Psychology in 40K – The Initial Response by Mike Marlow

1 Nov



No i’m not talking about Morale and pinning tests… I’m talking about the way you as a person reacts to certain situations that happen in a game. The state of mind a person is in, can positively or negatively effect a game. Now i’m not talking about being unsporting or cheating in anyway. I’m refering to what your thinking when you first see your opponant and his army, how you react to ingame suprises that inevitably happen and lastly things you can do in game to use psychology to your advantage. Every week ill blog about these areas in 3 cataogaries these are the following.


1. The Initial Response!

2. In game events

3. Psychological tactics.


Today i’m going to write about the initial response.


I won my first tournament (Mayhem back in 2006) with Iron Warriors. For all you oldies out there who were playing at that point the words ‘I’m using Iron Warriors’ was often followed by a resigned sigh a slump of the shoulders and a feeling of resignation. (Even if you also played Iron Warriors!) At that point the iron warrior player had the advantage.  Iron warriors were great but they could be beaten, however how can you win when you think your gunna lose even before the game has started?


This is what i mean by the initial response, how you react to the opponant and his army even before the game has begun. There are two things that effect the initial response one of these is your opponant, the other of these is the opposing army selection.


Picture the scene. You are Fred McFreddy the wargamer. You listen to podcasts and are aware of the rankings and aware of people on the circuit and are reasonably ranked (50th say). Your first game of the tournament is against one Josh Roberts ranked 1…. How do you react? It is easy to feel in this situation that this is a guy whose better than me how am i gunna beat him when hell be able to counter all my strategies and tactics?


Now Imagine our Mr McFreddy plays a 14 year old player with an army that is painted to a beginner standard. It is easy in this situation to tell yourself…. hey this guy is new he won’t know the rules itll be an easy ride… in this case perhaps youll be lax and will make mistakes yourself because you dont think what anything youll do will matter


Now Consider Mr McFreddy is a Dark Eldar Player and against his next opponant he plays an imperial guard army with Hydras, probably the dark eldar players worst match up. its easy in this situation to get depressed and loose your head and again make mistakes because of it and get that loss and not even work towards a draw or a win. On the other hand if he then gets pitted against Tyranids then perhaps hell over underestimate his opponant and play badly.


I had just come back to playing when i played Ashley Homewood in mayhem back in 2007/8. I lost this game Because of who i was playing, i knew Ash was one of the best players there but i just didnt wanna try anything, any tactic i had any maneouvers i had planned because i thought hed be able to counter them. On the other hand recently i played Harry Allen at Starsmash in our 4th game and he had the hydra guard list and i was using my dark Eldar. But i didnt loose my head about it played my game and managed to get a win. Now ill admit i was lucky, but if i hadnt even tried to play my game and hid away i would have never had a chance of even a draw at that game.


So how do you combat the initial response?


1. Experiance: If you playing alot of games then youll get used to the people you play the army you see across the otherside of the table. Using one army for a long period of tim,e will allow you to know its strengths and weaknesses and when you see a new army on the otherside of the board youlll be so aware on how your army woprks your less likely to over or underestimate the opposition.


2. Know your Codex’s: Discuss new codex’s with your group of friends or on forums on the internet. If you do so youll know all the intricacys of new armies and whereas youll see a suprise now and again youll be better equiped to combat it.


3. Be pleasent: The easiest way to help you out of your stupor. 95% of players on the tourny scene are infact very friendly people. Talking to them will relax you and hopefully let your own game. In this period you can ask your opponant what everything does.


4. Form a plan reguardless on what your playing: its easy to throw your plan out the window. By creating a plan the opponants army will be a little less daunting and it allows you to play your own game without being intimidated by an opponant.


I hope this advice helps you if your a seriel panicer. I Myself will be following my own advice here when i play the inevitable horde of GreyKnight players at the masters!


Next time i will be talking about the inpact that in game luck has on you and how to approach it and stay focused


See you next time!!





6 Responses to “Psychology in 40K – The Initial Response by Mike Marlow”

  1. thekidizreal November 1, 2011 at 04:04 #

    I liked this, good read sir. Its especially helpful as i’m playing in my first large tournament here in southern California. Thanks again and looking forward to the next part!

  2. Digital Unicorn November 1, 2011 at 09:57 #

    True. True. And true. Discussing things really does help, I should know, I do tons of it. Great article mate, keep up the good work!

    • Michael Marlow November 1, 2011 at 14:17 #

      thanks a bundle! i think its a part of 40k people forget about, there are times when tactics go out the window because of outside influences

  3. Embolden November 2, 2011 at 08:43 #

    Great advice – experience and knowing how your ‘own’ army works is probably the best advice when going up against anything new or in a tournament setting where you’re unsure of how your opponent will play.

    My first ever tournament was back in 04, when I tabled my opponent first game was on table one, when I looked across the table it was a young Josh Roberts who looked back… he tabled me with his Tau because I bottled it, first tournament, table one against an army I’d never played before, normally I’m an aggressive player, my armies like to bomb forwards and I just stayed mid-table, while Josh picked my army apart, defiantly a schooling I’ll never forget, if I had played the way I normally play I feel I would of won, but instead I killed a Devilfish and a warrior or two, while he took my army and my lunch money.

  4. 40KUK November 4, 2011 at 11:55 #

    Well Mr Situation, you are not just a pretty face. I couldn’t agree more with all that you have said and in fact have experienced many of these feelings since coming back to play in January. Psychology is a weird thing when it comes to reputation. The old sport saying: ‘it becoms easier when you are at the top’ is true. Yes there are young guns out there that will try and dethrone, but I warrant that Josh’s games are easier at times because he is known as the best player in the UK and one of the best in the world. There comes a passage where you move from a position of believing you have no chance against the top guys, to having an inkling that you could win to the long long stretch in which you really believe you can. But it is one hell of a stretch.

  5. Shem Lucas November 6, 2011 at 03:39 #

    A Brilliant article Mr. Marlow, a subject often overlooked in tournament play as it isn’t connected directly to the models and rules.

    It is also something i have suffered from in the past, i just want to have fun when i go to a tournament, so have been guilty of automatically assuming that people who take a “beardy” list won’t be fun to play against, you yourself are actually someone that helped me to get over this way of thinking, i played you at Warhammer World Mayhem with your guard army and you beat the living snot out of me, i had bad rolls, a bad list match up, and i didn’t have any self-belief going into the game, but none of it really mattered because you were an excellent opponent and i really enjoyed it, even though i was constantly removing my models when i’d been pulling off raging victories in the games previous, so thanks a lot!

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