Liar’s Dice Addendum

My math-minded brother has some additional thoughts to add to the Liar’s Dice Strategy. I’ve asked him to guest blog about them.

If you want to get nerdy you can add the following when calculating a bid:

Most players use probability when they play: the number and 1’s = 2 options out of six = 1/3 on average for any number. This would suggest if there are 15 dice in play, there should be around 5 of each number.

What some people don’t take into account accurately is their own dice that they already know. With this knowledge, you can use conditional probabilities to calculate a “riskier” bid while still being relatively safe. Essentially, you use the information you already have to calculate how many potential dice there are.

Say there are 3 players, 5 dice each (15 total) anyone should feel pretty safe calling 4 or 5 of any number. However, you know 5 of the dice already, so you should adjust your math! You only don’t know 10 dice, so use the 1/3 estimate on those dice and add in your own. If you have 4 sixes (combination of 1’s and 6’s), then estimate 2-4 sixes under the other players’ cups and add your own 4. That way you can pretty safely bid 6-8 sixes (I’d probably go 7 myself to be a tiny bit safer), which seems like half of the dice.

When someone does the math quickly, 7/15 ~ 50%, a red flag goes off in their brain. They will likely call Dudo. With your 4, it isn’t too hard to get the 7 you need, since each player will likely have 1-2.

Sometimes, you have to take the defensive. Listen to what other players are bidding. If they’re only bidding fives, and all you have is sixes, this may be a good round to take it to ones. Or, use your knowledge of the 5 dice you know (0 fives), and estimate based on the other players’ bids. There can’t be more than 10 fives if you don’t have any, and there are probably more like 7 if they both seem really confident.

This method isn’t foolproof, due to variability and other people having knowledge of their own dice, but you can get the people around you to lose a lot more dice, or at least make them really uncomfortable raising the number, which is where the real fun comes into play.

Be aware, when you are calling your bids, that there is more variability the fewer dice there are (which is how probabilities work: small N, larger variability), so if your dad says “Oh man! Holy moley!” and starts giggling, you should probably just guess he has at least 4 of whatever he’s laughing about and go from there.

Thanks Nathan, great tips.

San Juan Strategy

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to play Puerto Rico for the first time. I loved the gameplay, and the economic elements. After that, I looked for it in digital version and found San Juan. A card game based on the Puerto Rico board game. The elements are very similar and fun to play.

The game is complex, and takes a lot of planning and some luck to win, but it is a lot of fun. The digital version takes between 20-30 minutes to complete.

Here is the strategy.

  1. Build something good on your first or second turn: (don’t waste the first build)
  2. Build either a Library, or a Smithy as soon as possible
  3. Take the Councilor role in early turns to get a Guild Hall
  4. After building the Library and/or Smithy, take the build action often, and if not, take the Prospector
  5. Always build something when possible in later turns, focusing on Production Buildings
  6. Play the Guild Hall in one of the 8-10 spots
  7. End the game quickly after that


Build something good on your first turn:

In the first round, everyone starts out with some cards, so you may be tempted to build something when the build role is drawn. If you don’t have something good, just wait until the next round. At that point, the other players won’t be able to build anything, and it gives you a few more cards to get something good. I like to play the Library, Smithy, a Coffee Roaster, or a Silver Smelter.

Build the Library and/or Smithy

You want to give yourself an advantage that will last throughout the game. This strategy focusses on winning big with the Guild Hall, so the inexpensive Smithy will help you get production cards out, or the more expensive Library will always give you an advantage on your turn. If you can get both of them out early, it is even better.


Get and keep the Guild Hall

The Guild Hall is the linchpin to this strategy. You can win without it, but it will be very difficult. This card is very powerful, so the other players will also be looking to grab it. Give yourself an advantage by taking the Councilor card. This will get you through a lot of cards very quickly to get what you want, especially if you already played the library.

Once you have the Guild Hall, don’t play it yet. You need to get cards out that will help you throughout the game, not just at the end.

I like to hold onto the Guild Hall until your 8th slot, or as soon after that as you can play it.


Build Often

When you have the chance, take the build role. If you have the Library and/or Smithy out, you can very cheaply play production cards. This will further increase your chance for cards, and give you tons of points. If you can’t Build, take the Prospector role. With the Library, the prospector gives you two free cards and doesn’t help anyone else out.

In addition to taking the build card, it is helpful to have some cheap cards in your hand to build anytime someone takes the build card. This is a tricky part of the game to balance, but if you don’t build every time you have an option to build, you can end up with tons of open spaces at the end of the game, I like the indigo cards because they are free to build with the Smithy, and are worth 3 points with the Guild hall.

End Game

If you are building as much as possible, you will end the game at 12 buildings and will have filled the most of your spaces with production cards, thus gaining tons of points

This strategy requires a few key cards, and you won’t always get them. You can adapt the strategy as needed, but if you don’t get the Guild Hall, you may be better off building victory point cards towards the end.

Below is a picture of an almost perfect game that I had. This won’t always happen, but I have been able to get pretty close a few times. Just play it the best you can with what you have.



Good luck! And let me know how it goes.

Here is some more background on San Juan from BoardGameGeek:

San Juan is a card game based on Puerto Rico. The deck of 110 cards consists of production buildings (indigo, sugar, tobacco, coffee, and silver) and “violet” buildings that grant special powers or extra victory points. Cards from the hand can be either built or used as money to build something else; cards from the deck are used to represent goods produced by the production buildings, in which case they are left face-down. A seven-card hand limit is enforced once per round.

In each round (or governorship), each player in turn selects from one of the available roles, triggering an event that usually affects all players, such as producing goods or constructing buildings. The person who picks the role gets a privilege, such as producing more goods or building more cheaply.

Though similar in concept to Puerto Rico, the game has many different mechanisms. In particular, the game includes no colonists and no shipping of goods; goods production and trading are normally limited to one card per phase, and trades cannot be blocked. Victory points are gained exclusively by building, and the game ends as soon as one player has put up twelve buildings.”


Here is the strategy.


Board Game Development Update

Apologies for going dark.

The last few months have been busy on the board game front. Here is a sampling of the things that have happened in the last few months.

  1. I updated the art for the game. A.Lundell is the new artist. Box Art
  2. I updated the name and logoKickstarter Heading
  3. I printed and sold a handful of prototypes
  4. And I started preparing a Kickstarter page. Still in the works.

In the new year, I’ll be posting additional photos and updates. Stay tuned!


Greenfield: a Supply Chain Strategy Game

I like to have projects that work on different parts of my brain. That way, when one part of my brain is tired, I can work on something else that strengthens another part of my brain.

I’m finally ready to reveal one of my more recent projects. I suggested to my manager a few months back an idea to develop a board game to teach Supply Chain strategic thinking. That project has since come to fruition.

With a small budget and a percentage of time from an artist and a graphic designer, we developed a board game that meets the following criteria.

  1. Fun to play
  2. Simulates reality (OK, so it isn’t perfect, but it gets the idea across.)
  3. Teaches people how to think about supply chain strategy
  4. Looks great

It is not quite finished, but I think we have accomplished just that.

Tim Kamarul is the artist for the box and the Distribution Center Tokens. I’m really happy with the colors and especially like the truck.

Jimbo Raleigh designed the board and the cards and did an excellent job dealing with my frequent requests to tweak one thing or another.



Stay tuned, I’ll continue to post updates as things move along.


Footnote: a Greenfield in a supply chain is when you need to build a new Distribution Center, and you can put it anywhere you want. It is a green field.

Top Posts of All Time

I’ve posted 37 times in the past year. I haven’t figured out a good way to browse through the posts easily, so I’m posting them all in the order of views below. Enjoy!

Top 5
Splendor Strategy
Career Strategy 1: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Blokus Strategy
El Grande Strategy
Stratego Strategy

Next 5
Ticket to Ride
Gaming with children
Carcassonne Strategy
Quiet Paper Games for Church
Career Strategy 7: Up, Over, Out, or Stay


Rest of the List

Risk Strategy
Career Strategy 4: How to Get a Job at …
Career Strategy 2: Job Search
Rock, Paper, Scissors Strategy
Career Strategy 6: Effective Interviewing
Monopoly Strategy
Settlers of Catan Strategy
Pandemic Strategy (Guest Blog)
Career Strategy 8: Being a Good Mentor
Lord of the Rings: Confrontation Strategy
Career Strategy 5: Protecting your Personal Brand
Blokus Strategy 2 – Bayesian Probabilities
Career Strategy 3: Getting your First Real Job
Playing Games for Christmas
Christmas Strategy
Counting to 21 Strategy
King of Tokyo Strategy
Perudo: Liar’s Dice
Career Strategy Summary
Why We Play Games
Star Wars Epic Duels
Strategy for your Strategy
Party Game Strategy
What to do if People know your Strategy
Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Review
Dixit Strategy
Onirim Strategy