Onboard instead of moving. If you don't get your forces into play by Onboarding, you won't be able to do anything. A move that doesn't capture is usually wasted.
Guard your power pieces. When you lose a power piece, the lopsided point value will cripple you in a prisoner exchange. Once a power piece has been captured, or even revealed, the other pieces can't pretend to be it.
Watch out for tall units. An unthreatened 4-unit wins - if you fail to threaten my 4-unit, I onboard to it, making it a 5-unit. Whatever you do on your turn, I then onboard Number 6 for the win.
Count weapons. You can garner lots of information. For example, there can be at most four red markers showing at any time - two Reds, the Red Mask, and the red side of the Ace. If you see three red markers, one must be a power piece. This is equally true of blues. Once a mask has been revealed, none of the blanks on the board can be that mask.
Bluff. It preserves your real weapons and is often just as powerful. If you can keep a poker face, you may gain that unpredictable edge.
The Mute has much mobility but no firepower. Its mobility makes it good when forming a six-stack. Its cheapness makes it a great decoy, especially when bluffing as a Mask. If your opponent takes the Mute/blank, he may be capturing a mask. If not, he risks it turning into a weapon later. Used well, the Mutes give the intimidation value of seven Masks (three real ones and four Mutes bluffing as Masks). Mutes also make great stack-stuffers. Onboard them inside and under units, giving greater reach and capturing power. In a way, there are only two kinds of pieces in Plateau: the Mutes and The Rest. To become skillful, one must become skillful playing the Mutes.
The red marker is the core of Plateau weaponry. A Red can be maneuvered to attack any square on the board. Its lines of influence (the lines along which it travels) are always four squares long, while the Blues' lines of influence vary in length from two squares to four. This movement versatility makes red weapons more useful than their blue counterparts. Any red marker, regular or Mask, can bluff as the Ace until that piece is revealed.
Blue markers are the least powerful weapons. Their movement is limited to diagonals, so a Blue can access only half of the squares on the board. Since a Blue is blue on both sides, it can't be flipped for repositioning. But Blues are weapons and can capture and pin as well as any Red. Their low point value makes them excellent cheap "formation busters".
The Masks: Red, Blue, and Twister
These three power pieces are weapons of total mobility. The regular weapons move only along their lines of influence. A Mask attacks on its line of influence but with its blank side up can move in any direction. A Mask is most useful as an instrument of stealth, so Masks should usually be Onboarded "face down", concealing their identity. When played in concert with the Mutes, they keep the opponent guessing by multiplying the number of "potential" Masks you have on the board.
The Twister, because of its crooked path, can attack any of the other pieces without itself being attacked. It is often thought of as the "Ace Slayer" and rightly so. It is often just as valuable. The Twister is the mobile of the mobile - almost impossible to pin down even on such a small board.
The Masks are dangerous for your opponent because they contain hidden threats and dangerous for you because they have large point values. Once lost, they can be impossible to buy back unless you have a similarly valuable piece to exchange.
The Ace is the most powerful piece in Plateau, as reflected in its value of 21 points. Many games are won or lost depending on how the Aces are played. The longer an Ace goes unrevealed, the longer other weapons can pretend to be it, and the longer it stays out of danger. Give it up for commensurate gain. Avoid a "chase the Ace" scenario where your opponent onboards while you move your Ace to keep it safe.
Concept of AfterMath
There are two forced situations in Plateau: forced exchanges and forced deployments to defend six-stacks. Prisoner exchanges are easier to turn to your advantage - forcing your opponent to onboard multiple killer pieces to defend a potential five-stack can negate a deployment advantage rapidly.
When players are well matched, the game proceeds as a series of prisoner exchanges. The key to winning is to emerge from exchanges with an advantage. There are three principles to follow:
1.Force your opponent to initiate the exchange. You get to move twice, gaining a deployment advantage. Force an exchange by getting and staying at least one up in captured pieces. Eventually you will have four pieces and your opponent will have three (or fewer). The game will change radically when you capture the fifth piece. You will have many options and your opponent will have few, which will degrade rapidly to one - a prisoner exchange.
2.Exchange favorably. The optimum situation is to both force and exchange and exact a favorable piece count in the exchange. Position yourself for exacting a favorable piece count by not playing powerful pieces when onboarding, thinking "capture and protect" with pedestrian weapons, and by playing guerrilla warfare with board coverage and no stacks greater than two tall. Your opponent might play power pieces which you capture with pedestrian weapons. You may fall behind in captures, but when the exchange occurs you will be able to trade a few power pieces for lots of trash. The risk of this strategy is that you may be branded as someone who plays only trash early on.
3.Maintain onboard piece count. Toward this end, one should only onboard or capture, especially in early stages; never move a unit without capturing. If you force your opponent to initiate exchanges, you should eventually have more pieces on the board. More pieces mean better board coverage, better board coverage means more safe places to onboard, more safe places to onboard means better opportunities to load up mobiles and more onboarded pieces in general, which all leads up to having five or six pieces on the board that can be coalesced into a six-stack, or a safe five-stack (which wins on the next turn).
Concept of "infomodity"
Treat information as a commodity: give up less than, and get more than, your opponent. Evaluate every move as to how it affects information. When you have more information, you have more options. For example, an offboard Mask has many options. When onboarded, it has fewer options (can't be onboarded elsewhere). When revealed, it has drastically fewer (can't pretend to be other pieces, making moves as if it were those pieces), and when captured it has none at all.
Use your attacks to gain information. White should sometimes open with a direct strike on Black with pedestrian weapons in a position that will require Black to give up information. If Black flips and takes, he gives up information. If he doesn't, White takes his opening stack. White comes out ahead by getting either information or pieces. Use this principle throughout the game. Look for either information or pieces, and look by using onboards to keep onboard piece count high.
Guard your information. Don't flip a Mask or Ace for some short range good; wait for the big kill. Occasionally play a Blue when the Ace would be much better. Onboard a Mask with its weapon facing up. Onboard the Ace at the bottom of a stack, to be dropped later on a deadly destination. Play the Mutes. You must seem as if you're actively pursuing goals that in reality are fictitious, while surreptitiously pursuing others. Remember your opponent doesn't know what is on the bottom of a piece before you flip it over, and he doesn't know what pieces you have or haven't played.
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