Fending Off Analysis Paralysis

Analysis Paralysis, or AP, is a big problem for a lot of people. What is it? Here’s an example:

You’re in a game of Ticket to Ride and you are looking at the first tickets that you need to pick from so that you can start putting together your game plan and your tracks. Someone struggling with AP sits there, maybe even for a few minutes at a time, trying to determine what is going to be best for their game. While a little bit of analysis is okay, if you’re going so long that you’re holding up the game, you could end up turning people away from the game – that’s where AP can be a big problem. I joke that the whole game of chess is one big AP fest, because people take forever between turns.

I’ll admit that I get stuck sometimes, especially if I’m trying to figure out just what I want to do in a certain situation and it’s near the end of the game. We want to maximize the output and know that we’re doing everything in our power to actually keep up with the game and possibly even win. How do we fight off the AP and keep the game moving? Here are some things that work out well for me when trying to fend off AP:

  • Think about your next move, and an alternative, while others are taking their moves. Viticulture is a good example of where this works – I love Viticulture, but sometimes, the length of time between turns just kills me. I do much better thinking a move or two ahead so that I can just take the moves when it comes back to me. It keeps the game going and my mind is still in the game, as well.
  • Have a goal in mind for how you want to play the whole game. By knowing your main objective and moving forward with it, you can actually start to put together a game plan that prevents AP, because you at least have a trajectory that you are working toward.
  • Just go! Sometimes, I will look at a game board, like when I’m playing Onitama, and know that there are 2 or 3 moves that could be beneficial to me. I’ll just pick one, and work with it if something happens afterward that I don’t necessarily like.

Many people also ask what you should do if you play with people who have some issues with AP. Here are some tips you can use to keep the fun going:

  • Consider using a turn timer so that people are “forced” to move a little more quickly. Set it as a soft time limit, because we all know that later turns in a game like Lords of Waterdeep end up making us think a lot more about what is going on before making a decision.
  • If the player is a new player, consider giving them advice (without taking their turn for them).
  • No matter what you do, be gentle. Don’t come off as pushy or angry, just gently remind people of what is going on and help them to move forward with the game.

Sometimes, AP is not avoidable. But, as you get more experienced with certain games, you will find that your AP is going to be much less than it would have been when you just start a game. Patience is key – be patient with yourself, and be patient with others. Games are meant to be a fun, social activity and, because of that, you just want to make sure that everyone is maximizing the fun that they have at the table. Be mindful of that with any sort of game delay or issue like this and you will find that you’re having a great time with it.

Game On!
Marti, The Fluffy Meeple

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