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Dropping Dice to Win and Lose With Grace

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Yarium

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I am a pretty loud guy. Boisterous even. I have a voice that caries, and I am the kind of person that will forget this fact. To tell the truth, I'm kind of surprised that my opponents don't ask I quiet down a bit. But maybe that's because I'm generally just so excited to play.

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This is how I felt when I first entered a gaming club.

I also like to think that I'm a fun guy to play with for this reason. I don't just want to win, I want us both to feel pretty awesome (and yes, I also want to win, but I want it to be an awesome win). But sometimes you'll find yourself going against someone that isn't awesome. In fact, they may be downright upsetting. These are the people that you hate to win against, or even worse, are the kinds of people that you can't stand it when they win against you. It's also possible that you are one of these people. What can you possibly do?

#1 - Hi, My Name is Yarium, and I'm A Bad Sport

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The first thing you need to do is take a good, hard, honest look at yourself. It's really hard to talk about dealing with other people if you can't deal with yourself. There's always something you can do to improve. Just last night I was playing an opponent, and I was bringing the new Thousand Sons codex with me. I had probably spent a total of 10 minutes beforehand quickly looking through the book, not nearly enough time! I was looking up rules the whole time, and I probably got some wrong. I don't like it when someone does that to me, and I really shouldn't have been doing that to them. Here's some behaviours that you can identify in yourself, which are also easily fixed once identified:

  • ¬†Constantly forgetting rules and having to look them up.

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Pictured: 7th Edition during a Rules Hunt.

Like me last night, this is an annoying thing to be doing to someone else. Nothing slows a game down more and reminds you that you're playing a game with a book and dice and paper, instead of a fantastical battle between devastating armies flinging scientific and magical might. Solution here is easy; learn your rules. Since that's pretty hard though, get some tap tabs that you can adhere to certain pages in your books, generally to the ones that give you the most trouble. For me, that's my Primarchs (because they have SOO many rules) and the psychic powers. For Thousand Sons, if I'm going to play more with them (hint: yes), I will be writing little cards for the different characters that have their powers written, in brief, on them that will follow them along the battlefield. Anything that helps you not have to ever bring your your army list or rulebook is a plus, but you absolutely want to have those on you at all times too!

  • Rolling dice before explaining what you're doing.

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Somehow the banker always wins.

You want to pick up the opposite of this habit. Why? It's not just your opponent's sake, but for yours as well. Whenever you're going to roll dice, briefly explain what's happening. "My Rubric Marines are shooting at your Scouts. They hit on 3+." This way, if something unforeseen is happening, your opponent has a chance to chime in. "4+. Raven Guard." Bam. It's different. If there's multiple things in play, you can quickly go over them to show that you've thought it through. "Okay, shooting here to here. I hit on 3+; -1 because of your Trait, but +1 for Prescience, so they cancel out.". Where this is helpful is when you have a great opponent that will then remind you when things are in your favour that you didn't notice. You go to pick up a dice that didn't hit, and your opponent reminds you that it did, in fact, hit.

A big one here is also making sure to explain things when you have a special dice involved. For example, last night, my opponent rolled for his Devastators, shooting at a guy with -1 to being hit. He had 4 dice, and one of the dice results was a "3", which would normally miss due to the -1, but he picked it up. I said "sorry, 3's miss due to the -1 psychic power". He said "That was my Signum.". I asked "so, it affects all the dice?", and he stated "No, my white dice is my signum. It's pretty obvious.". Don't do this! Because a lot of players don't know your army as well as you do. The Signum rule catches me every time, so to me, it just looked like picking up a random dice and saying that it was the signum after-the-fact. There was another dice in the pile that was a one-off colour as well, which extra confused it. Once we got that settled, I knew the white dice was the signum for the rest of the battle, but you always want to make sure in these cases that you call this out. NEVER leave it to common sense on your opponent!

  • Being demanding

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Yes, I get it. I should've finished moving that other squad before starting this one. I'm sorry.

Have you ever faced an opponent that just makes you look up everything, measure ever model's distance, and goes into long rules arguments over basic game rules? These are the players I find to be very demanding; they demand your attention and your over-the-top adherence to precision. Game-wise, this is the same thing as being a Grammar Nazi; your opponent is clearly communicating to you what they're doing, they're moving some models, and they're ending up in a position they probably can be in, but you are making sure they're doing everything exactly carefully. Great example; an Eldar player moves a Wave Serpent about 12 inches, declaring that they're Advancing while doing so. You don't need to have them measure it out, or even roll a dice, because they're really well within the Wave Serpent's potential 17 inch move. What you might do here is ask "You sure you want to advance? You probably don't need to to get there.", which, again, may result in them correcting you. "I have an upgrade that makes me -1 to being hit, but only if I Advance."

My advice to you? Learn to lay off. How to learn that? Try teaching some new players. They are going to make SO MANY MISTAKES. But instead, let the simple ones roll on by. They can be corrected later. After my match last night, I showed some teens how to play. They were probably measuring "front to back", so were gaining a bunch of extra inches, but that didn't really matter. What mattered was teaching them to roll dice at each other and have fun doing it! They will be corrected later, if they decide to pick up the game, but until then, who cares? Those are details they don't need to worry about yet.

#2 - Be Humble in Victory

So, Yarium, how about you get to what's in the title already? Okay, okay.

You're riding high after a victory. It doesn't even need to be the victory over the whole game; it could be that you finally killed Roboute Gulliman, and you're ready to hoot and holler over it. Whatever kind of victory it is, it's nice to not be an ass-hat about it, but to be humble about it. This becomes ESPECIALLY difficult when you have an opponent that isn't being gracious in defeat, and starts whining about your stuff being OP, or gets mad at you for taking a list like that, or saying that something was unfair and unscrupulous. Even in these situations, though, it's possible to help redeem the game and the emotion of that game.

  • Validate Your Opponent's Emotions

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Don't hug gamers. Unless it's Yarium. Then hug the crap out of him.

"Wow, yeah, I did have a lot of shooting. Yup, I can see how you feel that Space Marines get so much access to rerolls that it's crazy. It really is a pretty powerful list."

This is the first step in helping an opponent, especially a bitter one, to start feeling better. You need to show them that you do see that they're hurting, and that you understand why they're hurting. It's okay if you're wrong about what is hurting them, because they'll see that you're trying. You're not necessarily having to agree with them, but that you can understand and appreciate their point of view. There are lots of players you don't have to do this with, but for difficult opponents, it can be helpful.

  • Frame a Positive Moment For You As Negative

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Good advice, regardless of the situation.

"Wow, and you weren't able to stop that Warptime power. You tried to deny it, but just couldn't get there, even with the reroll! Dang!"

It's a truth of our game that, oftentimes, the best thing for you is the worst thing for your opponent. When you make save after save it feels great, but for your (difficult) opponent it feels like defeat after defeat. You've probably even felt this yourself when all the dice go your way, and none of your opponents' dice do, as if it is somehow shameful. As such, when your opponent is stressed at the loss, agree with them. What cruel twist of fate caused such a thing to happen! It was great for you (and you can even state as such), but that you definitely would feel the same if it was reversed.

  • Compliment Your Opponent

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My Chainsword is called "Natural Selection".

"I really appreciate you sticking in there for as long as you did, and giving me a tough, solid game. It's so refreshing to fight someone that's thinking really tactically, and you helped to test my limits."

When you're losing, it can feel like nothing went right. Hearing from your opponent that they had a hard time because of you can help you feel like stuff did, in fact, go right! Try to avoid complimenting their dice rolls, and focus on their actions instead. People enjoy blaming the dice for failures, but don't like to attribute dice to success. They want to hear that a decision they made had consequences. Even if it's just from a list-building perspective. Find something to make them feel good.

For most cranky opponents, these three steps will help get them out of their funk at least enough that they can start feeling good about the game again.

#3 - Be Gracious In Defeat

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No joke here. This is about being awesome.

Of course, the opposite can happen too. You can get crushed, and your opponent is a sore winner, rubbing your face in your defeat. How to tackle this? To be honest, I don't really know, mostly because I haven't encountered someone like that since high school! However, I'd say that most of the previous steps should pretty much apply. Congratulate them on that ass whumping, frame a positive for you as a negative for them ("Yeah, and you couldn't gotten me EVEN BETTER had you done this..."), and compliment them on such a good game. Get that out of your system and you can start backing away from them where they can feel like they got to hold that win over you, without you needing to sit around for 15 minutes listening to just how thoroughly you got butchered.

Hope this all helps!

Happy gaming!
 

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