I would be the first to shed doubt on a claim that I could advise anyone on how to win a wargame. However, I always find it easier to give advice than follow it. Perhaps the purpose of this post is attempt to better organise my own thoughts for the next game? The trick; to practice what I preach. However, I do appreciate that for some of you, and to partially quote Basil Fawlty, "Next contestant - Epitude Rusk from Epsom. Special subject - the bleedin' obvious".
Above: Joe planning his next move
How much thinking do you actually do before you roll dice or move figures? What are you thinking? is a question that I rarely ask myself, and more infrequently answer. My wargames are more likely to be played by instinct rather than cold hard logic. What looks like a good idea at the time, is more often than not, a terribly misjudged blunder once the dice have come to rest. I just get carried away in the moment, and before I realise, the game is over, and the figures are being packed away. It feels as if l take on the persona of Dr Jekyll between games and Mr Hyde whilst I play. With neither realising what the other does.
So what should I be doing? Well, as my Dad use to say, 'engage second brain cell'.
Before the Game Preparation
A. Know the rules - Simples. Yes, I appreciate that if you are looking at a new game, or something as complex as Infinity, then this is easier said than done and will take a little time.
B. Know your army - What do they all do? What do they do well? What don't they do?
C. Know your enemy's army - As above
D. Design a good army - Ok, so this is the Holy Grail of wargaming, and, at the release of any new model or rule, the 'best' army will probably change. (Today's meta, is tomorrow's Bring and Buy).
E. Make life easier for yourself.
- The habit of endlessly referring to books for that particular rule can be avoided by the use of Crib Sheets. (Tablets now brilliantly serve this purpose, as long as the venue has Wi-Fi).
- Carry a pen for updating result sheets at tournaments.
- My Infinity cameo markers have, stuck on their reverse side, what figure they represent.
F. Try your hand at other games to make you think more strategically. Chess is the one for me. Train your brain.
During the Game
1. Have a plan. Simples.
2. Visualise what is going to happen (especially in games with alternate activations). I don't advise the approach taken by the England Rugby Union player Owen Farrell when taking a penalty or conversion (that sort of behaviour will result in you being politely asked to leave the wargaming club). But, instead, try and anticipate an opponent's actions.
3. Everything you do must take you closer to your objective. If there are primary and secondary objectives focus on what scores the most points, or is the easiest to get.
4. Otherwise, everything else you do must stop your opponent achieving their objective.
5. Attack your opponent's forces where your's are strongest.
Above: Mike plotting.
6. If are to attack an enemy unit try and kill it outright. Nothing is achieved by having all the enemy models wounded but not dead. They can all operate normally next turn.
7. Identify your opponents most pivotal units, without which, they cannot win the game. Then decide if, and how, you need to kill it.
8. Don't be afraid to lose units. Don't have 'favourite' units. Everything in your army is there for a reason. Don't be hesitant because you are scared to use it/them.
Above: Dan totally focused
9. Make life difficult for your opponent. Give them problems to think about. Harass and play interference, use your aggressive models aggressively. Make your opponent work for every point. No freebies thank you.
10. Make sure you finish the game. For instance, if you have an Ariadna army for Infinity with 20 orders, or a green tide of Orks in 40K, you have to finish the game to get the most from them. Large armies are nice, but not if you only get to turn three in a six turn game.
11. Work to your strengths. If you go, go strong. No half measures.
Above: No one, I repeat no one, is going to get this hill.
12. Choose the right army for the job. If you know the mission and the type of army you will be facing then construct your army with that in mind.
13. Practice with the army, and the missions if you know them. It will pay dividends to see how you army performs.
14. Do you know your opponents gaming style? Can you guess it from their likely army choice?
Above: Massive beard work here.
15. Luck. Play the long game. Luck does even out eventually, but you need to wait (perhaps until the next game). Don't get crestfallen when things don't go your way, and equally, don't become a cocky buffoon if some things go your way, because luck will bite you on the arse. And connected to this;
16. Win well. Lose well. Practice your poker face. Don't jump around like a twit when things go well for you. Don't grin like an idiot when the luck deserts your opponent. [Guilty as charged - I am afraid that of all the things written here, this is going be particularly difficult for me and my sleeved heart].
17. Play the numbers game. I would be the first to accept that I do not play the odds and my habit of attempting the Hail Mary pass needs to be reigned in. Unless, of course, you have reached the last chance saloon.
I hope some of this has been helpful, or at least made some sense. *However, the author accepts no responsibility for any games you subsequently lose after reading this post.
Happy war gaming to you all.