Emotional Maturity and the Tournament

Today – technically it’s ‘yesterday’ but I haven’t been to sleep properly yet so it still feels like ‘today’ – I went to a charity Warmahordes tournament run by the Dice and Decks lads for the Air Ambulance.  A shade over £1000 was raised, £350-odd of which came from the charity auction at which I was auctioneer.  I played a game I enjoy with some nice people.  I have, on balance, had a cracking day – so why have I spent significant proportions of it feeling like crap?

This is a Problem!  Problems need Solving!

A Helpful Flow Chart

Problem Solving Step One: Identify The Problem!

  • I lost three games out of four due to increasingly less intelligent play over the course of the event.
  • I did not react to this increasingly poor performance with the grace and good humour that I would like.

Problem Solving Step Two: Diagnose The Causes!

  • Fatigue.  I am a morning person.  I seldom play a game for more than three hours.  I seldom play more than two games in succession, maybe three very small ones.  The breaks between games were not
  • Dehydration.  Apparently I was exhibiting symptoms of mild heatstroke toward the end of the day.  All I know is I had a slight headache and felt like I could just pass out at any second.  Didn’t feel particularly warm in the venue, but apparently I was sweating buckets all day.
  • Diet.  I don’t usually drink Coke and had two today on top of my breakfast coffee.  Given that I have a slow metabolism, this was particularly dumb – I’m sitting here at 2.15 AM, unable to sleep, brooding on the day and composing a blog entry.  Stupid overcaffeinating Von.
  • Half A Competitive Streak.  I don’t especially care about winning but I don’t like being tabled, or being sufficiently close that I don’t have options.  I enjoy cut-throat, close games, but I don’t deal well with continuous adrenaline (after two nervous breakdowns it’s probably best that I don’t get too excited about things).

Problem Solving Step Three: Prescribe A Solution!

  • Adjust the Party Bag that travels with me to events.  Add at least one two-litre bottle of water; maybe two.  Add a large bag of nuts and raisins.  There’s room in the bag and it means I have some things that are good for me.
  • Lay off the caffeine (and sugar?).  I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’m worried that I may be edging toward dependency again, so I think I might scale back (tea, not coffee, and stay off the Coke) at once and maybe spend August going cold turkey or near as damn it (green tea, not proper tea), since the work I’m doing this summer is of the ‘from home, in isolation’ sort.  Not going to try that until I’ve either been invited to interview for my PhD or been turned down, though.
  • Maybe… stop going altogether?  I have long suspected in my heart of hearts that I’m not really cut out for whole days of wargaming at any level, or at least that I enjoy organising them more than I do attending them.  Ringering is one thing as I might only have to play a couple of games, but attendance as a scoring player means fatigue is unavoidable and the streak is likely to be broken sooner or later.  I’m better at managing it than I was – the dice-throwing model-smashing tantrums of yore are now firmly of yore, and I can take one tabling with a shrug and a “that’s Warmachine for you, sometimes you lose before you’ve started” –  but I still don’t deal well with two on the trot, especially if I lost the game beforehand and then had someone wander up and “you should have done X” me.  Since that tends to be what happens to me at tournaments, I’m not feeling any more emotionally mature – the situations that bring out the worst in me still come up.  I like campaigns and leagues because they’re club events, the one-or-two-games-per-night kind of event that I’m comfortable with, and I can play competitively at those; just so long as I don’t have to do it all day.

I’ve paid up for Fun, Quick and Dirty II in September, so we’ll see whether a more sensible diet helps.  If I still manage to have a rubbish day, it might be time to admit defeat.

Still!  £350 for the Air Ambulance as a direct result of me shouting at people persuading them to buy things.  Can’t knock that, can you?  Game review – of the games that were worth reviewing – in the morning.  I’m going to try and sleep now.


UPDATE: The lads and lass at the House of Paincakes have dug out this classic post from The King Elessar which may have some relevance here.  I have a string of wins behind me going back over eighteen months, but they are perhaps somewhat ill-earned; you see, I spent a lot of time teaching people to play Warmahordes over that period, and consequently I was winning more games than is usual for me and perhaps acquiring a false sense of my own abilities.  I don’t mean that I suddenly thought I was Hawt Shite because I could club baby seals, or whatever the vocabulary of the day is – but there’s a subtle, semiconscious reinforcement of self-esteem that comes from winning a lot and which functions on a level that no amount of intellectualising can operate on or resist.  You win lots of games, and even if you know why you’re winning them and that they were easier than usual, you’ve still won.  It’s been a while since I had a fair fight, or was plain outclassed; showing up at the Dudley Darklords has been a bit of a shock to the system, as have my tours on the tournament circuit, because they are different to the games I normally play – not just with the usual differences between competitive and casual but because the opponents I usually played were, mainly, inexperienced.  There’s another layer of difference between my pre-tournament experience and my actual tournament play that I hadn’t entirely accounted for, that’s what I’m getting at.

Author: Jon

Sententious, mercurial, and British as a bilious lord. Recovering Goth, lifelong spod. Former teacher and amateur machine politician, now freelance writer and early-career researcher.

12 thoughts on “Emotional Maturity and the Tournament”

  1. Thank you so much for your efforts with the auction, I don’t think any of us have the charisma or showmanship to pull it off with the style and entertainment level you did.

    As for the other problem I hope you can find a solution that allows you to enjoy a full day’s gaming, I would think a better diet may help (not that I can talk but apparently I function well on the levels of caffiene that would keep the average person awake for a week) and maybe finding a way to relax yourself between games. I’m sure I read about a top level Magic player who takes himself to a quiet place between rounds and does some relaxation/meditation/breathing exercises to clear his mind. Will see if I can find the article and send you a link.

    I sincerely hope you can conquer this as your passion and humour are great and events would be worse off without you there……

    1. You’re welcome! Honestly, I’d have turned up just to do that, and while I don’t think roundly abusing the participants strictly qualifies as charisma or showmanship, it seems to have worked!

      The dietary thing is probably the biggest issue; I rather enjoyed the Breast Cancer Brawl and that was a water-and-pine-nuts job throughout, which is what made me think of it. As far as meditation or the like go… without wishing to sound churlish, time between rounds is already at a pinch without finding time and space for another activity (although, if I wasn’t having to rush off and buy lunch…); there’s also the obligation/opportunity to socialise that’s involved in these events (folk’d never let me hear the end of it if I was brushing them off to faff about with coping strategies instead of sucking the stress up like I have a pair, surely?); and finally there’s my own piss-poor concentration which has interfered with most of my efforts in that direction before. That said, I haven’t tried tai chi yet and it might be that something more mobile suits my fidgety self. It’s not a bad suggestion but I worry about being able to fit it in to the business of an event.

      Flatterer. I’ll go all shy now. The cynical side of me believes, though, that passion and humour are actually obstacles to tabletop success – look at how Martyn shuts down, goes quiet and focuses while he’s playing – and that I ought, perhaps, to be working toward those qualities if I want to do well. That or accepting that I lack the proverbial Right Stuff and shouldn’t feel obliged to develop it… but then we run into the whole “should you be going to tournaments if you’re not interested in winning?” question.

  2. I think a bit of prep like the other response suggested is in order.

    A lot of folks joke about going to tournaments on 3 hours of sleep because they were painting the night before, so they’d have a fully-painted army. Then they power themselves on a mixture of Coke, candy, and a cocktail of rage/desperation. While comical to write, that’s not such a hot experience for you/those around you.

    I’d swear on water, and on healthier snacks. Fruit (IE: those single-serve applesauce things) and something like a granola bar would be a good call. I’m a fan of Fiber 1 bars if you can find them, as they’re reasonably healthy AND make you feel full.

    I’d also note that once you put money on the game, it changes your involvement. I view tournaments as a place to test your skill and lists. I care about winning, but I figure the price of admission is there to get me a different type of game. I wouldn’t totally lose the since of mirth when you game, because that’s what’ll keep you sane when you’re stuck rolling unde a 5, unless it’s a command check (then you get BOXCARS! WO-…waitaminute)

    That being said, good luck with the tourney scene. It’s doable; it’s just a bit of a culture-shift from the norm.

    1. See, I’ve never done the three-hours-of-sleep-because-I-was-painting thing, but I have done the powered-on-the-snacks-available-at-the-venue thing and that’s seldom a good idea.

      I’m not sure that particular brand exists in the UK, but I know the sort of thing you mean. I’m not keen on them; bit too cloying for my taste. A bag of apples would be a good idea though.

      On mirth: maybe what I secretly want is a sort of Zen-style “hmm, I rolled another five. That’s unusual.” reaction to things like that. That is, however, a long way away from my natural personality…

      On the tournament scene: it’s definitely a cultural shift – my question is whether it’s one I want to make. Do I play wargames to relieve psychological pressure? If so, why do I play them in a context that increases psychological pressure? That seems illogical.

  3. Last tournament I went to I snapped at one of my opponent’s friends who was hanging about the table arguing with me whenever I tried to claim cover, cheering when my guys were killed, etc. He deserved it, but I still felt bad. It’s embarrassing to lose your cool in such a trivial situation, I know.

    I think water’s a good idea. My brother used to live in London, and he told me that many of you Brits don’t think to drink lots water when it’s hot. Apparently you guys lose old people every time there’s a heatwave because you drink tea, coffee and alcohol no matter the weather.

    We often have 40 degree summers here and no-one dies :D When I go to a tournament in summer I take 2L of water with me, and so do most of the other players.

    That said, I don’t enjoy the pressure of three days of three two-hour games packed into each one either. I only do it once a year or so, it’s really exhausting.

    1. You may have a point about the British and warmth and water. In my defence, I don’t drink the alcomohols at tournaments after the last time, whatever the weather – it’s too unpredictable in its effects – but I’ll put my hand up to occasionally realising that it’s three p/m and I haven’t drunk anything but tea. This is fine if I’m at home in a quiet place where I can drink some water and have a lie down, but not so great if it’s the third round of an away day.

      Forty degree summers… forty degree summers… I’m dying just thinking about it. My blood is far too thick for such climates.

  4. I should add I don’t normally drink the whole two-litres – it’s just better to have it there in case, than to bring a pissy little 250ml bottle and have it run out by lunch time.

  5. Firstly I’m not suggesting a full on meditation session but a 2 minute or so drill that allows you to relax and refocus.

    “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”

    Hebbel (German Poet and Dramatist, 1813-1863)

    1. Okay, that seems more reasonable.

      He was, of course, a poet, not a Warmahordes player. I would respectfully suggest that accomplishment in these venues might require different qualities. Plus, I’m not suggesting for a moment that people like Martyn aren’t passionate – just that they don’t let their passion override their strategeric thinking-brain.

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