The circular symbol above is often used to represent Zen. Lets talk about how to achieve it to elevate your mind and your game.
I believe that when you are relaxed AND focused you play your best. As a caveat never underestimate any opponent or any army – the dice gods can hurt you and to me it’s just like Mother Nature.
So I want to talk about some simple techniques you can use to help improve your game. I have to say I cannot always play at this level all the time due to my nature. I sure wish I could though and when I do it’s always a lot more fun – seriously.
1) Divorce yourself from the mentality of winning at all costs. It’s not worth it. Remember it’s just a game. 40k is not like MtG or Warmachine due to the nature of the rules. If you read the rulebook and refer to the most important rule you’ll see a philosophy imposed upon the game by the designers. The company does not frequently update their rules – we have to take what we get from them. I do believe they are striving to create more balance with each edition and each codex. They don’t always get it right but I see an improvement. Don’t let rules lawyers get under your skin – you can beat them by superior tactics and a better understanding of how you designed your army versus theirs.
I think that everyone who plays 40k likes to win – it’s just natural. If you can not have to win every time then you can be more relaxed and focus better. This type of attitude does not mean you have to be a slacker or not want to win. It simply means that winning is not the most important thing when you play.
2) Maintain a positive attitude at all times. It can be really hard to do versus certain opponents for whatever reason but as I said in the first note by not wanting to win at all costs you will have more fun when you play. If a game is going really bad (e.g., bad dice, bad matchup, bad day or whatever) it’s okay to just say “Okay you win.” Go do something else with your time. This year I was playing in the fourth round of a major event and my dice were killing me. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the top bracket the second day so I conceded the game after the fourth turn and then took a friend to dinner. Whether I won or lost that game it didn’t really matter. In another major event I was playing on one of the top two tables in the last round and towards the end of the game I could see it would be impossible to play another turn which I would have needed to secure a win and come away with a top award. I accepted the restraint on time and settled for a draw instead of trying to force another turn. I’m still okay with that decision and happy with the outcome.
3) The game is still part of a hobby. Put some energy into building a beautiful army and learn about the background of 40k. I can’t keep count of how many times I’ve heard people say that the 40k background keeps them interested in the hobby. You might have one army you love to play the most but don’t be afraid to pickup a new army. I started playing Dark Eldar this year (my first real non SM army) and it’s been a lot of fun… I’m really glad I did. A friend suggested I play them as something different from the usual. You will learn more about the game the more armies you play. If you like to play challenging armies it’s okay to play a stronger army. If you like to play the top armies it’s okay to play a weaker army. Either way it can improve your overall game. Like I said 40k is more balanced now.
So that’s it. If you don’t always want to win every game then it’s possible you can actually win more often. It’s simple in theory but can be hard to do in actual practice. You have to make it a priority and remain focused at all times.
The next time you throw down on the tabletop, actively try to focus on this and see how you perform. Practice makes perfect. So what mental techniques do you use to help you be a better player?