Monday, January 30, 2017

Guest Writer: The Art of Losing

This article comes to us from the ever generous and butt kicking Peter, of 'Straight Outta Caledonia'. Make sure to give his blog a gander! It's a superb blog about the finer things in life...just kidding. It's about Caledonia and Peter's fun adventures of being a WarCor.

Lately I have been playing more casually which means I have made my army lists more for fun than just for winning. As an unexpected side effect it helped me to analyze better why I have lost games and I thought it would make for a good article. I can't guarantee this will cover all possible reasons why games are lost but it should be the most common reasons.

Dice rolls

Let's get this out of the way. When it comes to dice rolls, there really isn't much you can do about it. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you will lose the face-to-face rolls and everything just fails, even if you stack the odds in your favour the best possible way. This is something we have to accept with any game system where dice are involved, aka random number generator. The best advise I can give on this is don't let it get to you, it happens to everyone.

That said, it is possible you are rolling your dice wrong, as in, you are not actually rolling them. Never just drop your dice, make sure they roll on the table or in a box or any kind of surface where you roll dice. If you drop your dice you either get a number you don't want, and if you do get the numbers you want it can make your opponent feel like you are cheating with your rolls.

Expecting to win bad odds

In Infinity you always should consider the odds of winning a face to face roll. Some are obvious, you know you have the advantage when you roll more dice in your active turn on good modifiers so looking for a high number, and your opponent has one dice on bad modifiers so he needs a lot lower number. Some, however, are not so obvious. Sometime you might be rolling more dice but looking for a lower number than your opponent, or other way around.

I am not saying you need to think about math during games (my philosophy is that everything is a 50/50 chance, either it works or it doesn't) or don't take risks, but if you take risks with bad odds often it can be a reason why you are loosing face to face rolls and in extension, the game. Hail Mary rolls should be your last resort.

Not playing the mission

I believe this is a big reason why people lose games. Even if your army list and rolls are perfect, if you ignore the mission objectives you might as well not be playing at all. Whatever the mission is, be it killing units, objective markers or a hybrid of both, it should be your focus during the game. It happens to all of us that we get tunnel vision on killing a certain unit or trying to do something, spending Order after Order and only too late realizing you just wasted your turn.

Everyone has a different way of how they spend their Order pool but I would simply recommend that in each of your three turns you spend some Orders towards doing the mission. Of course you will always have the enemy units to deal with, but while you can afford to ignore your enemy, you can't ignore the mission and expect to win. Keep in mind that in certain missions you can go the whole game without killing a single enemy unit and lose your whole army but still win on objective points.

Not prepared for the mission

This point I believe is mainly relevant to competitive games but can be applied to any game. If you plan to do well on a tournament, you need to know the missions. Not just the mission objectives, but the best way of achieving the objectives and how to pace your turns. Basically you should have a plan for each mission of the tournament. From personal experience I have noticed that I lose more often when I didn't practice the missions. In previous ITS seasons I practiced few times a week and I feel I have done a lot better.

If you don't know the mission it can be very hard to beat your opponent, especially if they do know the mission. I understand that not everyone can practice often but it can be helpful just to sit down, read the mission, think about your army and how you achieve the objectives. Your plan will not always work but I do very much believe that you will play better if you know what to expect from the mission.

Army not flexible

In Infinity we like to say it is not the list, it is you. Which I believe is mostly true, but not completely. You need to be able to deal with different things that your opponent will throw at you, and if your army can't do that, it is quite possible you will find yourself pinned down by a unit you just can't deal with. For example, if your longest range weapon is a HMG, how will you deal with enemy Snipers that are too far away for your HMG? You can hope that your high burst will out-roll their one or two dice, but preferably you'd want your own Sniper to take them on.

I know from experience how frustrating it is not being able to deal with an enemy unit, and equally I noticed how frustrating it was for my opponents when my two Cateran Snipers were pinning their whole army. I would recommend to always expect that your opponent will have snipers, high burst weapons (HMG, Spitfire, etc), Total Reaction Remotes, Camouflage units (or ODD) and Heavy Infantry (or other units with high ARM and more than 1 Wound), and have a mix of units in your own army that can deal with those threats. That way you should have a better chance of overcoming obstacles during your games.

In conclusion

As I mentioned earlier, this list isn't exhaustive but I hope that it at least gave you an idea of what might be going wrong in your games. We all like to win games but when you lose, it is always helpful to talk with your opponent about the game and what they thought about your army. Chances are they might see a flaw that you don't. Be critical of yourself and think about what went wrong so you can learn from it.

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