04 October 2011

Psychological Warfare

Do you have 'that guy' at your local leagues that exhudes an air of confidence so strong that you have a hard time thinking you can beat that person?  Do you get so overwhelmed by certain models on the table that everytime you see them you will overcommit on it or avoid it too much.  These are just two examples of game 'Psychology'.   There are many forms of psychology deployed by players of our game, some of it is calculated, some it is organic, but the end result is the same.  That end result is, that their opponents start the game playing differently than they want to or should giving the player with the best psycology an advantage that otherwise doesn't exist.  This advantage is not built into the rules, yet it is employed by nearly every player that plays the game.  So how do you make sure you aren't being affected negatively by your opponents psychological warfare?

Wikipedia defines it as such;
Psychological warfare (PSYWAR), or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations (PSYOP), have been known by many other names or terms, including Psy Ops, Political Warfare, “Hearts and Minds,” and Propaganda.[1] Various techniques are used, by any set of groups, and aimed to influence a target audience's value systems, belief systems, emotions, motives, reasoning, or behavior. It is used to induce confessions or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator's objectives, and are sometimes combined with black operations or false flag tactics. Target audiences can be governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.

and in his book Daniel Lerner divides psychological warfare operations into three categories:
White [Omissions + Emphasis]
Truthful and not strongly biased, where the source of information is acknowledged.
Grey [Omissions + Emphasis + Racial/Ethnic/Religious Bias]
Largely truthful, containing no information that can be proven wrong; the source is not identified.
Black [Commissions of falsification]
Inherently deceitful, information given in the product is attributed to a source that was not responsible for its creation.
Mr. Lerner points out that grey and black operations ultimately have a heavy cost, in that the target population sooner or later recognizes them as propaganda and discredits the source. He writes, "This is one of the few dogmas advanced by Sykewarriors that is likely to endure as an axiom of propaganda: Credibility is a condition of persuasion. Before you can make a man do as you say, you must make him believe what you say."

Okay enough of this and how does it apply to your gaming habits?

There are a ways to effectively deal with they pyschology employed by your opponents.
1) You can decide that their psycology makes playing the game with them no longer worth the cost and find other opponents. (this often happens to the player that cannot avoid beating their opponents at all costs regardless of rules, friendships, or negative effect it has on the game)
2) You can remove their ability to affect you with any pshycological warfare by deciding you are just there to have fun and could care less about inherent intricies of their strategy. Your just there to have fun right?
3) You can employ your own good strategy and stick to it, regardless of how good or bad your opponents thinks he is.  Take the games you lose as learning experiences AND actually learn from them.  Analyze how your opponent plays his army to learn what he does and find a way to overcome it.

As a Press Ganger it often falls to me to play games with less experienced players, and I must admit that sometimes I use my experience in conjunction with their lack to exude an air of comfidence that might instill in them a perceived knowledge that my game is better than theirs.  More often that not however, my goal is to teach them the game and build their own confidence in the army they choose to play.  This is accomplished by just having fun as well as giving them the opportunities they need to succeed.  This ignores my own psycology and lets them build their own.

Invariably however, I find myself leaning on my third point.  Not being a great strategist, and being more statistically oriented.  It quickly becomes clear to me when each player in my local leagues gets better at the strategy than I am.  Despite this defeciecy however, my Trolls continually win more often than they should.  This occours largely to two small forms of my own Psycological warfare that I employ.

1) Each person at my shop has a perferred playstyle, some hide it better than other, and most of them strategize their way past this particular defeciency but it is still something I pay attention to.  I can't tell you what models each person that plays in my shop will bring but I can tell 'How' they typcially employ their forces.  Some play quick and fast going for the most effecient caster kill.  Some will almost always choose a Slam or a Throw.  Some tend towards infantry or certain solos.  It is my job to learn their idiosycrices and exploit them.  Part of my own Psycological warfare is that I let them know what they're doing even though they think I shouldn't.

2) The other form of Pyscological warfare that is often employed in conjunction is my Kriels going to battle is an air of confidence.  Even if I am nearly 100% certain my opponent is going to beat me. Not once during the game will he EVER know how close he is to winning from anything I say or do.  As far as my opponents are concerned, I must know something they don't that will help me win come my turn.  More often than not this lends to my opponents being more conservative than they should be when taking me down allowing me another turn to pull something out of my hat.

One of the players at our shop has gotten more than one win out of me by employing some of his own psycological warfare.  One game, a long long time ago, his swamp gobbers killed six of my Fen Blades in a single game.  Since then he almost always brings the gaseous little buggers when we play and then taunts me mercifully about what they can accomplish.  As a result I will overcommit to kill the little suckers, thus leaving myself exposed and at his mercy.

I would encourage you all to use a 'little' bit of psycological warfare in your games.  Banter a little. Bring models that instill fear or force your opponent to play differently.  Most of all have fun, and avoid the wrong kinds of warfare that run your opponents away for good leaving you with no games to play.  Perhaps the biggest point I wish to make here is, DON'T LET THEM INTO YOUR HEAD.  Take your game to the table and force your opponent to play his game there as well, if that is your psycology then theirs won't even come to fruition.

Happy Gaming, and if your ever in my neck of the woods remember, I know how you play and I know how to conquer you, That or I'll die trying...

No comments:

Post a Comment