Lessons Learned: Play to Your Strengths

Lessons Learned: ConanI absolutely love my Orks. I’m a sucker for brute strength. It doesn’t matter what the game is, I will always play whatever the hulking brutes are. I’m a believer in the Ork philosophy of “might makes right”. That’s why playing Orks as my first army was an easy choice. The thing of it is that it matches my play style pretty well. I’m not as simple minded as an Ork, at least I’d like to think I’m not, and I’d like to believe I have a solid grasp of strategy and tactics. However, I’ve always favored the simple strategies and tactics to the layers of complexity that other employ. I can fully appreciate a well played Eldar army. The finesse and precision used by a great Eldar player is nothing short of amazing. For me though, I’ll happily take a sledgehammer to battle over a rapier.

For me, Orks were just a natural fit. I’m not going to say I picked them up and played like a savant. However, the fit was already there, I just had to learn the wield the weapon with efficiency. Now, Space Marines were a whole other matter entirely. Marines also have a brutality about them that I enjoy. They’re not crude like Orks are but they’re also not Eldar, dancing a ballet of death around their foe. This army, Space Marines, I struggled and struggled with. I wanted to play them different from my Orks. What’s the sense in having another army if you play it like your others? So, I tried and tried various things. I stayed away from the utter brutal style I’m used to in favor something a bit more flashy. It never worked.

I played my first game with Space Marines in December of 2008, two years ago. In those two years I rammed my head into many walls trying to play this army in a way I enjoyed. I wasn’t doing horrible but I wasn’t doing well either and I simply was not enjoying what I was doing. It wasn’t that I disliked the army by any means, it’s that it wasn’t fitting me, what I was doing was all wrong for me.

I’d like to say a light went off and everything made sense, that I found my way with the Marines, but that’s not the case, not completely. It wasn’t through any intentional means that I finally found something that works for me. I decided to try out a list revolving around Shrike and trying out some alpha-strike style lists. It wasn’t that I thought it would necessarily suit me more, it’s that I had not tried it yet and it seemed interesting. In doing so I did find something that works me and had I not spent two years denying myself one simple thing then I’d have found it much sooner. The thing I kept denying myself was playing to my strengths.

The whole time I kept my Marines from being an aggressive army and wielding a sledgehammer. Instead I tried to use a rapier despite the constant failure. I wasn’t able to separate style of play from strength of play. I came to realize I can play my Marines aggressively and smash heads in without playing them like my Orks. I can play both armies with simple and straight forward approaches and each have their own style of play, their own methods to achieve similar results.

When I began fielding the Shrike lists I realized these things. I wish it had been a realization first that lead me to that style of list but instead I learned the hard way. As a player you need to learn what your strengths are and play to them. The hard part can be trying to figure out what your strengths are, especially as a new player. I didn’t want to admit I play best when dealing with simplicity and pure aggressiveness. Who wants to be thought of as simple? But, that’s how it is and admitting that makes me a better player since I can now play to what suits me instead of chasing my tail. Doing what I do well not only makes me a better player but also allows me to enjoy myself. If you’re not enjoying yourself then why the hell are you playing?

  • I talked about this some in Lola is My Lady. I agree… know what you are good at and do it.

    • Indeed! That was the post that got me thinking about it.

  • Todd the Goalie

    Interesting idea. I try to vary my army composition from time to time, and have always returned to my Bikes, time and again.
    I like just about every unit in the Marine army, except maybe Drop Pods (which is hilarious, since when I first started, I was determined that my army would be all infantry arriving via Pod). Each unit and build has a lure for me, but the only ones I seem to really enjoy playing are my all-fast biker lists.
    As the folks at the shop know, I don’t subscribe to the “super bestest build!” mentality. I don’t have any Hammernators built (though I have the makings of about ten), and I don’t throw Vulkan into my lists.
    I stick with tactics I enjoy using, and that’s about it. My biker command squad isn’t tooled out, because I like the way I modelled mine, and how fun they were to paint. Four dudes, all with power weapons and storm shields would bet about as redundant to paint as a squad of all bolter Marines.

    Of course,this won’t stop me from painting and fielding some crazy comboinations of ineffective units. I’m still working slowly toward my “Scouring of Boros” army list. It features Tigurius and at least two full squads of Legion of the Damned!

    • I like LoD and think they get a bad wrap. They aren’t the most cost effective unit but they don’t completely suck either. I’m all for crazy and interesting combos. Beats playing against net lists.

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