Does the following happen to you more often than you’d like? You sit down to play a round or three of board games with your friends, but after a promising start you never actually win. You let your friends know how frustrating it is, but all you get back from them are commiserations and well-meaning advice like “just play more often”.
The trouble is, just playing more often won’t automatically make you a better player, particularly in strategy games. And while we’ve all heard the saying that board games aren’t always about winning but having fun, when you’re losing more than you’d like the fun tends to be in short supply.
Luckily, however, there are some effective ways to get better at playing board games that don’t involve playing the same game over and over again until you’re blue in the face. We’ve put together this succinct guide to playing board games that will soon have you playing – and winning – like a pro.
Figure Out a Strategy
The first step to playing like a pro is to figure out a strategy that works for you. Boardgame strategies don’t need to be overly complex. In fact, for some games, the simpler the strategy the better.
Let’s use the game of Scrabble as an example. Would you believe that the Scrabble World Champion in French, Nigel Richards, isn’t even able to speak the language? His success lies in a simple strategy, one that knows the value of using short words and building compounds.
A good way to start off with strategies is to look at the things that you’re doing when playing that are leading you to lose the game. Once you know why you keep losing, you can implement specific things that will help you avoid making the same mistakes again.
Ensure that you truly understand all of the rules and the different scenarios possible in your game/s of choice, too. You could be making repeat errors simply because your understanding of the game isn’t as deep as it could be.
Learn to Read the Room
Ask any successful pro gamer for a takeaway and they’ll tell you how important it is to learn to read the room. More often than not, one of the key things you can do to become a winning player is to read the other players around you, particularly that one player who keeps on winning over and over again.
Instead of focusing purely on yourself and the moves that you are making, take in the motives and actions of the other players in the group. Learn to see what they need in order to progress in the game and put effort into blocking them from getting it. You need to be two steps ahead of them at all times.
Ok, so while playing a game on repeat isn’t an effective way of getting better at it, you can still get a lot out of playing solo when you’re in the right mindset.
Make it engaging by trying out different playing styles and strategies. That way, you’ll be able to find the moves and strategies that come easiest to you and will be more likely to memorise them for when you’ll be playing against other people again.
There are several single-player board games you can use for this purpose, and most of the digital versions of board gaming classics offer solo play too. Another great way to increase your familiarity with a game and define the best playing strategies is to play a multi-player game as every player. This removes the pressure of competing against actual opponents, and you can try out several different moves to study the specific flow of the game.
Be Confident When you Play
It’s hard to be confident in the moves that you make when you’re consistently on a losing streak, but when it comes to self-confidence you really do have to fake it until you make it.
If you approach a game on a downer, you’ll be more likely to stick with “safe” moves rather than making bolder and more rewarding plays. Whilst it is important to make effective decisions about the risks that you’ll take during a game, you still need to actually take risks.
Take a look again at the way the winning gamers are playing; you can be sure that they’re taking several calculated risks throughout the game. Don’t be afraid to shake up your tactics; it’ll make you more challenging to play against and put you on the path to victory.