Strategy and Tactics in Board Games and Beyond

Strategy and tactics are two fundamental concepts not only in board games, but games in general. In the words of chess player Savielly Tartakower, tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do while strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do. In this article, you will learn more about these concepts and how they apply to games.

What Is Strategy

Strategy, simply put, is a plan to achieve the desired outcome. In board games, your purpose is to win. Therefore, you need to devise a plan to win. This plan must make excellent use of your resources and be flexible enough to take into account your opponent’s plan. Of course, you don’t know what your opponent is planning to do until he starts doing it. But as soon as he makes a move, you can calculate what his options are and how you can respond to each variation.

The resources you need to make good use of in your strategy are time and material. Time is needed for thinking while material is represented by your pieces. Ideally, you’ll want to waste as little time as possible and move so as to maximize the combined strength of your pieces.

When chess players strategize, they’re thinking at least several moves in advance. Their goal is to slowly accumulate positional, tactical, or material advantages. As soon as you gain a little advantage, you can extend it if you make good use of it. Every move matters.

In board games, your strategy is based on complete information. This means that you see at all times what your opponent has and does and you can take this information into account when making your own moves. In other games, such as StarCraft or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, you only have the intelligence that you manage to find. So you need to scout your opponent continuously to know what they’re up to.

What Are Tactics

Tactics are the actions you take to achieve some part of your plan or to defend yourself against what your opponent is doing. When you think about strategy, you think about the overall campaign. When you consider tactics, you think about the specifics: “how am I going to achieve this? What moves will enable me to advance? How will I respond if the opponent does a particular thing? Etc.”

Tactics are the implementation of your strategy. In chess, two of the most famous tactics are the pin, the fork, and the sacrifice.

When you use the pin tactic, you are making an attempt to pin one of your opponent’s pieces, threatening to take another important piece if it moves.

The fork tactic is an attempt to threaten multiple pieces at once so that no matter what your opponent decides to save, he will still lose something important.

The sacrifice tactic consists in sacrificing one of your pieces in order to gain another type of advantage. For example, some of the greatest chess games of all time had a queen sacrifice that resulted in a victory for the player who decided to sacrifice his queen.

Strategy and Tactics in Non-Board Games

One of the most famous non-board games in which the notions of strategy and tactics are important is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or CS:GO. Millions play it, watch its tournaments and bet on them using online esports betting platforms like Rivalry. In CS:GO, people think just like in board games like Chess or Go and they use tools like With the use of this tool, players can easily plan each round in advance.

In CS:GO, the material consists of team members and their equipment. The way in which you use a smoke grenade, the timing, and the spot on the map where you want to make your move can all be carefully considered in theory. This aspect of the game preoccupies IGLs (in-game leaders), coaches, and players in general. Because without proper tactics and a solid strategy of winning the match, the odds of succeeding are low.

CS:GO is the perfect example of a game in which players need to constantly react to what their opponents are doing and make good decisions to succeed. Just like in chess, time is quickly running out. Except here, the opponent doesn’t have to wait for you to make a move, so your reaction time is critical.


Whether you’re playing board games or other types of games, study the concepts of strategy and tactics and you will automatically become a better gamer. Knowing how to create a winning plan is one of the keys to success in this area.