– by Bret (Chocobsessed)
A couple years ago, I decided that I wanted to focus on becoming a competitive warmachine player, and from watching high-end players practice and play, I came up with these pieces of advice that worked well for me – though you have to realize that this all requires a ton of time and practice (and the more tournaments you can drive to and play in, especially in different metas, the better!)
1. Memorize your cards, memorize every card, build a list for every faction, not just your own. Knowing your and your opponent’s rules/stats (and being quick with the to-hit and dice-off math) is 99% of what you need to play in a timed format – and working through all the little tricks and list design ideas is a great way to not get gotcha’ed (and actively/critically thinking about lists is a lot better way to understand and remember them than just reading about them)
- Intentionally focus more on scenario. Every single turn you should stop, look at the state of the table and think “Is there a way for me to win on scenario this turn? Can I score three points this turn? Can I score 1~2 points without losing too much? Can my opponent do any of those things – and can I stop him?” Seriously. Every turn. Every game. You have to train yourself to always look for scenario because it is not something that comes naturally. In practice games you should always ask your opponent to help out with this – ask if they think you scoring or not scoring was a good plan, ask what they would do to stop you from winning on scenario. Hopefully getting in the habit of asking those questions of your opponent during practice games will get you into the habit of asking yourself the same questions during tournaments.
- Pick a list (or better yet, a pair of lists) and just play it over and over again. After a year of only playing Krueger2/Morvahna2/Cassius with less than 10 points of total changes to all 3 lists and playing them in tons and tons of tournaments, I understood them, my faction and the game overall a lot better. The advantage of not changing your lists is that you aren’t distracted by list changes, so you can actually understand what is and isn’t a good matchup without constantly trying to hit a moving target.
bonus #3 – in defense of netdecking! There are (at least) two types of players – honers and innovators. Honers pick a list they like the look of and just play the crap out of it until they know it and its matchups so inside and out that it doesn’t matter that their opponent has seen it a hundred times, the honer has played it a thousand times and know the matchup perfectly. Innovators build a brand-new list that works because it’s a brilliant idea that nobody else has thought of. Both are valid strategies – I didn’t build a list of “my own” until after 4 years of playing warmachine, after I’d already qualified for the WMW invitational. So go ahead and netdeck, and if what you enjoy is playing the game and honing your skill at it, don’t let anyone tell you that’s the wrong way to play.
As far as “going to your first tournament” – my biggest piece of advice is to not worry about it too much. If you’ve played your lists and know your stats, you shouldn’t have a huge problem on Deathclock (and if you lose on deathclock, no big deal, just keep playing in the tournament – you can usually learn more from games you lose than games you win). Also, don’t worry too much about what other players think of you – everyone in warmachine (should) want to play a clean, precise game. So if you think something is going wrong – either a difficult measurement, a weird rules interaction, or just to make sure you’re not making a rules mistake – Call a Judge/TO! The only people who get upset about you calling a judge are people who are trying to abuse the rules, and judges usually are sitting around bored just waiting for questions. Seriously – close measurement? Call a Judge. Making a power attack? I still call a judge every time I make a power attack. Don’t perfectly understand your or your opponent’s rules? Call a judge.