Something that is often mentioned in our community, amongst all wargaming communities, is the concept of ‘reps’. What is this and why should you care?
In short, as most of you would know, reps is short for repetitions and is jargon for getting games in. ‘How many reps you do’ is essentially equivalent to how many games you’ve played. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but it’s a good starting point for our discussion.
Today we want to talk about how many reps you might want to be getting in and how you should go about doing that. A massive preface to this whole discussion is that how much game time you want to or are able to get in varies a lot between people and communities. Don’t feel bad if your ability or desire to play games doesn’t exactly line up with some of the higher number of games that you might see in this article. To each their own.
So before sitting down to write this, I posed the question ‘how many reps should you have/what’s your process for preparing for a tournament?’ in the Fifth Trooper Discord (which you can join by signing up for Patreon (contractual plug complete. 😉)) Anyways, I got a variety of answers that are all over the spectrum. The general consensus was for tournaments with stakes (world’s qualifiers etc.) that you’d want about 10 reps. AJST gave the highest number which was for worlds he wants at least 50 reps. Most did agree though that the actual number doesn’t come close to the desired number for most tournaments, with many people having taken lists that they’d never played before or only had a couple quick games with to decently major tournaments.
Iterating on ideas
One of the points that AJST brought up that is important to note is that for x number of reps, whatever list is being tested/practiced doesn’t need to be identical. You may play 10 games for instance and for the first 5 keep changing upgrades or even units. As long as the general archetype stays the same you are still getting reps in for that list/archetype. In fact, the massaging of lists while getting reps in is a critical component of how most competitive players develop and hone their lists, and their knowledge of those lists.
Quality of reps
A big discussion point that was brought up is that not all reps are equal. This is something I want to explore further here. Basically it boils down to just a random pickup game against a random opponent has kind of a random value in terms of getting reps in. This is kind of like training without purpose or the end goal in sight. That is still much better than no training at all, and you might actually get excellent results, or not.
The way that is advised to get higher quality reps in is to get those reps in with a purpose. When you’re looking for games try to match up with opponents who will challenge you in a variety of ways. As with most things in life, the people you will often learn from the most are those that are a degree or two above you in knowledge and/or skill. You can also plan your games with your opponents to test certain lists against other lists. This kind of testing is particularly important when there are lists in the meta that are dominant. For example, last year at worlds, you wanted to have a few reps with whatever list you were using against both Blizzard and Darktroopers. If you didn’t know how to face this matchup with your list, then you needed to get more reps against them in.
Change up what you’re doing
Let’s look deeper into getting higher quality reps. First let’s look at choosing an opponent. This is of course limited by who’s in your area (unless you get some games in online of course). You aren’t always necessarily going to be choosing the same person as a good sparring partner for reps, in fact a variety is often best. Different people have different strengths and trying to learn from the best of each individual skill is great. Often you’ll have someone who is an expert at force users, another at vehicles, etc.
Try to play against these people and see how your list reacts to these various archetypes, and learn from these experts. You can even ask for clarification about what they’re doing when they do it to try and understand their process even better. Another thing that can be great to ask is ‘what could I do right now that would hurt you the most,’ because usually the person best suited to spot a weakness to exploit is your opponent.
To add to asking your opponent questions, you can also change up the board state. If either you or your opponent could take an action you’ve both seen plenty of times before, maybe you shake it up and try a different path on the decision tree to see what would happen if you did that. Usually the best way to learn is by doing, and you don’t particularly want to be put into novel situations when there is big stakes.
Another thing you can do to really affect the board state is to change the dice results. This could be a situation where you want to try and maybe battle back from a really bad save so you take a unit off the table when really the dice didn’t tell you to do that. This is just another way to put yourself into a weird and bad situation and have to deal with that situation. This could also be rallying less than actual etc.
Tournaments as reps
For a lot of players our best opportunity to do some proper testing is at events and tournaments. An important part of using tournaments as opportunities for testing is recognizing what tournaments/events are ones that you ‘really care about’ and which ones are less important. In general, when I asked around, people are willing to use local one day tournaments as pure testing grounds, where they’ll bring any list to try it out. Worlds qualifiers people take a bit more seriously, trying to have a couple reps before but very much still use these tournaments as testing and reps. For big two day events people generally won’t take any random list. Usually these events you bring a list you have confidence in and a handful of reps in. These big tournaments are also a great opportunity to really bump up the number of reps you have with a list as you are going to get 6-10 ish reps in with the list you bring. After a big tournament you will really get a good idea about whether a list you brought is good, its strengths, weaknesses, as well as critically whether you like playing the list or not. If you don’t fundamentally vibe with a list you will really know by the end of playing it for 3-10 games straight.
Larger Picture Reps
What do I mean when I say larger picture reps? (I couldn’t phrase it better so it’s an awkward label). I mean that getting reps in doesn’t just apply to an archetype or a list. It applies to individual units, factions and playstyles.
This means that if you want to for instance start playing force users you need to practice with force users. Which exact force user you use matters a lot less. This is great because a lot of people really struggle to enjoy playing the same list over and over. You can still get important reps in for your desired goal without playing the same thing over and over.
There are plenty of players out there who can pick up any list of x type and find success with it. X type is usually a faction but could also be playstyle etc. Getting reps in with your favourite or desired faction is great for when your are in interregnum and don’t know what list or even meta you will be playing in for the next big event. You will often find yourself in this gap, especially if like me you don’t get to go to that many big events. Often looking towards the next big event is many months away. Trying to predict what you will play or what the meta is months in advance is often done in vain.
We’ve already touched on this but a critical aspect of reps is both constructing and executing ‘the gauntlet.’
The gauntlet is testing your list against what you expect to see in the current meta. This is critical especially at times when there’s known dominant lists.
Right now there are a more than a few lists that are in the meta and should be considerations for your gauntlet. From Orkimedes, ‘Yoda, Anakin, Iden/Boba, Cassian/Ahsoka, Bane Magnas, etc.’ This list is not an exhaustive list by any means. I’d add to this Blizzard, Darktroopers, Double bounty amongst others. All of these lists are powerful and are in the current meta, so need to be considered both at the genesis of a list and through the reps of that list.
Looking at that list above we can still see the general makeup of lists; force users, melee skews, hero hammer, gunlines, and armour. These general archetypes will go up in power and popularity and down over time.
So when constructing your gauntlet right now all of the above should be in consideration. What do you think is most important when testing? This is an important question because *counting* there’s already seven lists above. This would already mean a minimum gauntlet size of seven. The seven lists above is also really not an exhaustive list. To do a proper gauntlet in any given meta would probably require 20-25 reps to play all expected lists at least once, and you definitely want to play the more powerful/popular lists more than once. Identifying what archetypes you expect to see is then critical to making a good gauntlet. If say you only are going to get 5 reps in where should you dedicate those reps? Right now you’d probably want 2-3 games against force users, probably Yoda, Anakin and Vader in that order. As well as a game against a solid gunline, plus a final game against whatever archetype you think you’re weakest against.
Getting Reps in Without Playing
Not all of us have the ability or time to play games for a variety of reasons. How do we get some pseudo reps in in the meantime? There are variety of resources you can use to get some kinda reps in. Reading articles *waves*, listening to podcasts, and most importantly watching games.
Watching games is the best way to practice without actually practicing because you’re able to see real in-game situations and how they play out, amongst getting commentary from informed people. A lot of the big tournaments have streams of games, check out Yavinbase for a collection of games as well as this year’s stream of worlds.
Understanding that watching games takes plenty of time unto itself, just thinking about the game and playing around with list ideas is practice itself. Try to think back on situations you’ve found yourself in the past and think about what you did well, as well as other options you had and how they may have turned out. This is also just a good thing to do after you play any game to help solidify that rep as good practice and take some things away from every game.
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas and inspiration for both getting reps in as well as how to make those reps higher quality. Make sure you keep getting those reps in as well as make sure you return the favour to your practice partners. If you ask someone to play something in specific, let them pick something for you next time.