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40k: Play test or DIE!

3 Minute Read
Aug 17 2010
Where is my boom-stick?

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Our beloved hobby is getting more and more expensive. Most tournaments and even some casual gaming stores are enforcing 100% WYSISYG. This means before you go out and spend your hard earned dollars on gaming materials you should do some play testing and by some play testing I mean a LOT of play testing.

It is easy to go out and copy and paste the hottest internet list. Hopefully you’re getting it from someone who actually wins games and not someone that is just interested in driving up their post count on one of the many message boards out there. But even if you are driving a ‘Cadillac’ list you are not going to be prepared to deal with all the possible things that come up during a game if you haven’t put your time on the felt.

I have seen several local gamers that read about some new trick or technique and rush out to get the figures to make the list. I’ve also been one of those guys in the past. All too often these guys will sit down at the table with their unbeatable list and then be hanging their head in round five trying to figure out what went wrong.

So how do you prevent this from happening?

I think you need to start by playing an army that you really care about. You’ve got to find some element of the fluff or the way the figures look that you can really get behind and be passionate about. This will keep you interested in the army long after you’ve suffered a few losses – and everyone loses sometime. I think this is what gets most people in the game with their first army. It isn’t until the second or third army that people start to look for those sure things and iron clad army builds.

We play a dice game. There are no sure things. The great players are able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat even when they are rolling poorly. When you invest dozens, if not hundreds, of hours into your army then you know how to deal with setbacks and roll with the punches. Experience tells you to never give up and always look for the win, or at least drawing, condition when things are going bad.

Play test, play test, play test. While theory hammer is awesome and it is something we all like to engage in nothing makes up for actually moving figures around on the table. Play testing tells us things like Mephiston is not invulnerable and Hail Marying him down the field every game is going to get him killed. (took me five games to stop doing that)

Play testing tells us that enough heavy bolter and multi laser fire will take down daemon princes and terminators.

Play testing lets us play enough games where we get comfortable reading the mission objectives and to always keep our eye on sweet sweet victory. After a few games where you have absolutely played it to the bone and came out on top of what was sure to be a loss then you’ll be a lot more confident playing down to the last figure and always giving your opponents a run for their money. When you know your list backwards and forwards and are prepared to deal with any situation you are never out listed.


More importantly play testing tell us which figures we really like to play with and while we’re working out the list we want to take to the next gaming night or tournament we can proxy a few things and not put our gaming budget into things that will ultimately just sit on our shelves.

I admit it. I’m a tournament snob. I expect anything and everything to be exactly how it’s modeled at a tournament. Anything outside of a tournament I don’t care what you use as figures. I’ve played against carnifexs represented by solo cups (solo fexes) and bottle caps representing a necron phalanx. In my opinion that is how everyone should be. If anyone gives you grief about proxying a few models here and there while you are ramping up something you are actually going to enjoy playing then they probably aren’t the best gamer/opponent anyway.

What are some of the weirdest things you guys have used as a 40k figure?

Paul Murphy
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