The 11th Company 40K Podcast

Welcome to the 11th Company BLOG. The 11th Company is a Warhammer 40K podcast dedicated to players, strategies, and tactics.

You can download our episodes at the website, from ITunes, several podcast sites, or connect directly to the RSS Feed. We try to release a new Episode every Monday Night. Check it out!




Podcast Archive:

Search This Blog

Monday, August 2, 2010

Exaggerated or Optimistic Thinking

On Episode 28, Pat and I talked about exaggerated and optimistic thinking as a potential peril to avoid while trying to improve your game. Here's how that works:

"I have 100 guardsmen who can just rapid fire their lasguns if the enemy gets to close. Think about it! That's 200 lasgun shots. Nothing is going to stand up to that!"

Hmmm..... let's do a little mathhammer:

(Guardsmen roll to hit = 50% chance) * (Lasgun Roll to Wound a Marine = 33% chance) * (Marine Fails a Save = 33% chance) = 5.5% chance to kill a Marine with a single Lasgun. Just using dirty statistics, what does this tell me?

200 dice are rolled. 1/2 of those dice will MISS... leaving only 100 dice. Of those 100, only 1/3 of those will WOUND... leaving only 33 dice. Of those, only 1/3 of those will FAIL AN ARMOR SAVE... leaving only 11ish dice. There you have it. 200 Lasgun shots appromixates to 11 dead marines.

So, nothing will stand up to it? What about 2, 10 man squads of marines? What happens if a 10 man squad of Blood Angels with a Sanguinary priest deep strikes right in front of you (FnP negates half the failed saves, killing only 5-6 of the assault marines)?

It's easy to see where hyperbole, exaggeration, or just plain old optimistic thinking can get you into a lot of trouble! Do just a "little" research on some popular BLOGs, forums, or web sites and you will quickly find statements like:

- This army does well against all armies.
- If I face ______, all I have to do is ______, and then, ______ occurs in my favor.
- This army is packing _____ Strength _____ shots. I can definitely kill ______ by Turn ____.
- Everything in 5th edition gets a cover save.
- Melta guns are required.
- Only mechanized forces work in 5th ed.

The list goes on and on.

Statements like these are what I call "blind assertions" or just "assertions". The statement being made assumes facts not in evidence. Using the example above, "nothing can stand up to 200 lasgun shots" is just false, period. It might seem like it's not. After all, that is a bucket load of dice to toss at something. However, the statistics show us another story entirely.

The mark of a veteran player is to be able to incorporate probability into their game play without necessarily doing the calculations. A veteran player know what actually works and what actually doesn't because of game player experience. A veteran player has experienced the game, in detail, and knows when something "actually" works, doesn't, and so on. A veteran player doesn't exist at the level of "theoryhammer", because theoryhammer relies on assertions to prove points. A veteran player substitutes experience for assertions.

In any case, it's not true if you can't prove it. You can easily theoryhammer your way into a hole that you can't escape from if you aren't careful. Theoryhammering creates sandboxes. Sandboxes are basically "meta games" where assertions have created an entire "universe" where some things hold true which don't necessarily reflect reality. Here are some examples you will find commonly across the web:

- Your list isn't good unless it has mech elements in it.
- Your list isn't good if it is assaulty.
- Mobility is required to win games.
- ______ army sucks and can't compete.

Even I will tell you that in my sandbox, Necrons can't compete. However, in other sandboxes, they do just fine. So what gives? Sandboxes are dangerous to growing as a player! Anytime you step into a sandbox, either your own or one that someone else created (on a BLOG, a website, a forum, your local gaming club, etc), you are applying blind assertions to create a false universe. Granted, some sandboxes are better than others, but that's usually because there are less assertions or some assertions in the sandbox are actually shown to be true. Some sandboxes are so bad; nothing useful can be found in them.

They are dangerous because they trap you within a realm in which you can no longer expand your thinking "outside of the box". In irony, many statements are geared towards "thinking outside of the box" simply by offering a new way to think; the irony being that now you are just "thinking inside that box" instead of "outside of a box" at all.

The best way to correct your assertions? Attend some big tournament. You'll see how much of what you hold to be true actually is true... or not as the case may be.

In any case. I wish I could change the world. Since I can't, all I can offer are some ways to protect yourself against making assertions as well as believing the assertions of others. Ask yourself the following:

1) Was a "statement of fact" made that was not proven?
2) Do plain old statistics actually back up what is being said?
3) Is hyperbole being used?
4) Are assumptions being obviously made which aren't stated? (Assuming your 200 lasguns can even rapid fire because they are in range, has line of sight, troops aren't inside rhinos,... etc.)
5) Are assumptions being made about the list the opponent is running or the way the opponent is playing that list and not being stated? (All Tau players run Crisis suits....)

Essentially, watch out for saying or reading statements which you can't prove to be true and using those as a basis for decision making.

It's not that you shouldn't make or accept some assertions. It's that you should be careful about doing so. Some assertions are useful. Some are not.


  1. I can't imagine what you're talking about...



  2. Sadly, you can't convince blindness that it is blind, insanity that it is insane, or exaggerated thinking that it is exaggerated. :)


Due to spam, all comments are moderated.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.