Thursday, July 26, 2012

Holistic Mumbo: Respecting each other's options

These days I tend to see that when people are facing off against the latest hype in netlists on the internet, they will just give up and say cheese to that netlist. Either that or I hear the bitching and the yapping about how the other guy is a OP son of a bitch while being a scrub themselves. And then....there is the other opposite of the pendulum; players who just netlists all the time without understanding the philosophy behind the lists and the disadvantage of taking such a netlist.

Whenever I see some obnoxious guy who believes that his netlist list is the best thing every created since himself or bacon and deploy and uses his forces in a way that belies his hubris and then loses to a guy who is using some list that is not considered as a norm in the internetz, the obnoxious guy will wonder what went wrong and have lots of swearing, etc etc. What is truly going on here?

Depending on the skills and the tool set of the players, I tend to use a term that is commonly used in the fighting game community when it comes to these kinds of situations; Respecting the options that a player has.

In the fighting game term, respect is basically the acknowledgement of your opponent's skill and tool set that they could punish you with those skills or tools. On the other hand, disrespect is to not acknowledging their skills and tools as a result of you having the perceived advantage of being a better player or just being in their head and believing that you will not be punished (or punished lightly) for it.
Note: This is not to be confused with playing for fun, as you can never play overly competitive all the time but even then you should not intentionally throw the game down by making truly horrible choices that runs contrary to your playstyle or cripples your options in the game.

With the terms out, what does it all mean to all of us?

Let's say if you are in the game for a long time, and know the armies inside out and the tactics and stuff. It might look as if by the virtue of their seniority and experience that they will outclass any unskilled opponent that they face. But this in itself is a very dangerous thought to have for there is always someone better and also the fact that the skills from being in the game and playing are at best an advantage. There are other factors that dictate the successes of your actions on the table. Some players are more vicious than others, while some are more fluid than others and so on and so forth. These traits are what separate the more docile players than the more dangerous ones. The quality is indeed a hard one to pin down, but it is a real danger on the table to face against. You are restricted to some level of abstractation and the true tenacity that a determined and vicious opponent express is not easily conveyed for a truly tenacious opponent will not give in to all but the worst setbacks where victory at all costs is the order of the battle.

For this kind of battles, you will also need to be tenacious but it should not be the primary focus of the player as fighting fire with fire will only burn everyone up. A Pyrrhic victory is the worst kind of victory in my opinion, and generally it is considered as such in a true military sense. 

The thing about combat in general is that any fight always begins before it really starts and both sides will have to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing party and conclude that they are not completely outclassed. Of course sometimes you will have to fight battles that sees to it that you are outclassed in most things and thus you will have to use every trick in the book (and outside the book) to get to the conclusion that you want. If you find a weakness in the opponent, take it. But sometimes this can also mean to find their strength and take it to the ground.

A particular example of this duality of taking down your opponent is to imagine that your opponent has that hammer unit while his other units are way weaker. Do you take out the weaker units? Or do you take out the stronger hammer? The situation would dictate which unit should be slaughtered, and you can see it crumble very quickly. There are also situations where some armies may look strong on the table (IG blobs, Dark Eldar Mech), but once you puncture and crack that armour they will crumble.
The next thing to consider is that one should always engage with a calculated intensity, where you use, for wanting of a better word, a cool rage against your opponent. Strong emotions can be tempered to power ourselves up without succumbing to the emotional numbness that interferes with our rational thoughts. Thus in any battle, the discipline of the mind is the most important thing to consider when facing off against an equal or someone more powerful than you are. If you are seeing a wave of Orks or Imperial guardsmen bunkering down, never give in to the despair. That will only numb you. A good player will always have this mindset in play whenever he plays anyone.

Another thing to consider is to know what you are truly capable of. It is always good to know that you have the series of techniques to kick some ass, from the bag of tricks to the repertoire of your list and this will always help you in any situation. Indeed the use of knowledge with focus and discipline will always be the true source of any player's power.  Keep in mind however; simply being aware of a technique is not the same as being part of the arsenal.

As Bruce Lee once said, " I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times" and what this means that despite knowing that some players will only have a small plethora of tactics in any situation, but if the player is really good or have considerable proficiency in those small plethora of tactics he is still a big threat. In any situation if it is simple and can be executed all the time as compared to a smexy complicated thing that is executed poorly, the former will always beat the latter.

How does this translate in general?

Let’s take one of the games I have played in 6 th edition and put this ideal to the test.

In this particular game, I have taken my 1500 pts Dark Eldar army and my opponent has opted for a biker-based army with some considerable firepower.The mission is Capture and Control (1 objective each(and honestly I do not remember the new name for this mission)) with the Vanguard Strike deployment zone.

My Dark Eldar list consist of
1 Archon
1 Haemonculus
1 squad of trueborn in Venom
8 Wyches in Raider
2 squads of 5 warriors in Venom
1 squad of 5 warriors in Raider
2 Ravagers
1 Razorwing

My opponent's list consist of
Biker Captain
2 squad of Bikers
2 Squads of Scouts
1 Land Speeder
2 Predators

Both of us are comfortable with our own lists, and both of us have the mobility to do hit-and-run stuff against each other. His advantage is that he is able to have a greater number of resilient scoring and contesting units than I do, while I have the edge in firepower. In this regard, we are both equally matched.

But what separates us from here on out is how we approach the game and our expectations. In this game, he underestimated the capabilities of my units and thus moved a number of his units out to try and catch my forces with his speed in the open and then rush towards my objective. In return , he lost fully half of his bike forces to my units while my other forces went on to prevent them from entering into my deployment zone for that 'disrespect'. 

As for me, I have underestimated how his little scoring scouts went on to take the objective without any resistance as I am dealing with his bikers. Combined with their camo-cloaks they are almost impossible to remove, and thus forced me to return back to my own objective to take the objective with a squad of 5 Kabalites in a Mysterious forest that almost wiped them out. In the end, the only thing that prevented me from losing is the First Blood secondary objective that I have achieved earlier on in the game. In this aspect. I have 'disrespected' his scouts by assuming that they are a minor threat but during that final turn, it bit me enough. 

In this game, we both have underestimated the elements in the list that could be used against us; my firepower against his bikers and his almost invulnerable scouts sitting on the objective through my firepower. In fact if it was not for the charge of the wyches against that biker squad on the far fight, and he would have just boosted into my deployment zone just took away my only advantage just like that.

In conclusion, the message is quite simple and clear: never underestimate, never overestimate, and never give up.

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