View Full Version : People say CCGs are a mixture of chess and poker...

Blurd Visionary
09-12-2016, 06:34 PM
I learnt how to play poker very long ago and I am very good at it.
I learnt how to play chess today and found out I'm pretty bad.
What does this say for me as a somewhat successful CCG player?

I guess with UFS I tent to give myself a lot of breathing room when it comes to making sloppy plays and that's why I'm probably not that good at chess, for example:

I tend to play as characters with so much life in UFS because I hate 7hs, so it means that when I do make mistakes, it doesn't really matter as it all tends to go on the bill of my life total in a weird kinda sense so my mis-plays never really come back to haunt me as much as they would if I were to have less than 30 health.

And I don't have to think too much about what plays to make in some ways because I tend to play throw decks a heck of a lot, so when my opponent is on less than 10 or so life and I draw a hand of a couple of throws with some damage pump on the board at the time, there's not really much they can do, the hand plays itself more often than not.

I'm sorry, I've literally completely lost where I was going with this post.

I guess my point is, as a UFS player, do you find Poker or Chess easier to play and how do you reckon this displays in UFS for you?

please do let me know in the comments as I will read each and every one of them.

09-12-2016, 08:28 PM
I was thinking about this analogy earlier today. I feel like UFS is more like poker than chess, but obviously has some carryover from both. I want to talk about some salient points from both games really quickly

Poker is fundamentally about continuous variables. When you place a bet, the size can be anywhere from one chip up to the size of your stack, with hundreds of legal choices in between (a lot of the time). And whenever you think about possible hands you could make, or hands your opponents might have, you have to think about them in terms of probabilities - which, again, have lots of possible values. A lot of calculation in poker is correctly relating probabilities - "what are the chances of flipping one more heart between the turn and river" - to chips, the bets you can make. Maybe we can call this "pricing"

Poker is also an "information" game. You obviously want to deduce what cards they have from "tells", but you can also learn from how someone bets -- in other words, how they value different probabilities. One very common bad poker player is the guy who chases after draws, who calls anything if there's a slim possibility of making a strong hand like a full house or flush. At a large table, figuring out "that guy" can be very profitable ;)

Chess has neither of these features - well, mostly. Everything is "discrete" - eight rows, eight columns, well-defined pieces within it, no probabilities or money. And all information is public, you cannot hide anything but your own thoughts. To me, the fundamentals of chess strategy break down into two components: heuristics, and tactics or combinations. Heuristics are just simple questions with useful answers; for example, "who has more material*?", "who has more space?", "who has moved more pieces off their back row?". If you're not sure what to do, you can pick a heuristic, evaluate it, and see if you have any moves that would dramatically improve that (for example, by cutting off a lot of your opponent's space).

*"Who has more pieces?" would technically count 8 pawns and a king as 9 pieces, vs a king and a queen as 2. Material assigns a simple point value to each piece. Wikipedia actually has really good chess resources (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_piece_relative_value)

Tactics are common combinations of pieces/moves that give you advantages. Wikipedia again has a great page on tactics; (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_tactic) the "skewer" makes a great specific example (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skewer_(chess)#Absolute_skewer). You can learn about tactics by reading Wikipedia or books or famous games that used them, but to actually be able to see them in a game is a wholly different matter - it's really just a skill that you need to practice. There are always tons of possible moves, and having a good working knowledge of tactics will let you find great ones (and avoid terrible ones that are vulnerable to your opponent's tactics) that much more quickly.

Chess does have one small element of hidden information / deduction. If you can correctly guess your opponent's thoughts, you can potentially gain a real advantage. Ie, you think they're very aggressive, so you leave lots of traps. But this gets totally outweighed by genuine chess skill 99% of the time, I think.

So ... back to UFS? UFS skill includes all four of these features:

Pricing, when you decide how many foundations to build, or how many pumps to put on an attack
Information - especially related to blocking. Reading that they have a Templar, or no low blocks, or a hand full of attacks... all extremely valuable
Heuristics are obviously valuable. "Who has more foundations?", "how much damage pump does their staging area have?", "how many attacks are left in my deck"
Tactics are about your pieces working together, and in UFS your pieces are your cards. Obviously UFS has combinations
Which features are most important? I think that broadly UFS is more similar to poker - the "pricing" and "information" domains are ALWAYS important to virtually every deck, every game; while many defy heuristics (does Nehtali care about who has more foundations? Does lowering Iori's life total always help?) or don't care about tactics. (Perhaps it's more accurate to say - they won't require the creative act of finding new tactics in game, because they'll always use the same tactics).

02-15-2017, 05:22 PM
Chess and Poker are a deceptively good comparison for CCG, but Ive always figured it to be more Poker than Chess, which I guess would translate better for you. The similarities in Chess are having the capacity to think ahead and react to your opponent's playstyle, but the similarities in Poker have always been a little more relevant.

Being able to read into your opponent's action and what their intentions are. Being able to gauge what they have based on their reactions to your actions. Being able to "fake out" your opponent with bait and switch tactics. Honestly, a better comparison might be a competative RTS wargame than Chess. You have to read in to your opponent's explicit decisions in what they play, any decisions they make which might seem maladaptive on the surface, finding and exploiting your opponent's weaknesses.

The key difference is you get to set a turn up to basically box your opponent into a corner. "Magnet slam...oh you didnt block it? Now I know you dont have low blocks, 3 metalblades in a row all on low..." or "If you block this attack, I get an obscene bonus. *pass* If you dont block this attack I get an obscene bonus." The similarities in Poker are a little more prevelant. Bluff your opponent, counterbluff your opponent's bluff. Tank damage and act annoyed all turn until they overextend for an attack before "bang, full block...my turn?"

Chess was always hard for me because, from what I can tell, it was always more about a learned mathematical formula on what to do based on memorizing different techniques. I assume I could learn, but there's also little tangible variety in the game itself, so I've never had interest.

Poker I've had to learn and relearn the techniques and tricks several times, but that's more because it rarely comes up unless you've got a set playgroup...or gamble...or both. I've always found the game interesting, though. Great practice on developing your bluffing techniques. I ended up getting into CCG because there was way more following for it. Plus, Poker is a little too luckbased for me to want to do it more full time. Purely having to bluff or counterbluff can get tedious, whereas CCG allow you to fix your odds a little bit while still requiring the skill.

02-16-2017, 11:07 AM
I am more of a chess player outside of CCGs. I have never really learned to play Poker well, it is fun but I am not particularly good at reading people in the ways that a poker player needs to succeed.

And, I almost exclusively play 7 hand sizes when I play competitive UFS. Used to play 8s. I excel when I have the most options and plans and backup plans to deal with my opponent's position as situations arise.

You could say I'm almost the opposite of you, Blurd. :3

02-17-2017, 08:04 AM
Both comparisons are extremely apt for CCGs as illustrated above in a far more eloquent manner than I could hope to add to.

Having said that though, I am way better at Chess than I am at Poker. But what that really means is I am TERRIBLE at poker and just "ok" at chess.

Another interesting analogy would be what types of fighting games are you good at it? Me, for example, I am TERRIBLE at the more traditional Street Fighter games (2-5, Alpha, etc.), however, I seem to excel at the more faster paced Versus series of games (MvC, TvC, CvS, etc.) which seems kind of redundant considering i am better at Chess than poker and Chess can be a very slow game and games like Marvel are extremely fast and kinetic.

Interested to hear what fighting games other UFS players excel at.