Thursday, March 1, 2012

Winning and Losing, How do you handle it?

Recently I have played a couple games where my list and tactics was simply crushing my opponent. I wasn't being a dick about it, and there wasn't any rules disagreements. It was simply, I had better units in a better position and they were doing what they do, crush the enemy. As turn 2 or 3 went on, and the game was clearly swinging in my favor, my opponents were not having fun and were beginning to become hostile to my army. The word "broken" and OP was spoken. When did regular Space Marines become cheesy?

The first time it was in a friendly game, and I could back off the gas pedal. The second was at a RTT. I could have wiped him to a man, but instead we called the game a little early and battle points were left on the table. ( I could have killed his HQ and took a 19. Instead I settled for 16 battle points. ) Now during the second game, I could tell he was not having fun. I stopped the game and even made a comment about it. He said the situation sucked and just wanted to get the game over. I know this lead to me letting the game end and not going for more points.

Barney said he loved the "story of a hopeful, young karate enthusiast whose dreams and moxie take him all the way to the All-Valley Karate Championship. Of course, he loses in the final round to that nerd kid. But he learns an important lesson about accepting defeat."

These two games have been bugging me for a couple weeks. I think the reason is, is because I view the game differently than my opponents. When I'm losing, it is MY fault. Not my armies ( I chose the list), not my dice ( I put myself in that situation to let dice determine the game), and not my opponents over powered army ( all armies are beatable, and if it is in the codex, it's ok to take it).

Scene from Batman Begins: "Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn and pick ourselves back up."

 I grew up with competition. My dad taught me to play chess. For years I learned how to lose. "If you do not know how to lose, you will never learn how to get better." was a line I heard alot. I also played baseball all the way through high school. It was always hard losing. I cared alot but it also meant I would practice harder to improve.

Last year my daughter played on 2 different softball team. She was on her grades team, which was coach pitch with no score being kept. Everyone also batted so it did not matter how many outs you got. She also played on the grade ahead of her's team. They were short a couple players and she was one of the lucky ones to "get called up". The 4-5th graders pitched to each other. They had full rules with the exception of no stealing when the pitcher had the ball. The year started with a couple 4-5th grade games and my daughter was not happy. She struck out a couple times, and did not see much playing time. I talked to her and we talked about how life is not fair. How you have to learn from defeat in order to get better.

The next week her grade's games started. She did awesome smacking the ball around, and running the bases. After about half the season over she asked if she had to play for her grade. When I asked her why she did not, she said because they don't keep score and that's not fun. The funny part about it is, the 4-5th grade team was losing most of their games. For her it was not about wining, but about competing!

If John Wayne lost to GK, would he blame GW for making them OP? I think not. He would dust himself off and get right back on that "horse"!

I think this " We don't keep score so no one's feelings get hurt" crap is hurting our kids in the long run. They are not learning how to deal with losing and how to be a good sport when winning. There is to much "It's not my fault" crap going around with grown ups too. People need to take responsibility for their own actions. Maybe I'm becoming more Libertarian in my old age. Sometimes I think this whole government needs to do everything for me crap is bleeding over into my 40k games. They blame GW or other codexes for their losses.

Why bring all of this up. Well they say 40k is a 2 person game, and it is each person's responsibility to try to make the game fun for both parties. When one is losing, we don't offen think "is the winner having fun"? 40k is like skiing, you first have to learn the right way to fall or you will hurt yourself or quit skiing. I can not have fun if you are not. I care too much. I guess that's why those games bugged me. I was looking at what I could do to make the game more fun for my opponent, like I did something wrong.

So how do we have fun while still playing a competitive game? Well first off we need to know how to lose. We need to know how to "get back up" and learn from our mistakes. This makes you a better player. I think this is the old saying of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." is very true. So learn from your mistakes and blame no one for your loses. That covers losing.

Winning is another beast. I think it is hard to win. I always feel compassion for my opponent. Survivors guilt I suppose. I don't have alot of advise except to stay humble. No one likes a braggart.

I could go on for ever on this subject as it bugs me so. Instead I will be glad I vented here and leave a quote from one of the men I admire from history.

Americans play to win at all times. I wouldn't give a hoot and hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor ever lose a war.
George S. Patton


  1. Hell yes! Everything you said here is a good point and a reminder that we are letting our society turn us into a bunch of sallies. The "everyone gets a chance to be the star" attitude our kids are raised with in schools in ridiculous and sets them up for disappointment in the real world. I also have the same kind of games you mention with 40k, which is why outside of tourneys, I just play with my friends, all skilled players with thick skin who I can play a game, drink a beer with and have a tight game!

  2. While I think the crux of your argument is more than acceptable, it does however start to fall down a bit when the game being played does have inherent imbalances to it. And sorry but as a math geek and a wargamer of some 27 years now 40k is hideously imbalanced right now. Do I think GW are to blame for that? Yes I do. However if people continue to play the game when they know this they need to learn to shut up and put up.

    I used to play with my Eldar and win a lot despite them being quite badly out of sync with the best of the Space Marines now in 40k. I stopped when I realised the things I was having to do to win with them were no longer fun to me. I think it's incumbent on us all to make sure our games are "fair" to our opponents. If someone is taking Nids and I see the board is just way too sparsely populated with terrain for them to have a chance at victory then it's on me to make sure that battlefield is fair to them. Beyond that once the dice are in hand and the mini's on the board... its game on!

    1. I'm torn on the "balance" issue. While I wish all armies were perfectly balanced, they are not. Like life, they are different and some have weak points to them.

      While I spent a few years of my life play WOW, I learned what I want according to balance ina game. In the golden age of wow, before the Burning Crusade expantion, classes where not balanced, They were unique and different. Alliance had paladines and horde had shamans. Fast forward 2 more expantions and now both sides have all classes. Even classes have the same types of spells, taking away what used to make them unique! Lots of people playing wish for the old days, including me.

      So do I wish all armies to be fair and equal? No, I really do not. I like the paper/rock/scissors style. I wish they would help assault armies just a touch. I think the pendulem swung ever so slightly to the shooty list side. I think an assault hard counter is needed, maybe. I think night fight necrons might be that counter. Time will tell.

    2. Balance and difference aren't mutually exclusive. That's why we have points systems I_D. Again I have to take issue with the WoW analogy. With WoW you are talking about not only differences between races, factions and casts but also levels and equipment. What the issue was there wasn't just the bog standard issue of the race differences etc, it was that certain profiles and combinations leveled quicker and were far harder than others.

      This caused issues for Blizzard insofar as the game started to be populated far more by the powerful classes and combo's. The game started becoming stagnant and people were leaving WoW because of it. I know this because I know a number of Blizzard employees. There decision was to homogenise rather than balance or cap in some cases, but in others they nerfed certain things and changed the mechanics behind them to try and achieve closer parity between options. For the sake of the game.

      40k has some serious core issues at its heart in terms of core mechanics. But it's biggest issues by far are to do with the imbalance between factions and the breakdown of understanding the game has with it's long term heritage and the game it's trying to evolve into. The basic points for each army are still based around the maths when each race had very different movement characteristics, and when the weapons all responded very different;y. They've never reset the points to zero and gone well what are each thing worth now. They need to do that.