Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Player Morale and You!

    Today, I want to talk about something that I have often see in almost everyone I see play. I want you to remember the worst game you ever had. Take your time, I can wait........ still waiting.

Pause for a moment and think about it.

        OK, now I want you to remember why it was the worst game for you ever. I don't know about you, but I remember it vividly. Everything went wrong, at least, that's what I remember vividly. In reality, I had made a few mistakes and only a few things actually went wrong. I didn't look at that game and see what went right at all because I had lost sight of everything but the bad things. I had lost my morale as a gamer and as such, I saw everything through tinted eyes. That is what I want this article to be about. This aspect is all about the player and nothing about anything in the game. The concept is universal across any form of game. Morale as a player can be the most amazing thing you have ever seen or your worst enemy. We lose morale when we get angry or frustrated. There are a few basic concepts when trying to keep heart in a game that just isn't going your way.

Key word: "Sometimes"

Aspect 1: When things are bad, go for the win and keep your eye on the prize.
     When people start to lose, they often stop trying to win. Their vision is so clouded by the bad, that they can't see the bigger picture. A lot of people have seen this in action. Imagine when something silly happens and people take all logic and thought and throw it out of the window.  They become so stuck on this one facet that eludes them that they defeat themselves through their own actions. They will forgo the actions they need to do to win the game in order to concentrate on something that usually wouldn't matter much. This happens for several reasons.  The results are the same no matter the reason . We can make bad decisions when we want something bad enough.  Don't make logically  bad decisions based on being stubborn about what you want. Tunnel vision can demoralize people like no bodies business.
I used 2 monoliths for 4 years and only lost both one game.


    The most common example of this is when things are difficult to kill or hurt. In the previous necron codex, monoliths were incredibly hard to kill. They were so hard to kill that it was often more advantageous to go around and kill everything else. People would still dump everything into them. The obvious solution often escaped people simply because the monoliths were in peoples face, intimidating, and durable. It annoyed people and demoralized them. They thought they were the most powerful things ever. The two of them almost never made their points back ever. Intimidation allowed them to be more tactically worthwhile then they ever seemed on paper. If you play this aspect up, you can get way more out of them than just killing people.  My favorite example was my favorite 165 point necron overlord. With an impressive 2+/3++, toughness 5, and a decent combat profile,  this guy has always attracted more attention then he is worth. I have seen entire dark eldar melee armies go to town on ONE of these guys and after 2-3 turns, they will succeed. The problem is, they spent 2-3 turns letting me shoot them and bunching up together to kill this guy. To make him worse, he could stand back up a decent chunk of the time. He isn't going to do much of anything, but people think he has to die. I have had an opponent dump 2 exorcists into him for most of a game. He should have died, but his 3++ and bad rolling on my opponents part saw him stay alive turn after turn. Instead of killing my transports, my opponent gets frustrated with this one model and tries his best to kill him.  He dumps all of his anti tank shots into him alone to drop him. The lord wrecked a rhino. That is literally all he did the entire game. Still saw 20-30 anti tank rounds in his direction.

    Remember: The idea, is that if you can keep your eye on what is important, you can not be sidetracked by frivolous things that draw to much fire to justify the ends. There is more to this game then just killing people to make your points backs. Getting your opponent to act can be just as deadly as your own actions. Morale as a player effects our control. If we don't have that control due to anger at something, it has effectively demoralized you. When you can step back and ask why you have been doing something all game and you have no idea why, you have lost that control.

"You know the thing about chaos? Its fair."-The Joker

Aspect 2: Statistics don't change.
    When I was a young boy, I had a math teacher stump almost an entire honors class with a single stats question. She asked us, "If you flip a coin ten thousand times and they all come up heads, whats the odds of the coin coming up heads for?" We all start doing math on our little calculators and start trying to figure things out. We over think. In our frantic search for an answer and half the class answering incorrectly, someone simply states, "It is still 50/50."  We had all looked past the obvious. Its amazing at how often we do the same in Warhammer. We can lose morale and become disheartend when bad things begin to stack against us. We are less likely to take the same risks if the odds have gone badly earlier.  I have seen countless game losing mistakes based solely on this one idea. If something doesn't work the first time, people often abandoned the idea. The right thing to do doesn't change because it failed earlier.  There is a great example for this.

Surprise! It is orks...
    That is right! The masters of random. I have seen people lose entire games versus my orks because they charged a boys squad. No matter what, this is the correct action on anyone who can survive it. Marines that assault boys squads should almost always win. Orks suffer from often being random. Never will I remember this more then when a person who was a better player then myself assaulted my ork squad turn 2. I was a new player of only about 4 months at the time. His charging assault squad ties combat and next turn is wiped out. Odds of that happening were incredibly out there. It should almost never happen.  This one instance causes him to simply shoot me and let me charge him. If he had done what he had been doing, he would probably have steamrolled me. My orks sucked when charged, but in this one, statistically amazing event, they beat their Assault marine counterparts. It hasn't happened again. I honestly never expect it to happen again. My opponent lost the game because he forgot the odds of killing orks on the charge were a lot better then killing them when they charge you. Outliers will happen and you can't let them stop you from sticking to your plan.

Remember: When things start to seem like everything is going wrong, all you can do is try to do what is right. Sure, someone can roll 6 four times on four dice, but because they do it once, doesn't mean they will do it every time they need to do it. All it takes is it happening once and it can cost you a game. Stick to your plans. Do what it takes no matter how bad things go before hand.


Old movie reference for the win


Aspect 3: Never give up! Never surrender! 
    This aspect is probably the most important. No matter how demoralized we get, we must always remember that there will always be options. There is almost always a chance to win. More importantly, this time is when we get our best stories. No one tells the story of their worst game ever. They tell the story of when something goes so amazingly right that no one saw it coming. You may hear a time or two about how someones first game with grey knights was the worst game ever, but you will hear the story of how one marine stood against an entire army tons of times. That one marine doesn't even need to win. He just needs to take a stand. Those cinematic moments are what make stories for a lot of gamers.  As mentioned above, you can have moments like the outlier and take a terrible situation and do amazingly well.
"tank shocks are more effective then a battle cannon when you LD rolls are high"-screech

     My example of this cost a player his bid at the finals to one of our local tournaments. He got cocky and didn't keep his eyes on the prize. His opponent had lost everything. almost eight hundred points of death star died to a charge from a particularly nasty group of death company with chaplain. He had the game in the bag. Then, without warning, the opponent tank shocked two squads of assault marines who both fail their leadership and run off the board. The odds of that happening is rough. It happened and he lost because of it. His opponent had actually offered to give up a turn earlier. Being a good sport, he wanted to keep going. If he had accepted his opponents surrender, the game would have been over.  His opponent got demoralized and would have won if he had stuck with it . He won only because the blood angels player convinced him to stay.
 Remember: no matter how difficult something might be to do, something more difficult and probably far stranger to do have been done. I have seen someone roll five 6's on five dice. Knowing that the odds for that are about .00077% of a chance of happening, I know out there someone has rolled six 6's on six dice.


Moral of the story
Warhammer is a game. When we get frustrated and angry, we detract from the quality of game. Have fun. Make a plan and stick to it. Things change, but don't abandoned hope. Stories aren't told of things going exactly as they should have gone. Stories are told of things that are amazing. If you let something that happens in game demoralize you, you find that the amazing stories and good times don't happen as often.

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