A Scrub’s Journey to Greatness: How to Get in the Zone

You walk up to the table, you’re 3/0 in a 5 round tournament, this is where the opponents really ramp up, gotta focus, oh crap it’s Nick Brown, blonde highlights and everything, with his Haley 3 list… now what?

Hey guys, Andrew here this week with a few techniques I’ve learned and cultivated to get me into the zone, commonly known as flow state, when the chips are down. I’ll first discuss what flow state is, then what these techniques are , then when to use them.

What is flow state

Flow state is when you are in the moment. Fully cognizant, fully present. You take things for what they are, with no stress, no overthinking, just the facts. Rather than working through what you should do, you see what you should do, and do it.

This takes time, it takes practice, but once you finally hit it, it’s a very cool state to be in as you flow from moment to moment.

How do we achieve this

At a fundamental level flow state is just being present in the moment, and truly believe that you can do it, and forget about everything else.

1) Learn to meditate, just go on YouTube and watch a few videos on basic meditation. You sit down in a dignified pose, close your eyes, breath slowly, and take everything out of your mind by your breathing. I recommend doing this for 5 to 30 minutes a day.

This might sound strange, but its the go to way for people to reach flow, the trick is staying in flow through that top table game.

2) Practice this everyday until you feel comfortable, and trust me starting is the most difficult, you just feel like you’re doing nothing for a bit, but it will come.

3) Next, try to take a walk in a meditative state. Reach your state and just go out for a walk for the same time you would otherwise be doing meditation. After a while you’ll be able to ‘exist’ in flow.

4) Now you need to play practice games. Set up the game, maybe go so far as to deploy your army. Now get into flow, and play the game.

This will be another hard one. You’ll roll snake eyes and lose flow the first couple times, just keep doing it. Eventually, you’ll stay in flow throughout the whole game.

Honestly I would say this could take as little as a month and as much as a year to master. But this is the hard way, the way those shaolin monks do it.

Let’s cheat a little now.

Set up an anchor

This could be a playlist you listen to over and over again while meditating, or a repeated mantra you say before and/or after reaching flow state. After a while you’ll develop a Pavlovian response to reach flow when that mantra or play list is heard.

Other anchors include having a spot on your body you touch, a rhythmic pattern to hum or produce, or a quiet motto you repeat, it’s all essentially the same thing.

Steady breathing

This can be seen as an anchor, but its a neurological reaction which you’re chasing here. When you want to reach state slow your breathing, think of nothing, and breath as slowly and deeply as you can for a few breaths. Your body will release endorphins associated with calm, relaxation, and safety. It can help massively.

How to make flow state effective for us

Now I know this stuff sounds like witchcraft, and it kind of is, but it’s not magic. So here’s some ways to ensure this stuff is effective for you

  1. Practice the game- you need to get lots of reps in with your list to ensure you’re comfortable with what it does, and what it plays best and worst into
  2. Practice your flow state- Practice flow at work, practice it at home, practice it when you’re doing your taxes, practice it before you go to sleep (lucid dreaming anyone?)
  3. PRACTICE THE GAME- In order to fully stay in flow for an entire game of 40k you will need to know not just what your army does, but your opponent’s. You can keep flow while asking what something does, but if you don’t know what DAEMONS do, you’ll start stressing over what will happen in the game, and lose state.

This may seem like a lot and the top players don’t seem to have to do this, but trust me they do. Their zen, their flow is when they’re in a truly close game. It’s like a drug, looking for that win, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. We’re not them, we don’t have these games down to the point of second nature, but this is another tool in your belt to get that much closer.

That’s it for this week! Tell me of times when you just got in the zone and saw something on the table, maybe a crazy scenario play, or a time you got to a linch pin unit. Or even just things that these kind of tools might help you to do in other parts of your life!

Quote of the week- “Somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose. Just don’t fight about it. Just try to get better.”- Yogi Berra

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells gaming goodies at a discount, every day!

Frontline Gaming will buy your used models for cash or store credit!



About BigVik

A gaming magpie, BigVik currently maintains perpetual noob status, playing Menoth and Khador in Warmachine, and Imperial Guard in 40k. He works as a professional coach and process consultant in his professional life, and loves bringing this into his gaming and writing.
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Knockham Dursley
Knockham Dursley
4 years ago

I have never thought to use meditation to improve my 40k game, but it makes so much sense. I’ve used similar techniques to get through exams and I know there’s a whole science dedicated to using meditation in sports perfromance. I think, I tend to think of 40k as agame, and therefore, I don’t need to worry about ‘performance’. Yet, as I look back on losses, I can usually trace them back to forgetting to use key Strategems, or forgetting for a crucial turn to keep a key unit in position. Good advice.

4 years ago

Great article. I’d like to add, in addition to the points the author makes, if you come into a tournament with a full belly and properly hydrated, your performance will increase accordingly. I always make sure to eat a good breakfast before heading in – you may not be physically exerting yourself, but this game is absolutely mentally draining.

Keep a water bottle with you and fill it constantly – drink water when you’re frustrated, drink water when you’re thinking, drink water between games. If you go out of your way to fulfill the biological needs you’ve got, whether or not you’re -actually- thirsty or hungry at that point in time, you’ll have more brain power to devote to the task at hand, think more quickly, and make decisions with less emotion involved.

4 years ago

Yeah, these have been really good articles. BigVik talks about a lot of high level tactics for becoming better at anything, really.

4 years ago

I don’t know..as a former member of the greatest military force on earth we didn’t do any of this statue worshipping, commie garbage! Yeah, breathe slowly and pull the trigger (with your eyes open!) is about as close as we got. Train, Train, Train!..or practice for you yoga heads, is good advice. The rest might work for a Tau player though..(Reece asked me to throw that in).

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