When showing your hand pays off: Announcing strategic intentions in Colonel Blotto games

by   Rahul Chandan, et al.

In competitive adversarial environments, it is often advantageous to obfuscate one's strategies or capabilities. However, revealing one's strategic intentions may shift the dynamics of the competition in complex ways. Can it ever be advantageous to reveal strategic intentions to an opponent? In this paper, we consider three-stage Colonel Blotto games in which one player can choose whether or not to pre-commit resources to a single battlefield before play begins. This pre-commitment is public knowledge. In response, the opponent can either secure the battlefield by matching the pre-commitment with its own forces, or withdraw. In a two-player setting, we show that a weaker player never has an incentive to pre-commit any amount of resources to a battlefield regardless of how valuable it is. We then consider a three-player setting in which two players fight against a common adversary on separate fronts. Only one of the two players facing the adversary has the option of pre-committing. We find there are instances where this player benefits from pre-committing. The analysis indicates that under non-cooperative team settings and no possibility of forming alliances, there can be incentives to publicly announce one's strategic intentions to an adversary.


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