Player Habits – Don’t be an Excuse Player

All players have different habits or personality traits that define what kind of player they will are.  One type of player I see too often is the “excuse player”. The moment the game is over, and they have lost, they have the excuse ready as to why they lost. (“I only lost because you rolled a 9 on that attack” or “I only lost because I didn’t know that model had Beat Back”.) Their first instinct is not to congratulate their opponent or think about mistakes they made and how to improve in the future, or even think about how the entire 70 minutes of the game played out and how every move/placement/dice roll by each player all factored into the game results, it is to make an excuse.  I believe many of us all have that moment after a loss, where we think “I can’t believe I forgot ability X on my opponent’s model”.  With 115+ casters and model combinations, this happens to everyone.

 I believe there is a big difference from a player realizing they made a mistake and a player that needs to justify that loss with an excuse.  It is ok to lose a game. You don’t need to justify it immediately with an excuse.  Vast majority of game losses occur due to one player making more mistakes then their opponent or one large bad timed mistake.  (The various types of mistakes could be an entire topic of many articles.)

        I find players that accept that a loss that was made by a mistake (in combination, with their opponent being good enough to take advantage of the mistake to win the game) tend to learn more from the games, where the player that loses and cares more about making an excuse often manages to lose more games and cling to their excuses and improve slower. 

I believe most of us have played those games where we had complete control of the game but your opponent goes for a bad odds assassination attempt because they had no other hope and they successfully kill your caster. They needed some crazy roll, like an 11 to hit on 2 dice followed by a 15+ on 3 dice to succeed, and they somehow manage it.  Both of you realize they just pulled that win out of thin air.   Two thoughts on this; first, if you let your opponent roll dice to win the game, and they succeed, realize that is going to happen now and then.  Bad odds don’t mean impossible to succeed.  Think about where your caster was on the field. Did he need to be where he was? Did you move him forward because you were overconfident in your win?   Maybe you could have protected him even better.  Second, congratulate your opponent on realizing their only chance was to go for that long odds caster kill attempt, and not just sit back and die horribly. They were smart enough to realize how screwed they were and took appropriate action.

Your mission should you choose to accept it – When you lose your next game, think about what your first thought after the game is.  Try to keep too many negative thought at bay. Think about the entire game overall, and how you can improve u/pon your army, your tactics used, and try to remember any and all tricks that opponent’s list had.  These are the important things to try to remember that will improve a player for their next game. If it makes it easier, write these thoughts down to review later.

I really enjoy seeing players become better over time and being an excuse player is a very easy trap to fall into.  It’s rare not to think this way once in a while, but it’s not a good habit, and it can take a lot to stop going for that easy excuse, and instead try evaluating the game and looking for mistakes to learn from.

I have played Warmachine since 2004. Before that I have played warhammer fantasy for ten years, but I stopped playing Fantasy shortly after starting warmachine. I enjoy every aspect of the hobby. I love competive play, as well as just playing fun goofy lists on casual game night at our local game store. I also spent a good chunk of my free time working on making terrain for our events our local gamestores. I mainly play Skorne and Cryx, but I do own a small gatorman minion force that I have fun playing. Brian "carnage4u" Giese
  1. benrislove Reply

    This is a good lesson to teach everyone. I’m glad you wrote an article about it. We spend a decent amount of time discussing how self destructive blaming losses on anything but player skill can be.

    I want to add a small piece. Yes dice fail, yes sometimes you get 5% assassinated. HOWEVER you can always find something that could have worked better that game, and you shouldn’t feel upset about those losses.

    At mayehm cup in January my eStryker killed himself over 2 turns by rolling 11 twice. It took me about a week of being frustrated about dice to realize that I should have rolled the str/damage before going in the first time, if I had done that I wouldn’t have needed to spend focus on Velocity, and been able to heal to over 12 Health, making it impossible to die the next turn.

    I rolled poorly, but I could have kept stryker’s heart from exploding, by handling my order of operations slightly better.

  2. iWARGAME Reply

    Great article. I really do wish more player’s were like this but alas it is a blow to so many fragile ego’s out there. I personally usually tell the opponent after I lose what I did wrong and congratulate them. Like you already mentioned, this is how I learn the fastest. So many people tend to forget that we only learn through negativity in life.

  3. Walter Reply

    Well said. I concur.

  4. Alexander Reply

    I accept this misson, friday to sunday.

    Going to ETC in mansfield, so its going to be a challenge.

  5. Christopher Young Reply

    Great article. I think some of these thoughts could be applied to “scoopers”, people who concede a game early.

    • iWARGAME Reply

      I had a recent experience with a player where he wanted to concede and I told him to just go for a balls to the wall move. Long story short, Cromac basically scrapped my Conquest and took out Strakhov the following turn. I told him to not be such a Negative Nancy and it reminded him that it’s truly not over until the fat lady sings…sometimes.

  6. zombied00d Reply

    Okay back the truck up for a second:

    When did it become okay to lose?

  7. Dan from Chicago Reply

    Like so many things, the absolute value of winning depends on what is being won

    winning a footrace with against a hungry Polar Bear: very frickin’ valuable

    winning a game of little metal army men: nice … that plus $2 will get you a cup of coffee

  8. Carnage4u Reply

    /random tangent

    Not that I want to say Winning is important in the scope of things, but I never like when people use the “playing with little mini’s line” its a pet peeve of mine. (its usually brought up when 2 people argue online about the game, and the person losing the argument ends with “whatever, its just little metal minis”

    People choose their hobbies (doesn’t matter what the hobby is). Winning at major events, means, your putting your skill against some of the best players that make an effort to show up to those types of events, and if you can do well then, it means your good at something. (again winning isnt everything, but it is nice) Winning even local games is also fun, and shows someone that can do well.

    If they choose their hobby of “whatever” and they do good at it, they should be happy. No reason to have to be negative on winning, (unless that winning is coming from cheating/bad habits/etc) especially from people that share the same hobby.

  9. jaster Reply

    A good little read, I can’t help but feel my dice helped inspire it :P

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