Intimidation: The Psychological Effect

IntimidationRippedDragon put up an article on his blog referencing a post on Bolter and Chainsword. In this post one of the players at our LGS was asking how to beat Ripped. The thing is that Ripped wins most of the tournaments he attends. It’s all covered in the B&C post Ripped linked.

The post on B&C delves into ideal units for taking this out and that out, positioning and maneuvering, etc. All good stuff, don’t get me wrong, but as I posted on Ripped’s blog, the biggest disadvantage most players at the LGS have in facing him is they’re intimidated. Hey, he’s a great player, his record speaks for itself, so it’s easy to see how someone would be intimidated when facing off against him. Being a little intimidated isn’t a bad thing in itself. You’ll think a bit more about making moves, target priority, etc. However, completely succumbing to intimidation will make you do stupid things, over think your plan and only aid in your own defeat.

I’ve played Ripped…three times now (I think), with my Orks (the army I play best with), in tournaments. The first game in my first ever tournament was against him. I had been playing at the shop for a few months by that time and played Ming a handful of times. Ming was talking about just how brutal and effective Ripped’s list was and how he’s virtually undefeated with it. So, when he was my first match in my first tournament, you could say I was intimidated. It was one of the worst losses I’ve taken in a tournament. The following games I played that day went well enough however.

The second time was a smaller tournament we were running on 40K night. I honestly don’t recall much of the match other than I had lost. The last time was in the October tournament. We were both 2-0 for the day and it was going to be a deciding game on the tournament winner. This was the first game I had against him where I went in fueled for a win, anxious to try and go 3-0 that day and most likely win the tournament as a result. That didn’t come to pass, however that game was a hell of a lot closer than my previous matches against him. By refusing to be intimidated I played a good game against a great player.

A game of 40K is a big game of psychology. Making feints, misdirection, sowing uncertainty and much more. We all do these things, some better than others, but we all play the game of psychology. Our counter to it is to recognize these things for what they are and to see through them, to not fall for the bait. Intimidation is another tool in a player’s arsenal. It may not be intended, as is the case with Ripped, he’s not trying to intimidate people. None-the-less, it’s a tool and it’s an easy one to nullify by refusing to be consumed by it. One less tool your opponent has against you puts you one step closer to victory.

  • For the longest time, we were all intimidated by Nids. Fear the swarm. But the player always uses the same list and all it takes is a lot of shooty, a little heavy and maybe a template or two, and it can be wrecked.

    From another angle, try to determine which of your units people fear. I’ve discovered I can drop a couple Wraithguard in an inconvenient place and the people I play with will waste resources trying to take them out.

    • Very true on the second part. That’s probably worthy of an article itself. With my Orks I’ll often field units people generally fear for just that reason. If the unit does something useful then bonus but they’re on the field to be a psychological threat.

  • Anonymous

    Heh, I don’t really get intimidated by players- if someone is ‘the guy to beat’, I generally love it if I get the opportunity to play him. But, that’s just the competitive nature in me.

    I do however get intimidated by lists. I see 15 Chimeras, and something inside makes me not want to play the game. I still play well enough, but I think it does affect me in a bad way. Always something to work on, I suppose :)

  • EvantheNoob

    I read through the thread and was pretty disgusted actually. One of the reasons I don’t like alot of B&C is the borderline idiotic responses you get to questions.

    Ripped knows his army well. It’s a tough army. The easy counter-lists to his Orks don’t exist at our FLGS. If they did, he wouldn’t have the success. No one plays leaf-blower. No plays Blob Guard.

    I’ve actually only fought him twice I think. Both games were Dawn of War games which is a nightmare matchup for Tau (especially against Orks which is a bad matchup for Tau anyway). I still almost beat him once.

    I saw RIPPED talking about forcing people to make choices in his games. Charge the Boyz and get wrecked by the Kanz and so on and so forth. Really, that’s all you have to do to beat him too. Make him choose. Do I charge the Rhino and get all bunched up? Do I take out the small screening Tactical Squad and eat a counter-charge the next turn?

    I’m not saying I’ll beat his list or him on any given day. He is a good player. I think though that certain people (*cough Ming cough*) make him out as the God of 40k. Which, for those of you who know Ming, is understandable.

    My second game against him I was intimidated because I hadn’t brought the tools to fight him. I know now to at least put some thought into horde control with my Tau.

    • People tend to make things too black and white when trying to figure out how to beat a particular list or opponent. The thing is you have to beat the player, not the list, and everything being offered over there is about beating the list.

      • This is so true. If you’re playing the same person over and over who never changes their list, you can build one list against it – but most of us will be playing against different lists. You need to build “your” list(s) and use them efficiently, rather than play uber defensive and try to counter everything you might face.

  • There’s a guy at my local scene that is literally death via plastic. He’s tremendously good. He plays damn near every army, so he’s super vicious because he knows your army as well as you do on most cases.

    I can’t wait to play him, when I get to playing. I honestly will enjoy getting curb stomped by this guy.

    Why? Because he’s a fantastic player, and a REALLY nice guy. I’ve seen him tear another list apart by the end of turn 2 and have the opponent come back for more. He’s so generous with his explanations, his tactics, and respect for others that no one really minds losing to him.

    I think intimidation only works if you let it.

    • Those really are the best players to play against. If you can get a really good and experienced player to play against you who is willing to share his/her wisdom about the game you played then jump on it. You gain so much more by losing to a player like that than winning against anyone else.

  • Excellent article, and some great comments here too.

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