Author: Paul North
Here is a good old rant for you. Why do people have such belief in seeing one of the most diverse wargames on the market as black and white?! The amount of times I read a forum post, Facebook comment or hear someone at an event talk as though years’ worth of scientific study has been conducted on their statement. I have always felt that certainty around anything in life is dangerous ground, and people who have utter certainty based on simply their own experience should be absolutely avoided.
Just like the real world, Warmachine is complex, ever changing and we can only really make sense of it through our own experiences, which are limiting to say the least!
I have met many, many Warmachine players from all round the world of varying ability. Those who make it into the upper echelons and win events all appear to have one thing in common. They think about the game differently to everyone else. It is not black and white. They don’t lose a game and default to a strong opinion, they explore the circumstances of the loss in detail, think critically of the way in which they played and consider the opinions of others they trust. These players recognise that winning a game of Warmachine has several variables to consider from; player skill, list build, scenario, terrain, mental fitness and preparation to name a few. The black and white world is replaced by one of grey.
When Brett and I are building lists, we talk about percentages a lot. A game of chess is a 50/50 match up. The black side has just as much chance as the white side if two people of identical player skill faced off against each other (in identical conditions of mental preparation and fitness). A good player is always trying to get at least that 50/50 match up in their list builds. Sure, anything above this is great, but if you can find 50/50 matchups across your lists wherever you look, then you can focus on being the better player, rather than lucky at list selection. Now this way of taking about balance is immediately more useful than the black and white crew.
Think about balance in the grey, percentile area means you can start to get creative and appreciate the complex strategy at play. ‘Khador cannot beat Wurmwood’ becomes ‘I feel the Khador lists I use only generate 30/70 win condition in my opponents favour’…so now the player can start to consider what other players are doing, what casters have they not tried and what is it about the matchup that loses them the game. This is far more useful than simply abandoning the whole notion of trying something else and accepts that they are only speaking form one perspective. Wondering how others have handled a similar issue becomes intriguing rather than a waste of time. Exploring different lists and casters becomes an option as opposed to futile.
As I wrote about in my last article, when we start making strong statements about things we care about there is often some underlying psychological reason for us doing so. When it comes to those who make these sweeping statements I can’t help but think it is often an easier option that critically examining their failing or lack of enjoyment for the hobby. I have felt it myself when I have lost a game; its far easier to just blame the matchup that admit you played it badly or your list design was terrible. Falling into the black and white world is comforting because it absolves ourselves of blame and makes us feel better about losing.
Even when a statement contains a lot of truth approaching it from this perspective is far more useful to the wider community. Definitive, opinion based statements do not seem to help designers or the wider community come up with solutions. If anything, they are counterproductive, limiting debate and solution focused thinking.
As Socrates pointed out back in ancient Greece, changing people’s perspectives and ways of thinking requires very careful and patient conversation. You won’t change someone’s mind by simply telling them they are wrong. How you go about it…..lets save that one for next time my grey loving ally 😉