What I have learned about life from war games

Like most dads who have professional careers, I have little time for games. Nevertheless, I spend some time playing war games. Here are some I like:

All these games have taught me some basic principles:

  • Retreat instead of losing a battle. When life gets difficult, cut your losses and withdraw at once. This is the most important lesson of all. The best way to win is to avoid battles that you will lose. (In life, don’t fight when the odds are against you. Come back another day.)
  • Focus on one or two fronts. Never multitask widly even if you have far superior numbers. You can actually lose the war because you won too many small battles! With exhausted troops all over the map, you can become vulnerable to a focused offensive. (In life, do not fight all battles at once. Try to get one or two solid victories instead.)

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the Université du Québec (TELUQ).

6 thoughts on “What I have learned about life from war games”

  1. The most important lesson is to plan out your steps before jumping into the fray. Survey the terrain for strategy and catalog your actions and options, an those that you need to unlock.

    In short, war games are great for strategic thinking development, which is something that you’re never really taught in university. 🙂

  2. My favorite is Starcraft. I’ve intensively played that for almost 5 years. The lessons I learned, among others, are:

    1. If you want to be a pro, fight with pros. Play against good players makes your better. Play against bad players makes your suck.

    2. You can choose only one race in the game. But to be great, you have to know how to play all races.

    3. When you win/lose, you win/lose consecutively. I don’t know why. It’s statistic. So try to learn your period.

  3. What Civilization I, II, III, IV taught me, or reinforced for me:

    Winning is not necessarily about having more resources than the other guy, but about using them more effectively.

    Having the right allies is important.

    Don’t piss off people who are more powerful than you if you can help it.

  4. I recommend the game “The Guild 2” and its expansions. It’s truly a game of life.

    You all your ways to win, no matter what it is good or bad.

  5. Alpha Centauri is a classic too. Bought it on gog.com and replayed it. It is still awesome and a timeless game. It taught me the importance of investing in fundamental sciences and that these investments pay off much latter but so much more.

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