Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Practise games and learning from your mistakes.

After reading this awesome article in House of Paincakes by Mr. Νικηφόρος ,I decided to drastically change the paradigm concerning playing 40K with my gaming buddies. You see, I'm at a point now, with certain people, that there is nothing to be gained for my (or their) gaming experienced battling them on a normal setup. We know each others' lists pretty good as well as our playing style. Going against each other on a random mission/deployment has nothing to teach us and winning or losing at these games is quite unimportant. So, we  started doing practise games instead.

Check the article I linked above if you haven't done already. It describes very well the benefits of practise games and how someone should approach them. I don't have anything to add on this but I would like to describe the way I try and learn from my mistakes.

The other day I played a practise game with Stefanos. I fielded the usual competitive list which nowadays looks has a CCS(LC, Chim),7PBS(+overser, Chim), PCC(AC, Chim), 2 x IS (AC), IS(Commisar,AC), IS(MG,AC), Vets(3 MG, Demolitions), Vets (3 MG), 2 Vendettas, 2 x Medusa (ECC), 2 x Hydra, Manticore. Not too shabby. 

Stefanos had a Libby, 2 x Sanguinary Priest, 2 x Assault Marines (LasTLPG Razorback, MG), 8 Assault Marines (MG, Land Raider), 9 Assault Marines (MG, Land Raider),  Predator (AC, LC sponsors), 6 Devastators (3 ML, LC).

We rolled for Kill Points on a Spearhead deployment. Stefanos won the dice roll and opted to go first of course. Now, I don't really want to do a battle report for this because it's not the point. . I will kill the suspense and say that I lost the game. The important thing here is that I know why I lost. Let me explain.

Keep this in mind. Stefanos deployed very cautiously since he was concerned about me stealing the initiative and Alpha Striking his Land Raiders. He deployed them further back and with his infantry bubble wrapped around. When my turn came to deploy I decided to keep the Vendettas, with the Veterans embarked, in reserve.   I was afraid that if I left them on the board they would go down in his first turn of shooting. That turned out to be a grave error. I could have easily protected them from my opponent  just by keeping them as far away as possible from his units, in the far corner of my deployment zone. This way only the lascannons from the Razorbacks could possibly reach them (and I still doubt it) if the vehicles moved 12'' torwards me. And it would still be a very slim chance for both to be destroyed plus this would leave them very vulnerable with the rest of my army fairly unscathed.

Furthermore the meltavet carrying Vendettas would be a great deterrent to his Land Raider advancement. He knows how devastating 3 melta guns at close range backed up by "Bring it down!" can be. If I deployed them on the table he would have probably wasted all his firepower trying to destroy them. He would keep the Land Raiders at a distance trying to out shoot me so he would be playing my game. He rolled over my army with his assault units instead.

To add insult to injury, the first Ventetta came on the board in the second turn and did absolutely nothing. Three twin linked lascannon shots on the side armour of a Predator and not even a glance. The veterans killed only two devastators (in cover) with a demo charge, 3 meltaguns and the rest of their weapons and then they were cut down by an assault squad. The other vendetta arrived on turn 5 and did absolutely nothing as well. Great!

I did one more mistake but it wasn't as bad. Nevertheless it could have changed the course of the battle. In turn three he assaulted my 40 man strong Infantry Squad blob with the Libby, Priest and 7 assault marines. I didn't care much about the combat which lasted for four combat rounds until my meat shield was cut down to a man. I should have allocated as many attacks on the Priest as possible. Not only I would have gained a Kill Point but also I would made the rest of his models much more vulnerable to my puny attacks. You wouldn't believe how many Feel no Pain rolls he made!

This game was a great lesson though. If my opponent is relying on a rock unit inside a Land Raider always keep the meltaguns (and their rides) on the board. Best case scenario you'll kill that Land Raider early on or else you will stall his advance. It might sound obvious to some but I needed a practise game to fully realise that. Oh, and always kill the Sanguinary Priest first (derp!).

So, always try to figure out why you lost. What went wrong and how you could avoid it. If you approach your practise games like this then you will always learn something new to add to your gaming skills every time.


  1. Very good report on how to learn from losing. I'm trying to learn, every game.

  2. Sir Antipope Sir.I request a game with you when i ll be back to Athens.Who knows maybe we can write a battle report and take some will be a great fun.

  3. @ Lo: Well for beginners (or returning players like you) practise games are essential for learning even the basic stuff. I mean just reading the rules is fine but there is a certain limit to it.

    @ WT: Of course, tell me when you'll be here and we can arrange something :) As for pictures I am not sure since my army is a mess of grey bare plastic and resin! Unless I play with my orks or necrons.

  4. Thought-provoking post.

    It's a cliche, but undoubtedly true, that we learn more of value from losing than winning. I do think we need a mix of both, and we would expect to get it, but it can't hurt to force one or the other occasionally.

    Practice games can also be an end in themselves if we think of the game as a simulation, i.e. if we think "What would the commander do now?" or "How would these troops really behave in this situation?" We can take back moves, bend the rules and add whatever seems right, just experimenting with outcomes.

  5. Yes Mr. Porky, that's how we approached it. We didn't want to play a 'real' 40K game but to do explore a certain setup. We played a practise game with Leonidas the other day too and we examined a certain mission/setup. Basically how many of his DE vehicles I could destroy/immobilise if went first (not Dawn of War). Answer: all of them. So his best bet would be to start everything in reserves.