Increasing the Fog of War

Pub Battles does a great job at Fog of War.  Here are a few variant or house rules we’ve been experimenting with to make this even thicker!

Hidden Status

Why rotate the block face up when spent?  It shows the enemy what you have and their status!  Shouldn’t this be kept secret? 

Instead of rotating Spent blocks up, we flip them upside down.  We also keep them facing their player when they retreat.  This keeps them hidden, as they should be. 

-Instead of centering the stickers, I put these on lined up with the bottom edge.  Just for kicks.  ??  I kind of like it better.  They look more like the Kriegsspiel blocks this way.  It also gives you a better visual cue for which way the block is facing.  They are also easier to put on the block without getting crooked.  You can just line them up flush with the bottom.  I think I’m going to keep stickering my new games this way!

Hidden Blocks

While we’re on the subject, why not keep the whole block secret too?  Why tell the enemy which unit it is?  What its quality is?  Is it just a Detachment or an Elite? 

Let them keep guessing as you fight round to round.   They should at least know the type:  infantry, artillery or cavalry. 

Hidden Dice

Why should the enemy know how many hits you just took in that last shot?  This should be unknown really, right?  We’ve been experimenting with pulling chits from a bag or pool rather than rolling dice.  The player taking the hits should pull and then implement the results in secret.  You can easily make your own chits or maybe even a small deck of cards.

Hidden HQ

The board looks cool with the flags all showing face up. 

The problem with this, is that when you flip your HQ when it Alters, it reveals who that general is! 

Why should the enemy know that?  Better to keep this secret, right?  Instead, place your Fresh HQs with the gold, leader’s name side down, the flag facing towards you. 

Rotate it Flag up when you Alter.  There.  Now you can still keep track of who has already Altered, but the enemy is still left in the dark.  As it should be. 

Yes, some of this will help with Solitaire play too. If none of the blocks are face up, when you spin the board around, all you see is a field of hidden blocks. That makes it easier to forget exactly what they had where and their status.

How to Ask Questions Like Captain Kirk

I’ve always been a big fan of Captain Kirk.  One of the things that amazes me most is his brilliant questions.  He always seems to ask just the right thing at just the right time.

Why does God need a starship?

The right question at the right time is incredibly powerful.  It is like a superpower!  Imagine what it could do for you in sales with your customer, in management with your employees, in parenting with your kids, or in a relationship with your spouse. 

Long ago, I set out to learn to ask questions like Kirk.  I read books.  I watched him in Star Trek.  I studied Socrates.  I tried to focus.  Think, think.  What would Kirk ask?!  What do I say?  A critical moment would come up and I would just freeze like a deer in headlights.  Nothing. 

After years of trying?  Nothing at all.  No change in my behavior or skill level.  I finally just gave up.  I guess I’m just not brilliant like Captain Kirk.  Ha, if I only had a team of great Hollywood script writers working for me!  Maybe this isn’t something you can do in real life.

Last year we made and released a Pirate board game.  Fun!  After playing it for several months I started noticing some changes in my behavior.  Subtle at first, but then a massive shift.  Kirk like questions were effortlessly flowing out of me in rapid succession.  In just about all areas of my life: 

Our tire is looking a little low on the car.  Why?  Is it really low?  What is the pressure?  Is it safe to drive on?  How far to the nearest tire shop?  Can we make it?  How old is this tire?  How much tread is left?  How worn are the other tires?  Should we replace them all or just 2?  Can the others wait until fall? 

Wow.  I was finally doing it!  Asking questions like Kirk, but how?  Why?  I wasn’t even trying to.  I gave up years ago.  I had mostly forgotten about it.

Then it occurred to me.  It was the Pirate game.  What?  Really?  Yes!  The Pirate game turned me into Captain Kirk.  This is a profound lesson on learning and training.  I now realize that I had it all wrong.  I was doing it backwards.  This was my thinking:

Here I was at the bottom.  My goal?  To be like Kirk.  At least be more like him when it comes to asking questions.  Ok so how do I get there?  Well, I have to focus on and figure out how to ask questions better right?  Makes sense. 

WRONG!!!!   That doesn’t work.  I tried in vain for years with zero results.  That’s backwards.  To achieve this breakthrough, you have to do the opposite.  Here’s what the process actually looks like:

The goal isn’t to be like Kirk.  Asking great questions is the goal.  Actually it’s more like the natural result:  where you end up.  Ok, so how do you get there?  You BE Kirk.  Captain a ship for about 10 years. 

Kirk doesn’t ask great and timely questions because he is naturally brilliant at asking questions.  He didn’t learn it by going to school, reading books or practicing questions.  His questioning skills are what resulted from his career.  Serving as a Captain makes you that way.  It rewires your brain to think like that.  Captain a ship for 10 years.  Lead it through 10 battles at sea and you’ll start to think and behave like a Captain too.  Just like Kirk. 

Gee, that’s great but I don’t have 10 years to spend captaining ships in battles at sea.  How could anybody ever do that?  By playing Pirates! 

Yep, as silly as that sounds, it’s true.  That is one of the amazing powers of playing games.  They can give you real life experience;  but not just any game.  It has to be a good game that is designed and set up to teach you the right lessons. 

Most games are really just puzzles.  What exactly are they teaching you?  How to get through the next level faster? Most of them teach you how to be a good little worker bee.  Pirates! the Devil & the Deep, teaches you to be a leader.  It puts you in the role of captaining a ship.  You are responsible for that ship and all aboard.  You have to assess damage and assign your crew accordingly.  You have to get inside the head of the enemy.  Where will they go next?  How can you out maneuver them?  Learning to play this game, teaches you to analyze and think in terms of questions.  It teaches you to anticipate and plan for the future. It rewires your brain to think like a captain.

A good game can teach us in the natural way. The way our brains are designed to learn best:  through experience.  They can do it much quicker too!  It won’t take 10 years.  You can fight 10 Pirate battles in about 5-8 hours, if you wanted. 

I wouldn’t recommend doing it all at once like that.  I fought 1 battle per week.  Each game took 30-60 minutes.  In between battles, I spent lots of time in self reflection.  Why did the game end up like that?  Where did I go wrong?  What did I do right?  What should I try in the next game to be better?

After about 10 games, you’ll start to change too.  You’ll start to think like a real Captain.  Why?  Because you’ll have experience as a captain. 

Just like Kirk. 

Waiting to Move

What to Do in a Board Game with Lots of Players

Some people don’t like big multiplayer board games.  There’s too much down time.  What do you do while all the other players are doing their turns?  You sit around being bored.

This is a HUGE mistake!  The trouble isn’t that the game is boring.  You just don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing.  They don’t tell you this in the rule book.  You’re just supposed to know. 

Here are 5 Tips: While you’re waiting to move.


We’re using Supremacy here as an example but these same principles apply to most big multiplayer board games. 

What to Do While You’re Waiting to Move?

No Phones

First of all, silence or turn off your cell phone.  Our standing House Rule for board game night is:  No Cell Phones!  This is a great rule to adopt.  If you just want to sit by yourself and check your posts, messages, etc. then go do that.  You’re here to play a game right?  Then play! 

We think we ‘multi-task’ but we really don’t.  Scientific studies show that we can really only focus on 1 thing at a time. 

Besides being rude, it also hurts your play!  There are a ton of things you’re supposed to be doing.  In a FPS video game, this is obvious.  How well would you do in Call of Duty if you spent 30% of the time on your cell phone?  Just because it’s not your turn, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do.  The game is afoot!

If you don’t have a House Rule for no cell phones, watch for players on their phone.  Target them.  They will be easy prey.  They will always be surprised and unprepared. 


How do you defeat your enemies?  You attack their weakness.  Avoid their strength.  Great but how do you know what that is?  You watch!  This is your Intell operation.  While they are moving, you should be watching them like a hawk.  Every move.  What does that mean?  How can you best exploit that?  In most games, there are pros and cons to every action.  This is especially true in Supremacy.  Here are a few specific examples:

1 Let’s say Japan moves first.  The Market prices are high.  They sell off all their resources.  Ok, what does that mean?  It means they just made a TON of cash.  You’re not going to be bankrupting them anytime soon. (their strength)  Economic pressure won’t have any immediate effect, but without resources, they won’t be able to build! THAT’S their weakness.  They won’t be able to move and fire in a conventional fight.  Now is your time to strike!!  Invade.  Seize their key factories.  It will be several turns before they can respond.  By then, it may be too late.  Start planning your attacks now, while waiting to make your trades.  How many resources will you need to launch these attacks?  Will your production be short?  How many extra will you need to buy?  NOW is your time to think and plan all of this!

2 China builds.  Fine but what do they build?  A bunch of Navies!  That is unusual for a land power.  What does that mean?  It means that they must have worked out some sort of diplomatic agreement with Russia and the Commonwealth.  China trusts them.  It means that they are about to project their power out across the sea, but to where?  Watch their eyes.  When they look at the map, what part of the map do that look at the most?  All these clues telegraph their next intentions. Prepare now. Note also that if they built lots of Navies, that means they will be weaker as a ground force on land. That is a vulnerability. How can you take advantage of that?


If you get a chance, try to spend some time thinking about and planning your next move.  This will speed up the game.  It also minimizes the intell other players can pick up on YOU!  While you’re moving, you won’t need to be looking at the area of the map you are going to be invading next.  You already did that while they were distracted making their move.  You won’t have to think. 

What resources are you going to buy?  Which ones to sell?  How many?  If you work out what you will do ahead of time, you will execute it quick.  In a flash your turn will be over.  Out of sight, out of mind.  The less time they will all have to carefully watch you during YOUR turn. 

Strategy management planning process flow chart showing key business terms analyze, develop, plan, execute and monitor


As with planning, you can also conduct diplomatic efforts while other players are moving.  This can help to speed up the game.  It gives you something to do while you ‘wait’ for your turn.  It can also be a huge advantage. 

Coalition and Alliance building is key in Supremacy.  This is also true with most multiplayer games.  While certain players are distracted moving, now is a great time to launch sneaky diplomatic efforts.  Build new allies!  Point out to neutral players the ‘aggressive’ actions of the player that is moving.  While distracted, they likely won’t hear or be able to defend themselves.   

This is also a good time to chip away at their alliances.  Sew doubt in the minds of their partners.  “Are you sure you can trust them?  Do you see what they just did?  I hope they don’t double cross you!  That looks exactly like something a player would do before they attack you!”, etc.


Can you influence and alter a player’s move?  You bet!  What are they doing?  Is that what YOU want them to do?  What exactly do you want them to do?  You know what your plan is now right?  Ok, so what would be the best thing for them to do for YOUR plan? What would make your job easier?  Yep, add this to your planning mission.  After you have your own plan, you need to have a good plan for all the other players too!  Friends and foes. 

You’re getting ready to launch an attack on the EU this turn, right?  Well that attack would go a lot easier for you if they were short on minerals and couldn’t supply a committed defense right?  Can you encourage them to sell more when they trade? 

“Oh no.  They are very stubborn.  They would never do anything I suggest.”  Good, then push them to do the opposite.  Suggest that they buy lots of extra resources!  “You never know when you might need them for a rainy day!  You better not sell so much.”

“Oh yeah?  What are you trying to do?  Make sure I miss out on lots of great windfall profits like everybody else?  I’ll show you!”

Yep, they sure did, didn’t they? 

See?  Now you have so much to do during other player’s turns, that you’ll be hoping they take even longer!  Soon you’ll wonder how you were ever bored while everybody else was moving.