Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Self-Analysis, Criticism, and Improving as a Player

I had a pretty difficult time deciding how to tackle a few topics on types of players and personal improvement. I think I managed to divide the discussion pretty evenly and keep it brief.

I like kicking off these conversations with what lead me to think of them. In this case it was a comment in the reddit thread for my last post. /u/SocksofDeath said “If there was an event where everyone used the same list, I'm willing to bet that the people who did well would be the same ones who do well in all their tournaments.” I think that’s a very interesting point, and it got me thinking about how players can improve and what pitfalls most people run into when becoming a better player. More than previous posts, I think this can benefit casual players as well as competitive ones, because there is nothing stopping you from improving as a player from a casual game.

Don’t let yourself get hung up on little things. It is the hallmark of a poor player to lose a game very badly and then insist they lost because of a single thing going wrong or a single dice roll. If you were tabled in two turns, do you really believe it’s because you couldn’t strip the last hull point off his knight turn one? Yea that probably sucked but if you put yourself in an all-or-nothing position like that your deployment or target priorities were bad. In my opinion, there is only one time the game is decided by a single dice roll. That’s when the game is incredibly close, and comes down to the wire when a single dice roll decides whether one person controls the last objective or the game keeps going. In any other situation, you either played wrong and are fixating on something bad to shift the blame, or your entire list may have been gimmicky/flawed from the get-go. Try and catch yourself making this excuse and look a little deeper for why you were even in a situation where one bad roll leads to you getting demolished in three turns.

Don’t blame your list or codex. This one is more targeted at casual players. Tournament players usually put together strong lists and understand that they will have bad matchups and they can’t change that. I’ve played plenty of casual games where my opponent made dozens of mistakes but was more interested in whining about the state of his army or a unit he really likes than recognizing those mistakes. I understand that some people just want to play fluffy armies and don’t care about improving, but if you’re willing to complain about a game you just played, why not spend the time to think about how you could have improved? Sometimes you will lose because of a bad matchup, or because your opponent brought his tournament list and you brought your fluffy Goffs army, but plenty of other times you made mistakes, ones you as a player can fix. I don’t want to go too far into list-building when it comes to fluffy/casual games, but remember that a fluffy list doesn’t have to be a bad one. If you really like a sub-par unit there are plenty of ways you can build a list to support it and get it where it needs to go. It might not do its job as efficiently as another unit, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a job it can do, especially in a casual game.

Don't change your list too much or too radically. This is definitely more geared towards tournament players. It is much harder to improve when you bring a different army to every tournament. Changing out a few weapon loadouts, swapping one character for another or one squad for another are small tweaks you can make based on your own analysis. Switching from a Gladius to a Scarblade or even from Daemons to Eldar between two tournaments because you had bad results in your first tournament is almost never the right decision. Good play takes experience and practice and it's a very rare player who can pick up an army and play it to full effectiveness their first time.

Communicate with your opponent. This is the point that is the most nuanced, because it depends on the environment and your opponent. Obviously not every opponent can offer you good advice, and you probably won’t want it every time. If you’re feeling emotional after a game, especially a tough loss, take a break, get some water, talk to a friend. Then see if you can track down your opponent and ask what they would have done in your situation. One common pitfall I see when asking for advice is to try to guide the conversation to what you thought went wrong. Ask your opponent for their opinion first before saying “well do you think I should have charged this unit”? Maybe they didn’t think you needed to be in that position at all. Remember your opponent is just another player, and they probably have their own opinions that may disagree with your’s. Even if you later decide their advice wasn’t what needs to be changed, having another perspective never hurts.

If you guys like this discussion I will take a crack at casual vs. competitive players and how the groups relate and can enjoy the game together.

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