There are winners, and there are losers, they say. But there are also people who have not yet learned how to win. If you happen to be a fan of strategic games, you must have already played a few Connect Four matches. But more often than not, victory eludes you.
And we don’t blame you. Although the rules couldn’t be any simpler, placing your discs in four slots in a row isn’t easy. Still, it’s far from impossible. So, if you want to know how to win Connect Four every time, read on because we’re here to guide you.
How to Play Connect Four
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Connect Four is a board game that can be played only by two players at the same time. Each player gets one set of discs in a different color and aims to connect four discs in a row to win the game. The Connect Four battle takes place inside a vertical disc holder, where the discs are placed alternately. A player becomes the winner by being the first one to connect their four discs either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.
8 Strategies to Win Connect Four Every Time
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1. Remember That the Middle Column Is Your Ally
It may not have occurred to you that the board itself can be a valuable clue for developing your strategy. Most Connect Four versions contain six rows and seven columns. With that in mind, you should always play the middle column first. But what makes the central part of the board so crucial for your victory?
There are three ways to connect four discs and win the game: horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. For a horizontal win, at least one of your discs needs to be in the middle column, regardless of how you play it. Even more surprising might be that all diagonal four-in-a-rows must include the center. So, it seems wise to fight for the middle column right from the start.
2. Plan Your Moves Ahead
This kind of goes without saying, but a strategic game like this requires a lot of planning. That’s why you need to think your strategy through a couple of moves in advance. If you’ve ever played chess, you already know that certain games are impossible to win without a clear set of tactics. There’s no relying on luck here because you’ll be doomed to fail unless you plan your moves carefully.
So, you can start by playing the middle column to increase your chances of connecting four. Whichever move you play after that, stop to consider if it directly leads to something good. Do you feel like your next move would pave the way for the next two and slowly guide you into victory? If you only see a dead end after it, you’d better come up with a new plan.
3. Play Offense
Another thing to note is that this game requires courage. You may not have guessed it, but Connect Four also involves taking risks. And not in a “you’ll go bankrupt unless you play it right” kind of way. No, but you’ll need to believe that your strategy is better than your opponent’s — which means you have to risk it.
In other words, try to follow your plan and accomplish your goal by playing offensively. Don’t worry about your opponent’s moves more than your own. Instead, try to be the first one to attack. As a result, your opponent will need to forget all about their strategy to block your moves.
4. Anticipate Your Opponent’s Moves
You may find that this tip contradicts the previous one to some extent. Still, if you want to win, you’ll need to pay close attention to your opponent’s tactics. Do they seem to have developed a strategy, or are they just making shots in the dark? As you’ll see, anticipating their moves may bring you a step closer to victory.
So, before making a move yourself, try to think about where your opponent is going with their discs. But also, bear in mind that your opponent can do the same. Don’t lose your discs in vain if you know the other person will try to block them immediately. Still, be aware that you can also use your predictions to trick the other player into doing what you want.
5. Block Your Opponent
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You’ll also find that sometimes you won’t have to worry too much about anticipating your opponent’s next step. Instead, you might need to pay closer attention to what’s happening at the moment. Otherwise, you won’t be able to stop the other person’s action in time. So, whenever you see a couple of their discs grouped together, block them.
Still, it will be crucial for your victory that you don’t lose yourself in your opponent’s game. In other words, don’t let the other person take the lead and become dominant. By blocking their moves, always try to connect a couple of discs yourself. Otherwise, your opponent will get a million opportunities to win the game, whereas your own chances will stay slim.
6. Don’t Play Directly Below Victory Slots
Another thing you should be aware of at all times is game-ending spaces. As their name suggests, these are the slots that can bring victory to a player in a particular match. For example, you may find that your opponent is advancing toward a certain place that would end the game. But this can be the same slot that you’ve been eyeing as your final one, too.
So, the question is who will get there first. And the only way to stop your opponent from winning right away is to ignore all the slots leading up to the one reserved for victory. Whatever you do, don’t play directly below these slots because that will enable the other person to win. For the time being, forget about your initial strategy and try to come up with another plan.
7. Mount Fork Attacks
Again, if you’ve ever played chess, you must be familiar with forks. These are the moves that threaten two (or more) of your opponent’s pieces at the same time. In Connect Four, the idea is similar: attack the other person on two fronts using only one disc. The thing is, mounting a fork attack will always result in your victory in the next move.
What this means is that you’ll end up with two victory slots at the same time. In other words, you’ll have two separate rows of three discs connected. Since these two rows will be overlapping, this will add to your opponent’s confusion even more. In the end, the other person will be able to defend only one of them, leaving the other one free for your final victory move.
8. Practice Until You Can’t Get It Wrong
Finally, remember not to lose hope after a couple of lost matches. Since Connect Four is a strategy game, you’ll need to play it a couple of times to understand how it works. With each new match and each new opponent, you’ll learn something about your own game. And in the end, it’s best to learn from your own mistakes.
But we promise you — after a while, you’ll be the master of this game. That’s because you’ll find yourself in a situation where each of these strategies will come in handy. So, gather your friends and organize a Connect Four tournament. After all, practice makes perfect, right?