5 Mathematical Strategies for Dominating Popular Kids Games
Winning a game of skill and chance usually takes one or both of those things. However, as we've shown you before, industrious nerds always find a way to make a game all about science. And in that tradition, here are some simple tricks anyone can use to come out on top in classic games.
Use Binary Search Algorithms to Totally Ruin Guess Who?
Guess Who? is a game where players use simple questions to guess who their opponent is from a cast of 23 white people and one black lady. Hold on, those are the exact words used to describe a game Katherine Heigl plays when she walks into a Chili's and asks who has a problem with her shitting in the salad bar.
Clearly, asking your opponent if he's Caucasian does nothing to narrow your search. Do what Katherine Heigl does when she's stacking alphabet blocks with a toddler -- suddenly attack your enemy with letters.
Ask your opponent if her character's name is before or after a nice midway point in the alphabet. For example, M. Or maybe K. Make it your own, like Katherine Heigl cutting a drifter's face off with seamstress shears.Why Does That Work?
Most players ask low-yield questions like, "Do you have a mustache?" or "Do you have blond hair?" or "Do you have lips like a horse vulva?"
"All of the abooo-oooove!!!!"
With each alphabet-related question, you remove about half the possibilities. In computers, this is called a binary search algorithm. You're basically guaranteed to be done in five questions every time. It's a little cheap, but it's less racially charged than just asking if your opponent was insane enough to pick Anne.
Anne, the Jackie Robinson of guessing.
Start at the Corners If You're Psychotically Obsessed with Minesweeper
As one of the first free games to be included with computers, most people know Minesweeper as the warning sign that their stimulation has flatlined. In several countries, you are legally considered brain-dead the moment you start a third game of Minesweeper. Its gameplay was designed by atheists trying to wordlessly describe the nothingness of the afterlife, which may make this clever Minesweeper trick a mild form of necromancy. Please proceed accordingly.
The object of the game, besides wallowing in boundless ennui, is to avoid clicking squares that contain mines. If you do, you lose and maybe die, though the stakes are never made clear in Minesweeper's backstory.
Don't even get us started on the numerous plot holes in Sexy Minesweeper.
When you click a spot surrounded by safety, the game automatically reveals more squares, cascading until it reaches a spot next to mines. Because there are fewer possible mines surrounding squares, the odds of this triggering increases against the edge and corners of the board. Note: This strategy will create smaller and less dramatic cascades, but we're willing to bet you're not dedicating your afternoon to Minesweeper for the drama.
After a cascade opens a big section of the board, take a look at each corner. Every single one of those bastards are mines.
"You got my grandfather's leg in Korea, Bottom Left Corner, but you're not getting mine!"
It's obviously not this simple. At a certain point, basic deduction needs to be applied, and it's rare to get through a game without a wild guess being necessary. Industrious dorks have written countless, exhaustive strategy guides for Minesweeper, and they're a fun read if you want a sneak preview of how Terminators will chat during an awkward elevator ride. The point is, it's terrifyingly dry. There's a reason investigators find this game on the computer of every murderer.
So keep it simple. Corners are your best friend, then your worst enemy. If you're an advanced player, maybe you can try this actual, no-bullshit tip from a Minesweeper strategy site "Heat your hands in hot water before you play. This increases blood flow and reaction time."
Official Minesweeper superheated faucets -- take your game to the next level!
Use Biomechanics to Win at Arm Wrestling
Arm wrestling seems like a sport so simple even an arm wrestler can figure it out. You grab another man's hand, move in close, and pump until someone finishes. For arm wrestlers, the only difference between their sport and their sex is nothing. But being successful at making love and wrestling arms involves more than simply being the one who yanks the hardest.
If you've seen the Sylvester Stallone classic, Over The Top, congratulations. You are now a fully licensed truck driver in the state of Arizona! You also know the beginnings of how to be actually good at arm wrestling.
Step one: sell dignity, and use the proceeds to buy full-body coating of anal lube and/or baby oil.
Instead of staying in the center and cranking against their grip like Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger running into each other at the muscle oil store, pull your wrist inwards and push your elbow forward. Now move your body to the right, being sure to keep your head higher than your opponent's. It will be harder to kiss this way, but you can't make it to the top unless you're willing to make these kinds of sacrifices.
When you position yourself that way, you use the most muscles possible . You also neutralize your opponent's bicep, known in the competitive arm wrestling community as the "luscious dick basket of the arm," probably. This lowers his sexual vigor, while also keeping the direction of your power in line with the movement of the elbow. Basically, if you're doing this and they're not, you're pitting your entire body full of muscles against the bottom half of one of his arms.
Just be careful of sweat or "handjaculate" as they call it in the biz.
In a study done on the biomechanics of arm wrestling, the most important muscles in the sport are forearms and pectorals. Those muscles (and more) are given the best chance to come into play with the moves above, and if you need a more visual aid, here's an arm wrestling mathematician to demonstrate it:
Assign Random Numbers to Take All the Fun Out of Werewolf
If you've never played it, Werewolf (or Mafia) is a party game where each player is secretly assigned a role as a villager or a werewolf. At the start of a turn, all players close their eyes. During this, the werewolves covertly wake up and decide who to eat. When the survivors wake up, they have to use wit and logic to identify and eliminate the werewolves before everyone is dead. It's basically a game to discover which of your friends are idiots and which ones are suspiciously good at deceit.
You can blindly accuse other players of wolfery and watch for their foreheads to sweat, but there's actually a much more efficient way: simply assign everyone a random number, and eliminate players in that order.
"Like how I used math to eliminate the fun!"
Due to statistics and centuries of institutionalized wolfism, the villagers will always have more players than the werewolves. Because of this, any random ordering of people will most likely leave the villagers as the last ones alive. "Most likely" obviously means these aren't perfect odds, but it beats arguing with possible werewolves all day.
Not only does this give villagers a good shot at winning, it also eliminates any werewolf gambit, save one: playing along. Anyone disagreeing with the strategy is either a filthy werewolf or a confused villager who doesn't get it and thought you guys were going to be playing Cranium.
"Uh, when I shouted 'You people can't be trusted,' I didn't mean that ..."
Exploit Advanced Mathematics to Own Children at Memory
Memory was the matching game we all played as children. If you don't remember it, you probably weren't very good at it.* The gameplay was simple -- you flipped over cards trying to make matches. It was a test of wits that truly separated average children from the severely concussed. And now this helpful tip will widen that gap.
* You already forgot what the sentence that led to this footnote was talking about, didn't you? You are hopele -- hold on, look around. Where the hell are you, and how did you even get here!?The Trick:
Besides wearing a helmet, the best way to improve your Memory win/loss record is to pay attention to the number of remaining unknown pairs. If there are an even number of them, start your turn with an unknown card, then a card you've seen before (hopefully a match). Shriek wildly either way -- Memory is a game of unpredictable fear, and you must be its master.
To defeat the apples, you must grow plums.
If there are an odd number of unknown pairs remaining, open your turn the same way with an unknown card. If you can then make a match, great. If not, flip over another unknown card. Remember to look into your opponent's eyes while you shriek, raising in volume and intensity as you urinate. It will show your mental dominance.Why Does That Work?
Honestly, the shrieking and peeing was just to see if you'd do it. We had you do the odd/even stuff because when you end your turn with a remaining set of j, your opponent has only a (2j/n+j) chance to ... you know what, we'll never be able to describe it as well as this academic paper, "Optimal strategy in the childrens game Memory."
Shit. This game is more complicated than we thought.
You might have to simply trust us that the math works out on this one. Stick to this, and those preschoolers won't stand a chance.
Federico enjoys writing about math and sciency stuff. Tell him to do just that for you by contacting him here. (He still uses that email to remind himself that you make terrible decisions when you're young.)
For more ways to win at life, check out 5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness and 25 Amazing Life Hacks You Won't Believe You Didn't Know.
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