Basic Tip: The value of experience

Flanking, Stug-circling and strafe-aiming  increase with every new level
Flanking, Stug-circling and strafe-aiming increase with every new level

First off, my humble apologies for the unproductive last few days. It is our goal here at Rifles Ready! to post just about every day, or every other day, if possible. But it’s been a hairy week so far at my real office, where I’m writing about real things, like Medicare, to readers who have lots of money and pay me, bcause they’re rich doctors.

That said, here’s a really simple tip that will improve your gameplay an awful lot: experience matters. Yes sir, that’s why I’ve chosen the World of Warcraft experience bar above to highlight this little post. Experience is something you gain oodles of after almost every COH game, assuming you paid attention to why you won or lost, especially the latter. A loss is an opportunity to save the replay and see where you went wrong. Moreover, you run into enough Volksgrenadier + MG42 starts on Angoville or Langres, and you’ll know how to cope. You may need to lose to this once, twice or 10 times, but you’ll learn to deal with it and move on.

I’m 24 years old. Presumably that would give me a good six years of priceless life experience over an 18-year-old like Surprise, yet it’s his name that COH devotees lift in song during their morning prayers for faster reflexes and more COH victories. Surprise is a great player who started out as noobish as the next joker. He just learned quickly and allowed himself to gain experience from both winning and losing.

If you lose a game and feel shitty about it, particularly if you believe your opponent did something “cheap” or “spammed” or was just a plain old meanie and called you a noob for losing, you have two choices. You can go back and look at what you, YOU, can improve on (meaning you remove all the unfair shit, real or perceived), or you can bitch, moan, pound your keyboard and/or go masturbate.

Do I really have to tell you which choice will make you win more at COH in the future? Pick the wrong choice and your COH XP bar will sit still like a bump on a log. While I despise WoW, I find the comparison very apt. You can grind through as many games as you want and NEVER level up or even move your XP bar in COH. But if you choose to learn and analyze wins and losses, you’ll move that XP bar twice as fast as it normally moves — when you win or lose a game and never look back.

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4 Responses to Basic Tip: The value of experience

  1. colonelcommissar says:

    Point well made; indeed, it would seem that a number of people (at least, on the gr.org forums) are either too lazy or too caught up in the ‘moment of losing’ that they tend to avoid reviewing their match and instead simply post it and ask others, ‘why did I lose?’

    As you state in your post, this lack of introspection sometimes serves to lose sight of the overall picture and instead focuses the player on a particular aspect of the match (e.g. PG spam; or the strafe that KO’d half of my army) which doesn’t meaningfully contribute to the player’s ‘EXP’ bar (to use your analogy).

    May I simply suggest, some key things to look at when reviewing a loss:
    – What was the major turning point? How / why / when did it occur?
    – Was my opponent utilising a particular strategy? If so, did I counter it correctly? What could I improve upon in regards to countering it? What were the early warning signs (for future matches)?
    – Did I play to my faction’s strengths? Did I exploit my opponent’s weaknesses (faction / player -wise)?

    With higher end analysis, you could go further and split the game into early / mid / late chunks, since each stage of the match has somewhat different mechanics; ie.
    Early game
    – Did I ever float resources over 400MP / 100 fuel?
    – Did I lose the first confrontation (esp. with Wehr!!)?

    Mid game
    – How much of the map did I have at this point? Was I harrassing my opponent’s resources enough (probably more for US / PE)?
    – Was I sticking to my gameplan? If not, what disrupted this? How did I respond? Was this sufficient?
    – Was I aware of the VPs remaining (for both sides)?
    – etc.

    While some of these points appear blatantly obvious, it can help new or intermediate players to focus on particular aspects of their games which may be lacking, or that simply need reminding.

    Keep up the good work & posts!

  2. That is a very good check list for reviewing your own games. At some point I’ll have to make a post about the COH replay analyzer that shows every click and order. I haven’t really figured out the best way to use it, but it’ll be a great topic for a post down the road.

  3. surpriseprime says:

    Nice article grant! I agree with it 100%, but figured I’d throw in my 2 cents on experience and gaining from loss if you don’t mind.

    Having to learn cnc3 has been a really big eye opener to me on how to learn a game from the ground up. Seeing as I’m a year behind experience wise compared to my competitors who started playing when the game came out, I’ve had to play a lot of catchup (something I never needed to do in CoH). I’ve found that I have no problem competing even with the best of players when I don’t make silly mistakes, but that is always a huge ‘when’. Here are a few tips I have on mistake minimization (and making the most out of each game so you squeeze all the ‘xp’ out of it you can).

    Create a notepad file on your desktop and call it your loss notes. Every time you lose a game, write why you think you lost it here. You don’t need to write a whole lot, a paragraph a game or so is fine. Just write down the main points and you’re good. After you have a few losses recorded, start reviewing your loss notes file before you play everyday, reviewing the mistakes you made yesterday. Putting this stuff down on paper is much easier than trying to remember it, and reading it before you play puts you in a good mindset for avoiding the same mistakes you made the day before.

    Every day before you play, make a goal to do something in game as well as possible, or to avoid a common mistake. By focusing on one thing or one mistake, its pretty easy to do it. If you can eliminate one mistake or improve one process every day, you’ll make rapid progress.

    Finally, get mentally prepared before a match begins. Ask yourself, what matchup am I playing? What are the key things to remember about it? How does the map affect this? Who am I playing? Does he fear me, do I fear him? How do I capitalize on his fear or minimize the losses from my own fear? What strategy is he going to do? What strategy does he think I am going to do? Asking yourself these questions during the loading screen or while arranging a game in the lobby will make you remember your loss notes and keep you from falling into the same traps you used to, giving you more bang for your ‘xp’.

  4. jodonnell says:

    Absolutely spot-on, CSB. I’ve come to find that playing to win really starts with learning to lose – once you can accept losses at face value, you take a gigantic leap forward in your capacity to improve and play well. Getting hung-up on mental blocks doesn’t lead you forward, accepting things as they are and learning how to just deal does.

    Street Fighter (and other fighting games) really taught me these lessons – in SF, there really are no “patches” or “balance betas.” SF3:3S has remained the same since it came out nearly a decade ago, including some severely imbalanced characters who overpower the rest of the cast. You can’t change the game, only yourself. I know my matches as Dudley are going to be unfavorable vs Chun-Li, but I just have to deal with it and learn to play better than the other guy (a conclusion that would be found to be inconceivably unfair on GR.org.)

    For this reason I often wonder if the balance betas for CoH are actually making the community worse, by setting up the expectation that the devs will always bail us out when we run into difficulty, diminishing the incentives for learning counter-strategies (but maybe that’s just my inner libertarian talking.)

    Great tips colonelcommissar and Surprise!

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