Self-defeating Miniature Wargaming Disorder

Back in the days of  Warhammer 40.000 I had a friend and regular opponent with SMWD. Thomas was intelligent, tactically sound, knew his way around list construction, and should by all rights have been a dangerous opponent, but games against him would always go like this.

We would line up, play a round or two, and at some point something would go wrong (like it does for everyone) and his game would fall apart. It was usually related to dice or some mistake he made, but it could be anything and the end result would be the same: The inevitable loss of the game.

Self-defeating Miniature Wargaming Disorder

The specific triggers for SMWD are unique for everyone, but mostly they’re simple things that happen to everyone during most games.  I’ve seen it happen recently in a game of Warmachine, where one of my club members was about to concede a game he was sure to win. The reason he was giving up was because most of his army had been killed during Ravyns feat turn, but he was perfectly lined up to grab two free control points, and almost certain to grab a third and final control point the following round.

I’ve won a game with seven models remaining on the table, of which two were Swamp Gobbers and two died to friendly fire on the round that I won. I’ve had pDeneghra beaten up by an entire enemy army while on zero Focus and surviving, and I’ve seen people needing to roll triple sixes on the final roll of the game and doing it. SMWD has a wide variety of symptoms, but the most common are:

  • A tendency to miss game winning moves because of the assumption that the game is already lost.
  • A tendency to enforce that belief by making high risk moves to ‘save the game’ and failing.
  • A tendency to assume that every roll of the dice will go against you, and only noticing the ones that do.

These three core symptoms make it extremely hard for a player with SMWD to win games. If they’re not distracted and mourning their failed strategy or going “if only my choir boy had rolled triple sixes on damage“, they’re busy calculating exactly how many of their models should have died, and comparing it to the number of models that actually did. This makes it incredibly unlikely that a player with SMWD wins, because every game features failures and mistakes.

Never give up!

Never give up, no matter the odds! Nine out of ten times it ends with the horrible demise you predicted, but every so often the dice intervene or your opponent makes a mistake. This applies to every aspect of the game, and I’ve seen many games won or lost out of nowhere because someone fought to the last box.

A game is never lost until it ends. Sure it might seem unlikely or even impossible that your Warcaster can take on an entire army, but it just might happen, and then you just might get the opportunity you need, because your opponent never in a million years thought you’d survive it. There are no consequences to playing most games to the bitter end, but there are incredible rewards if you do it consistently.

Never let your actions be dictated by the dice, and never abandon a course you know is right simply because you fear that the dice might fail you. Take failure into account when planning the round, and accept the consequences as ‘part of the game’, and I guarantee that you’ll win 5-10% of the games you would otherwise have conceded.

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11 Responses »

  1. The only time I concede is when I have somewhere else to be or if my opponent is being a jerk. Even then, I enjoy sticking it out and then beating the jerk ;-)

  2. My first ever game at my first ever steamroller: my cookie-cutter pDenny list vs another guy’s tooled-out Harby. I’m looking at his stuff thinking: nice models! man, did this *have* to be round one? I’d never played a game against anyone who knew the rules until that point…

    Scenario is three flags, he goes for the left and middle, i spread across all three, though just with a node on the right. My two pistol wraiths make mincemeat of his errants with some fire dice, and I score points on the riht flag. He runs the book and some other stuff towards it, but forget no-knockdown, and I scourge it all… My first scenario win, elapsed total play time maybe twenty minutes. And all this guy says is ‘I’d never have lost if I’d remembered to say no-knockdown…’ *shrug*

    My second game is a ret Ravyn list; I’m stealth but mainly melee, he still manages to wipe out swathes of my army, eventually I just have Denny and some solos, maybe one thrall or a knight. So I start chaincasting venoms and clear ten or fifteen points of infantry with it. I still lose, but we both had a blast because *it was a game*.

    After that I was crushed by eLich, but meh, it was still fun! And I managed to pull a third place in the end on strength of schedule and a 3-2 run, so I was delighted :-)

    TL:DR: I agree wholeheartedly with you, and my miniscule competitive experience backs you up…

  3. Nice article .. and very close to home (being the guy winning with 5 models on the table). I do suffer from the Hudson-shuffle .. no more models = “game over man, game over!”. When you pointed it out in the club it hit me, that ive actually changed since i started playing. Back then id go for the throat even if all I had left was a choir boy and my warcaster. No really sure what happened hmmm.

  4. SMWD = placing your WarX in harms way when victory is otherwise a sure thing ? ;)

    • Nah, that’s good old stupidity rearing it’s ugly head. I never would have done that except Peter distracted me with flashing lights, man-boobs, and… and… make up some more excuses for me mate!

      Peter showed a complete and utter LACK of SMWD in that game, and everyone assumed it was lost, so he did exactly what I always encourage people to do: He ran up Absylonia, hoping against all odds to survive the combined attacks of an entire and completely unharmed list… and won.

  5. flashing manboobs and lights .. even the brightest fight in vain against those odds .. :P

  6. One of my first games against a friend who is now one of my regular opponents pit my 35pt Venethrax list against his 35pt Bethayne list. He had the first turn and ran up. I did the same, but because I had a melee force I couldn’t engage him. On his second turn he completely decimated my army leaving me with only Venethrax, the Combine, Darragh, and two Satyxis Bloodwitches. He had a full unit of hex hunters, two heavies, two shredders, belphagor, spawning vessel, and shepherds. I was feeling pretty hopeless since I lost 80% of my army before it got to do anything, but my opponent talked me into not surrendering. I’m glad he did because Venethrax proceeded to walk into his army and solo everything, and I ended up winning after tabling him. We still joke about this game and tell the story whenever anybody in our meta thinks they never have a chance.

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