Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Play On (or Reasons Not to Concede)

We've all had those games where you know it's over from a very early point. You've either been beaten into submission, or done so to your opponent, and there is practically no mathematical way for you to bounce back from it. So what do you do? Do you concede and end the game, or keep playing?

Now, I want to start off by saying there is no "correct" answer to this. This is something best discussed between you and your opponent. If either of you feel as though you have lost the game and don't want to continue playing, then it wouldn't be fair to force the other to do so (and they probably wouldn't go along with it anyway). They won't be having any fun if their heart is just not in it. Having said that, personally, I almost always opt to continue playing, even if it looks like I have lost. There are a couple of reasons why I usually keep a game going.

First off, even though it may look like there is only a 1 in 100 chance that you could eke a victory out of a game, there is still technically a 1 in 100 chance. In a game that's can be as random as it is, and with crucial moments based on a single dice roll, you never know what can happen. I've had opponents who were ready to concede and then I asked them if they were sure and pointed out a few potential things that could still happen if they kept playing. The game goes on and they manage to turn it around and steal victory from the jaws of defeat. Obviously this doesn't happen every time, sometimes a loss is just a loss, but you'll never know for sure unless you try and go for it.

If you're playing at an event their are a couple of reasons to keep the game going. Chief for me is that people have paid to go there and play games. I want to do well at the end of the day, but one of the main draws for me is just getting in some great games of AoS against new people and new armies. It feels a little odd to have a bunch of time left in the round with nothing to do because someone conceded. So now they're sitting around, waiting for the next round to start when they could be enacting vengeance on the tabletop instead. If both people agree to it, that's another story. I know lots of people like to have more time to walk around, chat, eat, or whatever, but I do feel like it's a bit of a social contract at these events to try and give each other the best gaming experience you can. Secondly, more and more events have secondary and tertiary objectives, which feed into how well you do and your ranking in the next round. While someone may concede and say they're fine with giving you the points for those objectives, it does feel a bit unearned. Just like in my previous point with how you may be able to eke out a victory still, just cause someone is in the lead doesn't mean they'll still get their other objectives. There were plenty of games where I knew I had lost the main objective, but I still had a shot at my secondary or tertiary objective as well. In my opinion it's worth playing out so that you can see how the points would fall in the actual game instead of theoryhammering it, even if it's just playing out key moments.

The most important reason for me to continue playing in the shadow of defeat is because I enjoy the game! Even though I may not be able to score enough victory points to win, I can still try and take out their general, or wipe out that one particular unit, or even just deny them one of my favorite units by keeping them alive. I had a game against Deepkin at the Michigan GT last year that was pretty much over by turn two. His eels had smashed my force apart and I had lost too many key units to have any hope of a victory, but you know what, I wanted to see how my army would continue to fare. He was also pretty determined to kill Olynder (it might have been his secondary objective), so I made it a point to keep her alive. In return her and her Spirit Hosts ripped the heart out of his army and she personally killed his Akhelian King. It may not have mattered as far as scoring went for the tournament, but it was a great moment and makes a great story to tell. That's what I look back on and remember, not how many points I scored that game. I love creating these little cinematic moments in my games. I remember a game of 40k more than a decade ago, where I was playing my friend and I made it a point for my general to seek out his general and try and kill him. It had no bearing on the game, and I probably would've been better served having my character do something else, but it was a great moment.

At the end of the day this last point is definitely the most important to me. I love the game, I love the story of the game. Even if you don't look at it in a narrative manner, there's still a story to it. You'll look back and remember how your one character won their combat against the odds, or how you needed anything but a one for your armor saves but somehow managed to only roll ones. If you give up early you're potentially cheating yourself of these moments. I bet if you think back several years you probably can't remember how many games you won or lost, but you probably can remember some amazing, key moments from your games, and you only get these by playing.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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