Brent: Working w 40K Rookies (& Rules of Thumb)

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Trial and error is all well and good, by the by, but let’s avoid it all and cut some corners!  Newbies of the 40K Universe, you’re all making the same, easily correctible, mistakes.

It’s past time we chatted some.  I’ve invited the Blogosphere, most of whom are housebroken.

(Let’s skip the intro; I have a blog, feel free to visit, or not, your option.  Moving on.)

There are two gaming stores in my town… two, where one will do.  There wasn’t much crossover, until recently, just some glaring and the occasional West Side Story faux-fight-dance-number – which sadly I missed.  Your war games correspondent has a goal to be the uninvited guest at a flash mob; sadly, it hasn’t happened for me yet.

We were divided more by age, with the veterans preferring one store and the 18-to-20 somethings another.  That can be a hard boundary to bust, and I’m not sure we were all that welcoming, at times.  Not making excuses, but if you have one day a week to hang out with your friends and roll some dice, you too may be a bit stingy with your time.

All the images were stolen borrowed from A Rant In E Minor, whose author, Sorrowshard, is trying to raise money by auctioning off his fantastic Space Wolves!  Apparently, times are hard so he’s willing to let this labor of love go.  I’ve always enjoyed his work; if you’re of like mind, click HERE and consider making an offer!

Gaming clubs, like any clique, can be hard to bust into.  For my part, I’m trying a bit harder, being a bit more open and extending an invitation to new guys who come in.  All well and good, right?  Except it presented a problem I just wasn’t expecting.

Just how do you throw down a pickup game and avoid correcting your opponent’s every bad decision, his every mistaken rule?  How do you avoid being a huge douche, a gaming know-it-all?  Do you let these mistakes slide?  Can you offer advice without being condescending?

No, seriously – I’m asking!  Help an Empty Digital Headache out some here.

* * * 

The first game against the new guys might have been a fluke.  The second and third?  Not so much.  These guys had serious flaws with their understanding of the core rules, much less the basics of competitive play.  Keep in mind, this isn’t some WAAC vs FAAP, “You gotta win!” nonsense I’m spewing; fluffy is great.  I’m all for the fluffy.

But we agree rules are important, right?


It didn’t take long to realize these guys were self-taught.  They didn’t have the benefit of a solid veteran anchoring their understanding of the game, so little mistakes… and not so little… crept in and stayed.  They also played a very basic, “My character and super-unit rule!” sort of, “I have to take two troops?” game.  Their store owner should have been available to help.

Except he was worse than useless.  His every decision seemed designed to kill his player base in ways I simply don’t understand – but it’s not worth getting into.

If any of you fine folks have insight, I’d love to hear it.

Anyway, I started slipping in advice where I could, such as, “Man, I’m worried about that Storm Raven blitzing my line.  I always have a hard time getting through those cover saves when you Turbo Boost.” Sure, it seems obvious to you while you’re reading this, but it was maybe a touch more subtle.

There was other help, where I could do so without being condescending… but I also don’t think throwing games is all that helpful.  In the end, I asked if my input was welcome then gave some pointers.  I listened and didn’t knock ideas that wouldn’t work – but instead said, “Sounds cool!  Also, have you considered..,”  X, Y, or Z.

In the end, I hope some of these guys choose to stick around, but I have to say the whole thing has got me thinking about the beginner’s game and some common problems I’m sure we’ve all seen.  I’ve put together some rules of thumb I hope some rookies out there might benefit from.

Naturally, there’s the hope the comments will add to them.

* * * 

Learn the Basics

Don’t ask other players to help you settle a rule dispute; look it up yourself.
Be familiar with the basic missions.  (Don’t just play Pitched Battle Kill Points!  Don’t reroll Dawn of War.)
Don’t be afraid to ask a more experienced player for input before and after a game, but avoid receiving too much advice in game.
Play the mission.  Your goal in six of nine is not to collect Kill Points.
After Turn III, reread the mission, then approach Turn IV with the mission in mind.

Learn the Armies

If you’re not familiar with your opponent’s army, ask him to run through it for you.

Ask about special abilities.
Know which models are troops.
Ask how far his models can charge!
After the game, ask your opponent where you could have improved.  Ask for examples from the game just played.
Know Your Army
Your goal is to memorize your army’s stats and special rules.  Keep a reference sheet and the book handy, but try to play without it.
Start out playing a basic version of the army, to learn it from the ground up.  One HQ, one Elite, 4 Troops, 1 Fast Attack, and 1 Heavy Support is a good base to build from.
Avoid Special Characters.
Know when you’re ready to use Special Characters.
Avoid Wargear.  Avoid unnecessary upgrades.  When in doubt, don’t upgrade it.
* * * 
Those are pretty general, and I’m sure some of you are thinking they’re too general.  I don’t think so.  Not even a little bit!  In fact, none of us are exceptions; we’ve all gone through a learning period when this generalist advice would be germane.  
Still and all, here are a few I still use today.
Brent’s Tips and Tricks
Have a general strategy for the army, then decide on one for the game prior to deployment.  
Plan your moves in your opponent’s turn.  Budget the most time for rolling dice.
When in doubt, fight toward the center.
Pick realistic targets in shooting.
Any unit can be sacrificed for the victory condition.  Nothing is sacred!
Expensive characters should be centered.  In a refused flank, the character should support the flank.
A close assault unit may only get one useful assault.
Blocking with vehicles is always useful; look for ways to separate supporting units.
The Last Word

Above all, don’t quit!  
If something isn’t working, change it.  If someone isn’t working with you, find someone who will.  Just.  Don’t.  Quit!

* * * 
Er… better stop!  A few of those toward the end were more ‘truism’ than ‘trick,’ but I’ll leave it, regardless.
That’s it then!  Here’s hoping some 40K Rookies out there found this useful.  For those with a bit more experience, here’s your chance to shine!  Feel free to drop blog links to articles you might have written… and make sure to check out A Rant in E Minor.
Signing off then:  thoughts?  Comments?  Hugs and gropings?

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