Ways to Lose Less: Duncan Bilz’s Top 8

Editor’s Note: We continue our “Ways to Lose Less” series with another great article from a top player. This week Duncan Bilz, the top player in the Great Lakes Conference (and the only reason anyone still plays Sonnia) shares 8 tips that can help you lose less.





#1: Read your Damn Cards

This is basic but the most important tip. Read your damn cards! I’ll say it again for the people in the back, “Read your damn cards!” I can’t stress this enough. It is very common to think or hear, “I forgot I could do that. I would have won.”

Do you remember when that belle lured Sensei Yu 9″ and then the other crew had a field day? After the turn you lifted your finger from the card and saw Yu has Laugh Off – he shouldn’t have been lured! Even though an ability doesn’t come up often doesn’t mean it should be forgotten.

Read your damn cards – many people (newer and veterans alike) forget things their models do.


#2: Even the Keel

Bad flips happen. Hell, bad things happen. Getting tilted or salty during the game is the first step on the path to losing. You can sulk, throw your hands up cursing lady luck for doing such a thing OR you can adjust your plans. If you stay calm and figure out how to rectify lady luck’s evil joke, you can recover. If all of your plans hinged on one flip then you had other issues. First, you were hoping for the long shot. It is likely you mismanaged your resources and should not have put yourself in this desperate situation. Second, you are relying on chance to win – if this works, great, but if not you lose. Don’t get in this position, if possible. You should always have a plan B and even a plan C.
When a bad flip happens (they Red Joker or you Black Joker) it is time to reassess and adjust. Ask yourself, “Did that matter? Now how can I score VP?” Don’t get me wrong, it can be frustrating. Take a deep breath and move on. Sometimes you can’t comeback but raging over it won’t change what happened. Tilting leads to rash decisions which make you more aggravated until you proverbially table flip (or concede and walk away). The game is supposed to be fun. It’s not life or death. Go into every game knowing you will have bad flips, bad hands and a lucky opponent. It’s not “if” it’s “when.”


#3: Build to Score

Build your crew with an idea of how you are going to accomplish or deny schemes. Go into the game with a plan. You know the schemes before you build a crew. You see the table before you build your crew. Terrain should be a huge factor in your crew selection. Bringing no minions/peons into Punish the Weak is a sure-fire way to give your opponent 3 points. Don’t limit your choices for schemes as you build – it makes your opponent’s job easier. If Public Demonstration is in the pool and your crew is not built to threaten it, your opponent has one less thing to worry about. They don’t have to worry about positioning away from minions or killing them quick. Try to keep the pool open – it leaves your opponent guessing and gives you flexibility. You don’t pick schemes until you see their crew.

If your opponent can look at your crew and easily guess what your schemes are, it’s a gift. There is no difference between denying a point or scoring a point. Build your crew to score points and to deny their points.

Look at the terrain before you finalize your crew. Can your models can be bottlenecked if you don’t get your deployment choice? Are there only a few avenues of approach? Maybe you should bring Flight or Incorporeal. Is there a lot of severe terrain? Unimpeded or access to pushes goes a long way.


#4: Why that Crew?

Look at your enemy’s crew and try to understand why each model was picked. Read the enemy’s cards and put yourself if their shoes. Why did they bring this specific crew? How does it tick – what synergies does it have? It can be obvious; Sensei Yu is probably going to push Misaki 10″ and give her fast (never saw that coming!); Bete Noir with My Little Helper might not seem intriguing unless in a Reva crew (turn one threat). If you can’t figure out why a model is in a crew there could be a “gotcha” waiting for you. Ask your opponent questions – look over the cards. You want to understand what you’re facing


#5: Don’t Lose before Turn One

Games are often won or lost during deployment. If you have a plan, it starts with where you need to deploy your models. You should play out turn one in your head before a model hits the table. Do you have room for your pushes? Are the models placed right for your auras? Take your time so your models don’t foil your plan.


#6: Scout the Field

Take the time to define terrain with your opponent – every single piece. Do not make assumptions about any terrain piece. Come to agreement on each with your opponent or get a third party to do it. Understand what each terrain attribute means. Does Blocking affect movement? Does Impassible affect line of sight? You don’t want to define terrain in the heat of battle when it matters. Agree on each piece before you start and avoid the argument.


#7: FIGHT!

Fight for every single point. Fight to deny every single point. Do not throw in the towel if you think you can’t win. Fight to ruin your opponent’s differential. Make them rue the day even if they beat you. The battle isn’t over until the last turn. If you fight you may surprise yourself with a tie or even a win. If you stop fighting you will lose. So often people give up after a few bad flips or when a model dies. Fight and grab every point where you can and deny when you can.

Every Action Point matters.

No model’s AP should just be “spin in a circle.” Can that model can tie something up? Block a charge lane? Threaten or become a decoy or a bluff? No model in your crew is ever useless. If it
is, why did you hire it?


#8: The Most Important Thing

Guess what – you’re playing a game so have fun. Find humor in your wins and your losses. If you’re not laughing, joking, chatting, and having a good time, WHY ARE YOU PLAYING?


In Practice

Last week I played my first game with Titania (no, I didn’t spell Sonnia wrong). I’ve played against her before, but never played with her. This was the pool:

Public Execution
Eliminate the Leadership
Take One for the Team
Public Demonstration
Covert Breakthrough
Take Prisoner

My Crew:

• Pact with the Grave Spirit (in case I take Eliminate)
• Aether Connection (helps deny Eliminate)
• Audience with the Queen
Primordial Magic (cards are good and its Nullify helps deny Covert)
Mysterious Emissary (The Land’s Hunger can make Public Execution easier)
• Primeval Conflux (The Seasons Change to help deny Eliminate)
Lilitu and Lelu (The lures and Pounce help with Public Execution)
Rougarou (minion for Public demonstration, Pounce and Hard to Kill)
The Thorn (another “lure” and a minion for Public Demonstration)
Beckoner (Lure and third minion for Public Demonstration)

I replaced the Doppelganger with a Beckoner so Public Demonstration was an option.

I took Public Demonstration when I saw my opponent brought three henchmen and an enforcer. I took Eliminate the Leadership when I saw it was Kirai. If she doesn’t have a mask in hand she is in trouble (Pact with the Grave Spirit). She may use them up avoiding the lures.

The crew is fast – I deployed on one side to threaten Covert Breakthrough. All the lures, pounces and Land’s Hunger let me isolate models, hurt them and setup Public Demonstration.

I built the crew with a plan and kept all options open. Most importantly I had fun.

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