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Strategy is Not a Recipe; You Need a New Solution Every Time

Strategy is Not a Recipe; You Need a New Solution Every Time
Diplomacy, Tactic, Strategy

Article Rating:::: 22 Ratings :::: Monday, September 3, 2012

There are tons of people that constantly think there is one magical way to succeed. Once they learn the way, they follow it and will become successful. Then, they can happily live ever after. The only problem with this mentality is that it is only a dream that will never come true. Sure enough, people become successful every day, Risk players win every day, people become rich every day; but not because of following a magical strategy. It’s a bit more involved than following a simple recipe.

As simple as it sounds, we all fall for it. Every time we find ourselves in a competitive situation, we immediately look for established strategies. We think there is a set sequence of actions that lead to victory and once we learn the pattern or the recipe, we are done. All we have to do then is to simply walk the plan.

But the problem is that it doesn’t work. Only at the end when you don’t succeed, you wonder what went wrong. It becomes a puzzle. Perhaps you didn’t follow the strategy as well as you should have. Perhaps you should have followed somebody else’s strategy. Perhaps you should give it another try until you can master it. Perhaps this was just unlucky (the case of the bad dice rings the bell?), otherwise your plan was absolutely superb or perhaps you are just not good enough at this and should leave it to others.

Think of this much like getting rich. If everyone was going to follow the same plan to get rich and succeed, then everyone could do it to become rich. The problem is that there can be only one winner. It is the same thing in stock markets. If you follow someone else’s strategy without understanding what you are doing, you are one step behind. You are effectively following the herd. The leader of the herd will win and get quite rich and you will supply his money by becoming poor.

The problem is not you or the strategies you have studied. The strategies could be effective; they might actually work. The problem is that you think all you have to do is to blindly follow a strategy much like following a recipe. After all, it is easier to follow a step by step guideline than to think hard to solve a complex problem. The thinking is usually like this; this strategy has worked in the past, so I will give it a try and hope that it works for me too.

Successful strategies evolve. This is particularly pronounced in the game of Risk. You cannot keep winning by using the same strategy, especially if you are playing against the same people. Instead, you need to learn to formulate a structure that you can use to formulate your plans. You always need to consider diplomacy as a critical part of the game which highly depends on your ability in soft skills. A fluid strategy, combined with solid diplomacy, means that you can respond to a changing environment quickly.

A Risk map changes very quickly. You need to read the game several turns in advance and be able to predict what will happen shortly. You should be prepared for the unexpected. In contrast, if you follow a rigid strategy, it leads you to wait until a particular event occurs before you can move on the next step. What if the event doesn’t occur? What if the strategy doesn’t say anything about it? What if something else happens that was not part of the plan? What if you get something wrong and went of the plan?

In short, your strategy should be that you should not have any specific strategy. A rigid strategy is much like clinging to a large, slow and old-fashioned army and trying to battle against someone who uses guerrilla warfare, moving around you with agility and unpredictable moves. You will not have a chance.

Long ago, great leaders knew all about this:

“Thus one’s victories in battle cannot be repeated – they take their form in response to inexhaustibility changing circumstances.”



“My policy is to have no policy.”

Abraham Lincoln


“I never read any treaties on strategy… When we fight, we do not take any books with us.”

Mao Tse-Tung 

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About the Author

I am a board game and Risk game enthusiast. I like thinking and talking about strategy in games which has led me to the creation of this website. Although Risk is a classic, I feel one can never get tired of playing this game. Read about what I think of the game and I am always eager to know what you think.

My Book: Risk Game Strategy

Total Diplomacy: The Art of Winning Risk

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