How to win games – understanding resources.

Despite being very different, all games, from blackjack to basketball, can be understood fundamentally through an understanding of resources. For the purposes of this article the definition of a resource is an option, or something that brings a player closer to winning the game. Every resource comes from one of three types: the philosophy of fire, tempo, and game economy.  

The philosophy of fire refers to resources that players start the game, with but don’t gain naturally during the game, such as time. Many sports and other games use time as a resource. In the video game Fortnite, another example would be starting health points. The philosophy of fire is important because it doesn’t regenerate, and in many cases, the game ends if one player depletes all of them. Managing the philosophy of fire is a key skill to have in any game.

The next kind of resource is tempo. This refers to resources that aren’t present at the start of a game, but are gained naturally over time. An example from blackjack is the value of the cards in a hand. Cards are drawn over the course of a game of blackjack, but you don’t start with any. Another example is goals scored in a game of soccer, a game where each team starts with 0 and scores over the course of the game. Whoever has the advantage in tempo generally dictates how the game is played, and is often considered “ahead.”

The final type of resource is game economy, and it refers to resources that are present at the start of the game and recur over time. One example is the ability to score points in a game like football. Each team in football has many attempts to score over the course of a game. Another example from Magic: The Gathering is cards in hand. Players in this game start with a hand of cards and draw new ones every turn. Economy is the most common kind of resource that players have to manipulate. The vast majority of options in a game come from game economy because they are present at the start of a game and continue to be gained.

Knowing where resources come from is great knowledge to have, but knowing how to manipulate these resources is a key skill when it comes to winning games. This skill deals with what plays to make in different situations, depending on what resources a player has available to them. In a game, a player is either the “control” or the “beatdown”. The “control” is the player/team with inevitability, who will generally play fast and loose with the philosophy of fire because they win in the long game. The “control” will play defensively when dealing with tempo because they are already ahead. The “beatdown” will generally play aggressively, protect the philosophy of fire, and attempt to get ahead in tempo. This player/team also benefits more from taking risks, and thus will take more risks.

Football is a great way to explain this skill. Suppose Team A and Team B are playing a game, and Team A is ahead by 14 points in the 2nd quarter. In this situation, Team A is the “control” and Team B is the “beatdown”. Team B has possession of the ball and a first down, and has the option to run or to pass. Running the ball is more consistent, but less powerful, and likely to keep the clock running. Passing is a more powerful play, but more likely to not do anything and stop the clock. Team B, as the “beatdown,” should make the pass play in this situation because the “beatdown” wants to be time efficient and will benefit more from taking risks. However, if Team A has the ball, then they, as the “control,” will most likely lean on running and less risky passes to run down time and maintain the tempo advantage. The goal of the “control” is to use as much time as possible and win in the long game. The goal of the “beatdown” is to score as much as they can as fast as possible.

A rule that exists in gaming is that power is slightly more important that consistency. This is why football teams will often pass more than they run because passing gains more yards, while running gains less yards more frequently. If one player/team can do something really powerful 75% of the time, and the opposition can do something less powerful 95% of the time, the first player/team will win most of the games. However, if that 75% falls to 50%, that player/team will lose a lot more because consistency is still very important.

There are three types of resources: the philosophy of fire, tempo, and game economy. These resources are manipulated in different ways depending on whether the player/team is playing the role of the “control” or the “beatdown.” Power is slightly more important than consistency. Thus, resource manipulation in games is influenced by a lot of complex factors, but is a skill that all players can learn to help them win games.



Chapin, Patrick. “Innovations – The Theory of Everything.”, 12 Jan. 2010.

Flores, Mike. “Who’s The “beatdown”?”, 1 Jan. 1999.


Kuethen, Marcianne. “Welcome – Employee & Candidate Resources.” Amtec, 8 May 2017,