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Course Instructor

Instructor Bio

Strategic Thinking Through Board Games

Bear in mind three essential qualities in all games of intellect:– Never to show selfishness or to wound the feelings of your adversary. To be modest with a good game. To lose without ill-temper, and to win without bragging.

W. Patterson


May 10, Jul 5

Most people don't think of the educational potential of board games, because they haven't played the right games. Games like Monopoly and Uno are too simplistic to be instructive; just a few simple rules are enough to play competently and there isn't much scope for applying skills. Games like Chess and Go, on the other hand, require a lot of skill and strategy, but are too dry and analytical to be fun or interesting for most people, especially beginners. 


However, there is a category of board games, variously called German Board Games, Designer Board Games, or Strategy Board Games which are easy to learn, fun to play, and yet require deep strategy and tactics. They try to combine interesting and novel game mechanisms involving maths, logic, probability, supply and demand, negotiation, bluffing, relationship building, promises, and alliances. 


In this course, each day will consist of three parts

  1. Learning and Playing New games (like Settlers of Catan, Bohnanza, Ticket to Ride, and more)

  2. Analyzing the games: the tactics, the strategies, and the mechanisms used in the design of the games

  3. Discussion of how some of the tactics/strategies used in the games apply to real-life situations

The big ideas students will learn from this course are:

  • The difference between long-term thinking (strategy) and short-term thinking (tactics), and how the two interact with each other

  • A number of ideas from probability theory, game theory, and economics that help sharpen their skills in tactics

  • The fact that there can be different paths to success, and how to choose one that makes most sense for you (depending on your strengths, as well as an awareness of what others are choosing)

  • The difference between zero-sum games and non-zero-sum games and how in many cases cooperation results in much better outcomes than direct competition

  • And, most importantly, something that is complex to learn, and difficult to master, and very educational, can still be fun.

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