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How Strategy Games Apply the Rock Paper Scissors Mechanic

Draven Jolicoeur analyzed how various turn-based and real-time strategies adapt Rock, Paper, Scissors design to balance the gameplay and make it more dynamic.

Draven Jolicoeur (CantResistTriss on YouTube) shared an in-depth look at the Rock, Paper, Scissors method and how it is commonly used in strategy games like Civilization, Total War: Warhammer, and Age of Empires.

In short, the rule of Rock, Paper, Scissors is that your choice can be effective against one thing and ineffective against the other two. The same is applied in games – the archers can be highly effective against enemies in the distance but will lose their value once the distance factor is removed. On the one hand, this mechanic is perfect for balancing out the combat systems with multiple unit types and fractions. On the other hand, it helps the developers greatly increase the game dynamics and the number of variables, allowing the players to come up with their own strategy and turn the losing situation into a win. 

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