40K Counter-Point: House Rules Are Fine

Don’t like Tournament Organizer’s House Rules? Then don’t go to their tournaments.

Black Blow Fly wrote an interesting piece on Tournament “House Rules” – he’s pretty clearly opposed to them. I respect his opinion but I don’t share it. I think Tournaments should be allowed to create their own house rules and actively encourage them to do so – with a few caveats:

  • Inform your players in advance – It’s the job of a Tournament organizer to put out their house rules in a clear, concise, and easy to find rules packet for any major tournament. If there are changes to the game there should be a section that state that VERY clearly. No one wants to go to a tournament for 40k and find out they are playing checkers. That’s kind of a big change.
  • Don’t make changes “X” days out – This one is a big point of contention among folks. “What if an FAQ drops a week before? A day before? An hour before?” Yes – what IF that happens? I think it’s wiser for a Tournament Organizer to say in that rules packet the time limit on changes like that.

When I was running local tournaments we had a 30 day window for new codexes. You couldn’t use a new codex for an army if it was less than 30 days old. We did make rare exceptions (4 weeks or 28 days typically was ‘close enough’) but we announced those changes ahead of time. Now, should that apply to FAQs direct from GW? What about House Rules? Those are tough calls that the TOs have to make. However, they should say in their rules packets “We will not make changes X days before the tournament” just so folks will know what to expect. That time frame should be a “reasonable amount of time” as well. 24 hours is probably too short notice. 60 days out is probably too long. There has to be a good middle ground that players and TOs can both find acceptable.

Are we legal now? Sure! Why not.

Why House Rules Are Important To Tournaments

House Rules allow for different things to happen. They allow for some creativity from the TOs and they allow for a change of pace for players. There is a reason the ITC format was so huge in 7th – and it had a lot to do with the addition of house rules.

But it’s not just the “Big 40k Singles” events that benefit from House Rules. Doubles Events, Horus Heresy  Events, and even my person favorite Narrative Events need house rules to thrive. Those events typically don’t use the standard rule book missions. That means they are using house rules for the missions – no house rules means no “non-book” missions. That would be really dumb.

When I get a chance to play in tournaments, I go because I want to have a different experience than just playing with my friends at the local store or club. I want to be challenged in different ways – I want odd ball missions that I have to stretch myself to overcome. I want to play against armies I’ve never seen before and meet players I would have never met. Tournaments are a great way to do all that.

“I like different things that you do.”

Don’t Like House Rules – Then Don’t Go

As long as the tournament organizer has made the changes clear and given players plenty of time adjust to the changes then I have zero problems with those “House Rules” – and even if they make a change I don’t like have options:

  • Ask to change events – Did the new FAQ totally mess up your army and it’s too late to change? Ask to play in a different event that’s running in the same slot. Most TOs will gladly shuffle players around if it means they are still coming to their event(s).
  • Politely ask for a refund – TOs are people too, if you’re calm and rational about it, you’ve got a much better chance of them helping you out. Most TOs will work with you and try to accommodate you as best they can. If enough players ask for refunds, they might even revert the change that has everyone so ticked off.
  • Don’t Go To Their Event(s) – If you really dislike the change(s) that much, just don’t go. If they have a feedback section or contact info maybe send them a polite email explaining why you’re not attending. Now, if this was a tournament you’ve never been to or one you didn’t plan on going to anyway, maybe don’t send that email. However, if this was tournament you’ve attending for the past X years, then you should definitely let them know. Again, you don’t need to be rude about it – but explain your position. “Hi, I really liked going to your event but I’m not coming this year because I don’t agree with how you made ‘X’ change to the game.” You don’t have to send them an essay but a quick, polite note goes a LONG way vs a “1000 word assault” email.

Now, your absence may or may not be missed. In very large tournaments that sell out quickly – don’t expect the TO to shed any tears when you don’t sign-up. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act or provide feedback. Politely let them know what you think and vote with your wallet – that’s the best way to get their attention.

If you know about the changes ahead of time, I really don’t think that you have a legit reason to be upset. Now if something changes last minute and you’re already on the flight to get there…that’s a whole different story.


How do you feel about House Rules at events? How much time would you consider a “reasonable” amount of time for a rules change to an event?

  • YetAnotherFacelessMan

    So… you’re saying that people can play the game however they want, and if they want to run a tournament, they can run it however they want?

    … what are we even talking about anymore?! I don’t understand! If the tournament players are all about house rules to make the game more enjoyable, and the non-competitive players are all about house rules to make the game more enjoyable, and the stickler purist players are all about a house rule of “no house rules” to make the game more enjoyable…

    Who cares?! It’s like an article that says “Don’t like Tyranids, don’t play them!” Like… obviously! Yes! Thank you? Will continue to do so?

    • Crevab

      I guess the point is that there are articles saying “Don’t play Tyranids. ”


    • Spacefrisian

      I know right, like realy how dare they play the game differently inthere different gaming group, how dare they try and have something different from the main rules that are a guidelin…Them rascals, get of my lawn.

    • Ryan Hall

      After reading a days worth of posts about a handful of different subjects, this is the most insightful of them all.

      Based on that statement alone, it isn’t difficult to come to the conclusion that a large percent of the community lacks even the most common of sense and therefore has to rely on said absurd drivel to complete even the most primitive of thoughts.

    • Drpx

      Common sense is edgy these days.

  • I’m all for houserules. I get burned out quickly on playing a game the same way over and over again.

    Houserules mean that different events cater to different things, which I am a huge proponent of.

    And as you mentioned – if you don’t like that then simply don’t go.

  • Ash S

    ive drafted a bunch of house rules for 8th ed for friendly games to fix cover/terrain and a couple minor things.

    My games group house rules all the time, house rules for converted new pattern vehicles or heroes. house rules for stuff in big games like certain terrain pieces (lava) etc etc etc.

    House rules are great among friends.

  • Donatas Bartkenas

    GW will change the first player rule 95%. The testers were asked “why didn’t we vote for the first player house rule when we voted for the other ones”. They answered “we can’t say but it will become apparent soon” aka “Wait for the next FAQ”