Discover more from Practical Strategy Based on Sun Tzu's Art of War
Strategy from Solitaire: 4) Tripeaks
The game shown is from Microsoft Solitaire’s daily challenges, August 10, 2023.
Tripeaks represents a strategic fact of life: that people connect only to those most like them. It also shows us how our progress depends on events that we cannot directly control. This game can also demonstrate the value of momentum from a surprising winning streak and the value of not stopping when progress is easy. Interestingly, it also demonstrates that sometimes focusing too much on maintaining momentum can cost us the game.
This game, like Klondike and Pyramid, is played with a single deck. Like those games, this game represents competitive situations where our Ground must be explored. However, progress here is more dependent on the changes of Climate. While Freecell has no climate, showing us our complete situation on the board, winning this game depends upon the Climate, the turns of the cards. The events from turned cards and must fit with our situation for us to win.
Mission, Ground, and Climate
The three possible missions in Tripeaks are 1) to clear the board, 2) score a certain number of points, or 3) clear a certain number of specific cards. The game’s mission is shown at the top of the screen, in the game shown, 42,000 points. The difference in mission is more important in Tripeaks than most games because we usually need a different strategy depending on the mission. We can clear the board without getting the most points. Sometimes going for most points can prevent us from clearing the board. We can also get certain cards without getting points or clearing the board. This is an important lesson because most of us try to use the last successful strategy in a new situation. This is what is meant by the saying: “Generals always fight their last war.”
Mission is also represented as shared values in this game, another central idea in practical strategy. This is a game of making connections and making connections depends on shared values.
The Ground is the three joined peaks, seen in the illustration. The game lays out twenty-eight cards to form those peaks. Like Klondike, only the bottom row of cards is dealt face-up. The rest are face down, the hidden resources of the ground. The Ground is also known as “the board,” “the playing field,” and the Tableau.
Like Klondike, the Climate is represented by the deck, shown in the illustration as the face-down card at the bottom of the screen. Next to it is the “active area,” which shows a ten. This ten is the only card that we can work with at the moment. It is our “active” contact, think of it as the person we are communicating with right now. We have twenty-four opportunities left in the deck. These cards will “activate” by turning them over. The active card is our current resources for making connections with potential contacts on the Ground. We can only go through the deck once so the time pressures in Tripeaks are greater than in Klondike or Pyramid.
Sometimes, a mission requires solving several situations, that is, solving several boards of different deals. We know this by the number of “deals” shown between the deck and the active area. We only get a new deal when we clear the existing board, that is, solve the current situation.
Improve your strategic resources, subscribe to our weekly (paid) or our free monthly mailings (always without advertisements). The last three weeks were free to all subscribers This continues for one more week. Practical Strategy Based on Sun Tzu's Art of War is a reader-supported publication.
The methods by which we win are activating our potential contacts, the cards on the board. We activate them by connecting them to the card in our active area. In this game, the card’s suit doesn’t matter, only its value. Each card’s is a resource that is limited by the type of connections they can make. Queens only connect to kings and jacks, those with whom she shares the most values, those close to her. Fives only connect to fours and sixes, the values nearest to it. The aces are special. They connect the top to the bottom, the kings to the twos.
We can only connect to others on the ground using our current contact, the card in the active area. The events of climate from each turn of a card gives us a new resource for connection. To activate cards on the Ground, we must connect to them with our active card. This activates it, and it moves to the active area. The game is like Pyramid; we succeed by removing cards, but, while removal in Pyramid is based on complementary opposites, in this game, cards are removed and activated by making connections.
The ten of diamond shown in the active area is a fortunate connection. It can connect to the jack, activating it. The jack leads to the queen. the queen to the king, the king to the ace, and so on. When each card is activated and moved to the active area, a card it covered is partly uncovered. It takes the removal of two cards to turn over the card, making it available for contact. Strategically, when we have a choice among cards to remove, we choose the one that frees up the most potential contacts below it. Removing a card that uncovers two partly covered cards is usually much more valuable than partly uncovering a new card, but not always.
The strategic lesson is simple. We must use those we are in contact with to make new connections. When we connect to people, it exposes us to more possible contacts. However, unlike our real lives, making a new contact makes the old contact unavailable for the future. In the game, as the new contact is activated, the card is moved to the active area, covering the past contact, making it unavailable in the future.
Making connections and removing our cards also rewards us with points. Think of these points as status or recognition. When the mission is getting points, the more cards removed in a winning streak in Microsoft Solitaire, the more each new connection is worth. We break the streak when we must turn over a new card from the deck. This reflects two strategic facts. In real life, the faster we make new connections the better, and our fast progress wins us status and therefore momentum among our contacts. In Microsoft’s game, the first card is worth a hundred points. Each card after that increases in value by two-hundred points. So, the second card is worth three hundred points and the streak totals four hundred, the third, five hundred and the streak, a total of nine hundred, and so on.
Most of us fail to do as well as we could because we fail to use our connections, both those we have and those we can potentially get from our situations and the changes of Climate. In my software company, one of my partners was very good at making connections, so I let my face-to-face and phone-to-phone habits in this area wane. Fortunately, I have the web through which I can contact people. What we want from our connections is to establish shared values and win more information about them and our situation. Each connection is a potential supporter. We use our connections to win more supporters and improve our standing in the eyes of others.
The information we get from our connections is our key to success. To learn a little each week about how to think more strategically, subscribe. Practical Strategy is a reader-supported publication.
The last three weeks were free to all subscribers This continues for one more week.