A Closer Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Wants

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Wants

Okay, so I goofed. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted an embarrassing typo or two in my last post. Mainly because I made a last-minute decision to change “hierarchy of needs” into “hierarchy of wants” which led to inevitable consequences. This should be fixed now. Lesson learnt!

The basic idea of MHoW is that given our current game state we should assess how well or badly we stand with respect to each layer. Then we have some idea of which part of the game to focus on. Sure, there may be some trivial decisions such as making a reversible move to build in-suit but inevitably there are critical points in a game where the right or wrong decision can decide your fate.

I should point out the Hierarchy of Wants is not necessarily linear. Either two items should be swapped or you could work on them simultaneously. As an extreme example, you might be able to remove a complete suit without obtaining an empty column at any stage of the game – which would be a cheevo in itself! There is certainly no law forbidding you from doing so, if the card gods were kind enough to allow it. But for most hands I would expect the above pyramid to be a good approximation of how an expert player would plan to win. In any case, you should feel free to tweak this pyramid as you gain experience.

Let’s look at an example or two:

Example 1

If Simon Anthony from Cracking the Cryptic were playing, he might be waxing lyrical about some promising signs: a suit of Spades has been removed, we have plenty of in-suit builds and excellent potential for obtaining empty columns (most columns have no face-down cards). Meanwhile Captain Obvious is yelling at the Screen, vainly trying to convince Simon the winning chances are exactly zero. With MHoW we immediately see the problem: we have failed at the lowest layer of the pyramid – and everything above this layer is rendered useless.

Okay, this was admittedly a trivial example but I only mentioned it because most losses are conceded before the player actually reaches a game state with no legal moves (and therefore “at least one legal move” is something we take for granted). So, this is something to bear in mind.

Now look at a second example:

Example 2

We have plenty of turnovers already and no problem finding legal moves. Although we cannot turn over extra cards before the final deal, we don’t really need them. We have one empty column – and hence some flexibility – and some promising in-suit builds. Clearly, we need to work on removing suits. For instance, we can immediately see a long run of Clubs in column 4 so one possible plan is to look for the remaining clubs (K-Q-J and 2-A).

Third example:

Example 3

Things look fairly promising. We immediately see two empty columns in four moves and further analysis shows we can actually clear at least one suit of Diamonds. With only six face-down cards remaining, either the game is mathematically won or the odds are very much in our favour. Therefore, we can jump to the top of the pyramid and start thinking about cheevos.

This example demonstrates another important lesson: don’t be intimidated by the sheer number of face-up cards in the tableau: It may turn out your position is very strong without realising it.

As a final word: it may be tempting to monitor the number of cards left in the stock to help decide which layer of the pyramid you should be working on, but that only works “on average”. I’ve had games where I could only ascend to the second level with only 10 cards remaining in the stock – yet still managed to win. Conversely, I’ve seen things go sour after a promising start. Use your common sense, and if something in the tableau screams “not an average hand” then listen to your gut and watch your results improve.

Until next time, happy Spider Solitaire playing 😊 May all your builds be in-suit and may all your long-term plans come to fruition!

30th Anniversary Celebration (alternative version)

It had been 30 years since the Ninja Monkey become the first dude in the Animal Kingdom to beat Four-Suit Spider Solitaire. The affable Tim Croofs had decided to throw a massive party of Solitaire binge-playing and every monkey, his dog and literally every millipede on the planet was invited. As an extra incentive every win would be worth double the usual Experience Points.

Captain oBVIOUS was keen to try his new strategy of becoming the Grand Doctor Of Spider Solitaire. Recall that whoever has the most experience points would become the Grand Doctor Of Spider Solitaire, and the captain reasoned that all he had to do was beat enough 1-suit hands to gain as many XP as he desired.

Meanwhile, Gravelsealer Geoeyes was struggling with the 2-suit version of the game. He could win just under half the time. The dog on the adjacent table was faring even worse. It was not very smart – it could only beat one game in three.

It was not just Spider Solitaire. Several other games were being played, such as the well-known Freecell, Klondike, Pyramid and the like.

A number of dumb bunnies were playing Snap. Apparently, the Bad Idea Bears thought it would be a hilarious prank if they told them the first player to win ten games in a row would earn 10,000 experience points (and several epiphanies would occur at the same time).

Not surprisingly it was the Eagle showing everyone else how it’s done. With a 25% success rate at the four-suit level he was easily top of the Experience Points Leaderboard.

The Wise Snail arrives three hours late to the party. He signs up, and then he waits …

And waits …

And waits …

And waits …

And waits …

“Sorry,” says Captain oBVIOUS, as he taps the Eagle’s shoulder.  “You’ve got to hurry up.”

“Shush, I’m trying to think,” replies the Eagle. “This is a critical point of the hand.”

“The playing room is packed with people and animals,” continues Captain oBVIOUS. “Half of them are waiting for the organisers to print more playing cards. Thank you for your patience and underst- ”

The Eagle notices with horror that the playing room is indeed packed with people and animals and half of them are waiting for the organisers to print more playing cards. I can’t remember the last time my best student was shown up by Captain oBVIOUS.

“The room may be packed, but at least there’s no deadly virus ravaging the Animal Kingdom,” quips the Smart 65,83,83.

“You’re Not Helping,” growls the Lion, who is also waiting for a game.

“*** Sigh ***” sighs the captain. “I guess I’m not becoming the Grand Doctor Of Spider Solitaire after all. Several other players are playing non-stop and they seem to be more skilled than me.”

“More skilled than I,” quips the Smart 65,83,83.

“Oh For 70,85,67,75,83 Sake!” shout several animals in unison.

wedidit

“We did it! We did it!” shouts Tim Croofs, oblivious to the numerous players as they grumble about not enough cards and too much overcrowding.

“MOST NUMBER OF GAMES PLAYED IN A SINGLE DAY, WE BROKE THE RECORD  70,85,67,75, 89,69,65,72!!!!!!!”

“LET’S DO IT AGAIN! AND AGAIN! AND AGAIN!”

Tim Croofs and organisers high-five each other and live happily ever after.

THE END