# Cheat like a fox.October 1, 2014 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I have always been really bad at really simple games, like the ones where there are generally sound mathematical strategies for playing the optimal game. I'd like to compile a little mental rolodex of simple games and their solutions so I can feel smugly superior to any small children who seek to challenge me.

For instance, tic tac toe has an optimal gameplay strategy.
I imagine there's a smarter way to play battleship than to just guess at spaces.
And probably the dots game (the one where you make the squares) has some strategy, too.

What are other games like this? What are their solutions?

I'd also be interested in hearing about mods to other games that make them more strategic and interesting. (Like for instance, I like to trade resource futures when I play Settlers. It opens the game up to gambling and risk.)

Really interested to see what you guys come up with!
posted by phunniemee to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 78 users marked this as a favorite

I'd like to compile a little mental rolodex of simple games and their solutions so I can feel smugly superior to any small children who seek to challenge me.

This is the best underlying motivation for an AskMe I've ever seen.

I offer you Connect Four.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:37 AM on October 1, 2014 [15 favorites]

Here is a primer on Battleship probability and optimum strategy.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:43 AM on October 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Beat a child at the game of Nim
posted by wats at 11:54 AM on October 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

IMHO on Tic-Tac-Toe:
1. There is a real advantage to going first.
2. You want your first move to be one of the corner boxes. (The other guy usually picks the center -- BIG MISTAKE.)
3. Then, you put your next move in a different corner box (the best is if they went in the center and you go diagonal from your first, they are already thrown WAY off by your apparent foolishness).
4. Your penultimate move is to go in yet another corner box.
5. Your opponent realizes that you now have two possible wins and they cannot defeat you in a single turn. If they're of shabby moral fiber, they may try to draw their "X" or "O" big enough to fill both spots in a lame, desperate, last ditch attempt at a block.
6. You say "No no no, no fair, pick ONE" -- and with resignation and shame, they do.
7. You fill in the other box and claim your victory! Huzzah!
posted by RingerChopChop at 12:02 PM on October 1, 2014 [15 favorites]

When my stepdaughter at the age of eight was routinely kicking [damn I hope she was gifted] my ass at chess - though I always won at checkers - I would surreptitionsly input her moves into an online chess computer and let her and the machine fight it out. She inevitably lost.

It was really really embarassing when I got caught though.

You can't lose if you play first in Tic-Tac-Toe [if you play it properly] though you may reach a draw.
posted by vapidave at 12:59 PM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

This thread is great WHY THE HELL DIDN'T THE INTERNET EXIST WHEN I WAS GROWING UP

Strategy Guide to Othello
posted by Melismata at 1:36 PM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

I used this to murder my family at Monopoly last summer.
posted by mullacc at 1:40 PM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

IMHO on Tic-Tac-Toe:
1. There is a real advantage to going first.
2. You want your first move to be one of the corner boxes. (The other guy usually picks the center -- BIG MISTAKE.)
3. Then, you put your next move in a different corner box (the best is if they went in the center and you go diagonal from your first, they are already thrown WAY off by your apparent foolishness).
4. Your penultimate move is to go in yet another corner box.
5. Your opponent realizes that you now have two possible wins and they cannot defeat you in a single turn. If they're of shabby moral fiber, they may try to draw their "X" or "O" big enough to fill both spots in a lame, desperate, last ditch attempt at a block.
6. You say "No no no, no fair, pick ONE" -- and with resignation and shame, they do.
7. You fill in the other box and claim your victory! Huzzah!

Not sure if you're kidding or not, but every game of tic-tac-toe between two reasonably competent adults ends in a tie.

1)
X - -
---
---

2)
X--
-O-
---

3)
X--
-O-
--X

4)
X--
OO-
--X

5)
X--
OOX
--X

And it turns into a tie from there. (Sorry for bad ASCII art)
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:47 PM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Battleship has optimal firing patterns, but if you want to mess with someone, take the two-hole PT boat and stick it 90 degrees to the end of the three-hole destroyer. The pattern will confuse them and/or if they sink either ship, they won't go looking in the adjacent spaces for another.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:58 PM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you're serious about feeling smug around small children, you really can't beat card tricks. Not a game, per se -- but those little buggers won't rest until they find out how you did it.
posted by RingerChopChop at 6:35 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

The best word for hangman, statistically speaking is 'Jazz'. There's a huge array of other choices at the end of this article.
posted by Ned G at 7:42 AM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

My go-to hangman words are "rhythm" and "sphinx". ;)
posted by aheckler at 8:27 AM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

My favorite is "queue".
posted by Melismata at 10:04 AM on October 2, 2014

Theres a lot more to the board game Clue than most people realize. Many people just write down the cards that they actually get to see, but if thats all you are doing, you're missing out on a lot of information. You should make a record of everything that happens during each person's turn: who guesses what, who shows who a card, etc. Just as important as finding out what cards people do have is recording what cards they don't have, and you can start to figure things out by process of elimination. Set up your notes like one of those logic puzzles and after a while you will start to be able to make deductions that any casual player would miss.
posted by jpdoane at 3:02 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

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