Errata: Is it OK to Look up Strategies Online?
I answered a similar question about a year and a half ago. But, since it’s been so long, and since it was asked again, I thought it was worth discussing.
Strategist asked, “My buddies get together to game every so often. I like to look up good strategies online first and then play the game. They say that’s cheating and I say they have the same internet access that I do. Is it wrong to look it up online first?”
First, the answer is different depending on the context. If you are in a tournament or other venue hoping to win fabulous cash and prizes, then I say go for it. Everyone else will be at their best and you need to know what the possible tactics are. In that situation, the purpose of playing is solely the win and the fun of the game is ancillary.
But it sounds like this is more of a friendly game between friends. Every group has a different feeling about it, and it sounds like your group disapproves. There are good reasons for doing so. Part of the fun of a new game resides in the joy of discovery. Like a do-it-yourselfer, there’s a sense of pride from coming up with the winning strategy on your own, or countering another player’s strategy, that is absent if you are using a canned approach.
Plus, for many games, its important that all of the players have a similar experience level. In Princes of Florence, for example, if even one player doesn’t realize the power of Jesters, they won’t be bid up sufficiently and it can lead to a dominant player. And if you’re the only one who knows it, then you can get an easy win. From my perspective, that win is unsatisfying for the winner, and the game isn’t so fun for the losers.
That said, I think the more familiar your group is with the game, the more acceptable it is to check out a few strategy guides. Once everyone is competent and feels comfortable with the interacting pieces, it’s fine to talk about. One member of my group has done a little research on Through the Ages. But, interestingly enough, he always tells us his discoveries before we play the game. It elevates all of our play rather than just give one chance for a victory we don’t see coming. That has definitely enhanced our experience and made us enjoy the game more.
But the bottom line is that if you looking up strategies and getting easy wins makes the game less fun for the group, you should probably stop. Fun is the goal, so don’t do things that limit the fun.
Got questions about strategy, specific games, or the hobby in general? Post them in the comments here, email me at geekinsight at gfbrobot dot com, or send them to @GeekInsight on Twitter and check back next week for answers!