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Problem implementing “theory” into practice due to my “need to win”

As an example I love the concept of Strategy Games. They were the first games I played as a child and they fascinate me since then. There is only one big problem: I really really suck at them and no matter how many videos I watch, how many guides I read and how much I practice, I just can't get better.

I got Age of Empires 2 when I was 8-9 years old. I didn't know how this game worked, I didn't have internet to look up things, so I just played the campaigns and when thinking back I had a blast despite not knowing what I was doing.

Now I read up on the AoE 2 DE in forums, on Reddit, I watched guides and videos before I even purchased the game. I did everything to play it "the right way" with build orders, certain villager numbers when going up and a theoretical understanding on how to rush, boom and turtle. But that is it – theoretical understanding. I completely fail even today, even after playing the game since release, to implement these strategies into play.

It isn't that I get nervous or hysterical – I just can't see how the theoretical knowledge I got from guides and tutorials translates into the game. I know the general rules of when to go up, when to start building troops, but it isn't enough. Every specific situation that is not exactly covered in those guides throws me out of my rhythm. Everytime the enemy acts even slightly different from what the guide described I don't know what to do. I try my best to improvise, but I fail always because my guide told me "If the enemy attacks with knights, counter with spearmen" but not "if the enemy attacks with 5 knights, you need exactly x amount of spearmen in this and that location to fend him efficiently off". Whenever something like that happens I just stand in front of a thousand variables that completely bluescreen my brain.

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It happens in all kind of games – if I don't have an exact step-to-step explanation on what exactly I have when and where to do and why this is the one true way I just get completely overwhelmed. And still my brain tells me that I have to find the one exact way to win in this specific situation to even derive any fun from the game because otherwise I would "fail" and waste my time "failing" at the game.

Any tips for me? How can I snap out of that mindset that I always have to be winning in the one exact "legitimate" and uber-efficient way to "have the right" to enjoy a game? It is seriously impacting my ability to have fun playing games, which was and is still one of my favorite hobbies.

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