Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Got Owned...Because You Got Sloppy

This will be my final article in the You Got Owned series.  I hope you liked it.  If you missed any of the articles, the full index can be found here on the series overview page.

Ahh! One of my favorite things to harp on.  Especially for myself.  I don't know how many times I have played a game of Fantasy or 40k and thought I had the game in hand, so I started throwing models around with reckless abandon.  A wide margin of victory quickly became narrower and narrower until it became of a margin of loss.  I got sloppy.

Sloppiness in 40k occurs for a few reasons, none of which are good.  Sloppiness also takes on multiple guises, usually operational sloppiness and mental sloppiness.  So, let's talk about sloppy gameplay and how it can get you owned.

Let's take look first at why a player might get sloppy. There are a couple main reasons players get sloppy, namely being careless and being cocky or arrogant.  I see this all the time and a canny opponent will too. And they will pounce on it like a fat guy on a Big Mac.

Carelessness is  probably the most often occurring way I see players get sloppy.  Either due to them playing loose due to it being a social game or just because they aren't used to tight play, many players fall into this trap at one time or another.  The list of ways of being careless is long and numerous,  but I will get to a few when we talk about operation and mental sloppiness.

Playing carelessly will yield big problems for any player.  Just in trying to organize and tighten up your play, you can make a huge difference in the outcomes of your games. 

Being cocky is the worst.  First, no one likes an arrogant player.  They are so annoying to play against, unless you beat the pants off of them and put them in their place. That is slightly fun, I will admit.  Being a cocky player is inexcusable.  Just don't do it.  Be humble.  Don't think that you rule the world. 

So, how does being cocky lose you games?  Because cockiness leads directly to careless play.  How many times, as mentioned in my introduction, have you thought you had the game in hand and so took unnecessary risks to get a complete table wipe or something similar? When your head swells, your gameplay generally gets worse.  It's like a law of nature. 

Now, that you know what leads to sloppy play, let's talk about what it looks like.  The first way is operational sloppiness, i.e. playing sloppy.  It happens in many ways.  Here are a few.

1) Poor movement. This is a huge one. When you move your models in a way that makes it easy for your opponent to capitalized on things like multi-assaults or tanks shocks on multiple units, etc. Getting lazy with movement can lose you games. It can also lead to you being called a cheater if you move things more towards the over-measuring side.

2) Not thinking ahead. 40k really is like chess in the fact that if you aren't thinking at least far enough in advance to see how your opponent will react to you in the next turn, you will be punished. Optimally, you should be thinking about what will happen 2-3 turns down the road.

3) Trading units.  Playing in a way in which you take one of your opponent's units, but allow them to take one of your's in return.  Again, alluding to chess, swapping pawns may not seem like a big deal, but eventually an opponent will find a way to swap a pawn for a bishop or a queen.  In 40k allowing unit trading to happen will lead to you eventually losing something of importance when you don't want to.  It also places the initiative and flow of battle firmly in your opponents' hands.

Mental sloppiness is more interesting.  This is where your thinking and/or tactics are sloppy.  This generally bears itself out in operational sloppiness.

1) Forgetting. Ugh. How many times have you remembered after you have moved to a new phase and started shooting, assaulting, etc. that you should have done something in the previous phase. Like shoot a meltagun from the wolf scouts into that tank on the far side of the board. Forgetting is the worst.

2) Poor strategy/rigid strategy.  In some of my earlier articles I talked about not having a strategy or having a rigid strategy.  These both lend themselves towards sloppy play.  If you aren't taking the time to think through a decent strategy, you are just being lazy.  After all, this is a strategy game.  It is also a fluid game.  There is no locking in of initial strategies and watching them bear themselves out.  You will have to change plans from time to time.  You have to put in some brain work before the game and you have to keep mentally alert in-game.  It's just that simple.

This thing is getting long, so I am going to wrap up with a few ways to guard against sloppiness.

1) Look before you leap.  Basically put, think through your actions before you commit to doing them.  Think about overall army strategy and deployment before the game.  In-game, plan for contingencies.  Don't blindly push models forward and hope for the best. 

2) TAKE YOUR TIME!  I love to rush.  When I get excited, I move fast.  This isn't a good thing. Take your time.  Consider how your movements will cause your opponent to react.  Consider the board.  Consider your opponents' possible strategies. Take your time.  In a game that takes roughly 2- 2 1/2 hours to play, there isn't any harm in taking an extra minute or two per turn to think about your actions. 

3) Play tight.  Measure carefully.  Move carefully.  Clearly convey your intentions when things might be called into question.  Know your rules!  Use tactics.  In the end, if you play carefully, you will see yourself playing much more solidly than you normally would. 

Don't get sloppy.  You will thank yourself for it when instead of getting owned, you do the owning.  In honor of being sloppy, I would like to share a video with you.  Enjoy!


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