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This Tactica is a compilation of lessons I've learned in over a decade of playing various games at a competitive level. It is meant to help players of all skill levels perform at their peak and create a more enjoyable gaming experience for themselves and others.
I'd like to thank Red Archer, Lord Borak, mynameisgrax, ==Me== and darkzephyr for their valuable input. This Tactica would be in much worse shape without their help.Preparation
Pretty obvious. When creating an army for an event the first thing you want is help. I have missed very big weaknesses in armies, that fresh eyes spotted. No matter how good you are, revision after revision will take a toll on you mentally and you'll start to miss things. Always get two or more people, who's opinions you trust, to look over your lists, each revision if possible. It will really light up things you're missing consistently, which can even tell you a lot about yourself as a player.
Never, ever go to a competitive event with an untested army. Running simulations in your head is VERY different from a real game. Don't think you have to test against players of your caliber either, people better and worse than you will teach you lessons about your army. Always try to test against a wide range of armies, people do play Witch Hunters, Demons and the like at tournaments so be prepared!
Winning by a mile still gives you a visualization of how the army works as a whole and will prepare you to spot weaknesses or mistakes by other player. On the flip side, getting tabled or having a narrow defeat will keep you on your guard, and can give you a respect for an un-threatening unit's capabilities in masterful hands. Both are very good things to have in mind.
Another crucial lesson from play-testing is remembering your own rules. Many armies have complicated or very strict rules, Imperial Guard Orders being a prime example. If you find yourself forgetting these abilities, write them down, and keep them somewhere you'll see all game.
Know Your Enemy!
This is the biggest mistake even good players make. In Warhammer, as with many games, knowledge is power. If you know what every unit, piece of wargear and gun does, you have an advantage. You'll know if someones trying to cheat, or if they "forget" a rule that may hurt them. Knowing exactly what an opponent is putting down will also let you build very precise threat matrixes in your head rather than being taken by surprise when that un-imposing model wrecks your face.
Writing down some of the more uncommon weaponry or wargear as a reference is a good idea if you're just starting to memorize all the army books. Also, print all every armies FAQs if you can, or have access to them on a netbook/laptop if youíre fortunate enough to own one, some of them contain huge rule changes that players don't even know about.
The rules are also a powerful weapon, one you think everyone would have. A lot of people have relapses to 4th Ed rules, or read things wrong and that can have a big impact on your game. Being able to correct these will benefit you, and your opponent might be glad to have a mis-conception cleared up.
Check, Re-check and Check Again
All tournaments require you to bring certain things. The common ones are multiple copies of your list, your army, Codex, all your tokens/dice and proof of registration.
I always make sure I have these things the night before, and the morning of. Keep them all in the same place if possible, usually your army case. You do not want to spread them out, and be in a panic when you have to present your, list or waste time during a timed round looking for your Codex.
Once you have all your non-army materials safely tucked away, check your army. Set the entire thing out on a table with good lighting. Check all your models to make sure they match what the event calls for, usually WYSIWYG, painted with 3 colors, and based. I've had to convert models 20 minutes before tournaments, and it's far from fun. Save yourself a panic, and make sure you meet all the requirements before you even head out. Better to keep your mind focused on upcoming games than frantically changing your army.
The Morning Of
These are often overlooked, and very basic tips when going to anything important in life, not even having to do with games.
GET. PLENTY. OF. SLEEP.
I have literally lost tournaments because I was tired during the opening rounds. A tired mind will forget rules of all kinds, make bad tactical decisions and have a short attention span, all primary mistake generators.
Make sure you get a quality meal in before your games as well. Many tournaments offer lunch breaks but theyíre of varying lengths and times. Being well rested and operating with a full stomach is the most preferable situation for your body and mind.
It's also not a bad idea to set everything you need out where it's easy to find, like your army, lucky shirt, car keys, sacrificial offering to the Dice Gods, etc.
Always try and get to a tournament early. Many times you can get inside well before the event begins and to start and poke around. You can check the terrain (especially useful when it's fixed) and other playerís armies.
Having an idea of what to do on specific boards or against specific armies will let you formulate a battle plan more quickly once a game begins. Listen to people talking, you might be able to learn what they're using even if it's not unpacked yet, or something else useful, like a unit they're afraid of or hate to see. It might seem over the top, but it can really help you in the long run, and costs you nothing. Even if you can't get inside, casually chatting with people who are early will still often draw some information or at worst someone to talk to.
Some tournaments open up early for pick up games or have time for this the night before. If you're feeling confident, getting one last game in can focus you right before the event. Playing against a friend or someone with a weaker army is a good idea, you don't want someone you may have to play a close game against to have a feel for your list. You can also use this time to watch what other players have brought and how they're using it.Playing Your Games
Always introduce yourself and offer to shake your opponent's hand, this is just common courtesy. While you're doing any pre-game activities (terrain, deployment, etc.) try to get your opponent chatting. Here's what you want to find out, without divulging yourself.
Things They Fear
Things They Underestimate
Their Favorite Unit
Everything else is gravy. You can use this information against someone easily during a game to great effect.
Every player has units they hate for whatever reason, if you have those units, use them aggressively, demoralize your opponent with them anyway you can.
On the flip side, we all have units we underestimate, just write them off as trash. Canny players will take these and find useful combos with them, or inflict surprising damage as they can go about their job unhindered. Such an unexpected blow can be a momentum changer.
Lastly, we all have favorite units. Maybe it's a special paint job/conversion, or just a really effective unit but most people like to talk about them pre-game and during the game. If you can, destroy or disable this unit, it will often demoralize a player and may throw a wrench into their battle plan.
Also make sure you've gotten a copy of your opponents roster and given him one of yours, if required. Read the missions you are playing, than read it again. Figure out how each of your units matters to the mission, independent of what your opponent is running. If you can, read the mission at the start of every one of your turns as well, it cannot be over-stated how important knowing how to win the game is.
Try and be quick with your turns. If you're going first, you want to have a plan set up by deployment's end. If you're going second, you have the opponents turn to formulate one. Almost all tournaments have timed rounds, so saving time lets you make sure you get all your turns in, which is often the difference in a game.
Be very clear with every action. Don't just roll dice, keep your opponents attention and be up front. "My Demolisher is shooting at your Tactical Marines in that building" and point to it. This will save a ton of time and prevent confusion. Resolve all your steps completely before moving on to ensure every things being done right. Some opponents will not let you go back if you forgot to shoot Flamers before assaulting, etc. I always do a mental sweep of the board from left to right after each phase. ďOkay moved that, they didnít need to move, thatís Shaken, moved that.Ē
Your Opponents Turn
Your turn is a time for action, but you should spend all of your opponents turn thinking. Every movement and casualty changes the game. You need to be on top of these changes and know what you're doing when you get to act. Also, watch their actions and dice carefully. People make mistakes, and you'll want to catch them for your benefit or remind them of a forgotten rule/unit to be a good sportsman.
You also want to watch what your opponent is doing in terms of his actions. Donít be caught looking at another game while your opponent is shooting at you, watch his dice. Some people fudge rolls or claim results that didnít happen, itís on you to watch them and keep things on the straight and narrow.
Mid-game drama is what happens when you or your opponent is having a very hard time or a very easy time. Some people will lose interest once itís clear theyíre losing, complaining after every bad roll or gloating as they near victory.
The best way to handle this is be mature. If your opponent is having a very bad game, sympathize but keep things moving. Donít run out of time because he was complaining to you! Same response to a gloating opponent, keep the game going and do what you can to get back into it while not getting discouraged.
Do the best you can not to be dramatic yourself. A true general is cordial but calculating. If your game is going badly, you need to focus on getting things back in your favor. If itís going well, keep your foot on the proverbial throat while being respectful.
Win, lose, or draw, shake your opponents hand again, and thank him for the game. Don't gloat or whine about anything that happened, as you'll either look like a jerk or a sore loser, which serves no good. Make sure your results sheet (if there is one) is filled out properly, and check your opponent's, as sometimes they miss things. If you feel your opponent has scored you improperly, donít be afraid to ask about it. There are people who will give low marks out if they lose out of spite, itís never a good idea to let those things slide. If it canít be resolved, go to the coordinator and discuss it with that person.
How to Behave
When in doubt, follow this list. It will help you make friends, earn Sportsmanship points, and give everyone a more enjoyable playing experience.
Never over-react to something in game, whether itís good or bad. You can't change it, so just keep playing.
Give your opponent the common courtesy of a minor do over. The definition of this is personal but it's something good sportsman would do in my book. Unless it's long past or would hugely change the face of the game, it's not a big deal and leads to a fairer game.
Don't complain about something being broken or underpowered. This just comes off as childish in tournament play. Take those complaints to the forums or to your own circle of friends.
Be receptive to conversation. Playing against a silent person is very boring for both parties, and inspires more dislike than intimidation.
Remind your opponent of beneficiary rules. A true competitor will ALWAYS do this. Winning a game where someone forgot to use a piece of wargear or ability is petty and should not be bragged over.That's all I have. Hopefully even veteran players will have something to think about after reading this. If you'd like to add anything, please feel free to comment, PM me, etc.
Last Minute Studying
During your opponents deployment, as they are taking models out of their case check the codex entry of that unit/model. Dont lose focus, watch your opponents deployment but double check what each unit is roughly capable of.
I've played a Necron player at a tournament where he beleived WBB was 3+, and gauss weapons were renading. I knew the Necron codex but I was playing him in the final round and the first two players hadn't known enough about necrons to tell him otherwise.
Compliment Your Opponent After the Game
Win or Lose adding a nice little comment about "You did this well" or "This unit was great" will help give your opponent some confidence. It will help you with your sportsmanship, which is especially important if you just dominated your opponent and he's looking to return the favour via sportsmanship score. Be sincere, if your opponent did truly terrible with his entire force and you cant find one unit/tactic to compliment (very unlikely) kindy suggest a tweak to his list, such as "if you had some more broadsides my russes would have been screwed" or something to that effect.
The Emperor Protects
IG Best Gen 1st overall of 10 DE 4th overall of 6
Eldar 3rd Overall/Best General of 26--2nd Overall/Best General of 7--1st Overall/Best General of 11
First one goes into knowing the rules and paying attention, if a Necron opponent was rolling for Rending wounds it'd be on you to say "Woah, woah, woah!"
Second thing I like but not if you just wiped the floor with someone. It's condescending to say "If you made these changes you could have won." I wouldn't do that unless the other person asked me what he could have done/run better or he was saying "I wish I'd brought x". Some people get very upset right after a loss, me included, because they're playing the game over in their head for mistakes so compounding it feels unnecessary to me.
I have played in so many tournaments that this guide was simple yet it has re-sparked my competitive nature.
Glad it did something good for you.
Its just really nice to hear the importance of things non-related to army composition.
Remember to be a good sport. Know the rules, but apply them as tactfully as you can. Noone, I mean noone wants to play a know-it-all re-check every move you make type of opponent. Remember the golden rule of gaming, "It's a game, meant to be fun." If you find yourself worrying overly much about winning, you're missing the point of the hobby.
This is a good guide, and just reading it started to get that competitive rush I get at Magic Tournaments, and I hope to get when I finally go to a 40K one too.
I am verbose. Sorry.
Kargh's Wite Butz, Death Skullz Orks: W: 5, L:, 2 D:2; Silver-skull Necrons: 1W 1L,500 pt
Thank you for the kind words.
Thanks for posting this! I'm gonna enter a tournament this year, this should help alot
Mors nos angeli, Sanguis sanguinem deus.