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40k Tournament Etiquette: Meta Tactics and Why I Don’t Like Them

4 Minute Read
Apr 18 2011
Warhammer 40K

As most of you who have read my posts before know, I travel around the country for Warhammer 40k tournaments.

I have recently noticed a new meta creeping up and I do not appreciate it at all.  I believe the tactic that I am about to describe is used to intentionally deceive inexperienced players.

Instead of using the widely accepted full army builder print out some players are handing out the abbreviated text summary before the game.  This summary does not detail the statistics of the figures and also does not detail the standard abilities of the model/unit. It only lists the Name, Upgrades (but without the description of what it does) and the cost of the unit.

The list exchange in the beginning of a tournament game is about giving your opponent the required information to theoretically level the playing field.  It is to take for granted that the person you are playing with does not own every single codex and has not memorized every single stat line.

While some people have memorized these things, most people have not.

I had this happen to me several times over the Adepticon weekend and it really hit me when I looked down at a Tyranid player’s list and noticed that he did not have Shadow of the Warp listed on his roster.  It wasn’t printed anywhere on what he gave me but he made sure to tell me to roll 3 dice when it came time for me to cast a psychic power.

I ‘knew’ it was there and was expecting to roll the additional dice anyway.  I needed to force weapon a Trigon to prevent him from getting attacks back on me in CC and instantly remove him from the table. In short, even if I had to roll 4 dice I probably would have, heh.

Point being that a less experienced player may not have known he was taking a larger gamble on using his force weapon and might have chosen not to charge the big bug at all.

This is just one example of why I don’t like this ‘new meta tactic’ and I refuse to think that most people who are employing this are not trying to pull one over on their opponents.

To make a point I asked my opponents for a copy of their lists in army builder format when this occurred.  A couple of them had army builder copies ready to show me.  I am torn on if this actually helps prove my point or not.  I think they knew they were being shifty and that most opponents wouldn’t even think to ask for another copy but they wanted to be ready if they ran into someone savvy.   For those of them that didn’t have a copy of their list with the stats detailed I asked that they produce their codex and have it handy the whole game.


This tactic is subtle and can be passed off as innocent and maybe every now and then it will be.  I am not buying it.

I would like to see more tournament organizers requiring Army builder or similar list building tools.  Tournaments should be won with skill on the table top, not shrouding your army list and hoping your opponent doesn’t know your army’s special rules.

These sorts of tactics creep up from time to time but they are almost always from the same type of player.  I hate to use the term Win At All Cost because not all WAAC gamers are created equally.

I can appreciate a gamer who leaves it all on the table top.  I can appreciate the type of gamer that tried to do every single thing he possibly could with his games phases to get the job done, like a quarterback throwing a hail mary in the bottom of the fourth.

What I don’t appreciate is the type of gamer who will go out of his way to use modeling to his advantage or one who will argue rules that he already knows the answer to in an attempt to throw his opponent off his game or sneak out a favorable ruling from a judge.  Those two tactics are well known tools in the box of TFG all around the country.  This ‘list hiding’ is new to me and it needs to have attention drawn to it to build some awareness.


If someone at a tournament is not showing you his full list with stats, abilities and descriptions he is intentionally trying to hide something from you.  There will be some exceptions to this but be on the look out.  If you see this happening you’re about to have a game with someone who will likely trying to take advantage of you.

Be aware and don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask that your opponent produce his special rules and figure stats.  Lose the game based on real strategy, real tactics or bad dice roles, not these shorts of shady dealings.

So.. Am I just witch hunting here or do you feel the same way?

Paul Murphy
Author: Paul Murphy
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