In my first few articles about Warhammer 40,000 I talked mostly to beginners and people beginning a new army. Now I'd like to take a moment and reflect upon my experiences at the Contest of Champions in Sacramento.
Firstly and most importantly, I had a blast. As usual Great Escape Games in Sacramento does the MOST incredible job of attracting 80+ people to a Warhammer 40k tournament. Gary & Sirus(and admin staff) run this tournament very smoothly and have been doing it for so long that it shows. I cannot thank them enough for their efforts.
Secondly, I learned a lot. This is a key element to becoming competitive(especially at the CoC level) and staying there amongst a group of ultra competitive people. I have no shame in believing that the average IQ amongst tournament Warhammer 40k players is WELL above average(on the other hand so is the level of adult virgins). You have to be somewhat cerebral just to have read the rule book and desired to actually play after consuming so much out of context jargon. On a personal note what I learned may not be what I expected to take away from this tournament but that doesn't mean that it was any less valuable.
Thirdly...My friends did SUPER well and that is always a small consolation. Shotdownmind got 3rd overall(out of 82) and General Bass(Chaos666) went 3-0 with all 3 bonus objectives.
All that being said there was one very sad disappointment. The opponent I encountered for my second round, his initials are the same as the first name of a certain female country singer that he also shared physical resemblance with, wasn't very fun. On top of not being very fun, he was blunt and pragmatic in a bad way. His countenance was dreary from the start and at no time did he make an attempt to create rapport. He didn't crack a joke, he didn't smile, he didn't try to explain rules about his army to me, he made comments under his breath and worst of all he SLOW PLAYED ME BIG TIME! So, the lessons I learned from this particular tournament were not about deployment strategy or the strengths and weaknesses of my army. The lesson I learned at this tournament is that SLOW PLAY is a very real obstacle to a fair game. I used to hear my local shop owner talk about(and give very valid advice on) SLOW PLAY and his experiences with it. I guess I should have taken him more seriously. General Oadius is not feeling sorry for himself here, I just want you to learn from my mistakes. The simple fact that I have encountered only one such individual in my years of playing 40k, means that 99.9% of you are fantastically sincere and warm. Playing Warhammer 40k means a lot to me and I'll be damned if an underhanded general presents more than an opportunity to learn on my road to apex generalship.
I think that a certain clarification needs to take place. There are several types of SLOW PLAY. One is where you have a new or inexperienced general who needs time to play the game properly. In these cases a lot of rules will be talked about and discussed in a very innocent and friendly way. There is the type of SLOW PLAY where a horde player will have 100+ models and the sheer time to move models is the obstacle. There is the type of SLOW PLAY that is done so with ill intention but is done so smoothly that the enemy general is unaware(I really don't have a problem with this as it is impossible to prove and requires cunning). There is the type of SLOW PLAY where you matched up against a very garrulous(typically very friendly) person that wants to talk more than he wants to win. These are some of the nicest people you will meet and they enjoy the interaction between strangers. Warhammer is wonderful in it's ability to bring people of all types together. Then there is the type of SLOW PLAY I had the pleasure of playing against, where your opponent picks one topic per phase to find something to debate fiercely and uses completely erroneous information to consume your valuable time.
Here are my examples: Enemy monstrous creature deep strikes onto a wrecked rhino, next turn another rhino with access hatches wants to shoot at the giant model with melta and melta pistols. SLOW PLAY general says "well he is in cover." General Oadius says "that doesn't matter, you are a MC and therefore require 50% obscurity to gain a cover save." SLOW PLAY says "well I'm down here on the floor of the table not on top of the rhino because I blew it up." GEN Oadius says "no you wrecked it, therefore it is a 3-Dimensional object that you are standing on top of, it doesn't matter anyways because I can see your entire model without obscurity here or there(keep in mind a melta pistol only has a 6" range..the fact that he is in range pretty much means it is impossible to get a cover save). This continues for like 3 to 4 minutes before I go off to get a judge, SLOW PLAY stops me and says that it's OK. He mutters under his breath that I am probably right. OK... he is definitely not the only person to believe that a MC in cover gains a 4+ but to argue for 5 minutes that my rhino is not there and therefore he is obscured....there is no basis in logic for that argument. I didn't get that he was SLOW PLAYING me yet but the proof was coming soon.
The real proof is when he assaulted my Reclusiarch, Priest and 8 man assault marines with some out flankers that were outnumbered and sure to die. I was in cover, he had no grenades and so the argument began....I said I have an initiative 5 HQ do you have grenades? No, he says but you go at initiative 10, I go at my normal initiative and then your Thunder hammer goes last... I blink in disbelief for a moment, gather my wits and reply, "No.". He repeats his last statement exactly and doesn't change expression. I ask him how he got through his first game without this coming up. He said it didn't. I tell him that I have never heard that before but it doesn't even matter. I am confident that at any initiative order(even him going first)I'm going to kill those 4 guys and consolidate. I tell him to proceed how he wishes but that I am now sure that he is arguing to eat up the clock and that I'd like to move on. Now at this point when somebody accuses me of doing something less than scrupulous, I typically change expression of sorts and reply with indignation. He did not. That to me is a further mark of his pragmatism and ignorance OR proof positive that he was trying to slow the game down. Either way at this point in the game I'm done with the guy and definitely blowing his sportsmanship score down to the underground plumbing. That means that he cannot possibly win best overall or even place because the point margin at the top DEFINITELY requires perfect sportsmanship scores. So in the end his efforts are just as counter productive as they were emotionally draining on me. He wouldn't let it go, so I went over to Shotdownmind who was playing a table away and asked him If I had been smoking crack my entire 40k career. He told me that I had been smoking crack but that even so this initiative 10 is SHENANIGANS. Right off the bat he says that. Not having met my competitor nor gone through all the previous arguments he knew right off the bat....SHENANIGANS. Initiative 10? WTF man. It was too late, he had the game because there wasn't a turn 5 MUCH LESS A 6 or 7!! He'd been playing for that from the beginning. I planned(as usual) to assault by 5 with enough force to wipe his troop in one turn if the game ended on 5. I'd have sufficient forces remaining to survive shooting and even a resulting counter charge when I camped the middle objective(I had 1st turn). Game ends before turn 4 is even over and I'm about an inch away from contesting middle objective for tie. He didn't get his personal objective and therefore was out of the running for best general too. I did get my personal objective(killed his deep striking HQ, no problem).
Up to this point I've made a few broad generalizations when I referred to the Initiative 10 thing as "Proof Positive". I'd like to clarify here as well. Previously I mentioned the several different types of SLOW PLAY, i.e. newbies, horde, super smooth, talkative/friendly and of course the intentional SLOW PLAYER. With those 5 categories in mind all I had to do was narrow it down to which one he was.
1. Newbie - Nope, guy had fully painted army, he knew his codex and he knew mine.
2. Horde - Nope, he was playing bugs but his model count was only 66. He reserved things and my shooting eliminated so much of his army by the second turn that there wasn't much to move(7 frags shooting into 30 Termagents & 10 warriors).
3. Cunning/Devious - Nope, he used erroneous arguments that were baffling for their audacity in insulting my intelligence and was just plain wrong on several occasions. He didn't get his personal objective and lost sportsmanship scores to me. So, not only was I aware of my discomfort at the time...I'm writing about it now.
4. Garrulous/Talkative/Loquacious/Friendly(whatever you want to call it) - Nope, guy didn't say a word to me on a personal note the entire time. No kidding, not once. Never in life have I played such a sterile game.
5. SLOW PLAYER - well friends...this is all that's left isn't it. Here in lies my "Proof Positive".
Now the thing to do here is just recognize some of the tell-tale signs of a conscious SLOW PLAYER and do your best to avoid them. Minimize arguments that don't have significant impact on the game one way or the other by just giving them their way. Bring judges into disagreement quicker and possibly ask for their continued observance of the game until things are going smoother. You will need to compensate by finishing your turn quicker. You will also need to readjust your strategy for the limited number of turns you will play through. Finally, DON'T GET DISCOURAGED. This type of general is few and far between. They aren't clever enough to win with their army or their tactics so they will try to bring you down with them. Just remember to try and have fun, no matter what.
So now that I have vented my frustrations here on this blog(better here than on his face). I can focus on May's CoC and be a better general for the experience. At least for that I can thank him. In my next article I will do my best to return to objectivity and give you some solid advice on cover saves, going to ground and keeping your vehicles and Monstrous Creatures alive as long as possible. UNTIL THEN...PLAY WELL, ROLL BETTER!!