Friday, June 24, 2011

You Got Owned...Because You Weren't Flexible





















Not so much like this guy.

So far we have talked about the fact that people can lose a game due to their lack of correct rules knowledge and an overall plan. But what happens when you know the rules and have a plan, but the game doesn't go the way you planned? You get owned....unless you are flexible.

I'm talking about strategic flexibility. Strategic flexibility is best defined at being able to effectively shift from one strategy to another on a need-to-need basis. Practically speaking, it's the ability to shift gears when your original gameplan goes up in smoke.

So, the culprit in this is a lack of flexibility. There is nothing sadder to see than when a player goes into battle with a rigid strategy and gets shut down. They have no recourse than to plunge further into failure. Games like this generally turn into a baby seal clubbing. They aren't fun for either side.

Notice that in describing the above situation, I spoke of a "rigid strategy". In my last "You Got Owned" article, I spoke of having deployment schemes and overall strategies, but I mention that they should be flexible. What this means is that you need to be able to change them when the need arises. Having a rigid strategy will eventually yield to defeat. For instance, if a boy playing chess always moves the same pieces in the same order, a canny opponent will eventually find a way to counter those maneuvers. How much more true is this in Warhammer 40k? Throw in chance events like dice rolls and having a rigid strategy is a recipe for disaster.

So, if being rigid is bad, how does a person become flexible?

There are a few ways. Generally I find that becoming flexible requires looking at your army and strategy from multiple angles.

- Doing a little math can help with this. Mathammer is a good mental activity that helps you to consider your chances of success or failure. Based on it, you can devise plans for how to handle various situations. For instance, I know that it takes on average three penning results with melta weaponry to reliably destroy a tank. Does that mean it will every time? Nope. But it helps me know how to apply my firepower when I need to destroy things. Mathammer is great for planning. Just remember that maths and reality don't always align.

- Considering the metagame of your area helps as well. Are you a competitive gamer? What is the tournament standard in armies that you face? Currently, I think you will see lots of IG, Space Wolves, Blood Angels, and Grey Knights. How can you handle them?

Are you a casual gamer? What armies do your opponents regularly take? How can you exploit weaknesses in those armies with your's?

Knowing your metagame is great.

- Finally, what happens when your plan falls apart. If you rely on Gateway TH/SS terminators, what happens when they mishap and die? Or better yet, what happens when they get into position only to be mowed down by large quantities of fire? What happens when a bad turn sees most of your tanks' guns silenced due to vehicle damage results? What do you do with a tank that has lost its guns but retained its ability to move?

We can go on and on, but I think the point is clear. It isn't smart to go in with no plan, but it is also hurtful to go in with a rigid plan that can't cope with a fluid battlefield. Building armies around this concept (rock armies) often yields wins, but will ultimately be defeated by armies that can cancel out the one big strategy it is built on. It isn't good to build armies around a rigid strategy.

Balance and flexibility are the key. In some cases, it just takes time and experience. In others you can make decisions pre-game that pay dividends when it comes down to it. In the end, being flexible could mean the difference between winning and getting owned.

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