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nurgle_boy
21-08-2007, 20:37
Ok, please excuse the slight vague-ness of this post, but I have a theory on which I need some feedback, and which may prove to be an immense tactical advantage. if anyone is studying phsychology and body language out there, their input is particularly appreciated. I felt this fit best to tactics as well, as in a sense, it is one. I will begin with myself as an example of my theory, and then move onto others.

When I play a game of fantasy, which for me is a competetive game, not just something for fun, I try to give away as little as possible, be it tone of voice, emotion shown, or just demeanour in general. I'm afraid, having never played against a mirror image of myself, i cannot say particularly if this is unnerving for an opponent or not, although i feel a gamer keeping a straight face throughout a competetive game would be.
When I play, I tend to shut off any emotions that give my game plan away, similar to the technique of a pokerface. When a plan goes my way, I do not even smile (moreso than the contented smile I have on my face throughout), and I try to not let anything slip when my gameplan is ruined. By keeping a straight face throughout, and trying to not reveal body language, your play is less recognisable to your opponent, thus keeping them on edge, and guessing at your next move.

This is, at least as I see it.

I have only ever played two other opponents who have done a similar thing, and I must say, It is unnerving, If not intimidating to go up against, and having no idea of their next move makes gaming much more difficult. Both of these games I played, I lost, despite one force being entirely balenced (the other was a clan skyre, so it was a little predictable). both of my opponents kept up the same, contented smile as I do whilst playing, and they used no body language to give anything away, or at least nothing too obvious to see. I did however, find my calm demeanour cracking as my plan came undone, and I lost control of the game (due to having no idea of my opponents gameplan, and not knowing how to react to their moves).

It does sound a little 'chess-y' I know, but being able to predict, to a degree, your opponents move, is a huge help, and reading your opponents emotions and body language is one way to get a look into how they will play.

now, my theory is this. If one were to conceal their emotions, and try to reveal as little body language as possibel, whilst reading that of their opponent, would this have an impact on gaming that is recognisable?
would this lead to the nerve of their opponent breaking, leading them to cause mistakes?
would having an Idea of what their next move will be impact on a game that greatly?

I feel that this, coupled with knowlage of rules, basic mathematics, and to a degree, knowlage of an opponents army, could lead to winning strategies, but i am not sure how widely, or to what degree this is used. has anyone ever seen it be used by tournament winners, or even by members of a local gaming group.

I also thought, that many members of warseer, being competetive gamers, may use similar phsychological techniques to assist their gameplay, and if so, what are they?

If my theory is correct, would it be worth teaching this technique to others, in an attempt to create more complex opponents, and to help their gaming as well, or even improving this technique to another level, to bemuse your opponent completely using subtle body language to ones advantage?

well, any feedback or input is mroe than welcome, although 'omg ur theory makez no senze!!1!:wtf:' is not so welcome. criticism to a degree is ok, but constructive input is prefered.

If this theory is right to some degree I may ever write a proper article on it, although I need input before anything.

anyway, I hope that made some sense to everyone, and I feel like this may be a good thing to look into, and coul potentially provide one with a new tactical advantage in games.

thanks, NB.

Malorian
21-08-2007, 20:53
Well I don't hide emotion, but I do try and put a smile on no matetr what happens. I get lucky/do somehting smart, I smile. I get unlucky/do something dumb, I smile. But this has more to do with having an enjoyable game.

I do see where you're coming from though, but I think it's aplication is limited since everying is literally laid out before you. You can tell if they can a pare of aces because the two slann are right there : )

On the other hand I have been helped sometimes by watching them look at their heros/lords. You can never really tell what items they have, and thus which to target/avoid, but if you where to move up a big unit of knights and they look quickly at a mounted hero a little to the flank, you can be pretty sure he's the one your knights should avoid.

Crube
21-08-2007, 21:21
I sometimes try and project the opposite emotion... If my great plan has gone awry, then a little giggle or laugh, quickly stifled, seems to work wonders to distract my opponent

And vice versa. If everything's going well then a sigh can make your opponent think they've made a mistake

DOnt know if it really works but it seems to...

sephiroth87
21-08-2007, 21:30
I posted this on portent.net a long time ago. It's similar to your theory, and it IS a tactical advantage. Mine is not as well-thought out as your theory, but I think it does apply.

The Psychological Edge


"I hold it to be of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words towards any one, for neither the one nor the other in any way diminishes the strength of the enemy; but the one makes him more cautious, and the other increases his hatred of you, and makes him more
persevering in his efforts to injure you"
- Niccolo Machiavelli

Psychological factors in 40k.

Warhammer is a psychological game of intimidation. You may say, "I'm a nice player! I don't try to hurt anyone!." Bull feces, says I. Every competitive game consists of mastering your opponent. In essence, you aren't beating your opponent's army, you're beating him/her. To think otherwise is to give up on strategy and resign yourself to rolling dice. Don't do it.

40k is is not a game of chance, odds or even of having the best army units at the table. It's about psychology and leading your opponents into submission through coercion and intimidation. Everyone has their own technique to accomplish this objective and it's just as important to be aware of your opponents´ styles as it is coming up with your own.

First, you should always talk to your opponent before the match. Although he may smell of limburger cheese and body odor, you'll find out very interesting and useful things just by having a short conversation. Ask as many questions as you can about his army and 40k in general, even if you know the answers beforehand. Never act overly knowledgeable, because it puts an opponent on his guard. Most people don't like to ask tons of questions, but this is a great way to get your opponent to underestimate you. And getting your opponent to underestimate you grants you a huge early advantage. An opponent will likely make mistakes out of arrogance when he thinks that you don't know very much. He will also give things away when you ask him simple questions.

As an example, I'll talk about a recent conversation between an opponent and myself. My opponent deployed his wraithguard. I said, "hmm…those look cool. What are they?" He told me they were wraithguard, and that he just spent a full week painting them. I asked, "what do they do?" He told me that they were *********** brutal enough to kill a demon prince in one turn. I said, "in hand to hand combat? They must be pretty nasty." He told me that they were, and that I wouldn't be able to shoot him due to the Conceal on the accompanying Warlock. I just nodded.

I asked other questions about other units, and he continued to effectively brag about his army and how good they were. I just nodded, then swarmed the wraithguard with regular troops and demonettes. I knew that he was really proud of his paint job. I knew that he was overconfident in what they could do. And I knew that it was a point-sink unit that decreased the numbers on the rest of the army from the way he talked about them. He didn't know it, but he effectively helped me to understand how to beat him. I demoralized him by killing his "pretty" unit and had him effectively beaten by the fourth turn. Everything after that was mopping up.

Another thing to consider is sportsmanship. An amateur at competitive intimidation will try to rattle you by being obnoxious, loud, or by being a rules lawyer. Never give in to the temptation to argue back or get angry. If you do it, he wins. If you believe that you're right, always get a third party and explain your side. Don't even try to argue with the ********. If you try to be an ******* and intimidate others by being rude, you'll get very few opponents to play against, and we don't want that. We want to become better players, and that comes by playing as many different styles and opponents as possible. An angry opponent makes stupid mistakes, and that's just what he wants you to do. If you continually show good manners to your opponent (no matter how obnoxious the opponent), you gain a huge competitive advantage by learning how to stay calm under pressure. Also, while you should chat up your opponent before the game, you should refrain from engaging in extended conversation during the actual game. There are two reasons for this.

1. You will often concentrate less on the game and will not be able to outthink your opponent.
2. You intimidate your opponent by keeping your mouth shut.

If you only speak to say "your turn," an opponent will get rattled, especially when you were extremely talkative before. This is the point that he finally figures out that he's dealing with a good, thoughtful player and not a newbie. This is intimidating to an opponent. Underestimation breeds contempt, which means that you can destroy an opponent before he knows that he's dead.

Learn from your opponent before the game. Get him to underestimate your skills and overestimate his skills by asking questions. Intimidate him during the game by staying calm and keeping your mouth shut. Win by using your opponent's mouth and mind against him.

nurgle_boy
21-08-2007, 21:59
*claps* ah sephiroth87, It seems I am not the only one with these ideas and also, you have covered things which I have not, which I have also recognised.

getting an overveiw of your opponent before the game I can agree with to a degree, as unless you are carefull you will be dragged into conversation, not question asking, at which point you may reveal your own flaws, but if you avoid in-depth conversation, as you have said, you can avoid giving things away.

The lack of conversation during a game was something i failed to mention, despite being something I, myself do, as well as being polite. I rarely tend to say much more than 'your turn', 'that on/firing at that' 'ok' and 'which combat first then?'

this also brings me to another point, putting your opponent on the spot. if they are distracted by making decisions, even simple ones (ie, which conbat should they fight first? what coloured dice to represent the steeds?), can distract or even addle them, taking their mind away from the game.


I must say, I am indeed chuffed that a similar theory has been brought up before, and that it may have some relevence.:D

any input is still welcome, and after enough, I may well have to find myself some guineapigs to test this for me, preferably new gamers who show some potention tactically.

thanks, NB.

Jampire
21-08-2007, 22:30
Interesting idea. I've implemented this several times during a few tournies but never intentionally.
When I play in a tournament I'm VERY competetive and I tend to look very intense. I don't speak much and I usually have my arms crossed with one hand on my chin.
One player at my local GW store who is not at all competetive told me after a game that he thought I was pissed off or something.
He laughed when I told him that's just how I play.
Unfortunately I only get to game regularly with one other player and we both share the same intensity. When My girlfriend watches us she swears we look like we're settling an old grudge.
I think you're correct about this being an advantage as I usually place top 3 in the tournies I've played since I got back into the hobby (3 tournaments... though, sadly, only 3 good players in total of said tournaments...)
Next time my buddy and I play in a tourney setting I'll be sure to tell him of your theory (which I think is quite sound BTW) and we'll implement this into our games (and hope we don't play each other, which ususally ends up in a draw).
Nice topic.

Makaber
21-08-2007, 22:39
And I say: What-*******'-ever. If you want to match wits, go play chess. I play Warhammer, a game of toy soldiers and dice rolling. Sure, I prefer to win, and when I set out to play, that is my intension. However, I don't play to win to the degree that I forget that it's a fun past-time and turn into a game-playing robot.

Now, I'm not saying I'm playing it "right" and you're playing it "wrong", I'm just saying I think you chose the completely wrong game for your mindset. And that I don't take winning so seriously I'm willing to dehumanize myself and come off as a total jerk in order to do so.

He Who Is Him
21-08-2007, 22:43
One of the big draw backs to "Poker Face" is that it tends to slow down the game. Yeah, your enemies might re-think some tactics because of some little emotional sign you gave them, but these changes rarely if ever actually affect the outcome of the game. They tend to make the same tactical choice, it just takes them an extra 3 min because they're wondering "Wait, why did he smile when goblin fanatic took out 3 of his chosen knights?" It also makes the game more work than fun. It's like a interviewing for a job you're not qualified for. Also, it starts to put value onto the actions and emotions of your opponent. If your opponent doesn't make a big deal when you shatter one of his better units, you might start thinking the unit was a decoy or something, when he might just really be staring at the busty blond in the corner (she's not looking back, I don't care how big your 'Orc War Boss' is). WHFB is a game, and you would need some pretty lofty stakes to justify the need to use a poker face (I mean a little more than your status as 'Best General in the Tri-State area') and once you've gone that far, it's not really a game anymore and maybe you should just save the money you spent buying your army and just buy a deck of cards and play real poker.

theunwantedbeing
22-08-2007, 00:04
A poker face that slows the game down isnt really the type of thing I think nurgle_boy was talking about.
I think it was more a way of misleading your opponent into making the wrong tactical decisions,which would be the psychological aspect of it.

ie. sitting to one side of the table where most of your troops are,doesnt even have to be on one side,it can be that you lean slightly to one particular side.

That sort of thing,like being over protective of a particular unit of no real importance,and your opponent switching priorites over to killing that unit,rather than something else.

So long as your not overbearing and arent slowing the game down its not a detriment to the battle and doesnt stop it being fun for both people.

Chaplain Mortez
22-08-2007, 00:43
Personally, I do find such opponents who are silent and rack on my nerves to make for fun games. It's good every once in a while to play against someone who can give me the "jitters." I think that a pokerface is definitely a viable technique--some people just get into the game and want to concentrate. It doesn't make them mean or unfun, just serious. And serious is okay, in my opinion.

I tend to go the opposite route of the pokerface. I am that guy who brags about how great some unit is. How it's going to eat you alive with massed dice rolls. But the intention is to give away a false game plan. Tell your opponent how cool you think shadow warriors are. Explain the fluff. Tell them that they are a bargain for the points. Then throw them out there (with the intention to flee) after you say how they could munch all day on their Khorne dogs. Why? Because they'll probably escape and my opponent may have forgotten about those two units of silverhelms sitting there just waiting to overrun....

Definitely keep your cards (errr...ideas) where your opponent can't see them. I just take up the philosophy that it's better to be underestimated than overestimated. Your opponent may not realize this about you and make similar mistakes in your next game. :D

MarcoPollo
22-08-2007, 02:34
I think a clear understanding the rules, and well thought out list/game plan is better than any type of Psych-strategy you can muster. Also, the more experience you can gain the more predictable your opponents can become.

There is one thing to know what your opponent is going to do. But, being able to stop it is a completely different story. I generally find that psych-strategists provide a competitive game and often entertaining. Just as long as they can win graciously and loose with poise they are fine. But, if they start to get childish about the progress of the game, then I would tend to avoid their games as much as possible.

pcgamer72
22-08-2007, 04:48
I am highly competitive when it comes to tournaments, but I don't employ such a harsh pokerface. Since I am in a tournament to win, I know that getting those Sportsmanship and Favorite Opponent points can sometimes tip the scales in your favor.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't get many of those by only speaking to say "Your turn," especially not the latter.

- Human
22-08-2007, 05:30
Psych major here. As far as body language goes, eyes tend to be the one thing that is hardest to control, which is why some cultures emphasize eye contact for honesty. Also why some poker players wear shades.

I play for fun, so don't use this to my advantage unless it'll end up being funny for the opponent. If you really want that edge, perhaps wear sunglasses... But everyone will think youre a douche. ;)

Jampire
22-08-2007, 05:46
I don't think anyone was making the claim of being a 'dehumanised robot'. What the discussion is about is a possible type of strategy to employ, and wether or not said strategy is even viable.
Also, are there not people in every game who play for fun, but are still competetive? I play Warhammer for fun first, but also to win. Why can't these both coinside with each other?
Maybe I'm reading your post in the wrong light, but I found it to come across as saying our way of playing is 'wrong', even though you said that's not what you meant...
Personally I think Warhammer is the perfect mindset for someone like me. I get to be much more imaginative than by playing a sport or video game, and I use such imaginative strategies to win while still having fun. Never once has an opponent said I came across as a jerk, nor have I ever thought an equally intense opponent was a jerk. I don't take winning that seriously, especially in a make-believe fantasy wargame, but regardless I like to win.
But then again, everyone has their own opinion I suppose; it's just that this was originally intended to be an actual discussion about a possible psychological strategy.

Alathir
22-08-2007, 06:50
I really don't take a game of warhammer seriously enough to employ such carefully planned and monitored psychological tactics. I just set the models up, have a laugh as my trebuchet misfires for the third time, curse as my best unit gets beaten to nothing and cheer as my lord smacks the other lord into the ground.

Hell, I'll usually tell people what my units have if they ask, it's just a game after all.

DarkLord Of Naggaroth
22-08-2007, 10:20
hmmm
wanting to win and fun aren't mutually exclusive.
I love to play poker and I try all sorts of phsychological tactics, and I enjoy doing so. Though dont believe warhammer can host these tactics as effectively, and nor do I think it very necessary.
I might try it in my match today, but I wont if it does slow the game down or make it un-fun for my oponent. Afterall, no talking can make a game quite boring. By all means smile when you feel like crying, and cry when you feel like dancing. That's pretty easy to do and doesn't compromise anything.
Just dont go too far.

N1AK
22-08-2007, 12:47
It'd be hard to know whether this is effective or not, in a sense I suppose it probably is, as will be any plan that might confuse/distract you opponent.

Personally I talk during a match, even about the match and I'll even tell the opponent things about my army. The line I walk is not giving away the important bits, if you've just smashed through my IronBreakers unit I'll generally act unfazed, if my Pistoliers are setting up for a nasty rear charge, I won't smile manically, move them straight away and point them straight at the target, I'll move them with no fanfare mid-turn and position them looking as least like they intend to do the charge as possible, generally trying to find something they can shoot to make it look like that's what I'm planning.

Antium
22-08-2007, 17:17
I've said it for years, the game is highly psychological. Any unit can be beaten, everyone is susceptible to poor rolls, but if you act calmly or like you always have the upper hand it unnerves your opponent

sigur
22-08-2007, 17:30
And I say: What-*******'-ever. If you want to match wits, go play chess. I play Warhammer, a game of toy soldiers and dice rolling. Sure, I prefer to win, and when I set out to play, that is my intension. However, I don't play to win to the degree that I forget that it's a fun past-time and turn into a game-playing robot.

Now, I'm not saying I'm playing it "right" and you're playing it "wrong", I'm just saying I think you chose the completely wrong game for your mindset. And that I don't take winning so seriously I'm willing to dehumanize myself and come off as a total jerk in order to do so.

Sorry for quoting a whole posting but it perfectly describes what I feel like on this topic. The first thing that came to my mind when I read your pondering about this whole "poker face" thing is that it surely makes you seem like a jerk. No offense but when playing a game, people talk and/or communicate in many different ways. This is what makes people enjoy a game. A game itself is joyful communication. Trying to hide all that or never saying "one word too much" or stuff like that will make you look like an arrogant git or someone who's trying hard to look like one.

Punk_in_Drublic
22-08-2007, 17:50
I'm with Sigurd and makaber here. If I cannot have an enjoyable time with the guy I'm playing, I really don't care much for the experience. It's not that I do not enjoy winning, but I also like to chat and have a good time while doing it.

Later,

-Punk

sephiroth87
22-08-2007, 17:55
Depends on how you look at it. I'm considered one of the nicest guys at our local store, but how I behave at a tournament and how I behave in friendly games is completely different.

If I'm in a friendly game, I constantly jabber at my opponent, cheer on his units when they destroy mine, and ask tons of questions about their armies because I honestly want to know how everything works. I also take stupid gambles and units other people think are terrible because I want to know every situation and everything about this game for myself, not just what other people have told me. I also lose games this way, but if I'm playing strictly to win, I have advantages over my opponent and I know how to exploit my opponent and his army's loopholes.

I've also found out that being a nice guy out of the game gets you a lot of leverage in-game. The only time that super-competitive mindset gets someone in trouble is when they've already been difficult to deal with. If a super competitive person taunts their opponents or acts arrogant, people slam the guy. But if he's nice to people and polite to his opponents even if he's routing them, the guy can generally get away with murder.

And as far as what type of game it is, I don't think it's particularly different from other games I've played. I knew chess players that got even more intense about this stuff, and it's a game of carved wooden sticks moving around a checkerboard. I also knew basketball players that would step on other players feet in the paint and football/rugby players who would grab another guy's testicles in a dogpile and twist. I like to think that my tactics are a little tamer than what I've seen in other games. If warhammer is a game of little plastic army men, soccer/football is a game of little balls kicked into big nets. Simplified, any game sounds stupid. When actually played and played well, it's a lot deeper.

Xavier
22-08-2007, 18:59
Depends on how you look at it. I'm considered one of the nicest guys at our local store, but how I behave at a tournament and how I behave in friendly games is completely different.

If I'm in a friendly game, I constantly jabber at my opponent, cheer on his units when they destroy mine, and ask tons of questions about their armies because I honestly want to know how everything works. I also take stupid gambles and units other people think are terrible because I want to know every situation and everything about this game for myself, not just what other people have told me. I also lose games this way, but if I'm playing strictly to win, I have advantages over my opponent and I know how to exploit my opponent and his army's loopholes.

I've also found out that being a nice guy out of the game gets you a lot of leverage in-game. The only time that super-competitive mindset gets someone in trouble is when they've already been difficult to deal with. If a super competitive person taunts their opponents or acts arrogant, people slam the guy. But if he's nice to people and polite to his opponents even if he's routing them, the guy can generally get away with murder.

And as far as what type of game it is, I don't think it's particularly different from other games I've played. I knew chess players that got even more intense about this stuff, and it's a game of carved wooden sticks moving around a checkerboard. I also knew basketball players that would step on other players feet in the paint and football/rugby players who would grab another guy's testicles in a dogpile and twist. I like to think that my tactics are a little tamer than what I've seen in other games. If warhammer is a game of little plastic army men, soccer/football is a game of little balls kicked into big nets. Simplified, any game sounds stupid. When actually played and played well, it's a lot deeper.

That sounds familiar :p

In a tournament you are properly playing to win and so should feel free to do anything, (within reason...) that would increase this chance, though whether it actually works is slightly debatable, some would see right through it.

In a friendly game however, there is no need for it, you are just playing for fun.

nurgle_boy
22-08-2007, 21:03
Sorry, I thought that i should clear this up. I dont mean, or am trying to imply that at any point one should swich their gaming demeanour permanently for this, purely another conpetetive technique to use, when gaming competetivly.
When I play friendly games i tend to talk more, and just be more lively, and i tend not to keep a straight face. Only when I play competetively, or I intend to win a game do i play as such. Nor do I want to have the gaming world as emotionless robots!
I merely wished to investigate the workings of this, and see if it hd an impact, or if it is already used.

anyway, I thought I'd best clear that up before more discussion carries on!

Thanks, NB

Jampire
22-08-2007, 22:59
To elaborate more from my earlier post...
My friend and I share the same intensity when we play. We've known each other for about 12 years now so naturally we joke during a game, usually in between turns. But during our turns, it's all down to business.
Just about every game we play, we surprise each other with tactical decisions and new strategies due to the fact that we're both typicaly silent and, as you suggested, play with 'poker faces'.
Now this leads us to both underestimate each others units from time to time and make subtle, yet effective blunders and maneuvers.
On the other hand, lots of players at the local GW store don't know when to shutup about their army.
A few instances have even occured when my opponent has told his friend what items he had in a unit because he thought I was paying attention ONLY to the battlefield (due to my blank intense look at... the battlefield, duh). Naturally I heard him and I told him I now knew what he had in said unit... So I knew how to properly engage his uber-unit from hell.
I think a poker face in this game can definately give you an advantage, although in several different and more than likely subtle ways.
All while not being a de-humanised robot jerk, fancy that! :rolleyes:

Holy Crap! Manticores!
23-08-2007, 14:55
In my case, as a Druchii player, I can just claim I'm "being in character" :rolleyes:

It really is a two-way street. If the person across the table is cracking jokes, I'm more than happy to get into that. As long as they're not whining about cheesiness (another advantage of being Druchii, this doesn't happen often) or getting in extended rules disputes, I find the game itself fun for the mental stimulation for tactics, but just the funny things that happen when a plan makes first contact. If I can build on something funny that happens (the sunsequent compulsary moves phase after sacrificing my *0-1* harpies to release 6 Fanatics comes to mind), and the person across the table cracks up, that makes for a memorable game.