Kirb your enthusiasm!


"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, August 10, 2011

Back to Basics: New and can't win

This is a guest article by Willydstyle for players just picking up the game. Not ground-breaking obviously but a nice addition to the back-to-basics series whilst I work to get all the dice shipped out. For veteran players, whilst you may not gain much if anything from this post, look to apply this when teaching newer players. It could help you develop newer players into good gamers later and provide you with more competition and fun later on. Plus the altruistic side of helping someone is always nice.

Ok first off, you're new to the game. Expecting to win against people who have been playing for years, or even decades, is in many cases pretty unreasonable. However, there are some things you can do to vastly, and quickly, improve your game. Keep in mind the fastest I've ever seen a "noob" really catch up to the better players is about 1 year.

The first thing you need to do is learn the rules. I don't mean read through the rulebook once, then have the local "noobslayer" beat your ass while telling you how to play the game. There are guys out there who like to win so much that they attempt to *only* play against the noobs like you. Don't play against them, because they won't, and even don't want to, help you learn the rules. They also will bend the rules and take advantage of your lack of knowledge of them.

What I mean is, read the rulebook, thoroughly. Then play some games (yes, plural) against a friend with the rulebook open next to you. Every time you move, every time you fire, each time you assault, look up the pertinent rules, read them, and use the charts and protocols given. You'll likely have to be playing against another noob or a friendly opponent, and the games should be small, probably 500-750 points. Enough that all the phases of the game will come into play, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff happening on the table. If you're practicing against another noob, don't worry about getting stuff wrong. After you play these games, read the rulebook thoroughly again, keeping in mind the things that happened in your games. If you made mistakes, now you will hopefully notice those mistakes, and correct them the next time you play. Also, discuss those mistakes with your opponent. Learning from your own mistakes is 100x better than being told how to play, and you won't pick up the bad habits that many "veterans" have developed over the years.

Ok, so now you know the rules, you're not getting completely wiped off the table (except by that one guy, man he's good!) any more, but you're still not really winning all that much. What's the next step? Again, you should be focusing on learning from your own mistakes. Don't make the mistake of assuming that putting your guys down on the table, moving them 6" towards the enemy, and rolling a bunch of dice is the limit of 40k. So is a mistake any time that you do something that goes disastrously wrong? Not necessarily. Remember that we use dice, and with dice comes probability. One of the keys to knowing whether or not a move made during a game is actually the best one to do is knowing some basic dice statistics. Knowing what percent chance you have to roll a certain number on a bell curve, or knowing how many wounds you should cause to a target unit with a round of shooting will not tell you how a game will turn out, but it will increase your ability to avoid mistakes in game play, and will also increase your ability in knowing if the result of a game-play decision you made is actually a mistake or was simply the result of bad dice.

Another important aspect of the game is learning the abilities of armies not your own. Often, this can be learned from playing against those armies, but you can also read the codices as well.

And a final skill that is important for the noob is the ability to estimate ranges. If you know what 6", 12", 18", and 24" looks like, you can avoid mistakes that are based less off of percentages, and more off of maneuvering. Every time a unit misses its shots due to being out of range, or misses its assault similarly, you've wasted a sizable portion of your force. Learn those distances, and if you don't know them that well by sight, play a little conservatively: don't assault unless you think you're 5" away, don't shoot rapid fire weapons unless you think you're 11", etc. These ranges are also important to be able to eyeball to be able to estimate what you opponent is going to be able to accomplish in his next turn, along with the basic probability math mentioned earlier.

So, to sum up: if you want to get better at 40k, learn the following:

The Rules
The Armies
The Dice
The Distance

Don't play people who just want to beat you, but try to find other newer players, and helpful veterans.

So, next time you want to complain that you're new and can't get any wins, it's not your army, it's not your opponent's armies, it's these basic things that you just haven't had the time to learn yet. Work on them first, then seek list-building prowess. 

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