Strategies from the Outreach Tour

Courtesy: Bill Helfer

Before RPS Guru Master Roshambollah’s untimely death, he embarked upon a large Outreach tour. These final strategies have been compiled from his learnings:

Exclusionary Tactics
One carefully chooses a throw and refrains from using it during a tournament, game, etc. The tension built with this tactic can become all but unbearable to an opponent who is forever waiting for "the rock to drop." In the long term, this is of course an unworkable strategy, but in the short term it can go quite far. Definitely a good tactic to have in the toolbox.

This school of play suggests that the optimal throw tends to be whatever your opponent has JUST thrown. So, if you throw rock and they throw paper, your next throw should be paper. In some private testing, it was found that this style of play will almost ALWAYS result in a reversal at the end of the second round of a best of three (i.e., when using this strategy, you will almost always end up 1 and 1 before the last throw.) But the tactic does not seem to work appreciably well if one is already ahead.

Inclusive Tactics
This is one of the more successful "short-term reactive" strategies. When using this strategy, one takes note of the throws just thrown, and if they are not identical, one's next throw is the third needed to complete the trinity. For instance, if you and an opponent throw rock and paper, your next throw is scissors. This strategy works very well whether one is already ahead or behind. Of course both this strategy and the preceding one fall short whenever a tie occurs and both are mute on what to do during the next throw.

Reverse Profiling
This ingenious ploy involves manipulating one's opponent through psychological means. It is a variation of the LOT school, or "Least Obvious Throw". Instead of figuring whether one should be aggressive and throw rock or more devious and play paper, one factors in what the opponent's perceptions already are. If I show up at an open match, wearing a leather jacket with chains, combat boots and a five day stubble, most people will throw paper, assuming I'm a rock-throwing rogue. Of course, my scissors are
at the ready in this case. One may use this tactic with any of the three throws.

The Hybrid Approach
One of the more promising developments is the cross-pollination of these different schools. There seems to be a hybrid vigor at work here, with crossbreeds being more successful than their parents. The last strategy, reverse profiling, works very nicely in case of tie when used with the previous two strategies, especially when one is also pushing a pseudo-exclusionary stance with the same throw. This adds to the dramatic impact amazingly, and can unsettle many opponents. The Inclusive tactic works best as a stand-alone, but can be supplemented with a round of copycat if it seems that an opponent plans on winning a best of 3 in 2 straight

Copyright World RPS Society 2002