Study Smarter Not Harder

How many of you have walked up to a table, and had a vague idea of what your opponent’s army did, but didn’t really understand the ins and outs of how it worked? How many of you have completely underestimated the damage output, durability, or speed of a unit before? What if I told you there’s a magical trick you can use to never have that happen again!?

Well there is!

When people receive advice on how to prepare for a tournament one of the common things they hear is that they should study everyone else’s army. And, as valid as that advice is, it’s only so pragmatically effective. There are thousands upon thousands of rules in 40k, and nearly infinite interactions between units, stratagems, traits, powers etc… Sitting there with a Harlequin Codex at 3am under the blanket with a flash light trying to figure out how far a Solitaire can theoretically move in a turn may not be the most practical way to learn things. Memorizing what the Tyranid Stratagem Grisly Feast does, and knowing its applications might sound like it’s imperative to your success as a 40k player, but I promise you it’s not. However, Tide of Traitors or Agents of Vect might actually be something you need to know. So, I guess the question comes down to how do you know what to study, and what not to study?

 

There’s a simple answer here, and it’s essentially follow what people are using and use that as your guide. Remember in high school, when you cut every corner imaginable to just study the minimum amount to get by? There’s actually some merit to that. Study smarter, not harder. Do some basic research, follow tournament results, join Nights Pro to listen to me narrate the meta to you in real time every week, and see what people are taking. If you see 4 Knight armies in the top 8 of the Boise GT maybe you should read the knight codex. If you see Bullgryn and a Shadowsword winning the Boise GT, then it might make sense to familiarize yourself with those units, and any strats or psychic powers that may potentially combo with them. If you follow this process enough then you’ll eventually have a fairly decent understanding of how all the popular unit in 40k works.

But, vaguely knowing of what your opponent’s army can do is only part of the battle my friends.

It’s tournament day, you show up to the table, and you’re playing against some obscure Ad Mech/Sisters of Battle/Custodes army you’ve never faced. You’ve followed some tournaments and you know Shield Captains are popular because they’re solid combat characters or something, and you know Celestine comes back to life and something about faith which you don’t really understand. Your plan for the game at this point is basically shoot anti tank-weapons at the tanks, and shoot anti-infantry weapons at the infantry. Shoot the punchy people and charge the shooty people.

So, how should you proceed? Don’t ask me ask your opponent, silly!

But seriously, for whatever reason, time and time again I see people who have a moderate at best understanding of what their opponent’s army can do not ask questions. This will not only hurt your ability to win the game, but also stunt your growth as a player. That said, it’s inappropriate to just ask your opponent “How does your army work?”. That’s ambiguous, vague, and just too all encompassing to answer. So, here are some better ways to ask questions!

When you show up to the table and see that Ad Mech, Sisters, Custodes list you might want to start off with clearing up your understanding of faith. A simple “Could you just explain how faith works really quick, I’ve played against it before, but I just want a refresher.” This is friendly, not abrasive, specific, and doesn’t convey that you have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s imperative to toss in “I’ve played against it before” as an insurance policy. Against a stranger, you have no idea if he’s the type of guy who may want to try and take advantage of your lack of knowledge, so tossing in the idea that you know what it does (even if you don’t) should de-incentivize him from trying to pull something shady. Not, that you should ever assume the worst in people, but it’s a harmless little social trick you can pull as an insurance policy.

As deployment starts going I like to ask my opponent if there’s any way he can infiltrate (scouts, alpha legion etc… or redeploy eg. phanstasm). If no, carry on as normal, if yes, ask more specifically what/how and then act accordingly. If your opponent puts stuff into deep strike, ask if there is any way to charge further (bloodletters/blood angels charging 3d6 for example, and once again, act accordingly. Finally, you may want to ask if there is a way to teleport once the game starts (veil of darkness, dark matter crystal, upon wings of fire), and as always, act accordingly.

These are fairly common exceptions to normal rules, so ask if your opponent can make use of any of them before it’s too late. Better safe than sorry!

 

Maybe during your movement phase ask if there’s anything funky you should know about. Is there any way your opponent can interact with you during your movement phase (eg. deathwatch shooting Eldar if they move close to them). In the movement phase I like to ask my opponent to point out his psychers so I can premeasure 24″ from them when moving to stay out of deny range. Additionally to that, you may want to ask if he has any other ways to deny your powers (hint hint- Sisters do!)

Basically, anything out of the norm that could theoretically screw you is something you should strive to find out about before it’s too late.

While this may seem a bit tedious and annoying, it rarely if ever plays out that way. Typically, there aren’t too many questions I need to ask my opponent personally, but if you are new to the competitive 40k scene, and relatively inexperienced then instead of asking your opponent a series of individual and hyper-specific questions, ask the more general “Is there anything weird that your army can do that I should know about, like can you intercept my deep strikers, block psychic powers unexpectedly, pile in further than normal?” ***pause***

That kind of question/phrasing puts pressure on your opponent to tell you anything abnormal out there for your knowledge. You’ve touched on multiple phases of the game, meaning your question is asking if there is anything abnormal your opponent can do at any point. You’ve also left it pretty open ended, which actually works in your benefit. If you ask a series of specific questions without the implication of wanting more knowledge than what you’re asking for specifically, then once your opponent answers that question his obligation is fulfilled and if he gets you later on a question you didn’t think to ask, that’s on you. Asking ambiguously specific questions (as demonstrated above) puts the onus on your opponent to be up front, and not get you with an “I gotcha”

Let me show you what I mean. You’re playing against the Ad Mech/Sisters/Custodes guy and ask him “Hey do you have anything that can intercept my deep strikers?” Your opponent replies: “Yeah my Ad Mech have a strat that let’s me shoot you if you come in within 12″ of them”. Your opponent has fulfilled his duty to answer the question honestly. Later on, you charge a unit of Sisters, then your opponent uses his Stooping Dive strat on his Custodes, counter charges you, and kills all your Khorne Berzerkers and you lose. Feels bad, and easily avoidable if you knew it existed. But why would you even think to even ask about stooping dive?

 

Well try this instead. Beginning of your turn 1 instead of asking the hyper-specific question “Hey do you have anything that can intercept my deep strikers?” ask “Hey is there anything weird that your army can do that I should know about, like can you intercept my deep strikers, block psychic powers unexpectedly, pile in further than normal?” ***pause*** Your opponent will then say something like “Yeah I can intecercept with my Ad Mech, and my Sisters can block psychic powers.” Your opponent may not even touch on Stooping Dive at this point because he might not honestly be thinking about it. So, you continue on with your game, you’re both having a good old time, and you reach the point where your Berzerkers want to charge the Sisters.

This can unfold one of two ways- More often than not I’ve found, because of the way you set the tone from the game early on with the phrasing of the initial question your opponent will say something like “Hey just so you know I can Stooping Dive.” Because if he doesn’t he would be failing to fulfill his duty to answer honestly when asked if there’s anything abnormal his army can do. Then you adjust and act accordingly.

Now, you might get someone who doesn’t tell you, and then tries to Stooping Dive you anyway with the “gotcha moment”. First off, don’t be that guy. Second, if you’re playing against that guy that’s okay too. You can start off by saying something like “I asked you earlier if there was anything weird you could do in the assault phase, and you didn’t tell me about this.” There’s no real defense against this, the only reasonable recourse, from here is to just say “Sorry, I didn’t think of it, would you like to do something else now that you have the knowledge I was obligated to give you before.” Then you just go back and adjust accordingly. And then of course once every blue moon you’ll run into that #$*&$*& guy and he says something like “No you didn’t ask about Stooping Dive” which is kinda sorta technically true I guess. In these ultra rare situations there’s not much you can do. Just keep your head up, try to make the most of it, and own the fact that you probably should have done more research on Shield Captains before.

Part of why it’s so imperative to have a friendly game at a tournament (aside from the obvious- you’re playing a game of toy soldiers as your hobby, you’re supposed to enjoy it, and the general why you should be a good person) is also because it’s actually advantageous to you to have a good time. If you were being friendly and amicable the whole time, then the odds your opponent will follow through with the potential course of action where he says “Screw you buddy, I’m Stooping Diving you anyway!” are greatly diminished.

Anyways, that turned into a short story about how not to get Stooping Dived, but the point was actually much more so about not being afraid to ask your opponent questions, but doing so in an intelligent, deliberate, and friendly manner. No one can possibly know every rule and interaction in 40k, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it! So, next time you play some guy and you aren’t 100% comfortable with the ins and outs of his army, try to really change your mentality about asking questions and how you ask them. You’ll learn a lot more about the game, and you’ll probably have a much better experience with your opponent as well!

 

 

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em Pin ‘Em

A long time ago in a galaxy far away I wrote an article about how to trapping units in combat, but I didn’t dive into detail about what to do when you’re in that situation. Well, today I have quite the treat for you. A tactic that many top players frequently employ, yet one I rarely see utilized by the more average players.

Take this scenario:

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We have a classic Eldar gunline with some dark Reapers, cat lady, Eldrad, a Farseer, an Autarch, and a Serpent. Screening them is two units of rangers up front, who are pushing back some Stygies Electropriests. The Electropriests have first turn and are ready to move up and launch a potentially game winning turn 1 charge.

This is how the movement phase and initial charge move went. As you can see, the priests only declared a charge against 1 of the 5 man ranger units. They are >1″ away from the ranger squad on the left and engaged with the ranger squad on the right.

So, you’ve kept with your Brown Nights at the Game Table articles and you know how to surround stuff in combat now. In fact it’s your go-to move, and at this point it’s second nature. And that’s exactly what happened here.

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Poor Billy, didn’t know what he signed up for when he decided to join Ranger duty.

Well, no you’re the Eldar player. You’re starring at 20 Electropriests with a 2++ invulnerable, FNP, who are surrounding Billy the ranger, and are salivating at the thought of charging your dark reapers and characters next turn. Well, what do you do?

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You take your time, and dissect the situation. A unit’s shape has a subtle, yet very powerful impact on how it can move. The Electropriests spread out in a long line to maximize their frontage in order to engage the rangers effectively and try to pin the sneaky, little Eldar in the corner. However, while the Ad Mech player thought he was being clever with his positioning, a great player will be able to capitalize on critical positioning error.

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The Serpent on the bottom left of the hill moves 16″ over to the side, while the autarch on the top right of the hill moves 16″ straight up.

You also built your gunline well, and put in some smite-esque mortal wound mechanics. Getting trapped in combat is pretty much a gunline’s worst nightmare, and it’s a very, very real threat. Introducing smite to your list can do wonders to mitigate some of the  impunity your opponent gets when he locks himself in combat with you.

Here the Eldar player pumped 3 smites from his psychers and popped his serpent shield for a total of 4d3 mortals. I conservatively pulled 5 Electropriests from the unit, because they have feel no pain to stop some of the smite damage.

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With that in mind you charged the Serpent and Autarch into the sides of the unit where they hopefully won’t take too much damage from the return attacks.

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Let’s just assume the Serpent and Autarch accomplish exactly 0 wounds in combat because 2++ invuls and fnp are quite annoying to chew through the hard way.

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This is a picture of what the situation looks like after the Electropriests pile in the first time, and punch the rangers in the face. Poor Billy. Note, they still get a 3″ pile in which they’re about to make.

Remember, a model must must move closer to the closest model, even for the consolidation.

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The pen in the middle of the unit of electropriests represents the dividing line between which models are closer to the Serpent, and which are closer to the Autarch. That means the models on the left have to consolidate closer to the serpent and the models on the right have to consolidate closer to the Autarch on the right.

There is another stipulation here though. Models must also remain in coherency when they pile in/consolidate.

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As you can see, the two models nearest the pen are pretty much at maximum coherency. That means neither model can move toward the enemy units they need to move towards without breaking coherency, and thus they can’t move. Consequently, the next few models are tethered to them as well by their 2″ coherency. Over the course of the whole unit, this effectively means that 5-6 models won’t be able to move at all, and nearly 1/3 of the Priest unit will be spent immobilly bridging coherency, and not fighting.

This excellent implementation bought you all the time you needed to deal with the incoming Electropriest threat, and engage whatever other portions of the Ad Mech army you needed to with your long range reapers. When executed properly, little tricks like this can totally stop an assault army in its tracks.

40k is a game where nearly every situation has an infinite amount of breakdowns on how it can be handled. Building a list with all the tools is half the battle, but the other half is knowing how to use your toolbox.

To learn more tricks, tactics and strategies from me personally and directly just follow the link to become a pro!

My Toys Are Bigger Than Yours: An imperial Knight Codex Review

Hello friends, I hope you’re not sick of me yet, because I have yet another codex review for you. This time we’re talking about an army which has never really gotten proper love and attention (until now) Knights! Knights are unique in that they they are an army of literally only Super Heavy slots. Which makes building armies with them a tad weird, but here’s the long and short of it.

Super Heavy Auc Choice: If you take 1 Knight or Armigar as a Super Heavy Aux then you cannot make use of the Knight Lance rule to make him a character, nor do you get the benefit of traditions. However you still unlock stratagems, so the meat of their utility is still available.

Super Heavy Detachment With Armigars: If you take a Superheavy detachment with let’s say a Knight Warden, a Knight Valient, and an Armigar Warglaive, that little guy will cost you 3cp. Any super heavy detachment of knights will unlock all your strats, give you access to the Knight Lance rule (so you can have WL traits and Relics), and give you access to traditions, however the inclusion of any Armigars into the detachment will remove all the CP benefit you wold have received.

Super Heavy Detachment With 3 Knights: This is literally as big as it gets! With this you get all the special rules Knights have to offer and 3cp!

Hopefully that clears up all the details about how to make Knights detachments for you!

And, now that all that’s covered we can go through some cool combos that Knights have!

Armigars- I’m not crazy about either Armigar to be honest. If they either had a mechanism to fall back and shoot/charge or at least move and shoot heavy weapons without penalty I’d be all about them. The shooty one falls is very similar to a Leman Russ Tank Commander with battle cannon as far as points/damage output, which leaves them in the category of decent but not ground-breakingly good. The Warglaive is nice as a mid field shooty/combat threat, however it might fill a role that Imperial armies just aren’t looking for as they fill a very similar roll to shield captains at a similar price point, but with the detriment of being shootable and not having fly.

Knight Gallant- These guys are super easy to overlook with all the new fancy toys Knights have, however I strongly recommend giving them the respect they deserve. A house Terryn Gallant can move 12 and run 2d6 pick the highest, then charge after the advance for just 1cp. In combat it can unload 15 stomp attacks or 5 sword attacks depending on the target, and then of course, fight twice. Let’s not forget, that since he will he goes down he will be deep in the enemy lines, and for just 1cp he can explode on a 4! This is the definition of a kamikaze knight for just ~345 points!

Knight Castellan- They said save the best for last, so that’s exactly what I did. This utter monstrosity is the true heart of the codex.

Let’s just take a second to go over what he shoots:

  • 2d6 plasma cannon shots
  • 2 shieldbreaker missiles
  • 4d3 Autocannon shots
  • 4 melta guns
  • d6 volcano lance shots

Holy shiitake mushrooms thats a ton of shots. But wait, there’s more! If you make this little guy House Raven for the stratagem to reroll all ones (including number of shots for his weapons) you’re now averaging a ton of autocannon equivalent shots, and you make yourself fairly immune to whiffing that volcano lance or plasma stuff. Let’s not forget he’ll be hitting on 2’s rerolling 1’s and rerolling 1s to wounds. At that points he’s basically a Knight being buffed by Guilliman.

What’s even better is when you make him the Warlord, you can give him the relic for a 2+ armor save and the WL trait for a 4++ inv, which of course you can buff to a 3++ as needed. And people thought Magnus and Morty were tough to kill…

It’s not all sunshine rainbows and puppies for Knights though. As I’m sure a lot of you may have realized, a lot of the cool tricks and combos I’m talking about require a ton of CP, and Knghts don’t exactly lend themselves to spamming battalions. That said, they live in the lovely world known as the Imperium, and therefore they have access to the humble infinite CP guard brigade. Competitively speaking, I think adding Knights to a more balanced force that can support them will see you with a lot more success than you would see with just taking your big toys out by themselves.

Here’s  really quick sample list of an army that has lots of options and the ability to adequately support the Knight. It could probably use some tweaking and refinement, but you get the idea.

Catachan Battalion
Stracken 75
Company Commander 30
Company Commander 30
Priest 35
Platoon Commander 20
Platoon Commander 20
10 Infntry 40
10 Infntry 40
10 Infntry 40
10 Infntry 40
10 Infntry 40
10 Infntry 40
Sentinel- Multi laser 45
Sentinel- Multi laser 45
Sentinel- Multi laser 45
3 Basilisks 324
3 Mortars 33
3 Mortars 33
Blood Angels Battalion
Captain- Thunder hammer, storm shield, jump pack 129
Captain- Thunder hammer, jump pack 114
5 Scouts 55
5 Scouts 55
5 Scouts 55
Super Heavy Aux
Knight Castellan 604

 

If you liked this article, and want to learn more about Knights, become a pro, and enjoy my weekly clinics on Imperial armies!

Exclusive Nights Pro Coaching Promotion

Hello all! If you were ever on the fence with my pro coaching packages, now is the best time to jump in! To celebrate the team up between The Brown Magic and Nights at the Game Table we’re doing a JUNE ONLY SALE for the Nights Pro Coaching!

Typically Nights pro membership costs $97/month which is equivalent to $1164/year, however for the month of June only we’re making  deal for you which is 77/month so only $924. That’s a savings of $240 for the year!

But wait, there’s more! If you decide to purchase a full year at once, the total cost will  be $797!  A total savings of $367! I mean, how can you not be on board for that!

Here’s just a tidbit of what you get for becoming a Nights PRO!

-Weekly live meta analysis with Nick Nanavati!

-4 weekly Clinics with Nick Nanavat, covering Imperial, Aeldari, Chaos, and other Xenos tactics and strategies!

-Weekly private exclusive live streamed battle reports with explanations of WHY top players make the decisions they make in games!

-A personalized list and phone call

-Heavy discounts on GW models

And so much more…

For more information on Nights Pro and how to join visit us at http://page.nightsatthegametable.com/nightspro

Out With the Old- In With the Nights Pro

Hey guys, as I’m sure many of you are aware, The Brown Magic is in the process of rebranding itself as part of the Nights at the Game Table! Their goals align with mine perfectly, and we can both help each other grow immensely to both offer better value for you guys, and help the community grow! Adam and his team from Nights are a great group of guys, and I’ honored to now be working with them.

Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering how this effects you, and it does so in only the most positive ways! Our production quality, and our content quality with both sky rocket, and now I will be able to play with an even wider variety of competitive armies for you guys!

To make sure we could do this transition as seamlessly as possible, I even flew down to Texas last week to meet with Adam, and his team personally. We discussed at length what direction to take the newly re-branded Brown Magic Premium, and we have some really awesome stuff to share with you!

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We’ve decided to combine some of my previously offered services into just two new ones, the list+call service, and Nights at the Game Table Pro.

I am a firm believer that having the right list is only 1/2 the battle in 40k, you really do need to know what you’re doing with it to succeed. To that end, we’ve combined the New list from scratch/list doctor services with the personal call service I used to offer. With this new package, you can have me help you design an army for you, and then also teach you how to use it!

Nights at the Game Table Pro is a combination of my previously offered Brown Magic Premium and Personal Coaching services. With it, you gain access to a private facebook group called Nights at the  Game Table Pro, which offers all the functionality of my Brown Magic Premium group (a private forum, live Q&A sessions, privately streamed games, featured lists, and much more!) You also gain the benefits of my personal coaching service. For joining I will help you design a list, and have a personal call you with just as described above, and you will get access to 4 weekly clinics, 1 for each major faction type, where I go over what makes them tick and why. These will be live online classes, so you can ask any specific questions which pertain to you as well. I also offer weekly meta analysis, based on tournament results, and new codices in real time. As if that wasn’t enough, by joining you’ll also gain access to a HUGE members only discount on Games Workshop models!

Here’s a detailed list of the new schedule in its current form, though as it grows it will certainly get more full, for even more value for you guys!

Date Service Description Time Public/Pro Page
Monday Meta Monday I live stream a recap of weekend event results and codex releases and go over how they affect the meta. What armies are on top and what you can expect to face at a GT! 1:00 pm EST Pro Page Only
Tuesday Article Weekly article for the Nights blog- ranging from tactical insights, game theory, meta analysis, and list breakdowns Public Blog Post
Wednesday Imperial Clinic Live stream with Nick Nanavati, where you can ask any questions you want about how to use imperial units, imperial match up analysis, list advice or situation analysis specifically tailored for you! 1:00 pm EST Pro Page Only
Wednesday Chaos Clinic Live stream with Nick Nanavati, where you can ask any questions you want about how to use chaos units, imperial match up analysis, list advice or situation analysis specifically tailored for you! 1:45pm EST Pro Page Only
Wednesday Xenos- Aeldari Clinic Live stream with Nick Nanavati, where you can ask any questions you want about how to use Aeldari units, imperial match up analysis, list advice or situation analysis specifically tailored for you! 2:30pm EST Pro Page Only
Wednesday Xenos- Other Races Clinic (Tyranids, Orks, Tau, Necrons) Live stream with Nick Nanavati, where you can ask any questions you want about how to use xenos units, imperial match up analysis, list advice or situation analysis specifically tailored for you! 3:15pm EST Pro Page Only
Weekly- but TBD Weekly Live Stream Watch a competitive 40k game live streamed. Top tier players with a variety of competitive lists, tactics, positioning, and our thought processes explained. Interact with the players in real time, and ask questions while the game is being played! Variable Pro Page Only

All of these clinics, Meta analysis, and live streamed battles will be organized and archived for your review afterwards as well, so even if you can’t make some of them live, you’ll be able to review their wealth of knowledge forever!

Stop trying to chase the meta, and start setting it by becoming a pro!

Being Triumphant at the Triumph GT

Hey guys, this weekend I’ll be going to the Triumph GT in New Jersey! It will be a classic 2000 GT using slightly modified ITC missions that will now incorporate an end game portion to the missions as well. For once, I’m not specifically tailoring my list for the event, as I normally preach in my 7 Steps to Win a Tournament article, and that’s because I’m actually using this tournament to prepare for the even larger and more important the European Team Championship where I’ll be representing America for the 6th consecutive year!

There will be some really big fish in this relatively small pond, such as up and coming locals like Jack Harpster, Brad Nichols, Amir Golpoor, and the now infamous Tubby who I’m sure many of you recognize from my stream. Also, some fellow Team America members like Nick Rose and Steve Pampreen! I certainly have my work cut out for me with this one.

Here’s the list I’ll be using this weekend!

Aliatoc Battalion
Warlock 55
Warlock Conclave 90
5 Rangers 60
5 Rangers 60
10 Guardians 80
5 Swooping Hawks- talon 68
Wave Serpent- bottom shuriken cannon 134
Wave Serpent 129
Mixed Supreme Command
Farseer <aliatoc> 110
Farseer <aliatoc> 110
Spiritseer <biel tan> 65
Ynari Outrider
Cat Lady (WL) 132
9 Shining Spears- star lance <saim hann> 281
9 Shining Spears- star lance <biel tan> 281
5 Swooping Hawks- talons <biel tan> 68
8 Dark Reapers- Tempest Launcher <aliatoc> 277

I’ll also be doing some facebook live streaming in the Nights at the Game Table Members group throughout the event, so be sure to check that out and become a member yourself!

A Gentleman’s Guide to Competitive 40k

Hooray! You’re off to a 40K tournament. Maybe it’s your first or maybe it’s your 50th.
Maybe you’ve yet to win a competitive game or maybe you’ve got so many trophies your
name is spoken of in hushed whispers when gamers gather at local stores.

Ask yourself. What type of player do you want to be?

Do I want to win at all costs? This is not an article about that. I can’t help you there.
There’s currently a pervading thought that the top players at 40K tournaments are mostly out to win by any means they can, and that the winner of a big GT is usually the guy who screws over his opponents the most. Understandably, this kind of image is one that dissuades people from coming to events. Whilst the majority of people who go to events are there to have a great time, meet up with friends and push little models around it is true that in recent years there has always been some kind of drama surrounding the players at the top tables.
That’s not a good image for our hobby and with a view to showing people that it doesn’t
have to be that way Nick asked me to put together the following article.

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Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

This is an article about playing well and being a decent human being (a Gentleman, or
Gentlelady I suppose) while doing so. Not about how to win. The two are not mutually
exclusive and it is certainly possible to do both at the same time. At the risk of self-
aggrandizing I should know – I’ve done it.
So why should anyone care how I play?
Good question.

1. Playing decently usually equates to less stress. Tournaments are usually stressful
enough with time constraints, the pressure to do well, making time to eat and drink so
that anything which makes for a stress free game has got to be good.
2. Do you care about your character/reputation? Ours is a small community and it
doesn’t take long for word to get out that ‘Player A’ is bad to play against. You don’t
want that reputation (If I have to point out why then you’re probably not reading the
article).

3. If you’re playing in a decent way your opponent will generally return the favour. So
you might give them a mulligan at some point during the game and they may well
give you one in return. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve offered to let my opponent go back and shoot with a model that they meant to or to take the feel no
pain saves that they forgot. Or they may just tell their friends what an awesome and
cool person you were which is fine as well (see point 2, above). And if you give them
a take-back and they don’t let you have one later, well you’ve got the moral high
ground and that’s something.

4. Basically what goes around comes around (back to the reputation thing). If you are
known to be a good player who happens to be a decent human being at the table
people will enjoy playing you and you’ll have your stress-free game. You’ll help
make their tournament experience just a little bit better and if was their first
tournament you’ve given them a reason to come back.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your mindset
You’re about to spend 2 ½ – 3 hours just a few feet away from someone who might be a
complete stranger. This is time you’ll never get back so have a quick think about how
you approach the game.

Option 1 – this person is a roadblock on my way to winning the tournament and I
need to win to ensure my path to 40K glory marches on unimpeded. My first priority here is winning the game and I’m not too concerned about whether my opponent has a good time or not. Okay, nothing wrong with this (except for maybe you’re taking this game a little too seriously) but this really isn’t the article for you.

Option 2 – I’d sure like to win this game and I’ll do my best to try and make that
happen but I’m not going to go out of my way to make things miserable for my opponent
because that is neither big nor clever. In fact given that I’m about to spend a few hours of
my life playing a game with them I’m going to try and have a good time and hopefully
they have one as well.
Assuming you’re still reading, here are some easy things you can do to make the game go
well.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Give your opponent no cause to doubt that they’re getting a fair game (if they think
you’re screwing them over somehow then it doesn’t matter how personable you are or
how many times you offer to get them a glass of water it’s going to be a bad game and if
the tournament has a sportsmanship score you’ve just blown it).
Know your rules and have any rulebook and associated FAQ to hand so you can show
your opponent what’s going on should they ask. Remember your opponents at a
tournament may not know your army as well as you so be prepared to show the rules that you are using.
Keep a consistent cocked dice roll policy. Personally if it’s not flat on the gaming surface
I reroll the result. Some people try and balance another die on top of the slightly cocked
one which is also cool. Whatever you pick keep it consistent.

Roll all your dice in the open and slowly enough that your opponent can keep up with
what’s going on. Your opponent may not care that he can’t see all your rolls all the time
but it’s a great habit to get into. Similarly, take your time separating hits from misses
from the pile of dice you’ve just rolled. Typically most tournament games can feel rushed
but take it easy – trying to speed your way through this can leave a bad taste in
someone’s mouth if they think you’re picking up too many hits, even if you’re not.

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Don’t slow play. Make every effort to move the game along at a reasonable pace (but see
the comment about rolling dice, so you have to strike a balance) so that you and your
opponent both get enough turns in the game to feel that you’ve actually both played and
you’re not ending the game by turn 2 or 3 when things are just getting interesting.
Sometimes getting a lot of turns in just isn’t possible if you and your opponent both have
high model count armies or both armies are active in every phase of the game. In this
case just do your best and there are things you can do to help your opponent – separating
hits from misses with dice rolls is one.
Playing the game
Playing nice doesn’t mean that you have to let the other person win. It doesn’t even mean
you have to take your foot off the gas (though you may want to think about that if your
opponent has literally no chance of winning and you can achieve victory without
crushing their hopes and dreams. I mean seriously, that doesn’t impress anyone).

It also doesn’t mean that you have to give your opponent take-backs or that you don’t
capitalize on a mistake that they may have made though you probably shouldn’t laugh at
the mistake and make them feel bad (unless they’re a good friend of yours and they’ve
got it coming for all the times they’ve beaten you in the past). It’s okay to point it out
after the game as something they might learn from if they play an army like yours again.

Neither does it mean you can’t question rules that your opponent is taking advantage of.
There is nothing wrong with asking your opponent to show you in the rules how they are
doing something or if they mind just explaining the thing that just happened. It’s also
perfectly fine to get a judge to come and give a ruling on something when you and your
opponent cannot agree on how a rule should be played. Tournaments have judges for just this eventuality but once they’ve given their ruling that’s the end of the discussion. If in your mind they’ve categorically made the wrong call then that’s where the tournament organizer comes in and they make the final decision.

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Decide on whether you are comfortable playing the game by ‘intent’ or would you prefer
exact measurements. An example here would be that they tell you their intention is to
move a particular unit so as to mean you’ll need a 10” charge to get to them in close
combat. Personally I’m fine with this as I feel it speeds the game up but it’s also perfectly
okay to play by exact measurements. Pick one way to play and stick with it.
Helping your opponent
This is by no means necessary and you can have a great game that’s fun and friendly
without helping the other person once.

However for reasons given a little later I typically try and help during the game if I think
my opponent would benefit from making another decision. Keep in mind it’s always
worth asking in advance if they’re okay with you giving them advice. In my experience
just about everyone will say yes but you never know.

This could be as significant as deployment – for instance your opponent’s deployment means they’re not going to have much of a chance at winning the game. I was playing at a big GT last year and my opponent didn’t deploy very well out of concern for what my army could do – after checking it was okay to give advice I pointed out they’d handed me
the win (and explained how the game would unfold) and asked them if they’d like to reset things. They did and we ended up with a great back-and-forth game that I only barely won. A much better game than if I’d have won without really rolling dice.

It could also be something minor though like forgetting to fire all models in a unit, or
they move on to the psychic phase having forgotten to move a unit.

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So why should I help my opponent?
You don’t have to. You can have a perfectly good game of 40K without correcting
mistakes along the way and at the end of the game you can shake hands on a well fought
out battle.
You can help make your opponent a better player. We tend to learn how to be better
when we make mistakes and by pointing out mistakes as they happen during the game
you can help your opponent improve right there and then.
If you win the game you’ll feel better that you helped your opponent and still managed to
pull out a victory. You’ll know that you won because you either outplayed your opponent
or were just plain luckier, rather than winning because they forgot to move a model or
that they should have been rolling additional saves for a unit.
Our hobby is ultimately a pretty small community and ultimately the more people that
play the game the better. By helping someone out they’ll hopefully take that knowledge
back to their local store or club and pass it on to others.

In conclusion – have a good time
At its very core 40K is a game. Lives are not on the line and neither are vast amounts of
money (okay so sure we’ve all spent untold wads of money on this hobby but even the
most lucrative prize in the game won’t even put a dent in that expense). Some of us can
get a little carried away though and lose perspective of that. Ultimately don’t you want to
have a good time when you play?
To that end I always try and make sure I’m having fun. With any luck my opponent will
pick up on it and have fun as well but at the very least then I’ve had a good time. People
often ask me why most of my armies are painted pink with flowers and the answer is
really very simple. It makes me smile.

With any luck this article will encourage people that it’s perfectly possible to do well at a
tournament and still have a good game with every opponent. If you’re reading this and
you see me at the next event hopefully we’ll get to play – I’m looking forward to a good
game.

Live Stream: Nick Nanvati vs Dallas Tubby Eldar vs Nids 6/3 3pm EST

Hey everyone, tomorrow I will be playing against Tubby’s Tyranids on Nights At The Game Table Pro! (the new Brown Magic Premium essentially) The game will be live streamed for members only tomorrow June 3rd at 3:00pm EST

For more info on how to subscribe please visit the Nights services page!

http://page.nightsatthegametable.com/procoaching

And here are the lists!

Nick Nanavati Tubby Tyranids
Aliatoc Batalion Kraken Battalion
Warlock 55 Hive Tyrant- wings, 2 devourers 218
Farseer 110 Hive Tyrant- wings, devourers, rending claws 204
5 Rangers 60 19 Genestealers- 4 acid maws 228
5 Rangers 60 19 Genestealers- 4 acid maws 228
5 Rangers 60 3 Rippers 33
Wave Serpent 129
Kraken Battalion
Mixed Supreme Command Swarmlord 300
Eldrad 150 Hive Tyrant- wings, devourers, rending claws 204
Warlock <ulthwe> 55 3 Rippers 33
Spiritseer <biel tan> 65 3 Rippers 33
3 Rippers 33
Ynari Outrider 6 Hive Guard 288
Cat Lady 132 3 Venomthropes 90
9 Spears- star lance <Saim Hann> 281 6 Meiotic Spores 108
9 Spears- star lance <biel tan> 281
8 Spears- star lance <Saim Hann> 250
9 Reapers- tempest 301

Who Said Combat Was About Killing Things?

Today, in another lovely tactical segment, I go over some sneaky pile in tricks for you guys! Last week I covered how to charge things, so I figured it’d only be fitting to go over a trick I love to use when actually fighting things.

Here we have a unit of orange horrors screening the unit of pink horrors sitting on the objective. This is to ensure that the Grey Knights can’t run in there and contest it. Let’s assume for this demonstration that the GK have the objective secured rule, but the horrors don’t because of the way that their detachments are set up.

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As we enter the charge phase the Grey Knights rolled the classically average 7 on 2d6. I even busted out the handy dandy tape measure to show you exactly how far 7″ can get you. Nowhere near close enough to get to within 3″ of the objective. But you’re a good player right? You’ve been keeping up with your Brown Magic articles, so you understand that after killing the orange horrors, the Grey Knights will be able to pile in 3″ further to potentially get within 3″ of the objective!

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Wellll, not quite! As an avid follower of The Brown Magic you know you should premeasure everything. So, before moving your models, you bust out your handy dandy tape measure and find your Grey Knights are actually further than 13″ away from the objective. That means your 7″ charge + your 3″ consolidation at the end of your fight + the 3″ radius from the objective for capturing it (13″ total) won’t be enough to get you into range. Sad times indeed.

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Fret not humble Grey Knight player, all is not lost. There are actually some really sneaky moves you can employ here to get within range of the objective!

This is where I positioned the Grey Knights after moving their initial charge move. I was very deliberate to keep them fairly far from the orange horrors on their initial charge move, allowing me to still pile in during my fight phase. Note, had I based the horrors with some of my grey knights I would not be able to pile in with those models due to the fact that in order to pile in, you must move your model closer to closest enemy model, and if you are base to base, you can never actually get closer.

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This picture illustrates that the front rank of Grey Knights are exactly 1″ away from the pink horrors. More specifically, the Grey Knight nearest the tape measure is exactly 1″ away from the horror nearest him, the next Grey Knight over is exactly 1″ away from the horror nearest him, and finally the grey knight furthest from the tape measure is exactly 1″ from the horror nearest him. This means that those three Grey Knights may pile in however they like so that they end closer to those respective models. “Closer” being defined in this sense as a measurement of distance that implies if they are currently 1″ away they must end .99999″ away or closer after their pile in.

Now, let’s see how to use and abuse that maliciously!

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Here’s how I did my initial pile in with my Grey Knights. I walked right passed the horrors that were standing right in front of me. I made sure to finish .99999″ away from them, thus ensuring the pile in was legal, as I finished “closer” than when I started.

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A cool thing happened here though! My two most forward Grey Knights are now closest to the pink horror standing right in front of them (roughly .5″ away). This will become relevant the next time they attempt to pile in (their consolidation move). A consolidation move and a pile in move follow the same basic rule of ending closer than you started to the nearest enemy model.

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Well, the unthinkable happened. Fateweaver pulled off some of his sneaky daemon tricks and the orange horrors escaped from the flurry of Grey Knight attacks unscathed! Thankfully, that doesn’t matter, because the Grey Knight player used this cool thing called tactics!

Now, the Grey Knight player moves in for his final consolidation. He needs his two models nearest the pink horror to finish closer to the horror than where they started. Since they are about ~.5″ away they need to finish .49″ away from the pink horror or closer.

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And ring-around-the-horror we go! The Grey Knight uses his final consolidation to walk right by the horror standing in front of him (ending closer to it than from where he started), and well within range of the objective!

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And here’s the final shot of how the Grey Knight charge went. Even though literally nothing died, the Grey Knights won the battle, by capturing the “defended” objective!

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And just because I like you guys, here’s a before and after side by side!

 

 

Oftentimes, you’ll hear me run around preaching that assault is more powerful than shooting, and this is precisely why. Assault and shooting are both mechanisms for dealing damage to your opponent, but assault can also function as a second or even third movement phase! It may be more subtle, but once you can start to see situations like the above beginning board state on the left, and visualize the step by step process of how you can transform it to the above board state on the right, you’ll really start to see why the highest caliber 40k players respect assault so much.

So go out there, play some games, and try to see how you can shift the emphasis of your tactics and strategies from killing to winning!

 

 

2 Live Streams 1 Channel…

Hey guys, I have two options for you! This week I’ll be playing and streaming 2 games. The first is tomorrow (May 31st) at 6pm EST and will be me playing ynari/eldar/de/harlequins vs former Nova Open winner and ETC team America player Justin Cook playing tau. The second will be on Sunday (June 3rd) at 3:00pm EST with me playing my revised LVO eldar army vs Tubby (who’s top 16’d nearly every event he’s played in and is really a rising star in the competitive circuit) and his tyranids.

One of these games will be on my public channel and the other will be for premium members only! I will give you guys the opportunity to vote on which one you’d like me to make public and which you want private!

To vote, please visit the brown magic Facebook page and view the pinned post at the top! https://www.facebook.com/The-Brown-Magic-143252259677237/

***Caveat*** due to lack of models, my game with Justin Cook may include some proxies, though i will do my best to make this clear.

Voting will close at 5:00pm EST tomorrow.

And as always you can of course catch both by subscribing to the brown magic premium! More information on subscribing here: thebrownmagic.com/services/

 

And here are the lists!

Nick Nanavati Justin Cook
Ynari Battalion Tau Brigade
Yncarne 337 Longstrike- Ion, SMS, 2 seekers 212
Eldrad 150 Darkstrider 45
Warlock 55 Cadre Fireblade 42
5 Rangers 60 Ethereal 45
5 Rangers 60 9 Strikes 63
5 Rangers 60 9 Strikes 63
9 Shining Spears <saim hann> star lance

 

281 9 Strikes 63
Prophet of Flesh Battalion 9 Strikes 63
Urien 90 9 Strikes 63
Haemonculus- electro corrosive whip 76 10 Strikes 70
8 Wracks 72 Riptide- Burst, SMS, Velocity Tracker, Target Lock 272
8 Wracks 72 Riptide- Burst, SMS, Velocity Tracker, Target Lock 272
8 Wracks 72 Marksmen 25
8 Wracks 72 5 Pathfinders- pulse accelerator drone 48
8 Wracks 72 5 Pathfinders- pulse accelerator drone 48
8 Wracks 72 6 Pathfinders- pulse accelerator drone 56
Hammerhead- Ion, SMS, 2 Seekers 175
Harlequin Vanguard Hammerhead- Ion, SMS, 2 Seekers 175
Shadowseer 125 Hammerhead- Ion, SMS, 2 Seekers 175
Troupe Master- fusion piston, embrace 85
Solitaire 98 Sacea Auxilary
Death Jester 45 Marksmen 25
Death Jester 45
Death Jester 45

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Nick Nanavati Tubby Tyranids
Aliatoc Batalion Kraken Battalion
Warlock 55 Hive Tyrant- wings, 2 devourers 218
Farseer 110 Hive Tyrant- wings, devourers, rending claws 204
5 Rangers 60 19 Genestealers- 4 acid maws 228
5 Rangers 60 19 Genestealers- 4 acid maws 228
5 Rangers 60 3 Rippers 33
Wave Serpent 129
Kraken Battalion
Mixed Supreme Command Swarmlord 300
Eldrad 150 Hive Tyrant- wings, devourers, rending claws 204
Warlock <ulthwe> 55 3 Rippers 33
Spiritseer <biel tan> 65 3 Rippers 33
3 Rippers 33
Ynari Outrider 6 Hive Guard 288
Cat Lady 132 3 Venomthropes 90
9 Spears- star lance <Saim Hann> 281 6 Meiotic Spores 108
9 Spears- star lance <biel tan> 281
8 Spears- star lance <Saim Hann> 250
9 Reapers- tempest 301

A Good Clown Will Turn That Frown Upside Down

It’s been roughly 40,000 years since Harlequins got a fully functional codex that was tournament legal with HQ’s and troops, but our Games Workshop overlords have finally delivered! For all you competitive 40k clown lovers out there I have good news and bad news for you.

Good News: Your codex is full of flavor, trickery, and strong units which really make it feel like Harlequins. Once again the new GW is showing their responsiveness and really delivering on their codices to make sure the armies have a lot uniqueness to them whilst being competitively viable.

Bad News: The harlequin army is one made of small unit selection. A codex of 2 HQ’s, 2 elites, 1 troop, 1 fast, 1 heavy, and 1 transport an army does not make. Furthermore, a lot of the awesome tricks to the harlequins really get enhanced by Eldar or Dark Eldar which will help elevate a Harlequin primary force achieve new heights in competitiveness. Finally, a lot of the small things that make Harlequins fantastic (like multiple ways to ignore overwatch, assassinate characters, and debuff ld) fall into more of a support role rather than a main strategy.

The jury has still yet to reach a verdict, but in my opinion, competitively speaking, Codex Harlequins should be retitled Codex Harlequins: An Aeldari Supplement.

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With all that said, let’s go over some of the unique tricks that Harlequins do have up their sleeve. (I’m having a lot of fun with these puns if you couldn’t tell)

One of the overarching themes you’ll see me going over with Harlequins is leadership debuffs. One concept that’s always existed throughout the Aeldari has been leadership shenanigans (hemlocks, horrify, phastasm grenade launchers, etc…), however this gimmick has always been unreliable and too out of the way to really pull off consistently. I personally believe that Harlequins now provide the missing tool for that arch-type of army build. They have a lot of subtle leadership modifers which fit in naturally with how the army wants to play, and better yet, synergize with the already pre-existent leadership shenanigans in their sister codicies.

Needless to say my favorite <masque> is Silent Shroud. The leadership interactions they provide is very natural given that harlequins already want to be up close and personal, and it stacks really well with the other leadership modifiers available. Not to mention, it also unlocks one of the best strats in the whole book: The Silent Knife!

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Shadowseers– These guys went from zero to hero really quickly in the new book. They now know two different powers from the newly flushed out Harlequin spell list, as opposed to the one they knew before.  They also have a lot of built in synergy with the way the army plays. And they got cheaper! It’s very easy to stack a -2 leadership modifier on a unit, then cast shards of light, which is effectively a smite that deals an additional -1 leadership. After dealing the d3 mortals from silent shroud, feel free to cast a smite normally onto the unit. Then shoot your Hallucigen Grenade Launcher at said unit, which requires you to roll 2d6 to match or beat the opponents now -3 ld characteristic. Assuming you match or beat it, it inflicts a further d3 mortals. All added together a lowly shadowseer can reliably get off 6 mortal wounds onto an enemy unit then effectively make them take their morale test at -3 before any casualties. Very subtle. Very nasty.

Death Jesters- Nothing too crazy happened to these guys, but they got cheap enough to not just scoff at in disgust. They also synergize very well with that whole leadership shtick I’ve been rambling about. The shrieker mode of fire on their weapon can very reliably kill something like a singular guardsmen, which will then cause d3 mortals. It also comes with a lovely bonus of causing an additional -2 ld to a unit if it caused a casualty. Followed up by the super easy to deliver -2 ld mod from Silent Knife+The Mask of Secrets or shards of light, or a hemlock etc… And you can quickly see how a single bullet can easily wipe most of a 10 man infantry. Another added bonus to these guys is if they attack a unit at all with their weapon (regardless of causing any damage), they will allow you to choose which model flees as a result of morale. Often times this is irrelevant, but certainly has its niche uses against squads with upgrades, or even more sneakily, pulling a specific model on an objective or something along those lines. Like I said, Harlequins are super subtle!

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Solitaire- This sneaky little guy got cheaper… again… Also, being not a special character he makes for the perfect recipient for some of the really cool relics. Some standout ones are the already mentioned Mask of Secrets to further the ld nonsense, and Cegorach’s Rose, which is a Kiss that rerolls to wound natually and does flat 3 damage against infantry. This guy is the ultimate character slayer with Blitz coupled with the Rose. He’s also very good against things like Hive Guard, Groteques, and other obnoxious multi wound infantry.

Skyweavers– On a first glance I don’t think these guys are that great for their cost. They don’t hit that hard in combat, especially in comparison to a Troupe who has twice as many attacks, and they certainly don’t shoot enough to warrant their cost. When compared to a shining spear it’s almost laughable how bad these guys are. But, what they do offer is a pretty tough, mobile, anti tank platform. -1 to hit which can easily be combined with lightning fast reflexes for -2 coupled with 3 wounds and a 4++ is actually really difficult to shoot. And when each one pumps out D6 haywire shots it can make a tanks very sad very fast. Also, did I hear someone mention haywire + Doom? Sounds like synergy to me!

Other units such as Troupes in Starweavers and Troupe Masters are also pretty strong, however they remain mostly unchanged since the index so I left them out of the review, in order to really focus on the “winners” of the new codex.

Finally, here’s a sample list which utilizes Eldar for support powers, screens, and leadership shenanigans.

Silent Shroud Battalion
Shadowseer (WL) 125
Troupe Master- fusion pistol, embrace 85
Solitaire 98
5 Troupes- embrace 95
5 Troupes- embrace 95
5 Troupes- embrace 95
6 Skyweavers- haywire cannons, zephyrgalives 306
Starweaver 99
Starweaver 99
Starweaver 99
Alaitoc Battalion
Farseer Skyrunner 130
Warlock Skyrunner 65
5 Rangers 60
5 Rangers 60
5 Rangers 60
Hemlock 210
Hemlock 210

This is army is very deceptive in its speed, power and resiliency. The whole thing is -1 to hit and often times -2. It has multiple different deployment options with 3 abilities to deep strike and 2 abilities to redeploy. It hits like a ton of bricks in both shooting and assault, especially when you combine powers like doom and the harlequin shooting.  The hemlocks also synergize extra well thanks to their leadership debuff aura. Pretty much the only thing this army doesn’t want to fight would be a large fearless horde like Tyranids.

Overall, Harlequins add a fantastic set of tools to the Aeldari armies, and I think they’ll make an excellent detachment for other armies!

Also, all this talk of clown people has gotten me really excited about the assault phase. Stay tuned for Thursday’s article where I talk about some sneaky pile in tricks!

Cheater No Cheating!

Hey everybody—my name is Justin Curtis. I’ve been rather heavily involved in the 40k tournament scene for the past 5+ years; my team has won the American Team Championships for 3 consecutive years, I was on the USA ETC 2016 team, and I had the misfortune of losing the roll to go first against Nick’s Warp Hunter list in the NOVA Invitational Finals a couple years ago. But if you know me at all, you’re more likely to know me as a judge than a player—I’ve been involved in top-table judging at the
Adepticon Championships and Team Tournament, the NOVA Open, and numerous regional tournaments as well as having a hand in writing prior-edition FAQs for events like ETC and NOVA.

40k’s competitive environment has been growing quickly as of late—this is, generally speaking, good news for all of us—but it’s come with a downside as well. Recent events (most specifically at Vegas and London GT) have sparked some controversy over how play is handled at top tables, with events and even specific players coming under harsh scrutiny by the wider community.

It’s time to have a discussion about the realities of play at that level, reasonable expectations for both events and players, and how to handle it when it seems those expectations have not been met. Nick’s been kind enough to let me share my thoughts here on his page.

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I feel qualified to weigh in on this as I feel I’ve had a direct hand—either as a player, a judge, or an organizer—in about as many high-end, top-table, GT-level games as all but a small handful of people in our community. And the reality is, there’s an extremely large portion of our community who haven’t ever had that experience, or even directly witnessed a top-table GT finals game, and the disconnect between those two groups is growing wider as the competitive hobby gains more traction.

So, let’s shed some light on the realities of how these games and events actually work in practice.

The first conversation you need to have in regard to controversies over top-level gameplay is regarding responsibility. Whose fault is it when something goes wrong? What if somebody “cheats”? This one has a very short answer (one many of you probably won’t like) but comes with a much longer explanation.

As a quick side note, you’ll want to notice “cheating” is covered in sarcastic quotes. What is frequently described as “cheating” in secondary discussions is, vastly more often than not, more accurately described as “playing incorrectly.” This is a very important distinction, as actual cheating is incredibly rare in tournament 40k, at least at the level we’re discussing here.

The short answer: If a rule is misplayed in your game to your detriment, it is your fault.

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A more neutral phrasing (and the one I prefer) goes more like this: The primary onus of ensuring your opponent plays the game correctly is on you.

Now, we can do the much longer explanation.

First off, you are absolutely the person best suited to enforcing the rules in your own game. You’re the only person with any motivation to do so, in fact. You want to win your game, nobody else (at least from an organizational standpoint) should really care who wins. You’re the one with the most information available—as you’re directly involved in the game—and anyone else who arrives to adjudicate the situation after the fact is usually working on opinions and a possibly-altered board state. If your opponent were to “cheat,” you’re the only person directly affected in a negative manner. So, it is obviously in your best interests to “police” your own game, as it were.

Now this all sounds a bit draconian—telling people it’s their own fault they got cheated and all—but let me assure you, it’s not by design, it’s by necessity.

The realities of the tournament 40k landscape do not allow for any other mechanism to exist. Sure, in a perfect world, the Las Vegas Open would have 250 highly-trained judges standing at 250 tables enforcing strict-rules game play on all attendees.

This is not a perfect world. Such a system is impossible for any number of reasons, but for now it’s worth stopping at “impossible” and continuing on. Table side “active judging” is not a viable option for 40k on a widespread level.

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Time for another quick vocabulary lesson—what is “active judging”? Active judging is the concept of a judge actively intervening on the table any time they observe the game being played incorrectly, to any degree.

That sounds like a good thing, right?

While this is sometimes an open conversation at an organizational or judging-staff level, the prevailing thought at most large 40k events is that active judging is not desirable. I’m absolutely in that camp as well, and have always been an advocate of passive judging (or to steal a term from the Adepticon judging staff of old, “vampire judging”—we’re not allowed to go in unless we’re invited).

This means a judge only intervenes on a table if their intervention is specifically requested by a player (outside of obvious larger issues like physical/dice cheating, verbal abuse, etc etc) and, in a similar vein, agreements between the players on the table are the highest law of the event.

The primary reason for this stance is another “perfect world” issue—there just aren’t enough qualified judges to maintain an “active judging” situation on more than a table or two at any given event. I’ve always been very vocal in my opinion that there’s probably about 10 people in the entire world I’d consider qualified to actively judge a top-table GT game.

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And even those 10 people would make mistakes. I certainly would.

Which brings us to the more dangerous aspect of “active judging”—what happens, especially in this age of streamed and recorded games, when the judge catches the incorrect play by Player A, but misses the incorrect play by Player B? What if Player B wins because of that incorrect play? The accusations and perception of bias and negative impact on the event would be enormous.

On top of that, you’ve shifted the blame away from Player A—who had equal opportunity to call Player B out on their incorrect play—and onto a judge. A volunteer judge who gave up their opportunity to play in the event to help others out, and likely paid airfare/hotel/etc fees for the privilege.

The realities of the complexity of the game and the availability of qualified judges lead us back to the original statement—the responsibility of ensuring your opponent plays correctly is on you.

Now, it’s important to point out that it’s not all doom and gloom—if we’ve established that the primary responsibility for accurate play is on the players, what is the responsibility of the event? They aren’t without a role here, and there is certainly blame to be put on them when certain things are handled poorly.

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The event (in my opinion) is responsible for providing you the means to confirm and enforce the rules. Primarily, this means judges, but also an accurate rules packet, well-written missions, and in previous editions even things like event-FAQs.

If you say “hey, I think you’re playing that rule wrong” and the other guy says “no I’m not,” you’ve reached the point where you need intervention from the event. That’s what judges are for. By notifying a judge, the players have met their burden of responsibility—this is where the line ends for them.

The event will, hopefully, have at least a small handful of qualified judges available to assist in coming to a correct ruling. Again, this is not always a perfect process, and incorrect rulings are sometimes given—if given frequently, the event absolutely should be held accountable for the quality of those rulings. We all hear horror stories of local/regional tournaments where some guy said Space Marines all have Fly and can move 18” and a judge agreed with him, but luckily those sorts of things are relatively
rare at the large tournaments—the judging staffs at the big 3 event teams (FLG, NOVA, Adepticon) are pretty seasoned veterans at this point and have core groups of people who are incredibly knowledgeable in the rules, and are always immediately available on the floor for rulings as necessary.

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There’s a secondary element worth discussing here, which is speed. The judges aren’t just responsible for attempting to get you a correct ruling, they’re responsible for doing so in a time frame that is not overly harmful to the gameplay experience. If you’ve ever had an actual hard-rules conversation with citations and precedent and the inherent vagueness of the 40k ruleset, you know these things aren’t always a speedy process. But a tournament game can actually be harmed far more by a lengthy ruling than by an incorrect one—if the judges take so long to get you an answer that you only get to play 2
turns, it wasn’t worth the effort. With that in mind, floor rulings do sometimes have to sacrifice accuracy for brevity, and is a possible source of incorrect rulings.

The overarching theme of what I’m explaining here is that 40k is an incredibly complicated game, especially when you start trying to dissect it down to the level necessary for competitive play, and everybody is going to make mistakes in their games. I hold the opinion that a full-length, rules-perfect game of tournament 40k has never been played.

What I’m attempting to give insight to is the problems involved in dealing with that complexity, from both an organizational and player standpoint. There are no perfect solutions, and mistakes will continue to be made—what’s been outlined above is our best shot at trying to handle those mistakes as they occur.

With that, there must also come some level of acceptance for those mistakes. Until we find the means to police away all possibly misplay from our games, the two concepts go hand in hand.

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This is what we have been losing recently, for various reasons, and it’s what needs to be addressed as much as anything.

Suddenly—with the rise of streamed and recorded games, and an anonymous internet to consume them—every mistake made by every player is “cheating,” and every seemingly minor infraction is evidence of a grand conspiracy. There’s a situation currently unfolding with Alex Harrison’s game at the London GT which reeks of these issues.

[As a disclaimer, it’s worth pointing out that I do not know Alex well—I’ve met him once or twice at larger GTs, and never been directly involved in his games as far as I’m aware.]

The first issue is a rules mistake—a misplay regarding For the Greater Good and Hammerheads. Again, to describe this as “cheating” is both disrespectful to Alex and incredibly presumptuous on the part of anyone pretending they’ve never made a similar mistake (which is incredibly easy to do on Twitch chat or in the comments of a Facebook post).

What amazed me as a judge is they were actually presented with the opportunity to correct this mistake directly—an incredibly rare luxury, as under normal circumstances, the game would have progressed beyond the ability to do anything beyond playing the rule correctly in the remaining turns. But due to a scheduling issue with the venue, the game was stopped shortly afterwards and finished at a later time, which allowed them to actually roll back the misplay and resolve the rule correctly. This cannot be expected under normal tournament conditions, but was an interesting given the situation.

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The remaining issues—a bumped water bottle, a misplaced wound counter, and an erroneous measurement—are borderline absurd, from the perspective of someone who’s seen dozens and dozens of these games. These issues are only being made notable due to the relatively new capability of 40k to have a “spectator” class, watching and armchair judging from home, with no stake in the event and no expectation of civility or reasonable discourse.

This is the downside, mentioned earlier, of the sudden growth of 40k’s competitive hobby. Suddenly, everything is held under a microscope by people who either do not have (or choose to ignore) the context for the scenarios they are choosing to pass judgment on, and with no compulsion not to do so, as they’re simply that—spectators.

This is sometimes discussed in professional sports as “the right of the fan,” the right to boo the players and harass the umpire because you paid for your seat and they’re professionals and they should be held to a higher standard, right?

Except these aren’t professionals. You didn’t pay for your seat. You’re not booing the umpire at the World Series, you’re the slightly-too-involved uncle making a scene at a Little League baseball game

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.

You’re expecting 40k tournament players to be held to a standard that the other players don’t even hold them to. As noted, if Geoff had issues with Alex’s play during the game, he would have notified the staff—as is his responsibility. In the cases of mechanical misplays, this is how the situations were resolved, apparently to both players’ satisfaction.

Why is it, then, that anonymous internet onlookers should be outraged if the opposing player was not? And the fact is, top-level 40k tournament players know this to be the truth, because they know that they themselves make these same mistakes, so it would be hypocritical to jump all over someone else for doing so. As a judge, I don’t have top-level players come up to me after an event and tell me they lost because someone “cheated.” They tell me they lost because they forgot how a rule worked. They understand where the responsibility for these matters lay, and they act accordingly.

Now, for those out there shaking their head thinking I’m coming off as a hand-waving apologist, I’d like to put out the following:

Find an absolute stranger, who is approximately equivalent to your skill level in 40k. Bet them a reasonably large sum of money on a single game. Agree to play on a strict time limit, in a crowded venue, surrounded by noise and people.

Then, record video of you playing this game. Put it on the internet for all to judge. To frame-by-frame dissect every move you make, every rules assumption, every measurement and mechanic.

If your game does not have 90% of the same problems as Alex and Geoff’s game, then congratulations, you’re playing at a much higher level than the rest of us.

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Until then, I want you to consider every tournament game you’ve ever played. Think about every time you and your opponent disagreed on whether that knocked-over wound counter was on a 6 or a 4. Think about every time a model fell off a ruin and was put back in a slightly different spot. Think about the rule you misplayed, and didn’t realize until you were reading the Codex again two weeks later. Every time you didn’t play perfect 40k.

Then think about how different things would be if there was a recording, and it turns the wound counter was a 4. And that there are pictures to prove that model wasn’t at that spot on the ruin. And the guy at home with the Codex on his lap knows you played that rule wrong immediately.

The purpose of all this isn’t to label anyone as a cheater or abolish them of any misdoings, it was just to shed some light and give some real perspective on an aspect of the hobby which ~90% of people understand almost nothing about.

But remember, the real take away from all this is to do your homework before watching TV and always eat your vegetables.

-Justin Curtis- The 2nd Best Daemon Player