Stratego: Hamilton Edition

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Strategy:  The art of manipulating a field of finite variables to one’s advantage.  Tactics, predictions, resources, event conditions… these are the variables.  The ever-changing setting where all these will collide… that is the field.  None of these disappear from any competition, they are just present in different forms.

On a much different playing field than Hawkeye sports is the game of Stratego.  A combination of the classic thinking man’s game of Chess and the world-domination simulator of Risk, it pits two players against each other, with forty pieces for each to command.  There is a hierarchy among the game pieces, with the lowest being the scouts, which act as cannon fodder, and the highest being the Marshall, who is the most powerful piece.  Every piece remains unseen or “face-down” until is attacks or is attacked by an enemy piece.  Each side is equipped with six Bombs, which are stationary pieces that will destroy any piece that attacks them on accident, like the mines in Minesweeper.  There is also a spy, who can only kill the Marshall, and Engineers to defuse bombs.  The ultimate goal is to capture your opponent’s flag, the location of which is hidden, much like in Battleship.

But how in the world does all this relate to Hawkeye sports?!  Well, the answers are in the details.  Stratego, and other strategy games, can be allegorical to how sports are played right here in our community.

The high-ranking pieces of the game are used primarily for offensive purposes.  If a lower-tier pawn attacks a Major or a Colonel on accident, then of course that pawn would be destroyed.  However good these stronger pieces are for defense, they are much better-equipped for attack.  The same can be said for the Boys Varsity Basketball Team, whose strongest attribute is their offense.  Hard-hitting and difficult to turn back, it has proven to be their most valuable asset thus far.

The aspect of Hamilton sports most comparable to The Bomb would have to be the Girls’ Varsity Basketball defense.  The Bombs in Stratego and the girls’ defense are both powerful means of hampering an opponent’s progress.  Both can be crippling to any would-be adversary, and seem to materialize quickly and in exactly the right place when an attack comes.  In the case of Stratego, the placement of bombs is just an educated guess.  In basketball, the location and concentration of Lady Hawkeye defense is completely intentional.

Girls Competitive Cheer would undoubtedly be the Spy.  With a penchant for sneaking up on other, more established opponents, they have been the dark horse of the winter sports programs.  The girls have more than a few things up their sleeve to bring to the competition this year.  And just like The Spy, their most important work is yet to come.

Swimming reflects the importance of placement in strategy.  The right swimmers in the right events means success, and anything less can doom an entire team.  Playing to swimmers’ individual strengths, like Alec Nyboer’s speed or Matt Miller’s endurance, is a critical part of how events are assigned.  However, challenging swimmers in different areas can also net good results.  The line between too much risk and too little is a fine one, and one that every coach or player must respect.

Wrestling is another exercise in putting the correct players, or in Stratego, the game pieces, in the right spots.  In both wrestling and Stratego each player has a different weight and strength.  It then becomes the responsibility of the coach or player to use those pieces for the maximum effect in the game.

Whether it’s in games, sports, or otherwise, being able to create and modify a strategy is crucial to success.  Critical thinking doesn’t even acknowledge the presence of the box; it extends beyond the superficial and into where it really counts.  Critical thinking, especially on the fly, is the single most important attribute a competitor could have.

That is why it makes all the difference.




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