Dealing with Tilt

Bad dice ruining good play is like letting out a rancid fart right out of the shower. Even though you know you're clean, all you can smell is a disgusting odor assaulting your senses, so bad it blurs your vision.

Your opponent passes 5 Tough checks in a row, denying Sprint to your Stalker. Your CMD 10 unit fails their command check and breaks. You get double 1's on a critical attack. You miss eight attacks, each needing only a 6 to hit, on your first attacks of the game. I'm feeling aggravated just typing this out, remembering the frustration at bad dice. 

Dice are a fact of Warmachine. Like Las Vegas gamblers, we have accepted a game that thrives on chance and luck. We breathe percentages and mitigating chance while we plan out risk and rewards. But sometimes, dice happen, and a good plan turns rancid.

But instead of allowing yourself to get tilted (that is, get angry or "reeling", resulting in play below your skill level) lets talk about how to get your head back in the game and recover.

Adjust Your Plan

One of the biggest problems with tilt is that it encourages the a fallacy you'll often see in economics called the Sunk Cost Fallacy.  You look at a plan that isn't working well, decide that you just have to complete it since you've already spent so much that not completing that plan means losing too much. But the reality is that how much you've invested does not dictate what a plan is actually worth.

You'll come up with a plan, and your beast misses 2 boosted 8's in a row on critical attacks. You think, "well, I've invested this much into the plan, now I need to have him max out on Fury to make this work". Sometimes this can be true, but more often than not, I find that I need to step back after a pivotal part of a plan fails and reassess. Your beast's activation and Fury investment does not in any way make that plan more valuable. Pause, accept that your beast only has 2 Fury left, and think through what the best course of action is with your current situation.

Yes, sometimes this means accepting that your assassination run has failed when you were already not doing great in the attrition game. But I can't count how many times I've seen a game end and one of the biggest criticisms a player sets to himself is, "yeah, I should have just stopped that and focused on this instead".

Remember What You Can Control

It's easy to get tilted in Warmachine when you forget what you can control and don't accept what you can't. You can control your attitude. You can control your plan. You can control how clean your play is and how you use what you've got. You can, to an extent, control probability. But you cannot control the actual results of a dice roll.

The reason this is important is because it's too easy to write a game off as "just dice". One game I had in particular that illustrated this concept to me was in a Ravyn vs. Witch Coven game. After looking at the lists, I felt very confident and certain I could win. My opponent did not have the tools to attrition well enough, or I could remove those tools before he could take advantage of them. He spent the entire game going for very low odds assassinations with no other plan, and he killed Ravyn.

I'm not proud to admit that I was grumpy after that game. I had the better plan. I had a solid strategy. His plan was just to hope for dice on my caster, ignoring everything else in the game. At first, I wanted to write it off as "just dice", but when I thought about it more deeply, I noticed several things I could have done better. Camp more, position differently, use that spell instead of this one, all stuff that would have taken even the low odds assassination and turn them to almost 0.

Take a Break

Unless your opponent's most threatening win condition is running out your clock, feel free to walk away. Let the clock run for 5 minutes while you step away and clear your mind. The reason going on tilt is so bad is because it makes you a worse player. You ignore threats and follow bad plans. It ruins your game if you let it. But there's nothing wrong with letting your clock run for a few minutes while you take a breather so you can come back and play better.

Be Healthy

Look, I get it. If I was you and I was reading this, I'd just skip to the next section because I'm not in good shape and hate exercising and love food, and I hate being reminded that all of those things cause poor health. I don't like being told that I need to be healthier, particularly because I'm so bad at it.

But it's impossible to deny that physical health affects mental and emotional health in general, and improving your general health will give you better strength to play better. When I see League of Legends or Counter-Strike professional gamers, one of the biggest surprises to me is how fit many of they are. They aren't fat, Dorito munching, Monster guzzling slobs. Some of them are ripped. It's because they understand the connection to overall physical health and their capacity for quick thought and fine motor control.

Granted, there aren't any professional Warmachine players, and there are obviously differences, but the concept still applies. Increasing physical health improves mental health, which will improve you ability to play.

Develop Mental Fortitude

Everything comes back to this - are you mentally strong enough to push through your anger and frustration? Are you capable of reassessing your plan? Do you have the presence of mind to recognize when you're tilting, and are you capable of fixing it? It's something to actively work on building, not something that will come easily. But as you develop mental fortitude, you'll be able to let bad luck slide off you, pushing into becoming the most skilled player possible. You'll also be a much more pleasant opponent, which is a bigger deal than you may think.

And if none of this works, go take a yoga class.