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

What to do if People know your Strategy

You’ve put together a great strategy, and it has worked multiple times. Eventually, people start to figure out what you are doing and try to stop it. What should you do then? Well, a lot of it depends on the type of game, but below are some general strategies. They aren’t in order, so it is a bulleted list, instead of a numbered list.

  • Think through what you would do to combat your strategy, then figure out how to stop that
  • Don’t gloat over your victories
  • Change up your strategy
  • Change games

Beating yourself

Think carefully about your strategy. Where are its weak points? How would you go about beating it? Once you figure that out, you can expect your opponents to figure it out too. So, how do you beat that strategy?

This could be an infinitely iterative process as you and he keep figuring out how to beat the next strategy, but that is part of the fun. Unless there is a strictly dominant strategy, there is always something else you can try.


Victory Dances

When I was home from college with my siblings, I got into the bad habit of singing a victory song after I won. It would change, but it was usually something from Star Wars or Super Smash Bros

This was really annoying. I apologize if you had to live through those days. I received payback for this when we played Pit. Everyone kept trading me the bear and holding onto cards I needed. When you are a bad winner, it comes back to haunt you. (Side note, the only strategy you can do when it gets like this, is to let people cool down. It just takes time.)

Change up your Strategy

Another method that can help is to adjust your strategy. You may love to play the same way each time, but if you change up just a little, it can keep people from figuring out exactly what you are going to do.

Change Games

Often, it helps to just change games. Playing different games will also help you so that people don’t get tired of playing games with you. I often like to play people’s favorite games, that way, they have fun and I get to match wits in the game they are most competent at.

What else have you done that helps when people figure out your strategy?

Why We Play Games

On my first date with my wife, we played games together. It was just me and her, and the competition was fierce. Afterward, I went back to my roommates and told them how awesome the date was and how I really wanted to take her out again. Mallory went back to her roommates and said, “Well, we didn’t really talk very much.”

According to the American Psychological Association, there are three intrinsic needs that drive behavior; Competency, Autonomy, and Relatedness. People play games because games meet these needs in multiple ways. Here are my thoughts, please share if you have others.


  1. To develop our minds
  2. To learn new things
  3. To feel a sense of accomplishment


  1. To make choices without lasting consequences
  2. To feel a sense of ownership
  3. To participate in creating.


  1. To build relationships
  2. To establish dominance
  3. To match wits

And lastly, FOR FUN!


All of us have a need to feel like we are competent in something. Games are a very quick way to feel competence. When I play games, I can engage my mind in something that is interesting to think about. I’m able to draw connections between things that I hadn’t seen before.

I learn things while I play, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish that last route or get rid of my last card. Think about the game you like best. Does it give you a sense of accomplishment, or develop your mind?


You have the capacity to accomplish great things. Your choices have lasting consequences, for good or ill. Playing games gives you a place where you can try things out, make choices, with immediate consequences. You are the only person that gets to make the choice, but if it doesn’t go well, it isn’t permanent; you are able to try again, immediately.

Games give you a sense of ownership. You become the character in your game, or you feel ownership of the properties and things that you build. In Carcassonne, you lay your tile and place your guy in the city, and you own it. It is yours to do with as you wish. This is also the reason why people get so mad when you sneak into their city.

Some games, (eg: Blokus) allow you to create. You feel empowered as you lay your pieces and create your world. This is also why Lego’s are so successful. You are creating something new that no one else has created before.


The last intrinsic need that games meet is the desire to feel connections with other people. Psychologists call this relatedness. Games are great for building relationships. You feel closer to people when you spend time doing fun things together.

The fun part of competition is matching wits with like-minded people. Losing and winning, make me feel closer to the other people. If I won every time, I wouldn’t feel like I was being challenged, and would try to play with someone who can match wits with me. (That is one reason why my wife is so great. She beats me all the time.)


In the end, playing games is fun. How have games helped you to meet your intrinsic needs?

Christmas Strategy

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas time, and especially love Christmas morning. I have always had a hard time sleeping because of all the anticipation for what is to come Christmas morning. There are a few traditions we have adopted in our family to make things great.

  1. Invite someone over Christmas Eve to make the time move quicker for the kids
  2. Bring out all the presents right before bed to build the anticipation
  3. Set a time when people are allowed to wake up
  4. Open Santa presents and stockings
  5. Force everyone to eat breakfast
  6. Open presents systematically
  7. Ensure a good mix of shock value, long term need, and short term fun presents
  8. Focus on your Family

Christmas Eve

When Christmas Eve comes around, kids are usually wired, and can’t wait to go to bed. One year, we tried to make it special by turning out the lights and having dinner by the Christmas tree, but Josh was so stressed that Santa would think we were asleep and come to our house early that we had to stop ten minutes into it.

Having people over, or going to someone’s house really helps in making the time pass. It gives kids something to do while they wait for the magic time to go to bed.

Bring out the presents

This may be counter-intuitive if you actually want your kids to sleep, but for me, the magic of seeing all the presents come out of Mom’s closet and go under the tree makes Christmas great.

The kids may not sleep any better, but it builds up the excitement!

Christmas morning

We have a rule that you can’t come wake us up until 6AM. Part of this is that we need our sleep, but really, this is also established to build the anticipation. I loved being awake with my brothers, just looking at the clock and counting down the minutes.

When we do get up at 6AM, we let everyone open their presents from Santa, and their stockings. This gives them a taste of what’s to come, but then we make them eat some real breakfast. “Real Food, not candy”real-food-not-candy

Then, its time for the presents. When I was growing up, we each opened one present at a time. As you can imagine, with 8 siblings, it took a significant amount of time to get back to your turn. It also really shows if someone else got more presents. (Mom always got the most,)

My wife’s family did the complete opposite. It was more of a free for all. Open your presents whenever you want. Although, this might seem great, Christmas morning is over so fast, that you hardly know what happened.

Mallory and I have taken an in between approach. Everyone picks a present and opens it at the same time. Then everyone picks their next present and they all open at the same time, etc. This has worked well for our family. Anyone else have a different tradition they like?

Present Mix

It is the stressful job of parents to ensure that the presents their kids get make things magical. There are different varieties of presents that will help you with this.

  1. Shock Value Presents: (New Bike, Large Ball, Pogo Stick…)
  2. Long Term Needs/Wants: (Clothes, Games,  Backpacks
  3. Short Term Fun: (Lego’s, Games, Dolls, Nerf Guns..)

To make Christmas last, it is nice to have a mix of everything, so that you can enjoy it now, and enjoy it for months to come.

Focus on Family

Lastly, the most important thing to do on Christmas is to focus on your family and Jesus Christ. Put your phones and laptops away. Take the time to enjoy your children’s company. They are great people, and they just want to be with you. Invest your time in the things that matter most, your family.


Playing Games for Christmas

Games are a great present for Christmas. A brand new game can bring energy to the house, and will create great memories. When I was about eight, my family got Hero Quest for Christmas. (Super nerdy, I know. Check out the classic early nineties design).


Every day, right after lunch, my brothers and I sat around the table with our dad and played one quest. I still remember the quest when an invincible ghost appeared. It could only be defeated by a certain sword. I had it! As an eight year old, I loved the feeling of working together to a common goal: defeating our dad.

How do you create these moments in your home? Here is what you should do.

  1. Pick the right game
    1. Fits your Christmas crew
    2. Long enough
    3. Replayability
    4. Full participation
  2. Plan time
  3. Prevent fights with food

Picking the right game

Choosing the right game can really help. I recommend checking out this Holiday Gift Guide from the BoardGameFamily. Trent lists out 11 different categories that will help you pick something that fits your Christmas crew perfectly.

You’ll need to pick something that gets people together. The game should be longer than 30 minutes, but not so long that people aren’t interested in playing again.

Replay-ability is also key. Some games are really fun, but you don’t really want to play them again right away. Hero Quest was fun because each quest was different. Dominion is another great one. Each play is almost a completely different game. The key here is finding a fun game, that takes long enough, that can be played lots of times over the holiday.

Lastly, it needs to be a game that doesn’t have long turns and that everyone can play through the whole game. (Risk is very fun, but once you are out, you are just sitting around)

Plan time

I can’t stress enough how important it is to set aside specific time every day during the holidays. We did it every day after lunch. It also works well to play to play every night after cleaning up dinner.

The kids (and those of us who are kids at heart) will appreciate looking forward to the time.

Prevent fights with food

Games add a lot to our lives, but they also can add some tense moments. When someone clobbers you in Blokus, (LINK), or eliminates you early in Bang, you have to have a positive attitude, and it really helps if there are snacks around.

What other ideas do you have to make game playing a part of the holidays?

Strategy for your Strategy

When I was young, my older brother was two years older than me and always beat me in games. Once, he created his own game and didn’t tell me any of the rules. While he rolled dice, chipping away at my base, I sat there in confusion. Eventually, he said, “aren’t you going to defend yourself?” At that point, I lost it. I jumped across the game board and attacked my brother. (I’ll show YOU defend yourself). Unfortunately, he was also bigger and stronger than me, so it didn’t end well. This event helped to shape me.

So you want to win at games? Tired of losing to your older brother, next-door-neighbor, boyfriend, girlfriend, neighbor?

You need a strategy. And to start with, you need a strategy of how you are going to get a strategy. Here are some strategies to develop your strategy.

  1. Always read the rules BEFORE the game
  2. Pay special attention to the winning conditions
  3. Set yourself up early for success later in the game
  4. Learn from your failures
  5. Be positive.

Read the rules

When you show up to a game night, often people will suggest a game you have never played. This isn’t a problem, but if you use the game as your “learning” game, you won’t win. Also, if you count on someone else to explain the game to you, you miss out on all the tiny details of how to win and how cards and pieces and players interact. You don’t have to take half an hour to delay everything, just take some time to read them.

Winning conditions

Winning conditions matter. Some games end as soon as the last card is drawn. Some end when all your guys are dead. Sometimes you get extra points if you held onto the small piece and played it last. You need to know how to win to be able to win.

The long game

It doesn’t matter if you get up a little at the beginning of the game if you don’t plan a strategy that will last through the whole game. Figure out the following:

  • What should you do at the beginning to set your self up for the remainder of the game
  • What is your interim strategy, how do you you sustain yourself through the game to get to the end in a position to win
  • Towards the end, when do you need to make the moves to end the game or get the most points possible before it ends.

Learn from your failures

You won’t win every time. Maybe you planned out a strategy that you thought was great. Maybe it really was great, but someone else got lucky. Or maybe you need to tweak your strategy. That is OK. Don’t jump across the board and attack. Just say, “Good game”. BUT, that isn’t the end. Keep tweaking your strategy until you figure out what works well for you to win

Win and lose well

If you win, tell everyone they played well. If you lose, tell everyone they played well. There is a delicate balance between dominating the competition and being a fun person to play with. If you aren’t fun to play with; eventually, no one will play with you.

And, it is the right thing to do.