The Psychology of 40k: Silent Subjugation

Hey folks. I just thought I would share some psychology tidbits as I like to do once in a while. First, I am playing mind games with my fiance. She likes to play cards, but refuses to play other games. I brought home the game Othello last week to try to get her into a gaming mind set, hoping to lead her into playing Space Hulk with me, which she abhores just because it is 40k. I figure that by getting her started on easy but competitive games first, I can slowly work her into other games like Stratego, which is basicly a launching pad for 40k. I spoke about the "Getting your brother into 40k" mind strategy before. Break him in slowly, but let him win. Make it fun etc. She begrudgingly agreed to play. She is too smart for bravado and silly story telling, and Othello does not really offer enough narrative to make a compelling story out of, but it still serves it's purpose. In our first game, I let her stay close. I had complete control of the game the entire time, but she did not know it. The end looked like she put up a good fight, and most importantly, left her wanting more. Sure enough, the next night she was asking me to play. Had I just thumped her solid, she would not want to. But the taste of victory denied at the last minute was enough to wet her chops.

So in later games it was much the same. Keep the game close, I even let her win and give her the rewards of hearing me whine like a bitch and compliment her at the same time. Now she loves Othello. Silly girl. If she only knew I was just priming her for Space Hulk, and toying her for when I drop the Othello bomb on her. I think soon I will beat her flawlessly, just to show her how far she has to go.

But how does this relate to 40k? Let me get to my point. During my games, I manipulate her by faking her out. If I want her to place her chips in certain areas, or away from others, on my turn I will focus attention on a decoy chip of my own. I will strategize it, look at its angles, sigh at it... then place my chip elsewhere, leaving the impression that I really want to make a move with the first one, but was forced to play the other. On her turn sure enough, she will scrutinize the decoy chip, and place her chips in a position that takes it away if she can.

The same strategy works in 40k. If you want to take your opponent's attention away from what you don't want it on, focus your own attention on something that is irrelevent to the game on the other side of the table. He will wonder why you are placing so much attention to a useless unit, and most likely deploy some of his own forces to take it out when he would not normally do so. If he is pushing all of his army at your base, but you have a squad of scouts on the other side of the table, while he is doing his turn, get down to table level and scrutinize the battle field from your scouts point of view. Even if your scouts cannot reach or hurt his forces, you will be surprised to see how often he will readjust his move to keep them out of LoS of your scouts. (Silly example I know, please dont argue the merits of scouts here, this is just an example that can work with any thing.) But also, while he is making his move, he will be subconciously distracted by what you might be planning, and sub-subconciously try to react to whatever he has dreamed up! You will see him now measuring distance in his mind to that unit, and hopefully divert something in that direction.

You can go a step further by repeatedly reaching for those scouts on your turn. Dont pick them up so as not to cause issues, but put your hands on them, look as if you are going to move them then decide not to. Reach for them several times, but draw your hand back. Then go move a predator to exactlly where you want it, subtly and almost thoughtlessly, then go right back to the scouts and linger there for a little while, scanning their point of view again, to take his attention off that tank and back to the scouts.

So there you go! Hope that sheds some insight.



Michael said...

Does your Fiance not read your blog? Because the gambit is up if she does, lol. Or is she that against 40k that she won't read this and see what you are doing?

Anyways, good article. I enjoyed the points, and will have to put them into action. I think lots of players fly by the seat of their pants tacticly when playing, and seeing you "invested" in some unit will make them think twice about it.

good post

AutarchAndrew said...

Im trying to get my brother into 40k but it is hard to let him win because brotherly competition you know what im talking about jawa.

Mike Howell said...

I look forward to seeing how this plays out. You might also want to try a two-pronged approach and find some card games that have more gamer appeal like Munchkin or Infernal Contraption.

Fritz said...

Have her play Talisman!

jawaballs said...

I tried the Talisman thing Fritz, she wont bite. Maybe if we can get you and the wife over here we can do it! We would of course have to let them win, but it would be fun, and count as wife bonding so that we can go crush noobs on our own time at 40k. I cant imagine she reads my blog. If she does, I'm sunk!

Before I make the leap to Talisman, maybe The Game of Life might be a good jump. It is actually pretty similar. But yes, Talisman and Space Hulk are my end game. She will NEVER do 40k, it's just too nerdy, but I think I can get her on a board game.

And Andrew, look in my archives, I wrote a long article on how to get your little brother into 40k, a reader tried it after unsuccesful attempts, and had luck. Yes, it will require you swallowing your pride and letting him win. :)

AutarchAndrew said...

impossible i cant even let my friends win.i dont get how you let someone win in 40k run a bad list do tactically stupid moves idk i say impossible next time im in town ill let him use 1 of my armies and bring him to the club and give him a baptism by fire lol

BigWill said...

This was your best post yet Jawa.
great stuff

My girl will never ever go for "little men" but she at least plays x-box/nintendo so I win there.

jawaballs said...

I talked her into playing Xbox 360 with me, but I chose Left 4 Dead and it scared her... she barely made it past the intro.

Lucas said...

Should have chosen something like Little Big Planet.

Admiral Drax said...

Nice one: a classic feint.

And have you tried 'Settlers of Catan?' perchance?

Flekkzo said...

Settlers is a lot of fun, but also depends heavy on your starting point. Might be hard to manipulate either way then.

In my case I tried the go for what she likes approach. My wife is into horror movies (the ones too gruesome for myself!) as well as zombies (more my thing) so last night on earth was a hit. There is a lot of really fun games out there if you look. Another fantastic game is carcassone (sp).

And if you want to please the ladies, get apples to apples. Then we the spirits are high, break out the next game:)

But enough of girly games. I'm mainly list building/painting at the moment and when I think about lists my units always have a purpose such as assault, shoot armor, protect base, contest quickly, etc. I don't design them to be sacrified. Do you guys have "lamb units" or is it situational?

I would get suspicious if my opponent is running towards me with some weak unit directly towards my land raider and whistling while moving the big bulky machine that hurts like I shouldn't mind it.

I.e. any examples?

jawaballs said...

Ive heard of all these game, tried a few. Working my way up the tree! As for examples... hmm... when I use my furioso dread, I sometimes find him all by himself. He killed every thing in reach, and the rest of the game is taking place 5 feet away. He is officially out of the game, but still a scary unit, so just motioning towards touching him is enough to make some one nervous, even though with all realism he is out of the game. That happens a lot actually, sort of why I dropped him from my mech list.

I don't really take "lamb" units, but sometimes some things just happen to take that roll.

Ryanjsmall said...

LOL i salute the effort Jawaballs. I am currently doing the same thing with my GF. bait her a few times and then can get into a more complicated game. Bit like fishing tho haha. get too agressive and they wont come back for awhile.

UltraBob said...

I agree settlers of catan is awesome. and Jenn and i will play w you guys anytime!

SgtMikey said...

Try the card game Settlers of Catan. It's 2 players only, but it's a card game and has strategic elements.

And on the topic of irritating your opponent with cheap or weak units: I always put a single Deffkopta with Buzzsaw (counts as powerfist) in my ork list. It's 60 points, is no real game winner and truth be told not even once killed a big tank. But if you burst it forward a little bit further than the bikers and battlewagons, mostly every enemy reacts with panic on this new threat. "Oohh, it could be in assault the next turn", they shoot at it, move towards it and sometimes even move their battletanks an inch just to be immune to autohits in cc and thus have fewer weapons to shoot with. My Nobs and battlewagons will be in assault the next turn too, but they "seem" to be further away and not such an obvious threat to his tanks as is the Kopta.

The Kopta always dies, but the feint works most of the time and the enemies realize that a unit of Nobbikers with lots of powerklaws would have been a way better target last round.

apeekaboo said...

I'd recommend Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride. They are not too complicated and can be completed in less than an hour.

Carcassonne is an excellent game, even the first time you try it and don't fully know the rules. Just explain the rules to her as you play. It's exciting to see the the cities build up. It's a bit like a laying a puzzle where you really want to see the finished result.

We usually play with 3 hidden pieces in hand when playing more than two players. This works really well.
With two players i prefer laying the piece that you draw from the pile. This gives a bit of randomness to the game and less planning ahead.

Ticket to Ride is a game where you build train routes. You have some cards on your hand and some pieces to place on the board. It's a bit like Monopoly, except that Ticket to Ride is fun and exciting to play, it doesn't kill 3-4 hours of the evening, and everybody remains friends after the game is over...

Come to think of it, it's nothing like Monopoly and that's a good thing!

Both games are presented at

Flekkzo said...

Ticket to ride is a lot of fun, plus there are different versions so it gives more variation. I really miss playing boardgames for sure.

Michael said...

All of those games are good ones, but if you really want a good game go for Dominion. It's a card game that is far better than any board game you might find, imo.

It is very strategic, but just enough chance factor in there to make it still exciting, remind you of another game?

And to top it off there is near infinite replayablility. You play with 10 card stacks a game, and the game comes with 25 stacks to mix and match things up.

I really couldn't recommend it enough. My group of gaming buddies all converted to it en masse after I brought it over one night, a few of them bought it that night online after I went home, it's that good. And we have done Settlers, Carcasonne, all the biggies.

And my wife and I play it at least once a week for a few hours at a time.

Check it out

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