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4 Steps To Improving Your Competitive Game
May 12, 2020
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Hello and welcome to another Tactical Tidbit by Skari. The team here at Mini Wargaming asked me to write up an article introducing some "competitive" themes for Warhammer 40k. Historically the term "competitive player" tends to run with a negative connotation and can sometimes put the hobbyist gamer off playing tournament missions or at tournaments themselves.

However, here are the 4 main steps that I teach people to follow to improve their competitive game. This simple process will enhance your prowess with a list without resorting to net listing or trying to play "gotcha" hammer (surprising the opponent with an obscure rule, stratagem or rules interaction). So let's dive in:

Step 1: Understand what type of gamer you are and build a list that vibes with it. 

This is the most important part of improving your game and yet it is something most people find the most challenging. Some of you prefer the thrill of charging headlong into battle with 30 Wulfen, and some of you prefer building an indomitable artillery line that can sit on the back of the table and blast the opponent from afar. In other words, you are an aggressive or a defensive player.

The other side of the same coin refers to the play style you prefer, are you a person who likes to act and move first and ask questions later, or are you waiting for your opponent to make the first move before committing to a battle plan. In other words, you are either an active or reactive player. I am a reactive defensive player, so I will usually play conservatively until I see my opponent commit and then I counter. So what type of gamer are you? 

Understanding that type of player you are will help you build a list that will work with your play style. I have found that players that play an army that fits into their playstyle tend to do better in general than someone that is trying to make something work but does not enjoy it at all or does not understand how the list is supposed to play. This brings me to the next step. 

Step 2: Learn the ins and outs of your list.

I mean -everything- to get better with your list. You need to learn the stats for every unit you have included. You need to learn the special rules for every unit, every relic, stratagem and warlord trait! It might seem overwhelming at first, and it is a lot of information to digest.

This is one other most important parts of playing the game at a higher level, you do not want to lose a game or be set back because you simply forgot a special rule or a stratagem that you could have used at the opportune time.

This is one of the main reasons that changing your list back and forth is detrimental to this process as you will have to reset the learning process every time you do. It is only once you learn your army, your rules, your list inside and out that you can even think about tackling the various matchups effectively.

Step 3: Understand other armies, matchups, & using yours differently against each.

This step takes the longest to achieve. Most competitive players play many, many games;  4 or 5 a week on average. These games are to get used to playing against different armies and opponents. The aim is to learn about enemy stratagems, warlord traits, weapon profiles unit special rules. This allows you to understand what the biggest threats to your army are and how to deal with or avoid them. 

However, the most important part of this step is to learn how to -adapt- the special rules, stratagems, relics and warlord traits at your armies disposal to confront other armies that you face. You must learn when to use that one relic that you might only use once in a while or that stratagem that seems very situational.

If you can master this, your gameplay improves drastically as you start to really use the best tool for each job at hand (rather than being a hammer and seeing every problem as a nail). This shift in mindset leads to the final step. 

Step 4: Improve your mental game - it's never the dice. 

To become a champion, one has to think and act like one. This step is the hardest one to complete and it is also the most esoteric. It is hard to measure one's mentality, however; you can teach yourself to catch negative thinking patterns and develop strategies to manage them and turn it around.

In the competitive scene, losing one's cool and seeing red is referred to as being "tilted". In this mental state, you tend to act on the fight, flight or freeze response that we instinctually turn to. This can lead you to forget rules, give up, or just charge at the enemy with no regard for the mission at hand.

I have seen many a player lose a game that they were in a position to win because a few bad dice rolls became the main thing they focussed on, instead of something they could control at the time, and this led them to have a cascading effect of one bad choice after another that brought defeat. 

We play a dice game, however, a loss comes rarely because of the dice themselves, there is always something you could have done to change the course of the game, something you could have controlled. This way of looking at each defeat critically and adapting for the next game without letting the previous game fester and become a focus is how professional athletes can come back from a terrible loss one game and be fresh and ready to go for the next one each game is an isolated event and should be compartmentalized. Its a system. 

I hope you enjoyed this brief breakdown. Use these simple steps and you will improve your game. If you need anything you can always reach out! Thanks for reading. This has been another Tactical Tidbit. 

Skari - Out. 

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Game: Warhammer 40k

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