1. Jumping ship

Losing sucks.

That’s a harsh statement, but it is not without merit. I find that one of the hardest things to do is devote both time and energy to a task and then fail. I don’t mean minimal time investment, but an amount of time that you’d consider significant. What is key here is that the measure of time or energy is not absolute, but the measure of worth. What is even worse, though, is that we play games in which one person is guaranteed to come out feeling less cool than when they went in.

But there is always an upside. Losing, while it sucks, can be one of the great teachers.

In Warmachine, losing is often deeply personal. At the end of the day, you have to be able to look at yourself and be honest with yourself about what you did that was bad, worse or terrible. You have to look at what cost you the game, what you did that lead you to that situation, and how to avoid it come next time. Someone wise once said that if you lose a game and think you could not have done any better, your lying to yourself.

That thought, though, has a corollary: Your opponent was trying to stop you from winning the whole time. If you don’t attribute a strong portion of your loss to the opponent, your lying to yourself. Most often, though, you can’t control your opponent, so you start going down the list of things that you did that contributed to your loss. Its hard to discuss what you could have done better without belittling your opponents play, but we have to get introspective in order to learn.

I say this as a player who loses a good 40% of their games, sometimes to Idiot blunders, sometimes to placement issues, and though not very often, sometimes to rules forgetfulness, but often from good, solid play on my opponents part. I also say this as a player who has lost the last 4 of their games in a row after a miserable summer that saw me drag ass at one point with an 0-8 record. I’ve been trying new things, getting invested in cool concepts, and have been crushed when they don’t work out like I want them too. I mean that both metaphorically and literally.

Jumping ship

Earlier in the year, I mentioned that I was going to stop playing bottom tier casters and start playing legitimate, powerful casters. I’d decided that Makeda 1 and Makeda 2 were going to be the direction that I went in, trying to leverage what I could to build a better experience for myself.

Two games in, I was enjoying the Mammoth with Makeda 1. The first game had gone exceedingly well against a good local legion player, but then I had managed to place my self well within the assassination of Rhan and get her drug and beat to death. an unlikely coincidence saw that as the same week that Trevor Christiensen mentioned that he loved Hexy 2, and there was a short discussion that ended up with the latest list that I have been running.

I’ve not been doing well.

That said, I can see why he is a powerful caster, and what he brings to the table is stranger than the sum of his parts. His kit, provided they cannot step around it, brings a lot of really cool abilities to the table in a package that is dynamic and fun, which i didn’t expect. I’d last played him years ago, when he first game out, and was not impressed.

But this isn’t about Hexy 2. This is about losing, and how its much harder to do well that it would initially seem. I expect everyone to lose politely and with excellent sportsmanship, that is a simple trait that can be swiftly learned. The hard part is the honesty with oneself.

Take last nights Hexeris 2 game, for instance. I lost that game, hard. I had 12 seconds left on my clock, and he had 6 or seven minutes.

He had Rask, one Gatorman posse from each of two units, a totem hunter, three or four Raiders, and a large unit of Shamblers.

I had Tiberion, a Gladiator, a Krea, one gatorman, a pile of solos, Hexeris 2 and 5 Venator Slingers.

I clearly have an advantage here, when you look at models on the table. Nothing he has, hands down, can take out the Gladiator, let alone Tiberion. the Krea can hang back and be a transfer battery. The slingers will have a field day against the Shamblers, and Tiberion can hold them back forever.

The initial thought, then, is that I spent to much time: I thought to long, made to many rolls, and planned out my turns poorly. That’s a good lesson, but I play Cryx, too. I’m used to making snap decisions, rolling with them, and wisely using the clock. I don’t think time management was the real issue here. It was an issue, to be sure, but the issue? unlikely.

I remember, too, that I messed up on a pretty vital move. I moved the bonded Brute up, just within range to get black spot on a unit of Gators. I then moved on with the turn, moving Tiberion and another or model or two before coming to Hexeris. I moved him up within range to feat, and then remembered: It was Rask’s feat. I couldn’t target his Gators with Black Spot because they were outside of 5″. So much for me trying to learn how to shoot/spell sling properly. Then, afterward, as I proceeded through my turn, I thought about why I passed, deliberately, on casting Ashes to Ashes on the Brute. The more I thought about it, the less convinced I was that I wanted the Gators alive more than the Brute.┬áDuring the Gator players turn, three charging Gatormen tore into the Brute and left him quite dead. I was disappointed at throwing away a key piece for nothing. The 5 point bonded, shield Guard Warbeast being traded for absolutely nothing was really frustrating, and could have been the turning point in the game. Thinking deeper though, running through most of my game in my head, I kept coming back to something else, though.

We were playing Incursion. I originally set up, going first, a hard right, with Tiberion, Hexeris, Gladiator and Drake. Gators and support in the center, slingers on the left. the thought, originally, was to get Hexeris over to the far flag – I was covered from the opponents army, for the most part, buy a large building. Put Tiberion on the center flag to always contest and perhaps even score, and then have the slingers do what they could to support the Gators in both the center and on the left.

During turn 2, though, I didn’t think about it, but I abandoned the plan. The Brute ran up and got in the way, Tiberion moved more right than center, the Gladiator slowed up and Hexeris advanced towards the center as opposed to the edge. The Gators and Slingers played their part, jamming up the center and left and making sure that no one could score on those flags. I had advanced in the wrong manner with the drake, netting me 0 kills for a dead warbeast, and 0 spells arced or models killed or tied up with the Brute. That left that side undercommitted, and I never re-committed. To the plan. This left me thinking and trying to hard to kill to many models with too few of my own, and it just was not going to work.

I didn’t lose because I ran out of time due to poorly placed models and lopsided attrition making me plan poorly. Instead, I lost because I was unable to see through my plan which lead to poorly placed models and lopsided attrition.

Well, that and my opponent played a good scenario game, enabling him to grind me out and wear down my army, forcing me to play his game, and ultimately losing.

Losing is hard, but sometimes, you just need to take a step back and keep stepping back until you find the underlying cause that you can control.