The Hammond Method of Plateau
December 2, 1989
1) Aim to win by capture, not by stacking.
2) Onboard only pieces with low point value.
This makes "attack and capture" work in your favor. The opponent who plays pieces with high point values has nothing to gain from attacking defended pieces. Never play the Ace and seldom the Twister. If you must form a two-stack, play only a mute on the bottom. If you run out of low valued pieces, exchange to get them back.
3) Maintain the attack.
As soon as possible, attack an enemy piece and capture it in the following move if it hasn't moved. From that point on, every move should be a capture or an onboard to attack. This prevents the enemy from getting any "breathing space". At each turn, he must defend the attacked piece, move it or otherwise capture your attacking piece. If you make the first capture and capture every other turn, you are likely to force your opponent to initiate the first exchange. You need rarely play in defense of your position - counterattack instead. This will enable you to maintain the offensive. If your enemy defends, capture. If he captures, capture also. When playing "attack and capture", there will be few pieces on the board. This gives you more flexibility in attack.
Aim to capture pieces which are at least as valuable as those you lose. Any piece showing Red should be attacked with a Blue - don't worry about it being the Ace. If you can keep alternating captures and your opponent is playing pieces with high values, you get ahead in points captured. If you see the Ace or Twister, take them by all means. This can usually be done while only losing one piece in exchange but it's ok to lose two or more if they are not valuable and you are not in capture trouble. If you capture the Ace, you will almost certainly win.
A two-step method of attack is to first play a piece in a safe place so that it attacks a square which may attack the Ace. In the next move, play a piece defended by your first piece and which attacks the Ace. This may be extended to a third move which is an onboard under one of the other two pieces to extend the range to reach the Ace.
One example of this is a Blue and a Red played as if on the path of a Twister. First, play the Red as if it were a Twister attacking the Ace. In the following move, place the Blue so that it attacks the Ace and is defended by the Red. If other enemy pieces are already in place so that these pieces cannot be played, try playing the Blue first (as if a Twister) and follow with the Red attacking the Ace and defended by the Blue. (This doesn't work well since your opponent can attack the Blue and defend against the placement of the Red by onboarding a Red next to your Blue.)
If the above technique is inapplicable, and you have a Red and Blue you can attack from two squares away. If the Ace is a one-stack, place a Blue diagonally, two squares away or a Red vertically or horizontally, two squares away. Your opponent may onboard under his Ace to attack your piece. In this case, defend your piece against the Ace's attack. Then, if the Ace captures your first piece, capture the Ace. If your opponent makes some other move, onboard under your first piece to attack the Ace with a defended piece. Your opponent must move the Ace, take your attacking piece or lose the Ace. If the Ace is not a one-stack, you will have to make the less direct move first to defend the piece which will be placed to attack the Ace.
A third variation can be used if you have two Reds and the Ace is a one-stack. Place the first Red horizontally or vertically, two squares away from the Ace. If the opponent responds by attacking the Red or onboarding a blank under the Ace, play the second Red between the Ace and the first Red. If the opponent responds by onboarding a weapon under the Ace, defend the first Red and onboard under it in the following move.
4) Initiate exchanges as needed.
Since you should be ahead in captured point value, the loss of a turn is not important. If your opponent has a potential winning move (he has captured 4 or 5 pieces already and has a potential mask or Ace attack), go ahead and initiate the exchange. It will get you out of trouble and solidify your captured piece advantage. You will get back the low valued pieces (Blues and Reds) you need to continue your attack. If you run out of these, exchange to get them back rather than playing the Ace or other high valued pieces. If the enemy is about to capture one of your more valuable pieces and you are unable to avoid it, exchange before the capture if you can get back more pieces than you give in exchange. Since his only good move in the following turn is to take your valuable piece, his move is forced and you can resume the attack on the following move. By exchanging before he captures a valuable piece, you avoid the possibility of getting back only one piece in exchange.
-Paul L. Hammond
The rules of Plateau have been changed slightly since this system was developed. At the time the "Hammond Method" was developed, it was more difficult to win by stacking. The rules required that a six-unit survive the opponent's turn after its creation. Under those rules, most games were won by capturing. Under the current rules, this method is less effective since the opponent of the "Method" can often win by stacking - particularly if he does not have to initiate any exchanges.
The Method is now rarely used in its pure form, but has been incorporated into our style of play in more subtle ways. We are more conscious of the importance of point values and generally play the high-valued pieces more cautiously.
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