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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back to Basics: Becoming a better player

This stems from some recent discussion and is the most basic of basics so I hope the older hats will forgive this but they might learn something, too. This is going to pretty basic and split into some early steps and can be applied to anyone but it isn't a perfect system. Someone might have a different way of doing things but in the end, there are some very easy activities one can do to be a better player and a more enjoyable opponent at a tournament.

Step 1: Know Thy Enemy and Yourself

This has a ton of little quirky quotes you can apply to it. In the end however, if you do not know what the models on the tabletop are capable of without referring to a book all the time, you're going to have a hard time winning. Now there are a ton of levels of knowledge and with the Internet, massive databases and very powerful search engines, nearly any kind of information is easily accessible to anyone with a little bit of time on their hands. Before you even think of wading into that pool however (the irony is not lost on me that here you are, reading this online) you need to know exactly what is being talked about. What does this mean?

Read the rulebook and every codex multiple times.

We all make rule mistakes or miss things which is why the Internet is great. Helps us find those mistakes before we accidentally do something wrong but for the most part, your gaming knowledge is going to come from you reading those books. Why? Because then you have all the information you need available in your brain to figure out to win (and lose) games of Warhammer. The Internet can help (or hinder) this process but without the basic knowledge yourself, no amount of tactics advice or army list optimisation is going to be able to help. I'll say it again.

Read the rulebook and every codex multiple times.

Step 2: Think about it

That's a nice broad and general statement isn't it but once you've got the knowledge in available to you and have it pretty much memorised, you need to analyse it and you don't want to have to analyse it in the heat of battle. Think of some basic match-ups like a Tactical Squad versus Howling Banshees. Who's more likely to win and what type of damage is going to be inflicted by both sides? What would each unit need in terms of support to survive and be more effective? etc. Once you've looked at it from a squad to squad ratio you can move on to small armies.

This is all theory based before you even start playing and helps you in writing lists and knowing what is happening on the tabletop. You'll find a lot of what you think works in a squad to squad comparison falls on it's face in an army to army comparison or when you go Online, you'll find a large amount of vocal disagreement. Don't be discouraged, there is a ton of information to absorb but what this helps you do is think critically and focus on army's strengths on an opponent's weaknesses.

Step 3: Write lists

Not one or two but many, many lists. Don't care about a budget and just go nuts. This is what I love about new armies as there are so many things I haven't discovered that you can only find by pouring over the book and trying to make armies out of them. If you're new your armies may suck so don't hesitate to go online and see if your basic army is terrible. I wouldn't jump towards a fully optimised and competitive army right off the bat unless that's what you're looking for but something you feel comfortable with which can at least be made competitive without useless expenditure would be great.

What this helps you do is see what types of armies are capable of fielding at certain point levels so you know what you might end up going against and gives you a good idea of how these armies might look and operate on the tabletop. You don't just have to write lists for your own army obviously. Writing lists for the other armies will really help you understand them better and how they fit together. This goes back to step 1 in knowing your opponent. You'll find many newer players who have just started their 2nd or 3rd army love playing against their original army as they have so much more knowledge about those armies. One generally cannot own every army under the sun so writing lists for them helps this process as much as possible.

Step 4: Practice

There really should be a little subscript there - and don't despair. After one loss don't take your army apart and try to re-build it, whether it's a new army or you're new yourself, give the army a chance (at least 15 games) before considering making some major tweaks. Regardless of army effectiveness, practicing on the tabletop will do wonders compared to reading anything online. It will give you the ability to utilise anything you've thought of, apply the knowledge you have accumulated and witness the holistic effect of armies (and thus understand why unit comparisons can sometimes be very lacking).

In the end this will also obviously develop playing skills like deployment and eyeballing distances but will importantly lower the number of mistakes you make in a game. The difference between many levels of players is based upon their mistakes made and you'll find the top players rarely make mistakes and rarely go their respective army books or the rulebook as are very familiar with the rules.

Ultimately the object of Warhammer is to have fun. It's a game of winning and losing as well so aiming to win isn't a bad thing (shock horror), particularly at tournaments, but I find many people go about this the wrong way. If you don't have a good knowledge of every army in the game, let alone the game itself, you're going to find yourself on the back foot. By simply reading every rule and army book cover to cover you'll gain much needed knowledge of the game and from there, further analysis before a die has even been rolled will help you in your games. By doing a lot of planning, thinking, analysing and ultimately practicing before you play in tournament games, you're taken the burden off you in the moment as you'll have the knowledge and experience of many scenarios on which to draw.

Now apply philosophy quotes of war and make yourself sound smarter. Sandwyrm, you go first please =D.

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