- Posts: 48
- Joined: Apr 29, 2020
Dave Killoran wrote:Hey Jared,
Thanks for the questions! You've asked several interesting, broad questions here, so I wanted to add a few thoughts that may help.
First, if it helps, this discussion thread isn't our complete and total explanation to this game. This is just us answering questions students had about the game, and our complete explanation is actually found in our Full-Length and Live Online course material. Answering questions in the Forum certainly can convey a disjointed feeling, so I understand your point. Perhaps when I have some extra time I'll come back and post a full explanation of this game here—the game is certainly difficult enough and interesting enough to warrant a broader discussion.
Second, let's talk about Not Laws in general before talking about the basic approach to this game. To me, Not Laws are a tool and while they can be very useful in many games, in other cases they aren't as useful. The same goes for just about any technique, with Templates being a perfect example—in some games they are amazingly powerful and in others they lead to destruction. Early in the LGB I place a lot of emphasis on Not Laws for a few different reasons, but two main ones are that I want everyone to get in the habit of looking for negative absolutes and that I want to make sure that identifying Not Laws is a skill that is second-nature. A parallel concept appears in LR with conditional reasoning. It's all over the LSAT, so early on we focus on it and make sure that students know it cold. We then pull back from that and place it where it should be: something you don't need to worry about unless it shows up and you need to address it. But that early emphasis makes sure that when it does show up, you are ready to handle it with ease. This is why there is a focus on Not Laws early on, but as I say later, not every game is best approached by using them (and, in fact, many games aren't, including many of those outside the Linear designation). The key, then, is to determine at which point showing Not Laws would be helpful and at which points it wouldn't. That is made more challenging because the makers of the test realize there are different solution strategies, and they intentionally move their games around the spectrum in order to make identifying the best approach more difficult.
In this game, we have that problem. There's not a single obvious strategy here that is a perfect slam-dunk that makes the game simple. There are a lot of Not Laws and so I don't love showing them all (more on this in a moment). And, although every variable appears in a rule, the rules are just open-ended enough to feel as if there are not going to be a low number of solutions. The test makers have hit the sweet spot (for them, at least) of leaving test takers in a sort of no man's land where each approach will get you moving but likely not as fast or as comfortably as you'd hope. That's not a systemic problem, that's just a higher-level difficulty problem that's built into the game, and good test making one might say. It's also why they placed this game fourth instead of first, I'd wager.
For a student shooting for the high 170s as you mention, encountering non-one-trick pony games should be nothing new. The game doesn't fit any one solution strategy perfectly because that's exactly how it was designed. Instead, what we typically do is mix approaches and let them work together to our benefit. So let's talk about that, starting with the two methods you initially used.
Let's start with Not Laws. I have immediate concerns about using Not Laws as my sole approach because as you rightly noted it's clear there are going to be way too many of them. The L - F - GK and M - J (with the connection to H) interactions suggest that I'm very quickly going to have double-digit Not Laws, and my immediate reaction is concern about the loss of time from drawing them all out. But games with double-digit Not Laws often have restricted points, and knowing those restrictions is helpful. This is why at a Not Law analysis on at least a base level is always useful: you learn about the game even if you don't show every single Not Law. What I can see here is that the endpoints of this game have limitations, and thus in my personal approach to this game I separately noted the options for a few of the spaces (triple options on 1 and 7) as well as the limitations on L (not that hard to see given the long sequence with L at the front and the specific rule about L not being 2nd). That's one of the huge features of Not Laws, seeing the remaining options that result from impossibilities, and it is one of the many reasons we always examine negatives. Ultimately though, because this game has no randoms and every variable appears in one or more rule, there are going to be restrictions on every variable. When you have that sort of situation in a game with 7 variables, I would note the most significant limitations but not show every Not Law. In this game that's a reasonable first step, doesn't require a massive amount of time, and it leaves you with base understanding of some of the key restrictions in the game.
On the Templates side, we have a similar problem. If I just dove straight into those with no prior limitation analysis, what I would see is that there are enough open-ended relationships to keep things too loose for comfort (the M and H rule is the most notable of those, but the sequential relationships also factor in). I can see that certain variables—such as the GK pair you mention—have a limited number of placements, but for me I chose to draw out the two base options that play off L. However, I'd argue that it doesn't hugely matter which you choose, and that using GK would be pretty good too. Why? Because in the process of quickly sketching out the placements of GK, I learn a lot about the game (including a lot about L's options). The key, though, is not to Identify the Possibilities (which would mean drawing out every single solution), but to instead just identify the Templates, which means sketching the general direction each placement will take. I can quickly see that as GK moves to the right that the number of solutions increases rapidly, but I wouldn't be showing them all anyway so I don't lose time there. Instead, for the template where GK are 4-5, I'd do something like this, which would be helpful:
You actually made note of the utility of creating templates when you said that "the very process of setting them up was eye opening, didn't waste too much time, and gave me a starting point for a lot of the local setups later on." You have just described the value of identifying templates perfectly—even when we can't show everything, we often learn a lot on the way.
- L (F, H/M) G K (M/H, J)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Sorry, the tools of this Forum don't allow me to show that quite the way I'd like, but it gets the idea across.
So what you see is a hybrid approach to this game, which is perfectly normal and appropriate. We take different skills we already have in control and combine them to get a solid approach to this where we see limitations and then chart some of the directions these limitations take. Is it perfect in the sense that it crushes the game in 3-4 minutes? No, but that's because no approach to this game can be perfect like that—it's designed not to be quite that simple. Hopefully, you were able to complete the earlier games in this section in relatively reasonable amount of time, leaving you with at least the usual amount of time for this game. If so, you can take what they give you and patiently knock out the questions using the various pieces of information you've identified and created.
Note about the questions: I totally agree with you about question #19. It's a tough inference to get using Not Laws (or really, any approach) although the template exploration makes it easier to knock out some of the incorrect answers. However, I wanted to add a point about games that are more challenging, and that is one tool you can use when the setup doesn't feel great is to use certain questions to help create hypotheticals. These hypotheticals in turn provide you with additional information about the game, and when they are created in service of a specific question, help answer that question as well. In this game, questions #18, 20, 21, and 22 either provide you with hypothetical or require you to create some along the way, and if you felt the setup wasn't providing you with sufficient information to feel comfortable, go first to the Global List questions (#18) and then to the Local Must (#22) and last to the Local Could (#20, 21). That information can then be used in this game to answer the Global Cannot (#19) and Global Could (#23) (and if they don't fully answer a question, they at least help you learn enough about the game to go a fair ways down the path of obtaining the solution). In other words, manipulate the order of what they've presented you to take advantage of the information each question produces.
I hope this helps a bit. I understand your frustration here, but the idea is to develop a set of interrelated skills that you can then call on in any arrangement. That typically starts by isolating each one and mastering each one, but at the higher ranges of difficulty—and this game is clearly on the harder side—it's more often that a combination of elements is the best approach. Thanks!
I'd like to express my frustration with the lack of clear explanations on your forum and the lack of clear guidance explaining that full explanations are to be found only in your online courses. I've been using your bibles, training type books, and workbooks for a while, and all of them are advertised as coming with free explanations on this forum. I've been frustrated with the lack of clear, exhaustive explanations on this forum for a while, which has at times significantly impeded my progress, and it wasn't until now that I saw Dave's post above, stating that complete explanations are available ONLY for the students enrolled in a PS course. How come this point is not made clear in your books?! I'm incredibly disappointed with my how much time I've lost.