Brinkmanship (Definition)

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A great strategy to use in any war game is brinkmanship. Here we will explain the meaning of brinkmanship, as well as how it can be applied to your advantage in a strategic game.

Brinkmanship, at its simplest, is the tactic of pushing something to its very limit to get what you want. It is the idea of pushing something to the very brink, thus the term, that causes your opponent to back down from the immense threat. It could arguably be seen as a stand-off, especially if the opponent does not back down from the brinkmanship.

Brinkmanship was used very heavily in the Cold War, where many could describe the threat of nuclear warfare as Brinkmanship. In fact, situations such as the Cuban Missile Crisis could be described as such, with the very display of nuclear weaponry a clear tactic in brinkmanship, attempting to force the opponent’s retreat through sheer display and threat without having to ultimately go through with it.

It was also used in films such as War Games, where the imminent threat itself is used as brinkmanship. Nuclear warfare doesn’t ultimately happen, but its position on the very brink of happening is what drives a lot of the film and the reactions within the narrative.

In modern games, brinkmanship is an acceptable and usable tactic. Nuclear warfare might not exactly be possible, but many games have a way of exploiting brinkmanship. Variations of this tactic could include en-massing armies of units, or building strong, potentially aggressive buildings near the opponent. These forms of brinkmanship prevent your opponent from being aggressive, as your threat of retaliation is too great.

This can arguably be even more effective in multi-player games, where brinkmanship can push an opponent’s focus on to someone else, out of fear of attacking the one pushing the initial threat. In any strategy game, real life and great war films have shown how effective brinkmanship can be, for a variety of purposes.