Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Power Gamer in me

First, the requisite preface. Played 3 games; 2 were Warriors of Chaos, 3500 versus Vampire Counts 3500 point lists. The one i am about to discuss was the middle game, the second WoC vs. VC 3500. If you wish to skip the preface and get straight to the game, skipping my meandering personal reflection, look for the line of asterisks ***********************

Going into the first game, I had a plan in mind that would ensure fun game all around and hopefully end up in a close outcome. Instead, an opportunity arose to deal with a huge problem for my army that, when I conceived of the solution, did not seem like a big deal. However, after I enacted it, not only did it keep my army from facing one huge completely destroyed the VC army because I ended up killing the army general...

So I was already miffed at myself. Mostly over that.

And that a little incident for whatever reason set me off and in the second game, like an idiot, I went power-gaming. For the first time ever, I took the Black Tongue. I went cheesy with my core, 4 basic Marauder units that I deliberately placed where they would never get involved in the game. I loaded up on Kholek Suneater, a flying Prince with Tendrils, 4 2nd level sorcerers, the cannon, a warshrine, and two units of Knights; 5 and 15.

Then, when I won the roll to choose table sides, I did something I also should not have done; either side would have worked for what i\I was trying to do, but one would put the VC in a very disadvantageous position...and I made him take that side.

Anyone who has not read this blog for a while might not see the problem. I played smart and hard, put together a list that was well set up to win a game, then took advantage of a field set-up that exacerbated the situation.

here is the problem; it speaks to one of my personal flaws that I have worked very hard on but that sometimes comes back and rears its ugly head. In the past, I was hyper-competitive. I would push every advantage, every edge.

And I regret that. I have worked hard on just enjoying the process, ignoring the results. The hobby should be about hanging with friends, having a good game, enjoying time. I want everyone to have a good time.

What I do not want to do is smash people into a hopeless ball, to crush their armies (or, in other games, completely dominate them in whatever the competition is) and win at the cost of them having a good time.

So when I let irrelevant things bother me and I move from enjoying a game to trying to win by massacre, the flaw and problem belongs to one person; me.

That is a problem with me, one that has been a problem for years that I keep thinking I have gotten rid of but keeps rearing its ugly head. Grr.

And even though I regret it as I do it, it doesn't stop me.

That is strike two on my career in Warhammer. If I cannot avoid doing things like that, I will have to think long and hard about whether I should play. I do not want to be a power-gamer, a winning matters more than making sure everyone enjoys the game person. Right now I feel lower than a night crawlers belly. I suck.


So anyway, here is the power-gaming result.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 1
The Cannon passed its leadership test. Cool. No charges. I advanced Kholek, the Prince and the unit of Knights onto a hill on my right flank. Most of the VC were crowded into their corner on my right flank with a forest in front of them and village on their right (in the center of the table) so I could take on one unit at a time and keep them bottled up coming out of there.

Meanwhile, my wizards took the hill in the center of my deployment zone. This meant all but one of my wizards (who had Pandemonium and Baleful transmogrification, so needed no line of sight) had line of sight to almost the entire VC army, as did the cannon. I advanced my unit of 15 Knights a bit, far enough that if he moved his Blood Knights (alone on his left flank with 2 Vampires) very far, I would get the charge. If he didn't, then the forces I had concentrated on my right flank would take out his other units one at a time.

As you can see, the power-gaming was in full effect. Just like a good chess player controls the center of the field to limit the options their opponent has, I had it dominated.

Time for the magic phase. I first loaded up Infernal Gateway at his Black Knights...and got Irresistible Force. rolled up 7 attacks but only 1 Knight died. Then got off Pandemonium.

Now, in a normal game, I would warn my opponent of how dangerous it is, particularly for an army packing about 20 power dice. This time I instead emphasized how many other power dice I had.

So he let it go. A few Flickering Fires and the bound spell in my Banner of Wrath got thrown and time for shooting.

I deliberately guessed about 2" short, not realizing the scatter dice hits 1/3rd of the time. I thought it was 1/6th. Well, if it had scattered even 2" in any direction except back towards me it would have been lethal. Instead it...stuck.

My Warshrine got an "Eye is Closed: result, but Kholek ripped into his Blood Knights but could only put one down.

Vampire Counts Turn 1
He moved the vamps on my left flank over behind a fence. (If I were playing normal, I would have pointed out my Prince could fly over it. being a jerk on this night, I did not.) He advanced some Grave Guard up to draw the charge of my Frenzied Chaos Knights and put his Black Knights in the forest to my right where, after I charged the Grave Guard, he would hit my flank.

Magic then wrecked the phase. He tried Wind of Undeath and I used a scroll. He tried a couple other things to no effect, and then he mis-cast something with his second vamp...and failed the roll. So I used Black Tongue and Infernal Puppet to wound his Vampire who had cast it, make him lose a level and that spell.

I then let him Ven Hels Danse Macabre forward his Black Knights. Now, instead of being ready to flank, they were trying to draw the charge of my Knights who, if they over-ran, would get stuck in the forest.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 2
I had a real debate. If I were playing normally, I would play weakly: I would charge my Prince into his general in a one-on one duel, charge his Grave Guard with Kholek, charge his Black Knights with my Chaos Knights and have some epic and fun combats. But, being in idiot mode, I did none of these things. No charges declared.

Then I foiled his plan. Using the FAQ contradiction (it allows a wheel the rulebook does not) I avoided his Black Knights and charged the Knights into his Grave Guard. This put them out of line of sight of his Black Knights, made sure none of his other units could get past our combat, and basically pinned him in place. I then got Kholek and the Prince in position to shoot his pinned units.

Magic saw my second consecutive Irresistible Force on the Infernal Gateway and this time I did 11 S8 hits on his Blood Knights, killing all 9. Kolek then had no target for his shooting. The Warshrine then gave my engaged knights Stupidity. Bwoohahaha. I deserved that.

The Cannon I fired at one of his Corpse Carts and landed it dead center. It "hit" yet again....and did no damage. Whatever.

In close combat, I struggled. Despite having 16 S5 attacks hitting on 3+ and 8 S4 hitting on 4+, I could only do about 6 casualties. By the time the dust cleared, I only won the combat by about 2.

Vampire Count Turn 2
He tried to charge my 15 Knight unit but failed, leaving him about 7-1/2" away. There was no other movement he had the option of doing because of the cramped corner conditions.

Magic got painful as Pandemonium turned Mannfred's Irresistible Wind of Undeath into a mis-cast, and Infernal Puppet turned that into a 2 which means he was killed. He then had 2 or 3 more mis-casts when he rolled doubles, which allowed me to stop both of his Corpse Cart Vigor Miasmas easily. Also, one of them let me cast my own spell, which naturally was Infernal at his Blood Knights, whacking about 3 of them. Yeah, game was pretty much over at this point.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 3
Chaos Knights charge his Blood Knights (by now down to about 3 from all the Kholek shooting, Infernal Gateways, and so forth). Kholek and Prince hang out on the hill for no apparent reason.

Again the Cannon hits dead center on a Corpse Cart...except this time it mis-fires. And I roll the one where I roll 3d6", and every unit in that range takes d6 S5 hits. I deserved that. It hit every unit I had except Kholek and the 5 Knights. I lost 2 or 3 Marauders from all 4 Marauder units, lost a wound from one level 2 sorcerer and the prince, but got away without losing a Knight.

I then forgot to roll for the Warshrine.

In close combat I destroyed the rest of the Grave Guard except his standard Bearer who somehow, even after combat resolution, survived.

His Blood Knights did not.

About this point we called it. I missed a turn somewhere, because it was after 4 turns that we called it (and after the Warshrine FINALLY gave me something useful....a +1 Attack on the 5 Knights). He could not get out of the corner, it would be turn 6 before I got over there to attack them, and a game like this, is it really fun anyway?

He had no Vampires or magic-users left. The only thing I had lost that mattered was the Cannon, and that I had done to myself. he never did a single casualty to me in the entire game.

So, yeah...power-gaming is a bad, bad idea. It is not fun for me and I seriously, seriously doubt it is fun for the opponent. When I do it, I feel like a jerk while doing it and after. It is a game i look back on in disappointment in myself, not in joy.

It does not bother me if other people power-game because everyone should enjoy the game in their own way. But it does bother me when I do it and I am going to work hard to ensure it does not happen again.

This is the first time I have set out from the building of an army list to do so and it will be the last.

My apology to my opponent and I hope you forgive me. My bad, it will not happen again.


Shrink to Fit said...

I am a casual gamer and only average about 10 or so games a year, but when I do get to play, I find that I am a little too competitive. The outcome often bears more significance than the game itself. I work at enjoying the game for what it is--a game--but it takes effort.

It's good that you are cognizant of that, as well. If you screw up, just apologize for being a douche and move on. Or, as penance, let him kick you in the nuts next time you see him. Either way, there will be another game. Just wear a cup and try not to go all WAAC-mode in the future.

Darth Weasel said...

Yeah, I need to back it up a step. Got to figure out a good balance. There was one time I took a list that was too weak, and the game was over before I put the figures on the table, which was too far the other way.

It is a tough game to get properly balanced, especially with WoC who seem to either win big or lose big. *sigh*