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Monday, 13 October 2014

When to Surrender?

We have all been in situations where defeat seems inevitable and we simply start losing joy in the game. This is pretty normal and nobody loves losing, but its times like these when we must remember that there is a player on the other side and that it may be better to simply fight it out to the end. So I thought I would do a post on something that bugs me when I wargame. And that is the art of surrendering. 





I for one hate it when, during a game of any kind, the losing team quits. Soccer, Table Tennis, Civilization and other sports or video games all come under this important rule of Sportsmanship. Can you imagine during the Rugby World Cup if the losing team leaves in the last 10 minutes of the match? Of course not. Wargaming should not be any different. It should be fought to completion when possible. 

Wargames take a fair amount of effort to prepare and set up. My Imperial Guard can have upwards of 100 men for example, then you have the terrain, the list building and the list goes on. Once all this has finally been set up is when we get to the fun bit, the actual game. During the game, in most cases, one player will start winning. Sometimes it seems obvious at turn 2 and at other times its close until the end, but at the end of the day someone has to lose. If that person is you, dont throw away all the effort put into the game away to avoid suffering through that defeat. Doing this ensures that all opponents dont feel like it was a total waste of time and more importantly it lets the other player enjoy their victory. 

The narrative is vastly improved when you fight to the bitter end as well. You could have 5 Space marines left and they alone are left to face off 30 Tyranids, going down in glorious combat instead of fleeing like sheep. My Guard Leader could be slain and his army in tatters, so instead of fleeing a new soldier rallies his comrades for one final charge into the overwhelming forces only to be killed to the last. Maybe that last Bonzai charge as an act of desperation can turn the tide of battle and retain the honour and glory of the soldiers regardless of the outcome Those are the defeats worth remembering, and its always up to the player on the losing side to make those defeats remembrance worthy! But sometimes, its moments like these when victory is won. 



The other part to consider is there is always a chance at victory. A few games I have had this year it seemed I was winning by a landslide and I had to convince the other player to keep playing, in some of those games that player won! If he had packed it up it would have simply been a dull loss. Instead it turned into a game where the tables turned and what seemed like a miracle happened. These games are among the memorable ones that players have, but many forgo this opportunity. 

More important than all the other reasons is you always have to consider the opposing player. The other player has victory in his grasp and you simply stop him from taking the full glory. Its his moment, his men have fought hard and he has lead well. Let his master plan be complete. This is sometimes a part of sportsmanship that is missed or forgotten. 

In saying the above though, sometimes its perfectly reasonable to finish it up quickly and move on. I know sometimes time is of the essence and both parties may want to move on to the next game ASAP. But in general I think if you are on the losing side, its usually better to play it to the end to make sure the game ends well. I know I personally dislike it when people quit the game when they think that defeat is certain. Its a huge let down when the entire battle has lead up to the moment of one sides defeat, only for them to take it away from you. 

If you certainly want to retreat, you may as well do it properly and flee the battle field off your edge of the battle field. Make the winner try kill all they can before your men make it to safety. I perosnally would be happy with this as its still a properly ended battle. 

So what do you guys think? Fight to the end, or flee to fight another day? 





31 comments:

  1. From the view of a guy who has lost 11 games in a row (not recently) it can be very disheartening to once again see your army loose/ be crushed. it does nothing for your enjoyment of the hobby. Its very boring to loose game after game and so i can sympathize with a person who wants to concede because this game will just be another in a long list of lost games.

    I dont have anything against anyone who wishes to concede a game and i will do so myself if a game becomes boring/completely not fun.

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    1. If you are gonna lose may as well have some fun with it. Charge to the death, flee in game from the field, hold one spot until the end etc.

      Its a bit more fun than simply removing your models. Its also good sportsmanship for the other guy.

      But it doesnt hurt to ask to quit. But it also doesnt hurt to play 15 minutes longer when defeat is on the horizon.

      In my opinion anyway.

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    2. After 11 loses in a row there is nothing that can be done to make loosing fun. I am fine with loosing, i learn alot from the games i loose, but when you are on a loosing streak loosing another game become boring no matter how you loose

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    3. What about the winner though, why steal his victory from him? If you agree to a game you should try fight it to the end. After all they are putting their time forward as well.

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    4. Also "Never Surrender" is one of the most foolish absolute statements, and i have issues with absolute statements, especially foolish ones

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    5. If you are on a big loosing streak then every game you loose kills your desire to both use your army and play the game, yeah it may make your opponent feel better if you fight to the last turn and dont concede but so what? If you concede then you end the game before it kills your hobby and he wins a bit faster than he would have before

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    6. Its an attitude. If you have a no surrender attitude then you are more likely to make it through the tough parts. If all you take it for is a statement than you have missed the point of the saying. Its more about perseverance than anything else. In short it means never give up. Which is why its applicable to this post.

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    7. Then why start a game in the first place if losing is something you dont want to bare? After all the only way (as you know) to get that victory is to never give up and keep fighting forward. He doesnt win, you give up and he cant finish his win.

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  2. Great write up! Fight to the bitter end!

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  3. I quit many things, a game isn't one of them. That being said I'll take a win wherever I can because I lose so much.

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    1. Yea losing streaks suck for all involved. Even when you always win against someone it sucks too. But part of losing and winning streaks is about making it fun. Quitting is one way to ruin it (in my opinion.)

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  4. I enjoy my gaming, win or lose it doesn't matter.

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  5. I was against you until the last paragraph and now I am completely in agreeance with you. My favorite phase of a game is when everything is completely lost. While sometimes you decide to 'suicide it' and kill what you can, I love the fighting retreat. I actually think it doesn't happen enough in games of 40k. Sure, Space Marines or Nids might just fight on and die, but other armies should pull back if all is lost. It is far more realistic. I wish there was a mechanic where units that survive one game can be added to future games. The idea that you don't want to sacrifice all of your men in one lost cause battle when there is the whole war to fight.
    Nice thoughts Jayden.

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    1. Im glad you read it all, I guess the biggest issue for me is having the game "complete". If retreat is your style then a general retreat would be awesome. Its just the instant end that really kills it for me.

      Thanks for reading mate, I guess the start of the post is a bit absolute, but all in all, im not fussed how the game ends, as long as it ends properly.

      In a campaign we tried to run earlier in the year we had a retreat mechanic and only one army list. (Huge Army List). Once a unit was dead, it was forever lost. Had huge potential too. I might come back to that one day.

      Thanks Col. Ackland.

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    2. That is a brilliant idea. Maybe one day I might convince my crew to give something like that a go.
      And you are totally right. With the amount of effort that goes into setting up a game, having it actually end is really important.

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  6. when I know I am gonna loose, I let a little of my inner madness take to the field, sending my space marines in a full frontal assault of pure mayhem and carnage, howling and screaming to the bitter end "Long live the Emperor of Man!!!" though I sometimes, especially against players who build power armies designed to win fast and hard, or against the one guy with an entire custom chapter who brings to bare EVERYTHING, does tend to shoot my enjoyment out the window.

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    1. A true Space Marine attitude haha. Smartest warriors in the Imperium yet dont understand the importance of retreat! A glorious way to end for sure.

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  7. I have to agree with the see what happens attitude it reminds me of a game with my tyranids once where my opponent got turn 1 and killed all of my synapse that turn :( but that gave me an idea I said to my opponent as it was a forgone conclusion I wouldn't win why don't I say that I fail all my instinct tests and let my army decide what it does he agreed and to both of our surprises it was a draw I loved the narrative of the battle as it felt like the end of a hive fleet having one last pounce having my opponents chapter master die to a carnifex brood really seemed like a great narrative the sacrifice required to end a hive fleet

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    1. Thats a cool way to do it and also seems like the swarm mentality kicking into the Tyranids as they keep up the slaughter in the most brutal way possible. Also you got a draw from continuing which is far better than accepting a loss prematurely.

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  8. My first time teaching 40k at one of my group's "open houses", we fought an 8-player battle, each player with about 300 points. The newbie player with some Tau had been getting thrashed from turn one. By turn 6, he had an understrength squad of firewarriors and a hammerhead with no gunsleft. The his posittion was essentially hopeless: the objective, which would have pulled the game from a loss to a draw for his team was 8 inches above his surviving forces, on a bridge held by the Imperial Guard and supported by a tower on each end, his troops being the dry riverbed below.
    He asked the table as a whole what should he do? Just concede the last turn? We looked at it, talked for a bit, then assigned armor values to the bridge's towers and told the lad to ram the support pylon with his hammerhead. The hammerhead blew up, but it took the pylon with it. The guardsmen fell mostly to their death, the survivors failing their morale check and otherwise fleeing. When the rubble settled and the dice stilled, 3 Tau firewarriors stood atop the (fallen) objective. A draw.

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    1. Man thats awesome, it was great of the Guardsmen player to allow it as well. Im sure you guys changed how that Tau player will play his games forever too. Great experience mate.

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  9. In a kill team game I was down to my last catachan soldier. Against 8 spacewolfs. He flamed two of them to death killed one on the overwatch then rolled 4 sixes for his armor saves in cc and then killed one bare handed before being over ran a glorious death

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    1. I would have got 8 Space Wolf heads and made a new base for that guy with him standing on them haha. A glorious death indeed.

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  10. Fighting to the bitter end, one way or the other, is the best way to go! I like your idea of actually staging a fighting withdrawal, but in most games like 40k, it doesn't seem natural. There are scenarios where a fighting withdrawal is in fact the objective. I have myself been guilty of quitting a game early though, but that's when there's just not enough time. More often, I either win or loss, both with glory and truimph! I think my last outing with my AirCav, being slaughtered by Eldar, was a great example. When the game ended and I had one sergeant left, I felt like I won - my army wasn't wiped out!

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    1. Yea sometimes ending early cant be avoided, but its more for those players that just quit when its clear they cannot win, which is surprisingly common. Someone on the google plus thing mentioned changing objectives if you are gonna lose, like having at least one man survive, or taking down the enemy HQ with you etc, it means you at least get to accomplish something before you die.

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  11. Good post Jayden.
    Thoughtful and interesting.
    In essence I agree with what you say... particularly if you think of it in narrative terms as well.
    I am not sure its a sportsmanship question though? I think if the game has been played fairly and to the best of your ability and defeat is inevitable, then surrender seems a reasonable outcome. Your opponent wins either way. The only time it might be an issue is if there are somekind of victory point required as part of a greater tournament setting and the victor may gets more points for grinding you utterly into the dust, or not. Still that's not a pleasant outcome for the loser either.

    I can certainly see it from Rex's point of view... and have myself been on the wrong end of long losing streaks, and its gets harder and harder with each loss to keep smiling through it... anyone can take a loss, and when that's balanced by a win in the next game, then it's all part of the glory of gaming; win and lose, and the story that unfolds...but long losing streaks make you question why you are playing the game at all?

    I guess in friendly games, if its time to surrender honourably, then do so!
    But in a tournament setting you'll have grin and bear it!

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    1. Someone else mentioned that although you have been losing a lot, the guy beating you may have been in the same situation as well and be getting his first win in a long losing streak.

      Another person on the google+ thing said that when losing its fun to make a new goal or objective for yourself that, while not winning,is better than viewing it as waiting to die.

      If the result is all that matters to the players, then there is no reason to complete the game I guess, but even then, its a dice game, so surely it would be worth trying to lessen the loss etc?

      I personally think its good sportsmanship to let the other player finish his victory if possible. After all, winning can be one of the most fun bits, so why take it away from him? I have had some players remove units of soldiers because they assumed the unit dead before I fully rolled. It sucks, defeats a huge part of the game. Surrendering early to me, is a similar thing.

      Losing isnt fun, but neither is a player who surrenders whenever they think defeat is certain. Like in a video game when there is 10 minutes left of a 2 hour game and one side looks to be winning, so the enemy team all quit and while you know you have won, its not quite the same as fighting to the end. Especially after the hours put into it all.

      Of course, its not all black and white and sometimes its better to simply quit early. But in general I think it should be played right through to the end.

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    2. I can certainly see your point Jayden...

      Another point to consider... a great many games, especially GW type stuff will often foster these " to the last man standing" type defenses... which in reality, rarely happened if we examine many historical battles...

      If you look through the BP & HC books I loaned you, you will see a much harsher Morale/break ("surrender") level... typically being 50%... if a brigade or division drops to 50% it breaks, if the army then drops to 50% brigades/division left, it breaks... game over... there is no fighting to the last man...

      I think once you have played these kinds of games, you then look at other games with 'fresh eyes' which perhaps then colours your judgement of when a game is really over...

      In history, armies have been defeated, long before they reached 50% casualties... food for thought!?

      I concede we are playing a game with set goals or victory conditions, and not historical simulations... but there are certainly times, I feel, a game is over for all intents and purposes... and pushing it to the 'nth' degree is just making it painful for the loser...

      If my opponent chooses to quit and surrender, then I will accept this> If my generalship, force selection, dice luck on the day have proved the better on the day, and my opponents sees this and is happy to quit the field then so be it,... I don't see a need to prolong their agony! ;-)

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    3. Thats a really good point in terms of the game type. But thats an in game mechanic for breaking in most circumstances. (which GW games do badly). But if your men break under certain circumstances within the game, then why not fight until they break?

      I also put forward the suggestion in games like 40k, that at the very least retreat off the board to properly finish the battle as they dont have a proper moral mechanic in place.

      My main reason for finishing the game, last man or not, is to simply finish the game. Especially from a narrative view as you mentioned before. If you troops break and flee however the rules describe, then that means you have technically finished the game, rather than end it early.

      If my opponent wants to quit, I usually urge them to keep playing until the game ends, rather than leave early (and lost a few games as a result), but if they really want to quit there isnt much I can do about it but move on to the next game.

      At the end of the day there is no right or wrong, I just personally like my games to be finished. By turn limit, fleeing armies or total annihilation it doesnt bother me. But just packing up doesnt feel like a great way to end a wargame.

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