-By: Elliott (PG_E2lio2tR)
So, you just played a game. And you lost. From here you have a few options on what to do. The first is to be upset and blame everything, throw models and storm off ( Yes, I have seen this happen). The next is to just be down and pack your stuff up for the day. There is a better option though. You could look at the game objectively, figure out what happened and how to improve. That is what we will be talking about today. What are the questions you should ask after a game? How should you handle it? There are many things we will look at so let’s get started.
The first thing you have to do is figure out how you react to losing. Some people take it a bit hard and will be down on themselves. They always seem to think they will not have a chance of winning. This mindset has the ability to become a self fulfilling prophecy. Is it ok to be down about a lose? Yes of course, but do not let that be the end of it. Take the moment then clear your mind and look at the game as a whole. Start to work through what happened and what could be better. By doing this, you will start to improve yourself slowly but surely.
Now, what questions to ask? There are several and you may come up with your own. The following are things I ask myself:
What did you learn about your army?
After a game I always look at my army and ask this. Every game gives insight into things a faction is good at and has trouble with. Some armies have issues with dealing with armor. Some require a layering of buffs/debuffs to fully function. This is all part of learning your army and how it works. This is not something that can be answered from one or two games. It takes months of playing a faction to really start to understand. So, do not feel rushed to get every answer from this one. I have been in the game for over ten years, and I still have to do this when I play games or switch factions. This is just a part of how I try to help myself grow as a player.
What did you learn about their army?
It is not your army. You may have faced it for the first time or the twentieth. The thing here is that you do not know their faction as well as you know your own. Each time you face another faction, you pick up some of their tricks/ What were things that they did to make their army work? Was there a key model that when removed would weaken the army as a whole? Was there a way to remove it early in the game? Was the list skewed to an aspect that you can work around or weaken in some way? Figure out these little tricks out and store them in the back of your mind for the next time you face the faction to work out the best ways to face them and you can improve your play versus them. You will also start to see patterns with other factions and learn how to improve your target prioritization this way.
For example: You play against Protectorate a lot and have learned that the support of the Choir makes their Warjacks function much better than they do on paper alone. The next time you play, you are facing Everblight. You know that their Warbeasts can do some damage but that the support of the Shepherds and Forsaken help them do a lot more then you expect thanks to the additional Fury management. Because of this, you know you need to remove the support so that the beasts have to make tougher choices and will not have the support they were planning on.
What mistakes did you make?
Everyone makes them. Listen to any battle report podcast and they will talk about their own mistakes as much as what went right. The thing is to acknowledge them, learn from them and move on. If you do not do this, you are doomed to repeat them over and over again. Even after a while, you will sometimes slip up again. This is ok. Just know what happened and try not to do it again
In a recent episode of Chain Attack, Trevor ( a PP official Judge/PG and a long time & highly skilled player) talked about some mistakes he made during a Iron Gauntlet tournament. He flatly says that these were things he did wrong and he moved on from there. In no way did these mistakes take away from the other players win or skill of play, but he did acknowledge places that he could do better on with his lists and I am sure will keep them in mind the next time he plays. A player’s ability to do this will help him/her develop their skills over time and help improve both their game play as well as enjoyment of the game.
What correct moves did you make?
It is never a good idea to focus on just what went wrong. You should also look at things that worked. If you went into a game wanting to try a new combo off and it worked out how you planned, take note of it. Use it to figure out new tricks and what works well and can be improved upon even more. Did the unit that you want to act like a tar pit do the job? Did that warbeast that needed to clear out a unit of troops in your way do the trick? Make note of it & use it in future list planning.
What could have been done differently?
A battle plan only lasts till you make first contact with the enemy. Once we are in the middle of a game one step out of the plan can throw us. That step leads to another and then leads to another. The trick is to know where the wrong steps started. If you used your tar pit unit in a way hoping that it would clear something off of an objective or out of a zone and it did not work out the way you wanted, figure out why that happened. Was it because they did not get the buffs needed or was there no way that they could do the job? Did the dice roll really poorly ( less than 5 on any roll) or would you have needed to roll a 9 or more to hit in the first place? Would it have been better to hold the unit back and send in something else or bait them it to your models instead? Figuring out these things will help refine your skills, and know what to look for and watch out for in your next game.
An example for this is a game I used my Gunnbjorn list in. I tried to use my warriors to destroy an opposing unit before I was able to get them in a position I needed them to be in to hold a zone. The issue was that they had no way to actually hit the models with a roll less the 8 and it took 3 rounds to get them unstuck. Because of this miscalculation, I was down on Control Points and I lost more Warriors than it was worth. My next game, I remembered this and had my range beasts weaken up a similar unit so that it was only a few models. I was able to send my Warriors in to clean up the rest thanks to combined melee attacks, then repositioned them closer to where I need them to be for the next round. I learned and adjusted my plan for the next game.
Was your list missing anything?
After it is all said and done, you may need to revisit your list. Was it missing something? Did you need a support piece that was not in there? Could you not handle something that you will see often (armor/defense skew, troop swarms, etc)? Take another look at your list with these things in mind and tweak what you can or see if you could pair it with something that can handle these match ups. This is a step I usually suggest taking after about 5 games. This way you can work out different issues and try a list out versus multiple different types of armies. Not every list will be able to take every opponent, but you need to know what the lists are strong and weak against. You need to plan each list to cover the other in this regard.
There is another resource that you can look to for help after a game. The person you played. They just played the same game as you did. They know the moves you made and that they made. They, more then likely, know their faction better than you do. It is ok to ask them questions. They are a great resource of information on ways to improve you play. Almost every player will be more then willing to talk with you about what happened and how to fix some mistakes and what to watch out for next time. Some will even be willing to show you ways to beat their list with your list. And honestly, the ones who won’t only will not because they are not sure themselves and will probably say it. This is a game and we all have fun doing it and talking about it. We all want our group to get better at the game because that makes it more fun for the rest of us. The only time a player may not be willing to talk about a game is right after one in the middle of a tournament when you are about to start the next game. That one is more just because everyone is moving around and getting ready for the next round. Just remember that we are all players in this game and want to have fun. Ask questions to other players and be willing to help them in return when asked.
There is one more aspect you need to be aware of after a loss. This is your own personal mindset and view of the game. Yes, you could have made a mistake during the game. Acknowledge them and accept them. What you should not do is say or think that if you did not make that mistake then you would have won the game. Doing so could seem like your opponent did won because of your mess up, not their own skills. Both players play to the best of their abilities and with what the board and dice provide them. Even if you did not mess up that one time, the dice may not have rolled in your favor and the results would have been the same. Accept your faults but remember not to bring down other players, even indirectly. Our job as a gaming community is to help lift each other up in play and skill as well as confidence.
These are just some of the questions you can ask. There are more and each person should figure out which ones help them the best. Doing so will help you refine your skills in the game and improve your performance. When you first start in this game, you will lose games. When you play for multiple years, you will lose games. Losing games is part of the game. You will some of course, but you will learn just as much from a game that you lose as you do as a game you win. The key here is to learn what questions to ask and take what you learn and grow & adapt from it. This is the real trait in evolution. It is not survival of the strongest. It is survival of the most adaptable. So, get out there, play games, learn and grow. Adapt. Have fun.