For more great tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner! This is the final article in a series of eight that will cover:
- Introduction to Warmachine and Hordes [link to I]
- Faction Descriptions – Warmachine [link to II]
- Faction Descriptions – Hordes [link to III]
- Steamroller and Tournament Scene [link to IV]
- The National Meta [link to V]
- Melee and Range in Warmahordes [link to VI]
- List Design in Two-List Format [link to VII]
- VIII. Playing to NOT Lose
Playing to NOT Lose
Playing to not lose… I wanted to add this article to the series to help with practice games and building skills towards tournament games. I have only been playing for some 18 moths so I still learn from practice games at any level and remember what it was to be a “new” player.
As previously mentioned, all practice games should be played with a scenario. The game is just better with them and every tournament uses them. As such, every new player needs to learn how to play scenarios, which includes getting control points and more importantly, not losing on scenario. At the start of every game you need to have a plan for how to approach a scenario; you need to know what pieces are going to hold zones and what pieces are going to contest flags and destroy objectives. Defending (and winning) a scenario begins with deployment and at the start of every turn you need to be aware of the scenario. Forgetting the scenario will lose you the game just as quickly as putting your caster out in front of your army. If you need to adapt your strategy from the start of the game, then adapt, but never abandon the scenario. If you need to contest a zone with key pieces, well it beats losing the game.
Keeping your forces in the trenches, on flags and in zones will help extend games and will help you learn to close out games. If you are the type that really likes a super solo type caster, then this is where you want to be. Nothing takes over a game like a beefy Warcaster when there are no more significant threats on the table. If you are one of those that think fury is stronger than focus, then you need to play more attrition type games. The end of a long game is not just about Warcasters though, all of your units become more important and experience here can help you pull out some tight tournament games.
Scenarios aside, another way to lose the game is by playing your caster too far forward. In practice games where you are still trying to learn the game and specifically your list, be very careful with your caster. If you often win or lose on turn three, how much practice are you really getting? Keeping your caster back will help with resource management between your buffs, troops and heavies. This includes management through the early, middle and later parts of the game. Playing your caster from a safe place also gives you a solid baseline for comparison when you decide you really want to play them forward and aggressively.
Playing to not lose also means that sometimes you don’t go for that assassination against your opponent. I’m talking about practice games; learning is more important than winning and a lot more important than losing. A failed assassination run is a great way to lose a game. Additionally, you should only ever go for an assassination if the odds of success are greater than your chance to win the game otherwise (scenario or time).
Playing longer games will also help you learn to play your entire list and not just those components that engage the opponent early. If your list works in waves and tiers, you need time to see how these elements of your list unpack. It is important to recognize if you bring too much of your army to bear in the early/mid game or too little. Longer games will flush this out and help you to better design your lists. If you regularly lose to an early assassination, it may not be your list to blame if you are too aggressive and/or not watching the scenario. Experience and understanding of your list through the entire game will be key when you look to make changes to the list.
Ultimately, playing defensively is not the only way to play, but it is a good place to start when you are learning the game and specifically your lists.