Runs In Transit

Category: Strategy

Running a Clan in Clash of Clans

Running a clan in Clash of Clans is harder than it seems. As the number of members increase, difficulties in communications and organization arise. Here are some basic guidelines I’ve learned from running a 20-member clan:

1. First, remember that Clash is a mobile game, so the only goal is to have fun. But of course, emphasize that it’s more enjoyable for everyone when you win as well – especially with lucrative loot bonuses.

1. Participation. Understand that it’s not always possible for everyone to attack for whatever reason (school, vacation, work, etc.), and it’s okay if someone misses a war or two. However, when someone misses a lot in a row, it becomes a liability. Consider kicking temporarily and allowing them to re-join.

2. Attacking. Likewise, everyone messes up attacks. Don’t expect everyone to always do amazing, but if they are clearly ineffective (zero and one stars), help them out. Advise them to try something different.

For example, show them viable strategies that have been tried and tested like mass dragons, hogriders, or giants-wizards-healers, and emphasize avoiding common mistakes such as:

  • Not luring out the clan castle and getting destroyed by the troops inside.
  • Dropping heal spells too early and using rage spells incorrectly.
  • Using wallbreakers without a tank.
  • Mass dropping unts so they clump up and die from a bomb.

4. Emphasize attacking near your rank and the fact that the dropoff between a 3 star and a 2 star is massive, so only attack a base if you know you have a chance of getting a 3 star. Additionally, if you’re low rank, to attack earlier in the war so higher ranks can fill in stars.

5. Lastly, sometimes in close wars it is necessary to remind someone to attack. Since members don’t necessarily know each other, try to have other forms of communcation (texting, twitter, facebook).


The sweet science.

Not-so-obvious Tips for Settlers of Catan

I’ve been playing a lot of Settlers of Catan recently, and although I progress consistently in most strategy games, with Settlers, I’ve actually been losing more as I play. I think the reason is that Settlers of Catan is as much a game of hard skills (math, logic, statistics) as it is soft skills (communication, negotiation, image monitoring), and that is where I face my biggest obstacle. I can play a game perfectly to my limits, but if I forget the interpersonal side and people start stealing my cards and blocking me, winning becomes almost improbable. Here are some not-so-obvious ways of upping your Settlers game.

1. When in doubt, always choose the less visible path to victory. For instance, building many roads is great. It sets you up for a longest road victory and gives you many areas to settle. However, it is the most visible form of victory and has many social downsides. A person with the most roads will be subject to the most “flak” because they appear to be winning. Most people do not invest as much time analyzing your situation as they do their own. Roads, which represent expansion, give off a stronger signal during a cursory glance than settlements or even cities. Because of this, other paths to victory have a clear advantage. For example, buying development cards is often strategically better. You can hide your knight cards until you want to force a victory with biggest army along with victory point cards. When faced with the prospect of expanding your roads, make sure such a decision will not put you visibly in first, and if it does, think long and hard about whether or not the costs outweigh the benefits.

2. Be conscious of how others perceive you. Are you constantly placing the robber on one player’s tile? If so, there’s a good chance that player has some animosity towards you, and will take vengeful actions later even if those actions are not in their favor. The solution? Spread negative actions and be plentiful with positives. For example, it may be better to steal cards from a different person each time, as to not focus on one. Likewise, it pays to help other players, whether discussing potential moves with them, allowing them an expansion, or even just complimenting their moves. Generally, put yourself in their shoes and be as fair as possible, This will give you an image of a benevolent, fun-seeking player and reduce the antipathy towards you.

3. Play as neutrally as possible. Settlers is interesting because although there isn’t direct combat, there are many sources of conflict. Often in the beginning of the game, two players are scrambling for a good expansion, trying to block each other in the process. This is a high risk, high reward move. If they make it, they will be in great shape economically. If they don’t, they will be crippled for the rest of the game. Either way, they will develop a deep-seated rivalry that may last beyond the current game. Sometimes it is worth engaging in this conflict, but more often than not, it should be avoided altogether. Why not take an early port and let others duke it out? The cost of their conflict can be great, and playing passively put you ahead as a result.

4. Invest in the future. Settlers is a game where you have to time your victory. Early settlements and roads are great, but you cannot win with just those. Eventually you’ll need cities if you want to win. For this reason, starting on mainly wood and brick is a great early game strategy, but is risky in the long run. On the other hand, investing in wheat and ore is a great late game strategy. Wheat is perhaps the most underrated resource because it is required in everything but roads. Ore is also important because you need a large quantity for cities, but is only available on three tiles. Because of this, going heavy on wheat and ore is a great investment that not only deflects attention from you early on, but gives you a lot of strength later when cities become crucial.

5. Be self-sufficient. Do not depend on others to win, and in fact, pretend like they are never there to help you. What do I mean by this? Be able to get every resource without trades, and avoid having one resource able to be completely cut off by robbers. Other players are never consistently dependable. They are watching out for their own interests. Never be in a position where you have to trade with a player to get a resource. Seek out multiple sources of the five resources, and utilize ports effectively to get what you need. By doing this, you will decrease your chances of hitting a wall where you can’t build an essential building, road, or card. Diversify as much as possible, and seek out ports that complement those resources (2:1 for heavy, 3:1 for balance).

I hope these tips helped. Try them out in-game and let me know if they were useful. And remember to learn the hard skills first. Good luck!


Reflections from Binge Playing Civ 5

Strategy games are the shit. Before I had access to video games (early 2000’s), I would open up Microsoft Paint, zoom in all the way, create a terrain, and act out war-time scenarios for HOURS. I guess I’ve always been a gamer at heart, and a pragmatic one at that.

Growing up, my love for strategy games was satiated by games like Age of Empires, Starcraft, and Sim City. All were immersive, real time, and most importantly, difficult. As my interest in first person shooters developed, strategy games took a backseat in my itinerary.

One game I never touched was Civilization. Then two weeks ago, I had the burning urge to relax and lose my homework strewn mind in a strategy game. Civilization was the first to come to mind. 45 minutes and one torrent later, I was in the world of Civ 5. I started my first game as America because they had cooler sounding abilities than China. I proceeded to do many things I could never fully do in past games – I managed an economy and balanced its population, food, production, and happiness; I created social policies, performed scientific research, developed culture, and started a religion; and of course, I created a sick army and dominated my AI opponents. For someone that loves learning about how the world works, this game was crack. I ended up staying up til 6am that night and binged the game for 8 hours every day that week. I never even finished a game.

Would I take those hours back? Probably not. Video games hardly seem productive, and in many senses, they’re not. I’ve tried to cut them out of my life, but the older I get, the more I realize the beneficial aspects of games. Games are an escape. I might not be able to control everything in real life, but in a video game, I have full control over how everything goes. There are a defined set of rules and goals. Reaching those goals is just a matter of improving your skills and developing a strategy, two things I love.

I might not have anything tangible to show for the two days I spent on Civ these past two weeks. I don’t even have much to show for the 100+ days I’ve spent on video games in my life. What do I have are strong critical thinking skills, the ability to adapt to different situations, fast decision making, and a sense for the bigger picture, not to mention quick reflexes, hand eye coordination, and fast paced communication skills. I also have a hobby that I can count on when I want to relax, a way of socializing with friends I might not be able to see otherwise, and something I’m passionate about.

I don’t think, even in my 20’s, that video games are a waste of time. I don’t think the gaming regimen I’ve been on recently is sustainable as a lifestyle, but in moderation, gaming is definitely a healthy hobby. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be gaming hardcore when I’m 80 years old. Here’s to many years gaming!


Here’s a screenshot of the game. Complicated, eh?

Clash of Clans Best Army Composition

I was inspired to write this by this blog on clash of clans troop efficiency. It does a good job of comparing troops individually, but not by combination, which is crucial to creating an efficient army. I think I can contribute something here.

I’ve been playing clash of clans for 8 months now, and I believe I have a good grasp of the game. My clan, StrongSide, is 50-3, and we’ve gotten to this point off one solid attacking strategy, the Healer, Wizard, Giant, Wallbreaker combo.

Here are my exact numbers (this varies by player): 4 Healers, 17 Wizards, 14 Giants, 3 Wallbreakers, and 3 Heal spells.

This combo was found through experimentation and has a high success rate at a relatively low cost. Judging by our opponents attacks, it is not typically known.

Of course, you also have to know how to use it. In keeping our competitive advantage, I’ll let you figure that out 🙂Tournament_Raid_Deebo919

The Winner’s Curse and How to Avoid It

Have you ever bought something and instantly regretted it? They call this buyer’s remorse, and I get it every time I purchase an Xbox Live membership (online multiplayer should be free!). When the winner of an auction feels buyer’s remorse, it is called the winner’s curse. This phenomenon occurs in auctions where bidders view the good with common value but have incomplete information about the market value of the good. In these auctions, the winner tends to overpay because their winning bid either exceeds the goods anticipated value or its actual value. Examples include IPOs and oil field auctions, where it is impossible to know the true value of the good until after it is bought.

How does the winner’s curse apply to me? I’m currently trying to buy a nice pair boots. And I don’t mean a pair of Timberlands or a pair of Clark’s Desert boots,I’m talking a well-crafted pair of leather boots that are made to last, a la Dayton, Alden, Wolverine, etc. Unforunately, these boots typically run in the $300-700 range, way over the budget of a recent college grad working part time. Hence, I’m willing to buy a pair of pre-owned boots, which I think look pretty vintage. This brings me to ebay. For the past three days I’ve been watching a pair of Wolverine 1000 Mile boots. The auction ends tonight, and I want them. The style fits my tastes and my willingness to pay is high relative to my budget. So what’s the problem? I don’t want to suffer the winner’s curse.

Last year, a classmate in my thesis class wrote his paper on the winner’s curse. He found that the chances of the winner’s curse occurring is increasing with the number of bidders in the auction and the inexperience of a bidder in auctions. Unfortunately, there are over a dozen bidders and three times as many people watching, and my experience on ebay consists of winning a gamecube game in middle school. Basically, I’m at a competitive disadvantage, and even if I win the auction, my chances of experiencing the winner’s curse are high. But fear not, I have the power of game theory and a decade of competitive gaming strategy under my belt.

First off, it is safe to assume the two principles of the winner’s curse. This is likely a common value auction. All bidders probably value these boots the same-why else would be watching this specific pair? There is also imperfect information. None of us can know the true market value of the boots because 1) we cannot examine the boots physically, 2) the description cannot be perfectly accurate and 3) the boots are discontinued so there is no way to compare it’s price.  Thus, it is difficult to accurately measure it’s market value. If I assume that the average bid is accurate, meaning half of the bidders underbid and the other half overbid, then the auction winner is very likely to overpay. This is bad news for me. Not only is my budget likely lower than my competitors, I am also no expert when it comes to boots. Combined with my high willingness to pay, I am likely to be an overbidder.

So what’s my best strategy? Ignore estimating the market value and go for the snipe. The boots are discontinued and are not listed anywhere else, meaning the market value is largely irrelevant, especially because I place a high value on them. When the auction is nearing complete, I will stalk the price. If it is below my willingness to pay, I will bid and test the waters. If I am immediately outbid from an automatic bid, I will increase my bid until I know the maximum bid of the leading bidder. If I get this far and I am still willing to pay for these boots, I will try to snipe the boots with a last second bid. If not, which seems likely, I will have to sleep in remorse, but at least I won’t suffer from the winner’s curse.

These are the boots. Pretty fancy huh?

Edit: When I tried to make a bid I realized I was signed out and couldn’t place a bid in time. I didn’t get the boots. Fail.