Stack The Deck

I like lots of different kinds of games, and mention them occasionally on this blog. I’m very fond of deckbuilding games. There’s lots of kinds, but essentially they’re card games where your approach to play is trying to influence the cards you’ll probably have in your hand on your turn.

In Dominion and similar games you have to create your deck as you play. You play cards to give short term boosts that let you buy cards from communal piles. You increase the number of good cards you have in your deck, but the more cards you have overall the less likely you are to draw good ones. There’s a fine balance to try and find!

In games like Android: Netrunner you customise your deck in advance of sitting down to play. You try to give yourself as great a chance as possible of being able to beat the other player’s deck of cards. You have to plan and anticipate, then manage with what random draw gives you on the day.

Played really well, in all of these games, you’re trying to stack the deck – not cheating like a gambling hustler, but through clever strategy and tactics you’re trying to tip the odds in your favour. Some games are quick, some take patience, but with experience it’s possible to play very, very well.

And as with several blog posts I’ve written like this before on this blog, here’s where we come to the viva!

You can’t cheat your way to viva success, but you can stack the deck in your favour. You come to submission with thousands of hours of work behind you. Already you’re in a good position. Learn about your examiners, regulations and expectations and you’re even better. Prepare well and the “cards” in your deck are looking good.

Whatever move your examiners make, you’ll have something you can respond with. The journey of a PhD stacks the deck in your favour.

Spend just a little time getting ready for your viva and you’ll have truly impressive cards to draw on the day.