TaKtiX: Warlord CCG guest column

Guest and occasional columnists for the Warlord CCG

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Human Element

Much good stuff that has been written, on this site, on the Temple, and in other places, about the tactical, strategic and mathematical considerations that one must take into account when playing Warlord.

But there is another dimension to the game, and it's one that's a bit trickier to talk about in concrete terms: your opponent is a human being.

Okay, stating the obvious, right? But the fact that you are playing against a human changes the way that you should think about strategy and tactics in important ways.

Know, for example, that your opponent is afraid of you. Seriously. You're an unknown. You're sitting across the table from them in a competitive environment, which quite likely means that you have a deck that has a fair chance at beating them. This means that they will play cautiously. They'll second guess themselves. And you can help this process along by playing confidently and withholding information about the cards in your hand as long as possible. If you didn't draw movement in your opening hand in your Krun deck, don't sigh and say "oh no, now I'm screwed." Play as much of the turn as you can without revealing the fact that you can't move. Keep Krun ready. Attack aggresively with your other characters. When you're close to running out of juice, try to bluff your opponent into passing and ending the turn prematurely -- that movement you need may be waiting for you in the next hand.

Watch for your opponent to make mistakes. They're human, remember, and aren't going to play perfectly. Keep an eye out for baited traps, but try to capitalize on mistakes when you see them -- the game is partially about building a better deck, and partially about playing a better game. Allow room for opponent-side errors in your strategic and tactical decisions. This can be as simple as playing your minor threats first, hoping your opponent will waste an Exhaustion or Outmatched on them before your throw down your big guns, and as subtle as knowing when to remind your opponent about their options. When playing against a stressed out Devernian with Halo of Secrets in play, I take special care to pause and ask if they have any reacts whenever I play an action that targets one of their characters; I want to give them as many chances to use the Halo on the wrong action as possible.

Don't step over ethical lines, of course. I had a friend in elementary school chess club who used to hum off key during every match that he played, just to throw his opponents off. Don't be like him. You don't want to be annoying. And you need to remember that Warlord is just a game. Being courteous and sportsmanlike goes a long way towards forging out-of-game friendships, which can be much more rewarding than victory.

But there's nothing wrong with playing confidently, bluffing well, and always having a trick or two up your sleeve.

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