User Content Wednesday – Learning to Love Losing

The King Elessar was one of the first bloggers I started following on a regular basis once I figured out that forumitis was a communicable disease.  He probably also had a psychic hand in my subconscious when it came time to pick an army that would take me two years to paint.  As useful as his Eldar specific advice was to me, I was always a bigger fan of his general gaming philosophy.  This little bit on losing is one of the treasured and rare rants on the internet with a focus and actually makes a point. 

TKE is currently in posting hibernation, but hopefully some renewed interest in Mindwar FTW will get him to at least forage for berries more often.  

Notes:  I’ve added pictures to liven things up. Oh, and because he’ll mention it, Kirby posted this once as well.

In order to be a Competitive Player of this game, this is a skill you require.
In order to be a non-Competitive player of this game, this is a skill you require.
In order, basically, to not be a dickhead – this is a skill you require.

No-one LIKES losing, in of itself, of course.  It’s ingrained in our genes – feeling like a failure isn’t something any of us set out with the ambition to do, and it hurts.

However, losing is simply the best way to learn.  If you steamroll all your opponents with your list, then find better opponents, or tweak your list slightly.  Maybe they are intimidated by your army/reputation? Swap armies.  Mix it up.  Hell, buy a new army, whatever.

If you never find yourself taxed in games then you will not only never improve, you will probably stagnate and get worse.  When a player eventually DOES come along who is better than you (and it will happen eventually, unless you quit first) you will be the one getting rolled…and you will almost certainly be a bad loser from your lack of familiarity with it.

Often in my articles, I have a thought and segue off into a tangent loosely connected to something I just said.  I’m trying to cut down on that rambling a bit, but this must be said – a LOT of Comp-based environments stem from this sort of thing.  People who think they are awesome get a harsh slap of reality in the face, and react in the wrong way.

If you lose, the first thing you must look to blame isn’t the dice, isn’t the system, isn’t the opponent, isn’t their ‘cheesy’ army, the weather, the alignment of the stars, or even your horror over the worst song ever [thanks a LOT Rebecca Black, I will never get those 3 minutes back…]

Blame YOURSELF.

And then, be a fucking adult, and deal with it.

Sure, any or all of those could be factors in your defeat.

However, the list one is also YOUR fault, not theirs.  If someone takes a more competitive list than you, and you don’t think that is ‘fair’ somehow, then you should have revised your expectations at the outset of the game.  Even if, in your arrogance, you didn’t bother to read their list before the game began, you should have THOUGHT at Deployment.

If it’s a friendly game, no-one is forcing you to play if you KNOW your list isn’t able to compete, and you can’t stand losing.  In a Tournament game? Man the fuck up, dicksack.  If you’re playing a sub-par list in a Tourny, then you shouldn’t expect to win every game.  I’m not slabbering, but Stelek of YTTH, more than most players, likes to say he’s very good at the game – but does he then take a sub-par list to Tournies to further prove his leetness?  No, he fucking does not. [Note – Stelek VERY clearly IS a very good player. No drama here!]

Ahem.

There are a number of excellent articles on places in my BlogRoll about managing your expectations before the game, so I’m not going into that in any detail – but it IS vital.  Know what you want from a game before it starts, and ASK YOUR OPPONENT what they want if unsure.

If you want a tight, hard-fought, challenging Competitive game, then go for it.  That’s what I enjoy.  Sure, everyone likes to table the guy who always moves too far and is ‘hazy’ on rules, years into the Edition – but that’s a very temporary pleasure, that mostly comes after, not during, the game.

If you want to tell a tale of derring-do and gallantry and stuff…play WFB.  :p
Nah, but if you want an Epic Story of a game, make that clear, and be aware it requires BOTH players deliberately sacrificing tactical ability in the name of ‘fun’ – something that is entirely subjective, and can still be readily ruined by the dice.  If you want an EPIC FIGHT between Logan and Draigo, but can only reach to charge that Halberd-armed GK between you and DRAAAAAAIIIIIIIGGGOOOOOOOOO, then get splatted by the Force Weapon? Suck it up.  Yes, it ruins the spectacle, but don’t be a dick by saying so.

Does that cover it?

Are we clear?

If you don’t want to play Competitively, it is your choice, and you should learn to expect losses against those who do, and should roll with them.  It IS just a game after all, as Srs Bsnus as Warhams is, you have to go with it, and not be That Guy…or you create a system that punishes players who have a different mentality, group together with like-minded individuals, and enforce this way of playing on half a continent.  Who’s the bad guy again?

If you DO want to play Competitively, then relish losses more than wins.  People judge you on how well you take losses, especially when they know you were aiming for a competitive battle – and it doesn’t matter if you got trashed.  In fact, if you thought you had a decent list, and got trashed by an inferior list, then you SHOULD take yourself off for 10-15 mins after the game.  Have a coffee, smoke, beer, whatevs.  Have a bun or cookie, treat yourself.

While you’re off chilling, get a pen and paper, or a dictaphone if you’re snazzy like that, and record EVERY single thing you think you did wrong.  After that, find your opponent, and ask for their opinion on what you could have done better.  Compare these notes, either with them, or later if your pride prevents this (get over it) and build on these flaws in your game.  Strength Through Adversity.

If you win, it is a LOT harder to notice mistakes, and even HARDER to be sure of them.  Knowing you didn’t play perfectly in a win is easy, but pin-pointing it takes a laser-sharp focus that most people aren’t capable of. I can do it sometimes, but I don’t mean that in a boastful way – I’ve had a LOT of practice trying to do it.  Even then, often as not I find myself unable to be sure…or, worse, unconcerned.

Learn to Love Losing, because Without Losing, Learning is Limited.

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