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Strategy Corner

Without a doubt, R~P~S is quickly becoming the most challenging thinking-person's game around.  We've set aside this place to allow neophyte and veteran alike to sharpen their skills and wits.

"The common warrior thinks but one step ahead. Shall we not, then, think three?"
~ Sun "Rock" Tzu

The casual observer of R~P~S will obviously be misled into thinking far less of this contest than is actually merited. The real fans know the true depth of subtlety and subterfuge that goes into every deathmatch. We’ve attempted to put together a compendium of strategy for the novice and veteran alike in the hopes of keeping the strategy of our craft alive and strong.  Below you'll find more than enough material to begin your own quest for R~P~S strategy and truth.


Reference Table

We offer this reference as a tool for the more intuitive and discerning players.  Please study this carefully.  Do not proceed into the more detailed discussion of strategy below without first gaining a thorough understanding of the relationships detailed in the table below.

Reference Table



















Silent Openings

In the case of all Silent Openings, the challenger has the benefit of surprise and a foreknowledge of his opponent -- therein lies the challenger’s strength. On the other hand the defender has the benefit of a measured response.

The Petrine (sharp rock attack)

"Better t’ start strong! Give ‘m th’ rock – all’us th’ Rock" ~ BillyBob

Long thought the opening of the dull or cowardly, the Petrine Opening, also known as Quiet Bill (named by it's chief proponent, BillyBob) or Lazy Man’s Throw (due to the lack of effort required to make the play IRL), this opening has gained popularity amongst the younger and more aggressive players. Its strength lies in the unexpected nature of throwing the first in the list of the three elements, and thus is best used against players who "think too much."

The Scholar

"Hey, they’re all sooo stupid. Ergo, proicio charta!" ~ Damian

In this opening the challenger boldly throws paper, long known to be the weapon of the intellect, most usually against an opponent known or strongly assumed to be less imaginative or bright than the challenger.  In a recent study, it was proven beyond doubt that The Scholar leads to more draws than any other opening.

The Knife

"Pen over Sword – perhaps. But blades over both!" ~ Johnny "Ed" Depp

The Knife is the fastest of the three silent openings, and the most controversial.  It is broadly attributed to the challenger who supposes the victim to be either too slow or too learned & geekish. Sure to draw blood, The Silent Knife opening was outlawed for several recent seasons until championed most recently by Captain Terrific.

Commented Openings
Strong Stance

Commented Openings are those in which the challenger departs from the traditional "one, two, three" or "rock, paper, scissors" pre-match cant in favor of issuing some verbal assault or challenge to his opponent.  The Strong Stance Commented Openings take their name from the aggressive or overt nature of the comments which are meant to be offensive in spirit. Here the challenger is relying not so much on an in-depth understanding of the opponent, but rather on an appeal to the opponent's core animal instincts.  It has been debated at great length that the recipient of a Strong Stance Commented Opening has the advantage, through the recognition of the Opening's intent.   We leave it as a study to the reader as to their own personal preference. 

One-Level Rock Feint (Ol' Reliable)

"Yell 'Rock!'  An' slip 'em th' blade." ~ BillySue

The oldest trick in the book according to some, this opening has recently gained notoriety at the hand of the disciples of BillyBob.   Also known as Ol' Reliable, it is brutal and vicious, but can easily be overcome if the opponent pauses to consider the source, allowing them to see through to the intent of the challenger.  The proper response to the harsh cry of "Rock" is to pitch the rock soundly back at the fool.

The Riddle (Mialith's Bluff)

"The path we travel is rockier than those who would map it on paper would ever believe." ~ Mialith

For as long as there has been spoken language, clever folk have hidden clues within riddles.  Only the most clever of adversaries can hope to solve the puzzle and find their way to the treasure; those less worthy will find themselves lost at sea -- or worse.  The R~P~S challenge is no exception, and The Riddle is the perfect way to lure an opponent to his unsuspecting doom.

See also: Two-Level Feints

Commented Openings
Weak Stance

Weak Stance Commented Openings have long been misunderstood, mostly due to the misleading nature of the name of this school of thought.    On the contrary, these openings are the most beguiling and slick.  Here the challenger indicates what has not been thrown, or worse yet, suggests a throw to the opponent.  The weak stance is by far the most flexible and cunning, giving full advantage to the challenger.

One-Level Scissors Switch (The Bryer Patch)

"Oh, please, don't throw scissors... <heh heh heh>" ~ BillyBen

Also a favorite of BillyBob and his followers, this feint offers the same level of complexity as Ol' Reliable, but requires a bit of reverse psychology.  The challenge goes along the lines of "Oh, please don't throw scissors!"  The opponent will usually do just that, and so get trounced by a rock. The proper opponent response to this gambit is then, of course, to throw paper.

See also: Two-Level Feints

Blatant Misdirection

Some strategists have supposed this school of openings to be a subset of the Commented Openings, but its true practitioners recognize it as an art form unto its own.  Here the challenger takes advantage of the nature and limitations of his environment to misdirect or intentionally mislead the opponent.  The art of Blatant Misdirection is slightly akin to the Chess Grandmaster's suggestion that his pupils place their boards in such a way so that the sun would be in the eyes of their opponents.   Many R~P~S gladiators consider this to be a lower form of opening, unworthy of attention or significant study.  Despite this, Secrestia has managed to gain a small and growing band of followers.

Secrestia's Ruse (Fink's Bane)

"Email is your friend." ~ Secrestia

Named for the master strategist who pioneered this technique (and nicknamed for the bold gladiator who first unmasked the Ruse), this opening takes advantage of the nature of the R~P~S Game Server.

The challenger issues a standard challenge to his or her opponent, followed by a doctored email sent directly to the opponent containing fake email headers and the mimicked body of the legitimate R~P~S challenge.   Within the body of this forgery, the challenger cleverly inserts "error" messages supposedly produced by the Game Server, e.g.,

   Unexpected database error near token 'challenger=rock'

The opponent is the duped into thinking that the Game Server unwittingly has laid bare the entire contents of the challenge.   The dishonest opponent will then fall headlong into the challenger's trap, throwing what he believes to be the winning response, only to find he has been one-upped.

Obviously, using Secrestia's Ruse as a starting point, a broad variety of Blatant Misdirections can be engineered by the crafty student of this method of opening.

Two-Level Feints

The neophyte quickly learns the hard way to avoid one-level tricks. But the accomplished veteran will know exactly when to shift into second -- ergo the Two-Level Feint. Here the challenger capitalizes on the overconfidence of the junior player.

Example of a Two-Level Feint, Commented Opening, Strong Stance:

Two-Level Paper Feint (The Nasty Paper Cut)

"Hey, you said you'd throw...  hmmm... Hey!"  ~Dingus Ringmaster

A ruthless slap in the face of the newbie, this gambit is a favorite of Captain Terrific who invariably knows exactly when to use it. The challenge is loosely worded as "I'm going to throw paper. Really. Honestly, I will."  The freshman player naively misinterprets this as a One-Level trick, anticipates a rock, and thus throws paper. The veteran, of course throws scissors - and thus deals the opponent a Nasty Paper Cut.

Example of a Two-Level Feint, Commented Opening, Weak Stance:

Two-Level Rock Feint (The Marvelous Rock)

"I'm sitting in a glass house.   The rock is in your hands." ~ Son of Snagglepuss

Rarely used effectively by the Masked Marvel, its creator, this gambit can nevertheless prove to be a highly proficient weapon in the arsenal of a winner.  The feint-proper is "You should really throw a rock."  Note: novice users of this strategy will often ruin the feint by overemphasizing the word really, as in, "You should REALLY throw a rock." 

The recipient of a properly worded Marvelous Rock will interpret this as a one-level affair, and will be certain that the challenger has thrown paper.  Therefore, he will make the horrid choice of scissors.  The challenger will, of course, throw rock.  The beauty of this gambit is twofold.  First, it offers the opportunity for the ubiquitous post-game "I told you so" opportunity. And second, it has the added value that if the victim is so naive as to not even consider a subterfuge, the outcome will be a tie.  A cunning and swift kill.

Defensive Strategies

The student of R~P~S strategy will, no doubt, focus much of their attention on the offensive or attacking strategies, that being the nature of the contest.  However Defensive Strategies are also finding their place in the cunning and challenging R~P~S arena.  The practitioner of Defensive Strategies will take on the role of the opponent and focus their mental faculties on the response.  This is easier said than done, however.  One example is included below.

Bonetti's Defense

Inigo:    "Ha!  You're using Bonetti's Defense against me!"

Wesley:    "That's only natural, considering the rocky terrain."

Long the bane of both The Petrine (resulting in a challenger loss) and Ol' Reliable (resulting in a draw), Bonetti's Defense, consisting of a strong and bold reliance on throwing paper, is best employed against the overly aggressive challenger who, as it has been noted, is mostly likely to throw a rock.  Proponents of this defense often use it to excess, though, leading to deflated standings overall.

If you've got a strategy worthy of the R~P~S crew then
send it to the Gamemaster!

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