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WFB: It’s Time to Play – Part 11: Gaming Etiquette

9 Minute Read
Jun 28 2014

There is a proper fork to use to eat your salad when you are fine dining, and there is a proper etiquette to gaming.

When I was a teenager I had the opportunity to learn the arts of fine dining and etiquette from a woman who was involved with training for Miss USA Pagents. We learned everything from which fork to use to the proper way to eat the last bit of soup from a bowl, to how a woman should get in or out of the car to how a man should tie his tie and hold a chair for his date or wife. Approximately fifteen years later I still remember much of the advice she gave us.

What does this have to do with playing Warhammer Fantasy? Well, just as there is a proper fork to use to eat your salad when you are fine dining, there is a proper etiquette to gaming. A few weeks ago I spoke about getting ready to go to Wet Coast GT, one of my favorite events, and while getting ready for it and talking to local gamers the topic of etiquette came up.


Gaming Etiquette

I had to really think about this one. I was raised by good parents who taught me the importance of good behavior and great sportsmanship, we played thousands of rounds of board games and learned to “play nice”. It doesn’t sit well with me know that out there are people who might not have the same understanding of sportsmanship and fun that I do. I was never the competitive one though, I was always the one laughing and losing or if I won it wasn’t a result of great tactical genius (unless you count manipulating their strategies so they have no idea what I am doing/thinking). I still lose a lot but have fun doing so.

Etiquette in gaming isn’t always as formal as what is appropriate to wear or how to stand or sit or what to say but it is very important and can make a big difference in not only your enjoyment of the event but also every person there.

Fantasy players, at least those of us on the West Coast of Canada, have a reputation for being fun, social, and making Fantasy sound like a fun game experience. I hope that with this discussion of gaming and, specifically, tournament etiquette that we can continue the tradition of being fun and having fun as well being great sportsmen and spread it to those around us.

“That Guy”

You probably remember hearing about or reading posts about the inappropriately rude/negative behavior of certain “top table” gamers at one of the internationally renowned Fantasy tournaments. If you were like me you immediately thought “Wow, I am glad that doesn’t happen in our tournaments”. Well, it saddens me to realize that it has, does or will at some point because somewhere out there is “that guy” who either shouldn’t be in the tournament scene to begin with or slips up and has a bad time or does the wrong thing.

“That Guy” is a term I am using loosely right now, to describe those people who come to a fantasy tournament and might:

You might have someone in mind after reading that list and be thinking “I guess we do have one of “those guys” in our gaming circle.
I can think of a couple of people that have been to recent Fantasy events that have been labelled or could be labelled as “that guy”.  In order to limit everyone’s experience of facing or being “that guy” I have been compiling a list of behaviors that are and are not appropriate for at a Fantasy event. Feel free to share any I miss in the comments.

And if you miss the gist of this: YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE THAT GUY!!

  • walk away from a game in a bad mood, bad mouthing his opponent or the game and in anger
  • leave an event part way through and just not come back at all
  • complain about the TO, the scenarios, the terrain and/or other parts of the event negatively
  • be in such a foul mood that no one enjoys playing against them
  • whine constantly
  • behave in such a way that you think either he or his opponent is going to flip a table or deck each other
  • needs to look up every single rule or have adjudicated every single rule that does not go in their favor….

Learn Your Lessons

Learning etiquette was not something that happened after one try, it took time and several failed attempts before I remembered to cross my ankles not my knees–and if you ever see me sit for long periods of time I still cross my knees. Etiquette in table top games like Fantasy are also long lessons to learn but important if you want to to have the best experience possible.

There are several websites out there that talk about gaming etiquette for various game systems, I referred to several when I was getting this article ready. Some of them include: Stargazer’s WorldExaminer.comUnreality Magazine, and Capital Geek Girls. and were some of my favorites.

According to these sites and my own experiences and conversations here are a few lessons to remember:

  • Know the rules

There’s two sets of rules to know when you attend a tournament: the game rules and the event rules. Learn and know them both.

  1. Game rules “should” be easy but you would be surprised by the number or rules that have to be looked up and questioned and clarified. Except for new players most of us have been gaming long enough that there should not be a need for that, and yet we do.
  2. Tournament Organizers also publish in their tournament packages a series of expected behaviors, in addition to the scenarios and game play expectations. This could include everything from language to where you are and are not allowed to smoke to beverages allowed on site to what tools to bring. 

  •  Keep your Composure

No one likes to play against someone who is a poor sport, who gloats too much or whines too much. We’re all guilty of gloating or whining some and as it is a game some is expected but watch it because it quickly and usually unintentionally gets over the top really quick.

Don’t argue with the tournament organizer over a ruling, their ruling may not be what you want to hear but you can discuss it another time, less publicly. In the two years I have been running tournaments I have only had to make a handful of rulings but am grateful when I get responded with “fair enough” rather than additional arguments.

  • Come Prepared

One of my own personal pet peeves is when people show up unprepared. You play the game all the time,

you should know by now that you need dice, a tape measure, movement trays, templates, a pen/pencil, and copies of your army list, rule/army books, FAQs and Erratas and maybe a scrap of paper. It is part of your gaming kit, showing up without it is not even slightly okay if you’re a veteran gamer. I’d rather know an opponent forgot to bring an entire unit and was substituting in empty bases than have an opponent scrounge around and have to borrow the tools that are a necessary part of the game. That said, I know it happens and not usually on purpose.

  •  Hygiene/Grooming

If you didn’t notice the smell in the tournament hall then there is something wrong with your nose. I don’t care if you shave or comb your hair but for pity sake shower before you show up at the event hall, wear clean clothes and reapply your deodorant between games. Most Fantasy tournaments give you plenty of time to go to the bathroom between games if you’re shy about it. 

Cologne, though smells good, needs to be worn in moderation. Be considerate of people who have allergies, and that though your cologne might smell good, that mixing it with the smell of 20-100 other Fantasy player`s cologne it might not smell as nice anymore. 

  •  Don`t be a slob

Paper, beverage containers, food wrappers…they have a way of showing up at a Fantasy tournament. Don`t leave your pop can, beer can, gum wrappers, scrap papers or anything else laying around. There`s garbage cans somewhere.

Along the same part: don’t leave your models and dice strewn across the table when you are done your game, get your army and your stuff ready to move before you go see how your friends are doing or have your lunch.

  • Wheaton`s Law

Going to quote this one straight from the website because I like how they phrase it 🙂

 Being that you’re a gamer it’s safe to assume you’ve seen your fair share of Star Trek episodes (Shut up Star Wars fans! I don’t want to hear it!) Wil Wheaton played the young Wesley Crusher in The Next Generation and, being a child star of sci-fi, he has had more than enough experience with fans and gamers alike. During his travels he very wisely proclaimed this law (more for the benefit of online gaming, but the rule still applies): Don’t be a Dick.
Seems simple, right? Before you find yourself in any gaming situation it’s important to realize that the personality you portray will effect everyone around you, whether you like it or not. No one is receptive to asshole-ish type behavior in any situation.
[Gaming] serves no other purpose other than to entertain. And, like most entertainment experiences, being in a foul or aggressive mood will ruin it for everyone in the group. It pains me to think that I have to quote Bambi on this, but, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Before you speak, ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say constructive? Will anyone be offended? Will my words be of some benefit to someone?” Trivial as this rule seems, it really is the essential component of any social experience.


  • Stay On Your Own Damn Table!

Your game table at most Fantasy tournaments is 4′ x 6′. That means your models, books, pop, beer, dice, templates and anything else that belongs to you needs to stay in your own space not on the table next to you.

  • Don’t Let the Party Interfere With the Game

I have lost count of the number of gamers who write off their Sunday morning game or all day Sunday games because they had hang overs, were up too late and slept in or who on Saturday let their drinking dominate and couldn’t function to play. 

I felt bad for one gamer a couple years ago, his opponent was so hung over and he wanted a game so badly that when I finished up my game quickly (it was a blood and glory scenario) he asked if I would step in for his opponent who was in the bathroom throwing up for the fifth time within the first half hour. 

It is those kinds of experiences that taint the experience of players. Partying and having fun is encouraged but keep it reasonable.

  • Read my article about Dice!

I won’t repeat myself here but there is some etiquette with Dice that should be followed and I talked about them in Part 10.

  • The “Be’s”

I liked the words this past April of an author on a gaming blog in discussion of etiquette. He says: “Be Tactful; Be Patient, Be Aware, Be Informed, Be Punctual, Be Tidy” Now I will quote the parts that are pertinent. For copyright purposes to read the full article click here to go to the article.


  1. Be Tactful: Mind what you say
  2. Be Patient: Wait your turn
  3. Be Aware: Pay attention to your Game and keep distractions to a minimum.
  4. Be Informed: Know the when and where and who for your games.
  5. Be Punctual: Show up on time!
  6. Be Tidy: Clean up after yourselves.

  • The Meet and Greet

You are about to play a 2-3 hour game of Fantasy against another person. 

  1. Learn their name (don’t ask it and then forget it within seconds)
  2. Shake their hand before you play
  3. Shake their hand after you play
  4. Congratulate them on successes 
  5. Have a drink with them (pop or water if you don’t drink alcohol)


Be a Good Sport

Tournament Etiquette is really an extension of being a good sport. Fantasy Tournaments are meant to be a social activity with a bit of competition thrown in. Have a laugh, make some friends, follow the “Be’s”, and make the next Fantasy tournament a better experience for yourself and those around you by following my advice in this article and  make it a goal not to win Best Overall or Best General but to win Best Sportsman or Favorite Opponent, because when that happens regularly you will know that your lessons in Fantasy Tournament Etiquette have been learned.

What other etiquette should we keep in mind when attending Fantasy tournaments?

Jen A
Author: Jen A
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