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This WiP is a summary of all the things I've learned over a decade+ of playing many different games competitively. This is what I do to prepare for large gaming events to set myself up for success, and hopefully they're useful to others.
I'd also 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
I always prepare for a gaming event the same way, slightly differing by game. Since this is obviously a Warhammer forum, I'll use that as my example.
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 stomped on 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 your 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, some of them make huge rules 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
Most tournaments require you to bring certain things. The common ones are multiple copies of your list, your army, Codex, all your tokens/dice and of course be registered to play.
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 hell. Save yourself a panic, and make sure you meet all the requirements before you even head out.
The Morning Of
These are often overlooked, and very basic important tips when going to anything important in your 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. Here's an example:
4th Ed Tournament against Marines, I'm playing Ulthwe Strike Force. He Infiltrates Scouts near my Seer Council, holding the item that lets 75% of my army get on the table. He gets first turn and charges the Scouts into them. Can Scouts charge off Infiltrate? No, they cannot. Did I remember this? No, I did not.
The resulted in me losing almost all of my Seer Council, and having to drop the Webway in a bad spot or lose outright. I managed a Minor Victory from what should have been an easy Massacre, off a rule that I knew.
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 Emperor, etc.
Always try and get to a tournament early. Many times you can get inside well before it's scheduled to start and poke around. You can check the terrain (especially useful when it's fixed) and people's armies.
Having a plan in advance for a specific board or army will give you a better plan. 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. 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.
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.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 know, without divulging yourself.
Things he fears
Things he underestimates
His favorite unit
Anything else is gravy. You can use that information against someone easily during a game to great effect.
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.
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.
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.
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 it be good or bad. You can't change it, so just keep playing.
Always 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. Unless it's long past or would hugely change the face of the game, it's not a big deal.
Don't complain about something being broken or underpowered. This just comes off as childish in tournament play. Take those complaints to the forums.
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.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.
Very helpful tactica.
Just want to add: You should clearly remember the overall tactic for your army.
For example: If you normally play a shooting army and your opponent runs a shooting army, do not try and use your army as a combat army because their shooting army looks better.
By all means adapt your tactics so combat may be more likely etc. but your army is your army and it won't work as the anti-force to all armies, otherwise tournaments would be massacres on both sides.
This is more for purposes of a general approach to gaming events, it applies to any and all armies. That's solid advice but it would go more into a how to play type of deal, which I'm not trying to do at the moment.
Thanks for the reply.
sweet guide. Being as i've never participated in a tournament, i feel alot more ready to do so. Thanks.
...and you do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, thats what its all about.
Unless anyone has something to add or say I'll be adding this to Finished Tacticas soon. Last chance.
One thing that might be worth putting in is knowing and planning for any special rules/missions the tournament has. Some tell you up front what missions will be played. If possible you may want to check specific rulings with the organizers/officials. Turbo boosting and fortune, along with star engines double tank shocking have been allowed by some events and not by others I've been to ( I don't use either and think both are wrong but atleast I knew going into the event it could happen ). Keeping special missions/rules in mind when making a list can help alot and if possible playing a game with the rules/mission helps even more.
Good suggestion, I'll edit that in when I get home.
This is such a useful guide. I wish everyone who went to tournaments big and small would read this before attending. Here are some of my thoughts:
'I haven't played any games/with this army in x time.' While this may be true, remember that you are at a tournament, and you do want to make a good showing. Don't regret in the future that you pointed out something like a tactic to an opponent who presented themself as new to the game/army. I fell into this trap last year against my second round opponent of a 5 round tournament. I helped him in a way that contributed to my loss, and infact he ended up winning the 100 person tournement!
Dice: I think there are several things that can be pointed out about dice at tournament play. For everyone's knowledge, there have been cases in the past in the US of groups of people, who were tournament winners, being caught cheating for weighted dice. Here are a few things I have noticed, and a few things that I have watched others do.
Multiple dice: Be weary of opponents who have huge dice collections with lots of different colored and shaped dice. Watch to see if they start rolling specific dice for specific situations. Example: This year in round 2 of 'Ard Boyz (fantasy) I had an opponent who had possibly a hundred different colored and sized dice. However, whenever it came to a break test, he always rolled the same two little blue dice (and he rolled the 'small', but that's a different matter). On one break test, as the judge was walking by, I kindly asked him if he would roll some different dice for this break test and pointed out what I had noticed. He obliged, grudgingly, and because of that I don't regret the outcome of that game (by the way, this was also the 'statistic' complaining opponent above).
A little side note on multiple dice. If you are the type of person who rolls dice and throughout games, puts bad dice off to the side, thats fine. However, if you start 'collecting' the dice that seem to consistently roll better for you, then put them in a bag and take them to a tournament, this is not fine. This IS a form of cheating, and at the very least is an unethical way of dealing with dice. We are all probably guilty of throwing away or giving away a cube of dice that seems particularly unlucky (I know I am), but picking and choosing dice is not the way to go. I'd say at most, you should have 3 different colored dice, and they should probably be the same size. Also, a way to help stay on the level with your dice is to change what they represent periodically (ie don't only roll big dice for shooting and little dice for armor saves/leadership tests, or don't only roll the white dice for your plasma guns).
Hot Dice: I have never done this, but I have a friend who has played in even more tournaments then me do this trick. If your opponents dice are rolling really hot, say he causes a bunch of wounds on you, he will pick up his opponents dice (the specific dice that caused the wounds) and roll them for his saves! Now, this is a more applicable trick in Fantasy, with the new 40k wound allocation rules hampering that idea. I personally don't like touching opponents dice (or having them roll mine) because I am superstitious, but I can see how it might combat a group of 'weighted dice'.
For me, I always have 2 cubes of dice. One I play with, and a spare if my opponent says my dice are too hot and thinks I'm cheating. Any other dice I have are for wound markers, turn markers, etc (ie don't get rolled).
I hope I helped add something to your Tactica Prince. Still very well written!
Last edited by GhostWarrior; December 18th, 2009 at 17:53.
On the multiple lists front, I'm referencing to multiple copies of one list. Most tournaments require this and even if they don't it's a good idea. You just hand the top copy to your opponent so by the last round you don't have one beat up version etc.
On the dice, I agree. There's a guy at my shop who has large quantities of very different dice and he ALWAYS makes the roll he needs, multiple people suspect him. If someone looks like he has a go to dice, ask if you can test roll it a few times. If he says no, call a judge or the event coordinator.
Thanks for the positive feedback.
For multiple lists, we are talking about the same thing. To clarify:
Multiple copies of the same list: Good (and in many cases required).
Multiple lists (with different upgrades/options/units): Bad, and very easily construed as cheating, especially if you have all of the other options/units available on hand.
I hope that makes it clearer.