How to Win Warhammer 40k: The Psychology of 40k. More head games.

I've written a few posts about little things I tend to employ when I play 40k. Bear in mind that most of the time, I am talking about games in tournaments. I spoke about how to get the full sportsmanship points, while beating the snot out of your opponent, and I spoke about using Dante to manipulate your opponents deployment...

Here are some other things I may do to sort of get in side my opponents head... in no particular order. (Some of these suggestions may contradict each other... you decide what works for you.)

During Deployment, the catchier looking the model, the more likely it is to be targeted. It never fails, that one of the first things destroyed in my army list is my Death Company Rhino. Why? Besides the fact that it holds the Death Company, it is Black! Every thing else is red. It stands out and grabs attention. But also, it has beautiful skulls on top, and a big fat red X on the front. Nothing screams kill me like a target painted on the front and skulls announcing its presence. Most of my tanks are on the flashy side. But want to hear something interesting? It may be coincidence, and it may be my imagination, but of my three Baal Preds, one seems to survive longer and more often then the other two. Two of them are painted up beautifully, one was my Golden Daemon entry, the other has a hand painted dragon and wings on it. But the third? Is as plain as it comes. It is a muted red, with simple highlights. I converted its weapons, and they are closer to the hull, and almost blend in with the outline of the tank... So what you might add? Well, it's disguised as something that is NOT a mobile platform of death I guess... Whatever the reason, my opponents tend to overlook it when choosing targets. For probably the same reason that cops pull over red cars the most...

How do I use this information? My death company are more or less expendable. I use them as a little gunfire sponge that soaks up a lot of fire power. I make a show out of placing that black rhino on the table, estimating its lane of travel (ficticious of course) checking for possible targets...(again, with no intention of reaching them) even going as far as to look down its line of sight, and ask specific questions about targets in its path like four feet away! (As if it has a rail gun or something.) All of this gets my opponent wondering what the hell is going to happen when I move that transport... and what will happen if he does NOT destroy it. So, he pumps lots of shots at it that he should instead be shooting at my Predators. (My current list has 3 death company models and Corbulo in that rhino... hardly worth a single heavy bolter... let alone multi melta and lascannon shots...) Every shot fired at something I use almost exclusively to provide cover saves for my other units instead of at one of my Preds or Rhinos is a minor victory for me.

Put on the show. Theatrics are taking a larger role in my games. I spoke about talking up the game as you play, turning it into more of a story. This entertains your opponent... hopefully, but also, can take him in a direction he may or may not be prepared for. By talking up the perceived value of one of your units to him, you may get him to direct resources into destroying it, thus sending things exactly where you want them! But there are other parts of the show too...

Try to get to the table first... and put your models out on the table for him to see. (Of course after you have had a chance to fully check the bonus objectives.) When he comes, if your stuff is halfway decent, he will look at them and be either a little distracted and forget to really look at the rules for the scenario, be a little intimidated by all the stuff you have on the table, a little nervous about the fact that you seem to have your shit together and are ready for him... etc etc. Any thing you can make him think about while he should be focusing on deployment works. You want him distracted up until it is time to start rolling dice. That way he may not have taken the time to come up with a strategy for the scenario. Asking him questions about his stuff is great for this since every one loves to talk about their models. Point something out that looks interesting, and ask him how he did it... next thing you know, the game is started, and he has not even thought about what to do...

At our club, Fritz is the master of head games. Before tournaments, he will post youtube movies showing off his "new list" and some guys...cough cough... Black Matt... Cough... will play lists to counter it... only to see Fritz pull out his damn Eldar again! One time he had a scheduled game vs Charly, who is always fun to play... and a psychologist... or is it psychiatrist? Any way, Fritz is so far inside Charlies head that he sometimes beats him before even putting a model on the table. They had a game scheduled, and Fritz was 10 minutes late from traffic, and all the time, Charly was sweating it out... When Fritz showed up Charly swore that he did it on purpose just to 'freeze' him. I forget who won... probably Fritz... And take nothing away from Charly, he is a great player and always brings a hard list. It just makes me laugh! Fritz was not even trying!

Talk up the need to go first! Subtly let slip the need to get your Baal Preds into range so that you can win the roll to go first, then go shoot up his tanks... (I always choose to go second as a rule). Most guys will take the opportunity to deny you something he thinks is part of your strategy, without knowing why. He will probably take first turn. While you are doing that, make a show out of eyeballing a piece of terrain you may be able to hide tanks behind... look from behind the corners of it, make a show out of eyeballing range to other terrain pieces on his side of the board, ask him if he thinks a piece might block enough of a tank to grant a cover save but still allow you to shoot... Lol, make him fear that terrain! He will win the die roll, take first turn, and deploy in a way that avoids that terrain piece! Then you just reserve every thing! By the time you are coming onto the table in turn 2, he has NO idea what to do. His drop pods have come down, no where near that terrain piece, even though you have nothing near it at all, his troops are out of position, his tanks are hiding from nothing. Or if you are lucky, he has put a lot of his resources into taking that terrain piece which he thinks you are planning on using... and you just ignore that side of the table completely and own the other side! It goes on and on.

Nothing works every time, especially vs opponents you have faced before. Except for Fritz's tactics against Brother Captain James. But any and all of these tips can work against random tournament opponents that have never seen you before. See what works for you, develop a routine, and use your head. If you are lucky, it works like a charm and you baffle him. If you are unlucky, he sees right through whatever crap you are pulling and tries not to let it get to him. But even then, you are in his head...

Jawaballs

4 comments:

Jwolf said...

Hey, this goes straight back to good old precept number one: Do nothing which is of no use.

Calculating the enemy's best course for not-losing, then their course for winning, on the fly and quickly, are critical skills for the successful general in 40K. If you go into the game expecting the enemy to pursue the first and grab the second if he can, then 99% of the head game is over.

JB, I'm playing Dark Eldar for 'Ard Boyz, because they're ancient and I'm amused with them. I know I owe you some battle reports to study up on my techniques. In most cases, jst ask yourself "what would a large blunt object due?' and you'll see right through me. :)

jawaballs said...

Regardless of what you or any one else plays down there, it will not change how I play. I have zero experience at the 2k point total, but am hoping that my army and tactics will translate into it. I know what there are 250 more points worth of toys to be afraid of, but I am hoping that I will have 250 more points worth of chances to do my thing. If the weather allows I will play a 2k point game on Sunday. Hopefully I can figure out a list in time!

Flekkzo said...

This all reminds me of Sun Tzu (hope I didn't screw up the spelling there) and that book of his. Though he tends to phrase it more mysteriously. Any chance you could give us advice in a form like this:

"Draw your opponents attention towards ghosts with eyeballing and fancy painting."

Mostly kidding. This stuff is really entertaining to read!

jawaballs said...

That is the biggest point. This is meant for entertainment more then any thing. :)

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