I know this is primarily a hobby blog, but I figured I’d add another category of post alongside all the Brushwork and Construction work, one which touches on the gaming side of the hobby. These won’t be as frequent as the other two categories, but every now and then I may blog about my gaming exploits and any thoughts which might have come up as a result.
I’d like to start this new posting category with my thoughts on intimidation. I’m not talking about purposefully intimidating your opponent or being intimidated by them (the former would make you a massive wanker, while the latter means your opponent is a Level 99 ass-hat), I’m talking about being intimidated by the army they’re using.
When I first started gaming regularly back in 3rd Edition 40k, the Black Templars and the (much celebrated by Chaos players, much hated by everyone else) “3.5” Chaos Codex were my main source of ‘fear’ when hitting the gaming table.
The intimidation came from knowing what the armies were capable of fielding, and in my case, too much focus on the ‘Death star’ unit they may have been fielding. Letting this fear get the better of me meant that more often than not, my opponent had won the game before we’d even rolled any dice. My games in 3rd edition were pretty much an endless string of losses with maybe only a few lucky wins under my belt. In part this was due to me being the ‘clubbed seal’ at my local gaming club, but mostly it was because of the fear of my opponents armies.
As 4th edition arrived, I’d grown as a player and had attended a few local tournaments as well as some forum meetups, and my knowledge of the game as a whole had grown thanks to the Internet and the many 40k forums out there (some of which I still lurk on to this day). I’d also grown comfortable with the armies I had, and had learnt to stop chopping and changing my army list from game to game. This allowed me to get to know the full capabilities of each unit in a variety of situations, rather than making a judgement based purely on their last performance on the table (judging units in a vacuum like that has never worked for me). Looking back at the days of 4th edition 40k, I don’t ever recall feeling intimidated by an opponent’s list.
The same can be said of 5th edition, where I continued to gain experience as a player, and with the opening of a new gaming hall in the next town, I had two venues to game at regularly, and a bunch of new opponents to test my mettle against. Towards the last days of 5th Edition, I actually had gained quite a few more wins than losses, especially with my Dark Eldar (which my regular opponents hated with a passion).
The Dark Eldar intimidated them, and with the tables turned, I realised that my opponents could be read quite easily, meaning I could bait them into maneuvering their troops into situations that I knew my forces would come out on top of.
From being on both sides of this, it quickly dawned on me why I’d been defeated so many times in the past. I remember reading an article in White Dwarf by Jervis Johnson which described ‘the face’ – the face that a lot of wargamers pull when it’s clear the situation they’re in is hopeless, or they’re intimidated by the opponent’s army. Once you’ve lost the psychological side of the game, the actual defeat soon follows.
Now, I’m not known for my poker-face in those kinds of situations, and I was brought back to earth with a bit of a bump when the Necron Codex arrived. I had been riding pretty high after quite a long winning streak with the Dark Eldar, and it took “the unstoppable rape train” that is the Necron Codex to make me see sense again. I had been taken off guard by the sheer power of the codex compared with all other 5th edition books, and after a ridiculously fast defeat in my first game against the new Necron book, my feelings towards 40k changed quite a lot. I think it’s safe to say I became a bit of a sour-puss at that point, something which I’m thankful my wargaming friends saw past and haven’t held against me.
Despite this initial hissy-fit on my part, I’ve since calmed down and with the benefit of hindsight have been able to see that the majority of times, the defeats against the Necrons weren’t purely to do with it being quite a powerful book, but also because I was making ‘the face’ and letting the list intimidate me. There were also a few times where I had some truly laughable luck with the dice, although I won’t dwell on that, as it just makes it sound like I’m making excuses.
It took a while, and a bit of a hiatus from 40k for me to see sense, but I’d like to think that even now, in the face of many a defeat at the hands of the new 6th Edition Tau (arguably the golden boys of the current edition of 40k) that I’ve gotten over being intimidated by any opponent’s army, and whether I win or lose, I know I can have a good game and not make things too easy for my opponent, even if his first turn has left my army a broken and bloody shadow of its former self!
Have you ever felt intimidated by your opponent’s army before the game’s even started? How have you overcome the intimidation factor of facing a new army? Feel free to share any similar stories in the comments below!