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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, July 27, 2011

Blaming it on the Dice: Or not

We play a game of dice - it's that simple. We can do everything perfectly. Have the best list. Do everything right in the game. Give ourselves as many chances as possible to win. Encourage the dice as much as possible to ensure this happen. Sometimes though, it simply doesn't. It doesn't matter if you do everything right if the dice just say no. Whether you can't roll to hit or wound to save yourself or your opponent just looks at your guys and they explode, hell sometimes it's both. Sometimes, you just don't have control over how the game goes.

Unfortunately people too often use this as an excuse. Sure if the game comes down to a single roll (i.e. you need to run 2" to get onto an objective and you roll a 1), it can be pretty obvious the dice 'lost you the game.' However, did you do everything in your power to ensure that die roll didn't even need to happen? Or that the game didn't hinge on that single die? Did the dice influence up to and including that roll? This is where I feel people fall back on the excuse of the dice. If for example you had moved that unit a turn earlier, would you have been relying on that single D6 at the end of the game to get you within 3" of an objective? More than likely not. There are other consequences of doing this of course but it's pointless to blame the dice unless you played an absolutely 100% perfect game.

What this article is going to touch on briefly is what you can do instead of blaming the dice. Remember, sometimes it just happens that way, and there's nothing you can do. But if you find yourself thinking "damn the dice screwed me in that game," look back, think. Did they really? Or did they screw you over in the actions you took and would other actions perhaps have been better choices (regardless of dice rolls). Let's look at my last game against GWvsJohn. My dice weren't great and I couldn't kill much of his stuff. This is part and parcel of playing against 3+/FNP armies with Grey Knights relying on stormbolters/psycannons to damage things and partly bad dice. What ultimately cost me the game however (well drew it)? Poor movement. I could fall back and say well my dice sucked. In reality math only tells me I was going to kill 6-7 ASM with that first turn shooting regardless (I killed three) but I put myself in an uncompromising position with poor movement. So sure, my dice weren't great but my poor movement put me in a position where GWvsJohn was able to take maximum advantage of this.

By understanding that blaming the dice is but an excuse and not a reason why I lost the game, I can look back at the game with the knowledge that I could have played better. This allows me to improve as an individual knowing I made mistakes and can learn from there. In this example my early turn movement, which has been an issue in the past for me with Grey Knights, was primarily at fault. Dice may have influenced this but my actions allowed the dice to do this. By recognising and understanding this I can work on this facet of my game with this army and look to expand my skills. If you look back at your game with the excuse of dice for your loss (or win) in the front of your mind, you are unlikely to further enlighten yourself.

At the same time, don't be overly critical. You cannot second guess your every move, especially if your opponent's dice were amazing. If they looked at your tanks or models and they exploded, even if they had cover, well there's nothing you could have done. Look back at your gameplay and analysis as you would normally but remember your opponent's dice could have overcome your gameplay. Don't use this an excuse of course for bad play but rather keep it in mind. You may have done lots of things right but a couple tiny mistakes or a single major mistake can turn a close game into a whitewash. Be brutal but honest with yourself and understand that whilst dice place a role, you can control how big a role they play to a certain extent.

So the message of this article is simple. Very few of us are perfect gamers but what often separates each level of competitive play is the number of mistakes. New players make lots. Okay players make less. Good players make very few and great players barely make any. You'll find at that level when you do make mistakes, they can often cost you the game. You therefore need to learn from your mistakes and if you are masking your mistakes behind the excuse of bad dice, you're not going to learn, you're not going to get better and you're unlikely to enjoy yourself. Dice can alter the outcome of a game but don't let dice bias alter what you can learn from a game. See beyond the dice and look at what happened within the game and you'll become a better gamer for it!

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