Into the mind of a Dark Horse

Chuckyby Chuck Elswick

To grant yet another request I will be focusing upon something out of the norm for these articles.  I will not be looking at any lists or models in particular but taking a look into the mind of the “Dark Horse” player.  Someone asked in response to one of my articles to write an article in regards to my play style, in other words “what goes through my mind.”  For this article it took me a awhile to try and figure out what does go through my mind when I am playing.


When it comes to model selection I first look at what faction I am going to play for the weekly game night.  I usually always try to take with me a minimum of 2 factions with me and usually I try to make one faction Hordes and the other Warmachine, and always if there is going to be a high showing from the other people of a particular faction then I try to make sure not to bring that faction.  This unfortunately has led to me being very poor at one faction in particular, Legion of Everblight, as we have the Great Legion of Jake that only plays that one faction and I don’t feel like hearing the whole night “faction on faction is boring” (not that I disagree with him at all because I do feel faction on faction is boring I just don’t feel like hearing it all night).


I also try to think about what factions I have played the week before as I then try to make sure I bring a faction that I haven’t played in a while.  If there is a con that is coming up then I try to make sure I don’t take the faction to the game night for a couple months, with my high level of gamer ADD (which by the way I do have ADD) I feel that I really don’t need many games with the faction as I am pretty sure I am going to play the faction all convention long and get bored of the faction real quick.  For example I played Skorne at Gencon 2011, I just recently played them for a league for the last couple of weeks and it has been 6 months since Gencon.  If I play the same thing over and over I get bored of it pretty quickly.  I also sometimes pick what I am going to play based upon certain requests, if someone that night wants to see a certain warcaster/warlock or faction then I try to bring the requested item.  No this does not mean I am that nice of a guy in fact I am the one taking advantage of them as they are the ones doing me the favor of making me not have to go through the whole process of seeing what models of mine have the most dust upon them.  Having someone pick my faction and/or warcaster/warlock is not just held to the weekly gaming group, I usually have a TO select what army I am bringing and sometimes even what warcaster/warlock I am bringing.


Practice games are something I really don’t do with a particular faction.  Not saying that I don’t get something out of playing games, outside of the fun I have win or lose, but what I get out of them is the refresher upon what models can do.  Now don’t get me wrong but when a friend of mine asks to play against a particular list as they want to practice against it then yes I will play a “practice game” as I am helping them practice for something in particular.  Like I said before though once I know what faction I will be playing at a convention I usually don’t play it for a couple months.  I do however read my lists over, read over a model’s abilities, and try to piece together what they can do.  If I was to say what do I get out of games in regards to practicing it would be the fact that since I try to play a variety of different models and armies that is my practice.  Because I play so many different things I am able to know what they do and more than likely what an opponent is going to do with them.  To quote a friend my mind is not so much a “bear trap” but because I play everything I have a general idea of what something can do.  Granted the counterpoint could be that remembering everything is what your friend is saying I guess the fact that I am a history teacher at the high school I work at would have something to do with being able to remember a multitude of different information.


As to my order of operation and what goes through my head during an opponent’s turn.  My order of operation really comes from the idea that “remember what needs to happen first.”  This comes down to if you play timed turns even in your weekly games 2 things happen.  The first thing is you get used to taking that extra minute in the beginning to calm down, not rush, and think about what has to be done and in what order.  The second thing that happens when you play timed turns on your weekly game night is that you find you are able to get in more games during the night.  We even in our game group for about 2 years did not play scenarios or timed turns until we heard about a  35 point game that took 3 hours to complete because they did not use timed turns and since there was no scenario one of the guys kept running away when all he had left was his warcaster and his opponent had a heavy warbeast and his warlock left.  I have found it is not so much that we want to make sure we know the scenarios but that we want to make sure things like that don’t happen anymore, and if you play more games in a night I find that this is the secret to becoming a good player.


As for what goes through my head during an opponent’s turn, nothing really.  I am so ADD I might be thinking about those flowers one of the guys who requested this article talked about, lol.  But in all seriousness I usually think about what I have to do next in response to what my opponent has done.  I do not mean playing in response to what they have done, I try to not be on the back of my heels during a game if I can help it.  I mean I try to make them play to me, force them to make a decision based on what I give them.  If they go with choice A then I do this, if choice B then this.  Normally I go with an idea that I focus upon my turn and what I am going to do, if you do this during your opponent’s turn then you have even saved more time during yours as you have already thought about what needs to be done.  To quote a friend “I think about what has to die and make sure it does, I look at their important models and try to get rid of it.”  Though he is the one who came up with this idea I think it does go towards what the Detroit Meta is all about, in your face and aggressive.


Lastly I want to take a look at my pet peeve.  I hate it when I go to a tournament, whether it is a local tournament or one at a convention, and I see the same list I keep hearing about online.  Play your own list is what I say.  I have seen where people play something they have gotten off line and wonder, when something doesn’t go the way they expected, why they lost. I don’t mean the typical something went wrong or dice fail, but now some wrench has been thrown into the machine and now it doesn’t work.


The Epic Gaspy list comes to mind here.  The key usually in the lists I have seen is that Tartarus can be brought back on the feat turn.  Now throw in the fact he has been removed from play normally players don’t know what to do anymore.  Yes not a whole lot of armies might have access to remove from play abilities but now this person running a list he got off line now doesn’t know what to do anymore.  The fact that people even build lists around one type of trick gets me too.  We were watching a game last year where someone was running the Epic Gaspy assassination list and because his opponent was able to move during the Epic Gaspy’s feat turn the Epic Gaspy player conceded the game.  A friend watching the game even said to the guy to use his feat to at least wreck his opponent’s army but the guy conceded anyways.  This is a classic case of someone not knowing what their army can do outside of its comfort zone.  To me this is why you should always play different things and try different methods out.  It will make you be able to react to different situations better as well as make you an overall better player.

Author: Bulldog

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