It has been an awesome week – a lot of UKISS stuff going on behind the scenes and the schedule is just about ready (more on the UKISS this week!). Between that and work I haven’t got many games in however this week I have booked a half day to smash games out ahead of B and O, and also B and O at the weekend. So with some quality game time coming downline I got thinking about focused practice. My approach to learning any new skill/ability/habit is to break it down into core components and focus on one til it becomes muscle memory (I don’t always achieve this btw and that could be the subject of another post – why we don’t do the things that are good for us)
The idea of rapid skill acquisition and focused practice is nothing new. It’s been doing the rounds for many years in business/sporting/personal development circles. There are 2 books that sum up the topic pretty well if you are interested:
The 4 Hour Chef by Tim Ferris (this is on my shelf of favourite books) https://fourhourchef.com
The first 20 hours by Josh Kaufman https://first20hours.com
One of the themes of rapid skill acquisition is breaking the skill down into key components and focusing practice around them. Consider 2 different approaches to playing a practice game:
- You take a list, play a game and think about it afterwards
- You take a list, decide what you want to focus on during the game, prep before the game on what you need to/want to think about, play the game with a focus on that aspect of your game, and think about it afterwards
2 is more work however I thoroughly believe you will get more out of your practice. One of the key differences is how you are learning – active vs passive learning. Being actively engaged in an aspect of the game will make you focus on it more, and as you are primed to look for that skill/scenario/event etc you will notice more about the impact on the game.
A secondary benefit is that you will think about the game, or at least notice you are not. At this point everyone tells me they do think during games – probably, possibly, kind of? How many times have you had the clock flipped to you and you start thinking about what to do – or how many times do you start your turn and just start thinking about the things you could do as opposed what you should do? I believe a lot of players are passive during their games – they only really engage on their turn and even then it is up to a point. Even after the game, I’ve seen players spend more time talking about how the dice could have gone better and it would have been fine if “that one boosted 8” would have gone off, or talk about a few things then say “I’m pretty happy with how I played that” – really? Unless you are winning everything there is always more you can learn from a game. I have done all of the above myself and I have seen the behaviours in almost all games I have ever played. I am very self critical and also very frustrated with my play, and even more with my lack of focus to do something about it.
The above is not an attack on any players and is not aimed at anyone. I write it as I find being open with what I want to work on helps me be accountable, and also as a message of hope – if you are frustrated with your game – fear not! There is massive scope to improve it that is well within your control.
I want to add to my practice games a focus for improvement that I set, plan and prep before the game. So what to focus on?
And here is the joy and despair of warmachine – it is such a broad and deep game it is difficult to condense to a few things that you practice and become world champ – this is also why it is a tough game to be good at and hard for new players to get into. It is also a holistic game with a lot of moving parts so could be tricky to effectively isolate distinct skills in practice.
Initially I really struggled with thinking on how to approach focused practice in warmachine – another “know how much you don’t know” moment.
I’m doing a write up on skills that I want to practice but, as ever with all things WMH, remembered we have an awesome community. So what do you guys think? What are distinct skills that you could practice and how would you do it at the table?
Part 2 coming soon!