Superstition and Wargaming

I've always found superstition to be fascinating. Small little rituals or patterns people use to reinforce a particular belief or influence an outcome.
I first ran into superstitions when playing sports. Athletes might have very specific pregame rituals, "lucky" objects, etc. I, for example, have a ton of little things I do before and during every game. I put my gear on left side first (left skate, right skate, left pad, right pad, trapper, blocker, etc), and remove it in the same manner. Some goalies will tap the goal posts and crossbar in a particular pattern or manner before each period. I respond to a referee's 'ready' signal with the same little stick salute every period. After I tore up my knee in September of this year, I racked my brain for any little detail or procedure I might have forgotten that led to the injury.
Some of my rituals fade in and out. I'll wear the same Under Armor (washed between games) until we lose a game, and then I rotate to another set. For a while, I was winning and playing well whenever I stopped at a particular convenience store and bought a 20 ounce lemon-lime Gatorade and a regular Snickers bar (not almond, double chocolate, or king-size).

Such small displays extend into my wargaming. On the Friday night before a tournament, I drag out my gallon Ziploc bag filled with dice. I spill them out onto the floor or countertop, and sort them by color and set. I roll all of the dice of a given type at once, and pick out any sixes. Those go into a smaller bag that goes to the event with me. I never use the same dice as I used in the last tourney, except my large, white scatter die and my GW dice block.
There is absolutely no actual correlation between this ritual and my dice performance at the table, but I still do this each and every pre-tournament Friday.
I've met other players with more direct, at-the-table superstitions. Some players refer to use the word "missile" at the table, and use "rocket" or "frag and krak" instead. They claim saying the word "miss" before a roll causes the shot to...miss. I personally cannot begin a game until my army is ranked up neatly on my tray or display board. One does not go into battle with his troops in disarray!

How do you feel about game rituals and superstitions? Do you have any of your own, or are they simply a sign of a mental illness like OCD?


  1. I think it depends on the person, or what they're doing, as to what it is. It seems to me that a majority of the time it's an OCD thing. Classic example would be those who watch sports and feel what they wear, what they do, etc, effects if their favorite team wins. Of course it has no effect but you can't convince that person otherwise. Then, if what they normally do didn't work, they find some other ritual instead of accepting that they have no impact in their favorite team's outcome.

    On the other hand, if you are the participant (sports player, 40K player, etc), and you do something as a ritual then there's a fine line. You saluting, I don't think that's OCD or superstitious unless you feel that how you salute effects the game. How you put on your gear the same, it's fine unless you felt that by doing it in reverse would be back luck. We're humans, we love routines whether we admit it or not.

    Lastly, some rituals are just a means of mental preparation and easement. Your dice thing I bet helps you mentally prepare for the next day. Putting your army on your board in an orderly fashion probably helps you focus on the upcoming game. So, I don't think you can just generalize the practice of things that seem superstitious.

    1. So you probably don't want to hear about how my careful jersey rotation helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, eh? lol.

      My little rituals and such are all OCD driven. My wife makes fun of how upset I get if she doesn't follow my sock and shirt rotation system for fresh laundry. Freshly laundered clothes go in the back or the bottom of a pile, so I rotate through all my clothes evenly. It also contributes to my inability to change my painting style or process. I'm a tad nuts.

    2. I was trying to focus on the things you do that 'may not' be completely OCD. Regardless, I stand by what I said even if it's maybe not applicable to you :P

      I'm the complete opposite to all of this as I have no rituals or routines so I find the whole thing interesting and amusing. My wife has superstitious tendencies and I always make fun of her for them.

  2. I have similar tendencies.
    -I place my models on my board, HQ in the back, flanked by fast and heavy with troops in front.
    -I look over all of the tables, thinking of how each could be played (mind you a superstition as it is completely an asinine gesture as I have no idea who I will play or what armies).
    -For all but the last two tournaments I would roll my scatter die 3 times each and the one with the most hits would be my scatter die that game.
    - I pick a dice color. Those are my dice for the game. If they screw up, I switch. Not just some dice, all of them.

    But yeah, superstitions are very strange. Hell, in the army you NEVER EVER EVER said "have a nice jump" before a jump. Before every mission me and my room mate would smoke and put a spare down for after the mission together. I tied my boots with left over right except for my top 2 eyelets in which case it was right over left. Yeah, superstitions are weird.

  3. I find gamers avoid saying "You Need Anything But a 1" because you will roll a 1 8(