A Scrub's Journey to Greatness: Mid Game Stress Management

Hey guys, Andrew here yet again on my journey to winning one of these toy soldier games, today we’ll be talking about stress management during our game.

So you’re playing a tournament game, and you’re on top table. All the beans are on the line, money, women (or men), and the best part… Glory...

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What can put we off your game here? I like to decompose this into categories, let’s have a look;

  1. The Opponent

  2. The Game

  3. Us

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The Opponent

Monsieur Big Deal- This is the guy you hear from/about on all of the blogs you read, he may be that guy on Facebook who has declared himself the king of the north, and drinks too much chocolate milk. Playing one of these guys (especially for the first few times) is stressful!

The Guy who knows our faction more than you- You pull up your new shiny meta busting list, and your opponent plops some janky set of lists out, looks at your pairing and says “oh I tried this when I played this faction!”... F**k dark horse factor negated...

The Guy doesn’t even know his faction- This guy pulls up, MAYBE all of his models are assembled, of course nothing is painted, so everything looks the same, they also don’t have their stuff around, nor do they seem to have an idea of how things work in the scenario...

That Effing Guy- aka a TFG (the name of one of my favorite podcasts btw), this guy will be fudging measurements, or “remembering rules wrong”, they may be playing a bunch of random stuff and trying to say they have wonky interactions, etc. These people are few and far between (in about 15 years of gaming I’ve met MAYBE 3) but they exist.

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The Game

Bad Matchup/Scenario/Table- You pull up to the table, your pairing has one weakness, Nemo 3 in spread the net… yep, you’re playing Nemo 3 in spread the net, oh and the table is a shooting gallery!

Gotchas- you ask what a piece does, you move a piece, and some strange interaction that your opponent had ‘forgotten about’ happens and your model dies before it gets to swing… on your turn...

Skewed Dice- You remember that missed 4 on 3 dice? Yea they happen… what about rolling double signs and portents charging Exemplar knights and rolling 5 1’s and a 2! Yep, they happen, its tilting.

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Army Fluency- You didn’t know the pairing or an interaction between their list and yours which destroys your matchup, it's happened to all of us.

Play Mistakes- you set up the entire turn based on some ridiculous feat interaction… then you forget to feat, yep, might as well pack it up…

These stressors will not just tilt you, some of them will make you feel like you’ve already lost, or that you never had a chance to win in the first place. Some of these things will make you want to flip the table!

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Well here’s some tricks I use to keep those feelings in control

Walk away from the table

It’s just what it sounds like. Just stop, put the clock to you, and walk away from the table for a few seconds, collect your thoughts, and walk back to the table.

Count slowly from 10

Again, pretty self-explanatory, this will give you a second to stop thinking, and collect your thoughts.

Do hand or finger exercises

This is getting into the neuroscience realm. Doing a series of exercises with your hand or fingers will keep your mind from dwelling on any one thing that happens. Examples include trying a pattern of movement with your fingers to your thumb, or get a song stuck in your head and “air pianoing” the part. Again this will keep you from dwelling, and can help with anxiety about the game itself, I use this quite a bit.

Breath deeply

A sibling to counting to 10, you just breath in and out, as deeply and slowly as you can for a few seconds until your thoughts slow down, and your heart stops trying to break out of your chest.

Form a mantra

I use this a bunch. You form a catch phrase, or mantra that acts as an emotional anchor for you. This is similar to battle or rallying cries, something that a person can say or yell to get their head back in the game. Anyone who’s played 40k will know the almost ubiquitous mantra of ork players…


Make a consolation prize

Let’s say you’ve done everything you can, and nothing is working, your army is being pulled apart, you’re behind on scenario, and you have NO line to their caster… well, you can always pick their best painted model, and say “that thing is dying.” I use this one all the time, especially if I have no play, I’ll find the model that’s been pissing me off, and I’ll engineer killing it and concede, I don’t know why, but this does wonders for my morale after a bad loss.

Well that’s what I’ve got. Tell me sometimes you’ve started to go on tilt and you had to manage it, or just tricks that you guys have for managing stress during your games!

Quote of the week: "it's not important who starts the game but who finishes it."- John Wooden