A Scrub's Journey to Glory: A look at Mastery

Hey guys and girls, this week I’ll be looking at some basic assessment tools on play style, along with tools to help in mindful practice (that word again). I’ll be looking at the mastery curve, and finish by taking a look at myself through the looking glass, to show you guys how to assess yourselves for future improvement.

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The Mastery Curve

This is a term used by many a people to discuss the difficulty of playing with factions, casters, and lists.

The learning curve can be discussed in several different manners, I’m going to use a mastery model, which is probably worth a revisit in the future.

For our discussion today, the mastery levels I’ll be using are novice, apprentice, journeyman, expert, master. Let’s start with a brief look at what these levels mean.

Novice: A person who is still learning the rules, this person may not know much about the game, and will likely not know what your army does. This stage is highly vulnerable to burn out, and dropping out of the game, as Warmachine is a very… very gotcha kind of game, and we’ll probably be coming back to Novices as a whole article in their own right at a later point.

Apprentice: A person who has learned the basic rules, but is just scratching the surface of their faction. This person will not quite know everything their faction does, will still be asking pretty basic questions about how the game works from time to time.

Journeyman: A journeyman knows what his or her faction does, and has a mental inventory of not just what their faction does, but the most popular combos being used in the game as a whole. These guys are beginning to become dangerous, as a journeyman is at the skill level to take a net list and field it to some ability so long as the list isn’t too complex (if you’ve ever seen some of JVM’s lists, trust me those lists are a great example of a ‘simple’ list that will just not work for Journeymen).

Expert: This is the blasted plateau of most competitive players. This player has played several factions, and is fluent in not just what pretty much all models do, but first and some second order combos at least in the factions they play. These players will often be the best player in the local meta but not be winning events in the con meta. (This sounds bad, but these guys are still the top 20%, if that low, in most metas. I hit this in MTG, and 40k, but I have massive respect for those who achieve this in WarmaHordes, as it’s a much harder game to reach this stage in my opinion)

Master: This is the top of the curve, those with the burden of heavy crowns. These guys know not just their faction in and out, but often know the second, and even third level interactions in their opponent’s faction. These guys have played enough games that they know what you think your army does, what it actually does, what you perceive their army does, and even may be able to predict how you will play as many as 2 turns out.

Now I’m not saying these guys are psychic, they’ve just been there and done it a thousand times. These guys show up to local steam rollers and take it with a list they’ve never played, or something ridiculous like that. There are very few of these guys, JVM, Trevvy the Great, and Jay Larsen are the some of the most public S tier players that come to mind right now.

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A Self-Assessment

Now let’s take a look at myself on this spectrum, making a simplification that every 10 points is ABOUT a mastery level.

Game Rules Fluency: 6/10

I am a rules nerd, I read rules questions online, and am eternally looking at strange rules interactions on the table. Granted, I still have no idea how throws work...

Model Fluency: 5/10

I know pretty much all of Warmachine, but am noticeably weaker with Hordes factions… I just don’t get to play against Hordes factions that much...

Scenario Fluency: 6/10

I just haven’t gotten enough games in, I always play steamroller scenarios when I play, and know what scenarios my different lists can and can’t play in, and I very rarely lose on scenario, even on turn 7, but that’s not my biggest weakness...

General Competency: 3/10

I’m gonna be harsh on my rating here as the other areas are where my strengths are. I’ve gotten something like 50 games in with Amon Ad Raza in the last year, but I still primarily lose based on random assassinations. As of such I’ve put a lot of my effort into mitigating this in the last few months.

My final self-assessment grade: 20/40 (High Apprentice to low Journeyman).

I mostly need more reps with good players, as I’ve found that I can pick an apprentice level player apart over the game, but will still get randomly assassinated by the best players every time.

Where do you guys feel you fall in this spectrum? And what do you feel will help you to improve as time goes on?

Quote of the week: “If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.” - John Wooden