Two Game Variants For Those Who Like a Challenge

One of the greatest parts of getting to know a specific game is developing an understanding of its underlying mechanics, and through this insight, growing increasingly more skilled at playing it. Many games, such as chess, see committed players embark on a lifelong journey of gradual improvement. However there’s more to getting better at a game than studying its tactics. Often people grow and develop through increasing their training load — something which is equally true for training in athletics as it is for learning a language. This is due to the phenomenon of skill plateaus, wherein our grey matter, constantly seeking efficiency, delivers diminishing returns for the effort we put in. As such we must often work harder to continue improving at the same rate over time.

One of the best ways to overcome this is by increasing the challenges that face us. For example, a weightlifter, struggling to lift a heavier load than what they’re accustomed to, may benefit from focusing on eccentric exercises that stress the body in novel ways. Similarly, a mathematician may improve their understanding through tackling equations that were hitherto unknown to them. For those seeking to improve their gameplay, whether it’s in relation to a PlayStation blockbuster or classic board game, there are numerous ways we can increase the challenge in order to ultimately improve at the base game. Below we’ll be taking a look at some cogent examples of this, exploring the various stressors best known to break through obstacles in training.


Restriction is the principle by which we take away elements we have come to depend upon in order to evoke a greater effort. Consider, for example, how much harder it would be to perform a push-up with one arm instead of two. In games there are numerous ways we can apply restrictions to our benefit. Take the popular game 3 Card Brag, part of a family of “bluffing” games descended from the Spanish card game Primero. In 3 Card Brag, as with other common variants, the act of bluffing your opponents is a keystone element to playing the game effectively. However, it’s not the only skill required to play this game well, and through removing this particular component, other skills — such as the calculating of  probabilities, get a chance to shine through. 

A version of 3 Card Brag developed for online casinos, known as Live 3 Card Brag is a challenging prospect for those familiar with the ordinary format precisely because this ability to make bluffs is entirely removed from gameplay. For those that become overly reliant on the ability to fake-out their opponents, the removal of this crutch will put pressure on their ability to run strategies on more holistic elements of the game in real time when planning their next move. Additionally, those fond of poker may also benefit by trying this version, as the hand rankings work a little differently in this variant, which can add flexibility to your skill-set.


The speed at which we perform a task is another crucial element where we can increase the inherent challenge. Language learners are familiar with the experience of being able to understand a sentence when spoken slowly, but failing to grasp the meaning when the same words are repeated quickly. Likewise, chess players in the habit of taking their time when choosing an optimal move can stand to benefit from trying out Blitz chess, or speed chess. 

Sped up variants of chess are popular among professionals, and at competitions, as they encourage players to think on their feet and use their intuition in order to make the correct moves. Speed chess also helps train players in how to dictate the pace of gameplay, which can translate to giving you a decisive advantage over an opponent unfamiliar with factoring time into a game. This is true even in contexts where you are playing regular, untimed chess, as the experience of having an opponent consistently make moves faster than you places one at a psychological disadvantage.