Perception: Know Thyself

PerceptionThere comes a time for many gamers were you seem to reach a plateau. You hit a point where no matter what you do things never change. We’re human, we’re competitive, we want to excel. Is there anyone who doesn’t want to get better with their hobby? So how do you overcome it?

Honesty. First of all, be honest with yourself. If you can’t be honest with yourself and recognize that you aren’t improving and things have become stagnant then you can’t address the problem and move beyond it. Telling yourself you write amazing lists when clearly you don’t is not doing yourself any favors. You need to be able to acknowledge where your weaknesses are in order to overcome them.

That can be the tough part, knowing your own weaknesses. Some things are clear as day. I know I do terrible against horde armies and I struggle with heavily mechanized armies. I really don’t need any great insight to acknowledge that. Those type of problems are generally obvious. The hard ones to nail down, as mentioned above, require some honest self-evaluation. For example, I can occasionally be baited into situations and I’ll take the bait knowingly because I’m overconfident in my ability to turn it around in my favor. Generally in these situations I feel I have my opponent figured out when in fact I’m underestimating him and I pay the price. I’ve talked about this a bit before.

Knowing this weakness of mine allows me to make a conscious effort to avoid it. There’s more weaknesses I know I have and could talk at length about them but the focus of this is more about perception. I could sit in a dark room and meditate all day long about myself as a gamer and, if I’m being honest with myself, find lots of my own flaws. However, the other side of this is what your fellow gamers believe your weaknesses to be. You’ll still make some gains by evaluating yourself and working to address those issues but without knowing how others perceive you then you’re only fixing half the problem.

Asking other players what they think of you as a general can accomplish a lot. First, you may find them confirming things you’ve always suspected. Second, it can bring to light things you never even considered. The other week I did just this. I asked on my FLGS’ forums what people thought my strengths and weaknesses were. I know I’m focusing on weaknesses here but knowing your strengths is equally valuable information. Being able to focus on what you do well is crucial.

I must say, some of the responses I got were pretty surprising. Let’s start at the top.

I’ve only played you a handful of times and enjoy every game we’ve had. I would say the only “real” weakness is in your build list for your armies. I don’t think I’ve seen you with units that are considered strong and you field two maybe three of them. A tournament ard boy list I guess I’m getting at. Your armies are very well rounded and then you suffer to the dice gods like many of us. I also enjoy that your army is Very Well painted and most importantly identifiable on the field where I’m able to remember what that represents during the game. Overall I would always accept any game you want to play even if I get bombarded with 16 firestorm strikes, oh wait that was Matt  :D

This was from a primarily Tyranid player who I’ve not managed to play a lot. Despite that his words are no less true. Something I often struggle with internally are my lists. I often find myself trying to walk the line between competitive and casual which transcends into my lists. I might run Termies with storm shields and thunder hammers out of a Land Raider but I don’t run someone like Vulkan who can make them better, as well as the rest of my army as I’m not lacking the weapons he boosts. Same thing with Chaos. I’ll run Oblits but I don’t maximize them.

I think I beat you once and your big mistake that game I thought was jumping into assault too fast.  I dropped on your jumpers and thought for sure you’d hide inside and shoot the shit out of me but you unloaded and proceeded to kill yourself.   Beyond that I agree you typically play to the mission better than most, and your movement phase is really precise.
For me it’s usually the ride home when I talk about the battle and realize my mistakes.

That particular player I play a lot. He has a Daemon army and would face off against my null-zone Marines often. What he’s talking about really comes down to my over-estimation of my abilities. I’ll commit myself fully to something expecting the plan to go off without a hitch and when it fails I naturally find myself in a do or die situation.

I would say you suffer from nice guy syndrome. You just don’t have the blood lust that the win at all cost gamer has

That one was Stealthy Stealth who is slacking in writing articles lately :P We’ve played a fair amount over the years with both our various armies so he knows how I play beyond one particular army. I feel what he’s saying pairs well with what the first person was saying about my lists.

((Now that I defended my soaking up the bombardment; you’re welcome Gray Knights that hid in orbit until it was over)) I haven’t played directly against you enough to get a feel for your generalship, but I have certainly observed your games with interest.  I think from a bit more distanced perspective you’re a very balanced player and general.  Your difficulties, if any recently come from not knowing your Chaos army list as well as you do your Vanilla Marines.  If I were to critique your overall generalship I might comment that you don’t react to situations well..  You’re more a player that sets your plan and plays it and tries to force the opponent into your paradigm.

Lastly, as unfortunately I didn’t get as many responses as I’d have liked, we have this one from another routine player at the shop but one, as he mentioned, I’ve not played 1v1. However, what he says is very much on the mark. This also pairs well with the 2nd comment where I can over-commit myself. I will try to force a plan through even when the hopes of success are minimal; trying to pound that square peg into a round hole. I don’t do this all the time but I can be prone to being blinded to a situation and working too hard to pull one element off when its success still means failure because I failed to adapt to everything else going on.

I may not have received a ton of responses but the ones I did get are valuable none-the-less. They’ve really gotten me to think for sure. These are the things I really need to consciously work on if I want to see myself progress as a gamer and move beyond the point I’m at. I’ve known for a while that I’ve leveled out but nobody wants to really admit that to themselves. As much as I didn’t want to admit that I’d rather face it and learn than continuing to play with mediocrity when I know I can do better.


I began playing Warhammer 40K in 2006, and have been an avid player and hobbyist since then. I have also been blogging about 40K for almost as long as I've been playing it, having started Creative Twilight in 2009.

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  • Loquacious

    I’m just plain terrible. 

    • It takes time, a lot of time. Some people just have a mind for it and take to it like a duck and water but others of us have to work for it. If you saw my post last week about my gaming record over the years you’ll see my first few years were rough but its progressed since.

      • It really is a game where you need to work at it. The two things that finally helped me was:

        a) Making a plan in my mind at the beginning of the game AND sticking with it.b) Going on the offensive… reacting to your opponents is the quickest way to defeat – make them have to react to your moves.

        But consider how much effort you put into it vs your opponents effort… now think of what you’d have to give up to put in as much effort as your opponents… now ask yourself if you’re having fun where you are. If the answers were “Not nearly as much as my opponents”, “more than I’m willing to give up” and “I’m still having fun” then who cares?

  • ming from b&c

    I agree.  It takes time and $$ and work to get great at 40K if your main interest is winning.  I try to be competitve but remain aloof of the arms race.  My main goal is to have fun.  My other goal is to be a tough competitor.  I think I do well with both. 

    • Very much the same here. The things I would do if presented unlimited funding vary greatly from what I do now.

  • I usually suggest people change gears when they realize they’re in a rut.. For painting, I try switching to terrain or fantasy/sci-fi. For gaming, I’ll switch my lists around completely. (For me, that usually meant trying out close combat again, getting pwned hard, then going back to my shooty) It refreshes your mind and gives new insight to what you were working on before.

    • I do the same. My problem at the moment isn’t so much list specific, or even army specific. It’s more my approach to certain things in the game. I suppose you could say it’s a more encompassing issue.

      • Maybe try someone else’s army for a bit? Get a completely different perspective on things?

        • Funny you’d say that as we’re doing just that in the next few weeks at my FLGS. It’s a master & apprentice thing where the master lends his army to the apprentice and teaches him how to play the army.

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