King of Tokyo Strategy

This is a top 3 game for my 8-year-old girl. She loves taking a big handful of dice and shaking them out. She also loves the giant monsters and the powers you can gain.

Here is the strategy:

  1. Get in Tokyo early
  2. Collect energy in early turns
  3. Choose a winning strategy and focus on it
    1. Kill everyone
    2. Risky Tokyo points
    3. Extra turns
    4. Sneaky slow ramp up with a quick ending.

Get in Tokyo

Anytime throughout the game, when your points are higher than 7 or 8, you want to get into Tokyo. Early in the game, this is very useful because opponents have not acquired high attacking powers and they are often trying to get energy. You can usually get 5-7 free points before you have to make a retreat.

Depending on the other players’ upgrades, you want to exit Tokyo when your points drop below 4. Anything less than that can lead you to an early demise.


To win the game you really need to upgrade your skills. Collect energy in early turns to prepare you for the future. If you are getting the points from being in Tokyo, you can spend the rest of your dice trying to get energy.

Win Strategies

Choosing your winning strategy depends on the available cards to purchase. You really won’t know what you will be able to do until you see what is available.

Killing everyone

This is my favorite strategy because it ends before people know what hit them. Stay middle of the pack, attacking here and there and collecting energy and cards, but purchase the upgrades that give you extra attacks and multiple player attacks.

Once the game gets going and you have enough offensive upgrades, attack relentlessly against the players with the least life. The other advantage of the attacking strategy is that you will often get extra points by being in Tokyo, so if you need to back away from the attacking strategy, you could still win on points

Risky Tokyo points

Another strategy that can sometimes work is to try to stay in Tokyo as long as possible. You can squeeze just a few more points out of Tokyo and exit around 2 life points.

Collect upgrades that give you advantages in Tokyo: healing, extra attacks, defense, etc.

This strategy can pay off well but often leaves you vulnerable to the killing strategy.

Extra Turns

You can also win just by having a bunch of extra turns. Target the cards that give you extra turns for your roles. Play as normal, but take advantage of the extra turns to take the lead.

Sneaky Strike

All your strategies should employ some elements of the sneaky strike. If you get ahead in the game to0 quickly early on, the other players will collude to eliminate you. You need to be in the middle of the pack, slowly collecting points and upgrades until you are ready to make your move.

Collect a lot of energy and stay alive in the game. Purchase cards that will increase your chances of getting points later in the game. Cards that increase the value of your rolls, give you more dice to roll or change your roll scoring conditions are all great cards for the sneaky strike.

Then, when you feel you are close, buy up any victory point cards and hope for the right roles.

In all of these strategies, you need to keep the target off of your back by staying close to the pack, but preparing for the end.


What other strategies have you used?




Party Game Strategy

Married couples often get together for game nights. When we get an invitation, I get super excited. Sometimes, usually in the fine print, it says, “bring your favorite party game.” This used to fill me with dread. Why would anyone have a game night and not play strategy games?

Fortunately, I have learned how to appreciate the strategy of the party game. I’m going to share it with you so that you can be successful in all your game endeavors.

  1. Figure out how to actually “Win”
  2. Have a positive attitude
  3. Pick good games
  4. Make it fun for others
  5. Use it as an opportunity to plan a strategy game night

Winning Party Games

There can be satisfaction from guessing the word right before the buzzer in Catchphrase, or snagging the final card in Dixit, but often it feels like randomness and luck. (It feels that way, because it usually is.)

In one of my kids’ favorite books, Elephant asks Piggie if he knows the secret to throwing a ball. Piggy says, “Have fun!” Elephant is skeptical, but in the end *spoiler alert* Elephant learns to just have fun.

You win at party games by having fun! But wait…that sounds ridiculous. Who am I winning against? Well, you win the night if people leave saying, “Wow, that Brandon was really funny/fun/creative/witty. I’d like to spend time with them again.”

For the ultra-competitive, like me, you can even keep track in your mind how funny/fun/creative/witty you are in comparison to other people, and figure out where you fall in the line-up. For party game people, this won’t make any sense, but for strategy gamers, we get satisfaction from knowing who actually won.

Positive Attitude

No one likes to play games with people who have a bad attitude. Compliment people, joke with people, and play the game to the best of your abilities.

Pick the right game

Good party games include:

  1. Dixit
  2. Telestrations
  3. Luck of the Draw
  4. Codenames
  5. One Night, ultimate werewolf

Make it fun for others

Part of winning the party game is making it fun for others. Some ideas for this include:

  1. Compliment others when they are funny
  2. Keep your humor light
  3. Engage in witty banter as if the game wasn’t actually luck
  4. Smile
  5. Engage those that aren’t as comfortable

Plan for the future

If you are successful in your strategy, you should leave the game night with a good gauge of who is fun to play with and who you want to spend more time with. As you are leaving, grab people individually and suggest a strategy game night, or follow-up the next day.

Lastly, thank your host for the fun evening.

Do you have any other ideas for making party game night fun? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Review

I got a text yesterday to see if I wanted to play a game last night. I was free at 9 PM, and I figured that I would be done by 10:30 or so. This was a gross underestimate. X-wing, it turns out, involves choosing ships, upgrades, and characters before the game even starts. This being my first time, and following my own Strategy For your Strategy blog, I had to read through a huge stack of cards to come up with a strategy as well as learn the rules.

We finally started the game around 10, and it lasted until a little after midnight. It may sound like I didn’t enjoy it, but the funny thing is, I loved all of it! A lot of the fun was figuring out what combination of cards will work together, and then try to implement the strategy while keeping track of what everyone else is trying to do.

In X-wing, you play the side of the Empire, the Rebellion, or the Scum (bounty hunters, etc). You choose ships and go through phases of movement and attacking. The ships move in the way regular ships should move, and if you don’t plan your flight path, you could find yourself crashing into an asteroid.

It has been awhile that I have had a hard time sleeping because my brain was trying to figure out the strategy for a game, but last night, I couldn’t stop. I love this game.

My only issue is the length of play. Now that I know the rules, I think it could be completed in an hour and a half with 20 minutes of prep, but this isn’t going to work for some people.

You can even modify the game to play with kids by removing the upgrade cards. It is fun to play and will teach them spatial reasoning skills and some planning and strategy. Additionally, the sweet space ships make the game awesome to play.



Counting to 21 Strategy

21 is a simple game that you can always win if you go second. The goal of the game is to be the first person to say “21”. The rules are that you can only add 1 or 2 to whatever the other player says.

For example, the first player can say “1” or “2”. If he said “2” the second player can say “3” or “4” and so on.

There is a strictly dominant strategy in this game. You can use backward induction to figure out what to do. Try to figure it out yourself first, but below is the strategy.

  1. You need to get them to say 19 or 20; therefore, if you say 18, you win.
  2. To say 18, you need to get them to say 16, or 17, so if you say 15, you win.
  3. Continuing on, if you say 12 you win
  4. if you say 9, you win,
  5. if you say 6, you win,
  6. if you say 3, you win
  7. So, if you go second, you can guarantee that you will say 3, and win every time.

When playing this with people, the secret is to not let on that you are doing a strategy against them. To win the most times possible, act like you are thinking about what to do on every turn, even though you know what you will say.

If you go first, just hope that they don’t know the dominant strategy and mess up one time. Once that happens, you can get back onto the winning track and win every time.

There are different variations where you lose if you say 21. Can you figure out the dominant strategy in that game?



Career Strategy 8: Being a Good Mentor

I recently received an invitation from my alma mater, Brigham Young University asking me to mentor a student in the Economics department. This is a great opportunity to give back and build the next generation of budding economists.

The program coordinator gave the following suggestions when working with a mentee.

  • Be kind and encouraging, but honest– Show confidence in your mentee, but if you sense that he/she is headed in the wrong direction, share your honest opinion.
  • Serve as a guide, not an “answer person”– Share your advice when you think it’s needed, but also guide your student to his/her own answers.  
  • Put yourself in their shoes– Remember how you were when you were in college. How much did you not know? What would have helped you the most?
  • Share your knowledge – Sharing your knowledge and experience will greatly benefit your student.


As a mentor, your job is to help the mentee in whatever capacity they need. Sometimes they don’t even know what they need, but you can step in and lead them in the right direction.

Ask yourself these questions to help guide them along the path.

  • What do I wish I would have known at their life stage?
  • How did I become who I am today?
  • What are they doing that is a mistake that they aren’t aware of?
  • How can I make this person extremely desirable in the job market?

Review with them my other Career Strategy posts to get them started, and add your thoughts to them as you go along. Below are the links to the previous strategies.

Career Strategy 1: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Career Strategy 2: Job Search

Career Strategy 3: Getting your First Real Job

Career Strategy 4: How to Get a Job at …

Career Strategy 5: Protecting your personal brand

Career Strategy 6: Effective Interviewing

Career Strategy 7: Up, Over, Out, or Stay


What else have you or your mentor done that has been effective?






Splendor Strategy

Splendor was the 2014 Golden Geek game of the year. It is very polished, easy to learn, and fun to play.

The strategy is relatively simple, but the execution is difficult. Summary below.

  1. Reserve the cards you want early on
  2. Take 3 chips in early turns
  3. Reserve cards that cost all of the same color
  4. Choose two colors that you will own, and buy them up
  5. Choose two nobles that have overlapping requirements and target them early in the game
  6. Calculate what it will take to win, and win quickly.

First Turn Reservation

In the first turn, look at the playing field and decide what your longer term strategy is. You don’t want to waste chips on expensive cards early on, but you still want to target cards that fit into your final strategy.

Reserve cards in your first or second turn to give yourself the best chance early on.

The idea here is to optimize each of your turns. Some cards are just easier to get, and you want to remove those from other player’s grasps, and place it into yours.

Maximize Chip Draws

You often want to draw 3 chips. It is ok if it takes an extra turn to get something you need if you can get more chips to help you later. The caveat to this is when you are targeting high-value cards. You may want to take two chips to get you closer to your goal.

Early in the game, everything moves a little slowly. Your whole goal is to prepare yourself for the later parts of the game. Gather as many cards as you can by using them to buy other cards. Points still matter, but getting cheaper cards earlier will help you down the line.

The cards that can be purchased with all the same color are a great bet in getting to 15 points. I like to take the 5 point 7/3 cost cards in the color I’m targeting. Additionally, I may even choose to target those colors on purpose. Reserve these cards early, and almost always draw a chip in those colors. Eventually, you’ll buy them and have a significant advantage.

Optimize Purchases

Initially, look at the lay of the land. Are there a lot of cards that need the green gems? Go for green! Collect cards that will give you the most buying power. The playing field will guide you in the choices.

It is very valuable to own 4 or 5 of the same color. This allows you to snatch up cards that are out of reach for the other players. (One defense against this strategy is to just reserve the cards that you know they are looking at, even if you don’t plan to purchase them. Reserving cards you don’t need works better in a two player game. With more players, you won’t have turns to spare.)

Also be aware of scarce resources. If a lot of cards need green, but there aren’t any green out there, snatch any up quickly that come into play.

Target Nobles

An easy way to get the points you need to win is to capture a few nobles. Once again, look at what is available on the field, and look for synergies among nobles. Does one noble need 4 whites and 4 reds and another noble need 3 whites, 3 reds, and 3 browns? Go for the whites and reds, but if it is difficult to get them because of the playing field, consider going for a different noble.

Advanced players walk a line between getting high point cards and capturing nobles. It is ideal if the high cards you are capturing line up with your noble acquisition strategy, but you just have to do whatever it takes to get to 15 points. I have often had to change my strategy late in the game because a color I want is inaccessible. That is OK.

All along the way, keep track of your points and keep an eye on the field. Figure out what cards on the field it will take to win the game. The game moves slowly at first, but then the end will sneak up on you quickly, so make sure you are the one determining the end game.


That’s it! I love Splendor because of the ease of play, but there is an art in knowing when to make your move.

What strategies have worked well for you?


Career Strategy 7: Up, Over, Out, or Stay

After I’ve been in a role a few years, I become less and less challenged by the same tasks. Eventually, I have to ask myself some questions to decide what to do.

  • Do I just love my job so much that I don’t need or want to make changes? (Stay)
  • Are there opportunities to expand my role? (Up)
  • Is there another role within my company that would give me the experiences I’m looking for? (Over)
  • Do I need to look outside of the company for the things I’m looking for? (Out)


This can be a hard conversation with yourself. You may just love your job. Although you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner in your career, there are so many benefits to working in a job that you like. On the other hand, I have known many people who stay in jobs that they hate because it seems too difficult or stressful to look for a change.

Don’t be like that. If you hate your job, get out of it.


Look for opportunities to move up within your company. You should explain to your manager what your goals are and leverage them to get in front of others within your company. If your manager isn’t willing to help you reach your goals, this is a good sign that over or out may be a great move for you.

Contrary to Dilbert, your manager shouldn’t have horns and should help you develop your career.

Also talk to your manager to see what you need to be working on, if you aren’t ready to make the jump to the next level. Be clear that you want feedback to get to the next level, and you should get it.


After talking to your manager, you’ll know if Up isn’t an option. At that point, start looking around in your company for jobs at your same level that would be interesting to you. Target roles that develop the skills your manager just called out as lacking.

Talk to people within your company who are doing those jobs to understand what is required to be successful. Build your relationships throughout your career, so that you aren’t starting from scratch every time. It should be a continuous process that strengthens your skills over time, setting yourself up for the Up move.


If staying sounds horrible, Up and Over aren’t options, it is probably time for you to get out. Don’t leave your company until you have another job lined up, but start following the Job Search strategies.

A great job will bring so much satisfaction to your life. Make sure you are doing it right.