When it comes to competitions, everyone wants to win. The problem is that there can be only one winner. If you want to win, you have to stand out from the competition. Is there a secret behind this? It turns out that there is. After all, not everyone can win.
This series of articles provide a number of techniques that enable you to compete effectively in any competitive environment. Winning in Risk is no exception and examples are provided to demonstrate the key concepts.
What do you do if you win a competition? Do you think you have to be incredibly intelligent or have a perfectly muscular body? In a competition, your opponent makes critical decisions just like you and goes ahead to execute them. Rather than focusing on disrupting the execution of his plans, you can move a step higher and influence his decision making process directly. The decisions are made by the mind. If you want to beat him, you need to beat his mind. Once his mind is paralyzed, his decisions will be flawed and it probably doesn't matter how they get executed. After all, they are wrong from the outset.
By attacking the mind of your opponent, you attack his confidence. He goes down on his own and you don't have to spend a lot of effort to bring him down yourself. His mind does it for you.
To break his mind you need to focus on both parts of the equation: You and your opponent. Each of these is presented in a different article in this series.
Forget your ego
Never let your ego get in the way. It is absolutely critical to have an objective in mind. With no objective you can easily get carried away and boast about your abilities, or worst, make decisions just to show how cool you are. No one cares. All it matters is to win. Give up the ego. It doesn't matter what they think of you or if they ridicule you. If you win, you have beaten them. Don't let their laughter, or anger upset you.
As Gandhi put it wisely, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you.” Don't let them get to your ego. Believe in yourself and take the risk.
Risk Game Example: Don't get carried away by telling your opponents that you are one of the greatest players ever. They don't need to know and it doesn't do you any good. Setup your objective and focus on it instead.
Don't become angry
Never act on anger or emotion. We can become easily emotional when things don't go according to plan. The problem is that when we are emotional, we don't see things clearly. Our mind magnifies one aspect of the issue and we feel there is only one choice left. The solution is actually quite simple. Give it a rest. That's it. Just breath, chill out and buy some time. The good thing about emotions is that they disappear quite quickly.
Most people who act on anger don't think they are acting on anger. It is as if they are not aware of it. Your mind is in control of everything. It pulls a blanket over your eyes and blinds you from the truth. Remember, if you can wait before making a decision, always wait. You have more time to gather your thoughts and think everything through. When you go ahead to make a decision, you will feel much more confident about it.
Risk Game Example: A player may attack you when you least expect it, or worst break a treaty he had with you. It is natural to get upset and angry. Absorb it, but don't let it get out of hand. He has simply made a move. It is now your turn. Being angry about it doesn't solve anything. It only prevents you from taking good decisions since your decision can get biased towards revenge than making a response.
Take advantage of anchors
Anchoring is a well known technique that you can use to take advantage of the abilities of your own mind. Anchoring is basically an association between two events. Occurrence of one may trigger the other. For example, you can associate the mental state of being focused with a particular gesture of your hand. Once associated, every time you make the gesture, you start to focus on the job. You can also say a word. A common example is to say "right". Then get back to work and focus on the task in hand. Essentially you need to condition yourself to perform in an optimal state, whenever you decide, by using a trigger.
Risk Game Example: When I play Risk with friends, I tend to act slightly differently towards the end of the game. If everything has gone well and I am about to initiate a blitzkrieg to beat the last remaining player, I stand up and carry on with the game while standing. I throw the dice while standing (and there is usually a lot of dice-throwing at this stage) and resume my attacks and defences in this manner. I basically conditioned my standing to focusing on end-game scenario. In Risk, it is quite easy to go all the way to the end only to lose to another player. As a result you can’t afford to make any mistakes at all and you need to make a series of perfect moves to win. Make one silly move, and you will lose the game.
Amazingly, since I stood up in just about every game, I managed to condition my fellow regular opponents as well. They used to joke that, “Oh, here we go again, he is standing up!” It probably made them focus more on the game too!
Have a Plan B
You will always feel better if you have a plan B in any situation. This is basically to have an alternative plan, if the main plan didn’t go well. Failure is not an option. A failure of a plan doesn’t mean the failure of achieving the entire objective. You simply need to use a different plan and it is always better to have one ready at hand. It is amazing how many people ignore this simple technique and basically hope that their original plan will go ahead as they expected. Use a contingency plan only if you know the original plan will never succeed. Switching too early can be disastrous too.
Now that you know how to control your mind, you need to know how to handle your opponent’s mind. Follow this series in the next article.