Basic Strategies

This quick primer will help you present your opponent with the most difficult of puzzles: how to wriggle out of your strategy. Though we find most players learn Paiko best by following their intuition and learning from mistakes, this can give you an idea of where to start when formulating your strategies.

In Paiko, your main objective is to spread out your forces and block off your opponent's advance -- capturing tiles is a pleasant secondary objective.
Play this
strategy by:



Strong against:
Weak to:
Placing tiles in
your home ground



Beats: Aggressive
Weak to: Standard
Placing tiles in
the middle grounds



Beats: Defensive
Weak to: Aggressive
Placing tiles in
opponent's home ground



Beats: Standard
Weak to: Defensive

Overarching Strategies (macro):

As you start playing Paiko, think about where on the board you're deploying the most tiles. Do you deploy tiles mostly in your home ground (Defensive), in the middle grounds (Standard), or in your opponent's home ground (Aggressive)? Each of these three 'macro' strategies has certain strengths and weaknesses. In general, Defensive play will outmaneuver Aggressive, Aggressive play will outmaneuver Standard, and Standard play will outmaneuver Defensive. This relationship between the strategies follows an easy to remember rock-paper-scissors analogy, as shown in the table to the right. Players often enjoy success when they play a well balanced blend of these three idealized strategies, or when they switch up their strategy to counter their opponent's.

If you find your opponent overwhelming you, don't attack into their strong points. Instead, try drawing more tiles and transitioning your play style to counter theirs. For example, if your opponent is obstinately thwarting your aggressive attacks into their home ground by playing very defensively, try switching to a more standard play style by spreading your tiles out amongst the middle grounds.

Tips for transitioning (micro):

  • If you have fewer than five tiles in your hand, try spending a turn to draw a few tiles before you transition. They help a lot!
  • To transition into defensive play, try placing fire and sword tiles on your home ground or in your cover to block your opponent's advance.
  • To transition into standard play, try placing air and earth tiles in and near the middle grounds to expand as broadly as possible.
  • To transition into aggressive play, try using bow and sai tiles to break into your opponent's home ground.

Tips for bolstering (micro):

  • On the other hand, if things are going well for your standard or aggressive play, try bolstering your forces using the cover-granting water and lotus tiles.