big part of the satisfaction of poker is the cool lingo.
Each player seeks the best five card poker hand from any combination of the seven cards of the five community cards and their own two hole cards.
Rounds of betting take place before the flop is dealt and after each subsequent deal. Players have betting options to check, call, raise, or fold.
There are 52 cards in a deck and as the community cards are dealt, the odds can be recalculated of one of the remaining cards being dealt in a subsequent round. How those odds potentially impact the hand of the player, along with the size of the pot, form the basis of formulating strategy in this game.
For example calculating reverse implied odds:
Reverse implied odds are the opposite of implied odds. With implied odds you estimate how much you expect to win after the draw, but with reverse implied odds you estimate how much you expect to lose if you complete your draw but your opponent still holds a better hand.
Its a great game for gaining facility with calculating odds and reading the “tells” of your opponents. A tell in poker is a change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that provide clues to that player’s assessment of their hand.
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