Other Wise

A trial of strategy

Another off-hand note that seemed more interesting after I’d noticed I’d written it:

My litmus tests for calling a game “strategic” are something like:

0) Does the game reward continuous planning from the current state out through the end-game starting from before the game’s actual start until the game ends?

1) Does the game also reward a continuous 3-5+ turn detailed look-ahead?

2) Are the decisions made in that detailed look-ahead primarily concerned with support of the continuous end-game planning?

3) Will players that fail to coherently do any of the previous three (necessarily(?)) lose to those that succeed in coherently doing the previous three?


1 Author:  sedjtroll | Date:  19 December 2011 | Time:  21:51

For example, consider the deck building genre of games, such as Dominion.

0) In Dominion the Kingdom cards are laid out at the beginning of the game, and players can (and probably should if they are trying to won) consider which of them they intend to concentrate on and in what combination.

1) The game may or may not reward continuous 3-5 turn look ahead, depending on whether you consider things like when your deck is going to shuffle, how long it will be before you draw the card you buy this turn, and other things of that nature to be “looking ahead” – you don’t know exactly which cards you will draw turn to turn, but you do know that you will draw all of your cards before reshuffling. It could be argued that this condition is satisfied by Dominion.

2) The decisions made in that look ahead, the decision as to which card to add to your deck that you make each turn, are absolutely concerned with end-game planning and the plan instigated in point #0 above. I believe that’s one of the overarching features of the Deck Building mechanism – all of the small choices you make over the course of the game have a large impact on your position in the late game. Thereby the decisions you make in the early game are all primarily concerned with the end game planning.

3) Players who create a plan at the outset and constantly choose wisely how to support that plan given their draw turn to turn will succeed over players that do not.

By this definition, Dominion meets the criteria to be called “strategic.” I have heard people argue against that however, citing that the game is purely tactical. I’m curious as to whether Dominion, or deck building games as a genre, are generally considered “strategic,” and whether the popular answer to that has any bearing on this definition of “strategic.”

2 Author:  J C Lawrence | Date:  25 December 2011 | Time:  22:54

Dominion appears to have two basic types of decision which can be summed as:

1) How do I play the cards I drew?


2) How do I move toward my end-game model?

The apparency is that new(er) players are primarily concerned with #1, which is actually mostly a parsing question and thus contains few decisions, and more capable players spend their attentions on #2.

More specifically, I agree that Dominion (mostly) fits the definition.

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