One of the extra reasons for opposing Western great power gaming is the West's incompetence at it. The Americans messed so many great power games, we've become used to it. The war of aggression against Panama with its rather fine aftermath (save for the dead and maimed people, of course) is a pleasant exception. Just look at the IS/ISIS mess, a consequence of the war of aggression against Iraq!
The West's dealing with the Ukrainian territorial crisis is no different. again, incompetence abounds.
I've offered rather diplomatic strategies and some observations on the conflict before
2014-04 Putin's way of aggression
2014-01 The Ukrainian question
now here's a great power gaming strategy for it. I'm not in favour of great power games, so this is not a recommendation (would be a few months too late for it anyway), but an example meant to show how relatively inept the West is at these games. Obama, Merkel, Hollande are playing a league or two below Putin in these affairs (and Erdogan appears to be disinterested).
So this was for the situation at the end of the Crimean secession, when it became obvious Putin was having designs for Eastern Ukraine, too:
Putin/Russia is understood to try to grab some continental Ukrainian territory while the new government in Kiev is still incapable of decisive resistance.
Economic sanctions and the like were probably if not certainly factored into Putin's deliberations already, and can be dismissed as non-decisive for this reason. Something unanticipated is needed for additional deterrence effect.
Why not force Putin to lose two long-running great power games as the price for merely trying to play a great power game in the Eastern Ukraine?
Get Turkey and Georgia to agree with your strategy, then concentrate air and (suitable) land power in Turkey, threatening to move into Georgia, defeat the separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to kick out the Russian 'peacekeepers' there. Make sure Putin believes this by adding forces to the deployment which would only be necessary against Russia, not against militias; such as SEAD (suppression enemy air defences), much Electronic Warfare forces in general, battlefield air defences and substantial anti-armour firepower.
Putin/Russia would be forced to keep Russian troops in the Caucasus and to even reinforce them in order to deter an actual Western intervention there with the risk of a messy NATO-Russia conflict on proxy territory (it would be similar to how American and Russian pilots fought each other over North Korea during the Korean War).
Russia would be hard-pressed to reinforce the troops in the Caucasus with more than air-deployable forces only, but assuming it did succeed, it could attempt to sway Western public opinion by threatening Estonia with some additional brigades south of St. Petersburg.
The non-involved NATO and EU countries could respond by deploying some suitable forces in an 'exercise' to Lithuania (which has no border with Russian mainland), and subsidise an Estonian partial mobilisation (another 'exercise').
The elegance in this; nothing in this strategy even only requires a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, since no recognised country would be threatened.
So this is how great power hardball could or would look like if the West was playing at the same level as Putin.
It's not. Instead, Western great powers bully weak countries (up to an actual invasion and occupation) for no gain and annoy other delinquents with sanctions if they're disinterested in doing more.
Very little good came of this, ever. The sanctions on apartheid South Africa were probably effective and a good idea, and Panama was mentioned before. Other than that, Western great power games aren't merely cost-inefficient, but often even disastrous. The Iranian theocracy can be traced back to an American-supported coup in the 50's, for example. Many Cold War great power games were ill-fated because of sheer Western ignorance and self-delusion (categorizing independence and unification movements as communist and pushing them into Moscow's arms). Nowadays the USA are supporting both Saudi-Arabia (top ten worst states world-wide) and Pakistan (ditto), both were no doubt more to blame for 9/11 than Saddam's Iraq.
I expect (hope) my readers to recoil in horror at the aforementioned counter-Putin deterrence strategy, for it is risky gaming, expensive gaming and well, it depends on Turkish cooperation which would make it even more expensive (such as a promise never to support the Kurds or even an intervention in Syria). And the Abkhazians seek independence legitimately, so an actual move against them would be unethical.
It's fine if it looks like a bad idea; that's my point. Great power games are bullshit.
What's even worse bullshit is if one's government does play such games, but sucks at them even more than the adversary. And that's the status quo.
P.S.: After I wrote this I saw an "expert" suggest to move NATO forces into Ukraine itself to counter Russian aggression. That's exactly what I mean; so stupid (and primitive), a ten year-old would come up with the same 'advice' within seconds.