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40K Thoughts: Away from the table

4 Minute Read
May 4 2010
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We all spend many, many hours at the painting desk and game board, all for the love of this hobby of ours. Sometimes though, you end up away from it all, but this doesn’t mean you have to stop!

Unfortunately, sometimes my job causes me to go away unexpectedly. Last week, this happened even quicker than usual, so there I was, sitting on the plane, unable to sleep, and I began thinking about what I could be doing instead! So, from the random rambings that went around my head, here are five quick tips to improve your gaming experience, all of them away from the table itself.

1. Learn your odds
As well as wargaming, I enjoy a good game of poker. One of the key things I talk to new poker players about is being able to calculate odds quickly. Whether this is by “rules of thumb”, good memory or just being good at mental arithmetic. Being able to do this in 40K allows you to estimate whether a particular event is likely to happen or not. I’m not suggesting you math-hammer every situation, but you should always weigh up your chances before making a decision. To do this, keep things simple and just go for easy to handle figures.

Let’s take an example. I’ve been using Berzerkers a lot recently, so I decided to get some basic odds in my head. You can Mathhammer this at home if you wish, but I know that to kill a Marine equivalent with either S4 or S5, is approximately a 20% chance that each hit will get through, or 1:5 chance, so just divide your expected hits by 5 to get your expected kills. It’s actually 1:6 for S4, and 1:4.5 for S5, but I keep them at 1:5 for simplicity. I also know, from memory, that against Imperial Guard equivalents (incl Gaurdians, Gaunts etc), this figure is around 1:2, so you just divide your expected hits by 2, and there you go.

Calculating the number of expected hits is quick, and I can then get a quick and simple idea of how the Berzerkers ‘should’ fare in the combat. The fickleness of the dice gods means that this is never a definative method, but I can at least go in prepared.

2. Re-read the rules
Trust me on one thing, nobody knows all the rules perfectly. You may think you do, but there’s bound to be something that you’ve missed. For instance, some of the people I play against use a lot of buildings, and so we all know the building rules inside and out (pun intended). However, another group might not use intact buildings at all, and not be used to the subtle nuances of their rules.

So pick up your rulebook, sit down with a cup of your tasty beverage of choice, and flick through one section slowly and carefully. You’ll probably skim read things you are sure you know, but just go back and recheck the wording anyway.

3. Borrow or Buy the books you don’t have
Knowing your opponent is always an advantage in any game. If you count the currently removed inquisition codexes, there are 16 different army codexes out there for 40K, and 15 army books for Fantasy, and most people don’t own them all! Again, even if you think you know it inside out, it would probably be worth another read.

I usually take a codex I don’t use much on plane journeys with me, I can then pass the boring hours by reading the background, rules and army list of an army I don’t know as well. You could even try and borrow the book for a new system altogether, such as Warmachine or FoW etc.

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4. Plan your next project or army list
We all love reading about how other people are building their lists. Bigred’s series of articles on list building make for some good reading for new players, and a refresher for those a little longer in the tooth. There are a million different opinions on what makes a good army list, some more valid than others, but you have to listen to one voice above all others – your own.

There’s little point spending a lot of time, money and effort building an army you are not going to enjoy painting and gaming with, so decide what you fancy collecting and play about with a few army builds. This is where tools like Lone Wolf’s Army Builder really come into their own, but some people still prefer to use a pen and paper, or an excel spreadsheet, to keep track of things. Fiddle about with them, and then try them out next time you’re on the battlefield.

5. Get some inspiration
The Black Library books offer a highly detailed insight into the background of the hobby. Personally, I am really enjoying the Horus Heresy series, which has continued to fuel my love of pre-heresy armies. A friend is currently building a huge Salamanders force based on Nick Kyme’s fiction. It can really offer some interesting ideas and stir up your creative juices.

If BL isn’t your thing, then perhaps read up on some military history, looking at how closerly (or not) wargames really reflect the battles of the past. It sounds quite sad, but it’s actually remarkably interesting to see how real life generals countered mass cavalry charges, armoured tank regiments or the invention of gunpowder.

You can take the hobbyist away from the game, but can you take the game away from the hobbyist?

Feedback is always appreciated, drop me an email at [email protected], or follow me on twitter.

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