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40K: To Make Games Finish – Make Them Smaller

5 Minute Read
Mar 27 2018

Slow play is a common topic, yet there is one simple fix that no one is talking about.

It seems like the topic of slow play comes up after every major tournament. In the aftermath of each event we are met with accusations of slow play and people discussing how to to combat it. In addition to intentional slow play there is a constant problem with players simply not finishing games on time. People have offered up a number of suggestions on how to fix these, but the simplest, and in may way best, hasn’t really been talked about. So lets look at the best way to fight slow play.

Not Finishing Games Is a Problem


The first step to fixing something is admitting you have a problem. So let’s put it out there, people not finishing games is a problem at events. At the basic level players are there to have fun and play games. Not being able to play a whole game and having to stop mid way through is simply not fun. It also skews results. Many major events (I’m looking at your ITC) score points each turn. Thus players will score more points in a game that lasts five turns than in a game that only last three. This can be true even if the short game has a clear winner and the longer game doesn’t.  The fact is that since we’ve moved away from a “victory points for killing units determines winner and score” format, longer games help you place higher. This means that sometimes it’s more important that your army can finish games than win them.

Slow Play Happens on Purpose, But It’s Not The Biggest Issue

Some people slow play on purpose. That’s a pretty simple fact, and as underhanded as it is, people do it to win. However I think it’s a relatively small number of players who actively slow play as a tactic. As mentioned above, playing more turns tends to get you more points so in most, though not all, situations slow playing isn’t in your best interests. However even when players aren’t playing slow on purpose we are still seeing a many games not finishing in every tournament. 8th Edition is a still a very complex game, with a lot of models on the table and a lot of dice rolls. It doesn’t take slow play, merely the lack of fast playing, to cause a game to run out of a time. Often players can do everything fast and still simply not finish. From my point of view this is a far bigger issue that purposeful slow play.

It’s Twisting The Meta

The need to field armies that can finish games is affecting the overall meta of 40K. One of the reasons we are seeing a rise in lists built around a large number of powerful characters is that they play quickly and can finish games. Meanwhile other powerful lists might be slower, and because of that less favored in the meta. It’s sad to see potentially interesting lists not getting played due to worries about time.


Time Control Is Not the Answer

We’ve had a lot of people saying that controlling player time is the way to fix the issue. The most popular proposal seems to be using Chess Clocks to time each players turn. Chess Clocks however have a lot of issues, and to me are a bad answer. While they work great in games where each player has a similar number of models with the same complexity, they don’t work well in 40k where armies are vastly different. Ultimately they force players to try to build smaller time efficient armies, skewing the meta. They have a number of other issues, but it all comes down to one thing: while they may help fight purposeful slow play they do nothing to address the issue that many games simply don’t have the time to finish no matter how fast people play.

The Simple Solution:1500 Point Games

So here is how in one easy change you fix the fact that games aren’t finishing on time. If games don’t have enough time to be played, simply make the games smaller. Most tournaments at played at 2000 points, maybe that is simply too many. At the end of the day there is nothing saying events have to be 2000 points. In fact standard 40K games size has varied over the years, with 1500, 1750, 1850 and 2000 all being “standard tournament size” are various times. Maybe 2000 point games are just too big to finish in modern 40K. What if tournaments simply went down to 1500 point games? It’s still plenty of points to field interesting armies (we do it every week on Twitch). At the same time smaller games will take less time, allowing battles to play out fully. Or maybe the right number is 1750, I don’t know. But the idea is sound, if games can’t finish, rather that attaching a bunch of strange rules to force them to finish on time simply make the games smaller so they can finish. It’s simple and effective, and has been proven to work in the past. It could be the way of the future, so lets get out there and try it at some big events.

So what do you think, is 2000 points simply too big for tournaments? Let us know down in the comments! 


Author: Abe Apfel
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