He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
The five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, earth) are not always predominant; the four seasons make way for each other in turn. There are short days and long; the moon has its periods of waning and waxing.
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter VI: Weak Points and Strong,[33-34].
Like the winters in George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, the season of the Bearded Bastard lasted for years.
And we squabbled like feudal lords before the Bearded Bastard’s onslaughts.
Each Saturday we wargamers would meet, and the Bearded Bastard would defeat us.
This began before I arrived in that particular circle of wargamers, and probably still happens to this day now that I’m gone.
As I’ve said throughout this series, the Bearded Bastard rarely lost, and if he did, it was in a multiplayer game where an allied player would screw things up.
It was a frustrating time, especially in those early years where all I seemed to do was lose, and not just against the Bearded Bastard, but against other players.
I was newbie to both college and wargaming.
Getting beat every weekend hurt my confidence. I was in Wargaming Hell. I wanted to quit, but I’d invested so much time that it was hard to walk away.
In retrospect, if I could go back in time I’d give my younger self the following advice. And this advice goes out to all the newbies wargamer or any hobbyist currently frustrated with the hobby:
1. Learn how to deal with and accept adversity.
In the beginning, your vision will not match your skill and talent.
And at times, it seems like people will actively work against you (some will, some won’t). To give the Bearded Bastard credit, he never laughed or tease anybody who lost to him.
(Though his helpful advice after a game could still make you feel like an idiot.)
Change your tactics. Change your attitude. Change something. Maybe you need a break. Maybe your tactics aren’t sound. Maybe your opponent had figured out your tactics.
Change your opponents.
Heck, maybe you need to change out your unlucky dice.
Becoming an expert and sound tactician in wargaming doesn’t happen overnight.
If you want it bad enough, and you practice hard enough, your season will come.
I believe this something every wargamer down on their luck needs to hear from time-to-time.
Your season shall come.
And that’s it for The Art of Wargaming for 2016. We’ll pick up on Wednesday, January 4, with Make the Commitment, and continue with the series every Wednesday in 2017, with something special planned for March…
Thanks for reading!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!