Monday, October 4, 2010

40K Basics: How to be a good pick up game opponent

Apparently this is an album Chris from the Raz File might like.

When I manage to get down to the local store to try for some pick up games, I try to be prepared.  For most folks, the time they have to actually go down to the store and devote to the game is much more limited than the potential time they have to prep for it, but I still see a lot of people that just aren't prepared.  It's not that hard, and it really helps give both you and your opponents the most bang for your available game-time buck.

First of all, there's the really basic things, like don't be a jerk.  You don't want this pick up game to be your last!

Aside from the human side of things, there are some simple, strictly organizational things that can make things run more smoothly.


This is one of the biggies, and it surprises me how often people show up, want to play, but have no idea of how they're going to put their armies together until after they've arranged a game.  

Come prepared with lists for several different game sizes, like 1000 and 1500.  If there are common point values for your store or area, work up lists for that too.

Even if for some reason you don't end up using that specific list (special scenario, trim for weird point level or team game, etc.) having a list will still save you a lot of time as it gives you an excellent starting point for you to trim or add on to as necessary.

If for some reason you refuse to come with a preset list, at the very least come with a listing of the units you have available in their most common configurations.  If you always run your Berzerkers in an eight-strong squad with a Champion with power weapon in a Rhino, write that down with a point cost so you don't have to spend five minutes each time working it out.  Go ahead and work out your 30-boy squads, your 20-boy squads + standard battlewagon costs, your 12-boy squads + trukk costs.  Have a selection of plug&play units that you can patch together quickly and easily to make your list.  This is still slower than having an actual list ready, but it's much faster than working from scratch.

If you absolutely for some reason MUST write up a list from scratch, keep deliberation to a minimum.  This isn't some kind of critical game; you don't have to squeeze every last bit of efficiency out of your army (which also brings us back to that earlier point about not being a jerk).  Slap it together and go.


As far as physical prep goes, treat pick up games  the same as you should a tournament.  Bring a copy of the rules, your codex, dice, ruler, templates, etc.  I see plenty of pick up games where for some reason neither player has basic things like rulers, templates or a scatter die.  I'd say that it was pitiful, but it's not worthy of pity.

Bring your army.  Check before you go down to the store that you have what you'll need for the lists you have prepared (you do have prepared lists, right?) and that it's well organized.  If it takes you twenty extra minutes to sort out your figures and puzzle out which squad they're going to be in, that's twenty minutes that should be done before you've agreed to a game.  Before the store, it's your own twenty minutes.  Once you've agreed to a game, that's twenty minutes of yours plus twenty minutes of your opponent's.

Try to keep crazy proxies to a minimum with strangers.  The more you know them, the more leeway you can usually have, but try not to run your Orks as Space Wolves with tupperware razorbacks against someone you don't know well.

The Game

Again, the key thing is not to be a jerk.  If you can manage this one, most other things are pretty secondary.

Try to have at least a basic grasp of the basic rules and your own army's rules.  Of course if you're just learning the game or starting up a new army, you'll have a bigger curve.  But if you've been playing Tau for years and you still have to look up Pulse Rifle stats, something's wrong.

Take a few minutes up front to clarify anything you're aware of that might be contentious and to ask questions about the other guy's army.  Especially if one of you hasn't played much against that type of army, a little pre-game briefing can lead to a better game with much less confusion.  Similarly, run down any conversions/counts-as type things you have to clarify WYSIWYG, and spend a few minutes clarifying terrain.  For more unusual things, it might even be worth jotting it down to cut down on the "I thought that we said..." moments.


Once things are done if you've enjoyed yourself and you think they have too, if this is the first time playing them offer up some contact info.   The goal of the pickup game is not just to get in a single game, but hopefully to find another regular opponent!  Don't ask for their info, just offer yours.  If they're interested, they'll offer theirs up in return, or you'll get it when they contact you.

Any tips you might have?  Pet peeves regarding pickup games?


  1. I think you covered it well.

    The list thing gets me every time. Hell, I'll have people ask for a game and they haven't pulled their army out of their transport yet as well as they don't have a list prepared.

  2. Say "thank you". This gets missed a a LOT and it's why the pick up guys never have anyone to play with (at least at the store I frequent).

  3. Great article! I completly agree with you, and the thank you comment from the poster above. Maybe I am getting old, but not having a list, or even several lists ready is just not acceptable.

    I hardly have any time to play anymore, and when I do I want to play, not wait around with my army out and ready and my opponent writing down a list based on my army.

    The last couple of times I have tried to get back into 40k at our local store I waited an hour to get a table, then when the table was ready my opponent THEN starts to make his list. 30 minutes later he pulls out proxies, gluing figs together and starts organizing, THEN 30 minutes after that we start playing. Oh, and this was a 1000 pt game.

    Turn 3 the store closed.

    During the first game he was watching the game same as me and even said he was ready to play as soon as the other game was done. I show up again the next week and the same thing happens.

    I haven't been back since.

    I do play mostly Fantasy. Most Fantasy players seem to have their list done in advance, but I believe that is due to the nature of the game and its large blocks of units.

  4. @Thor - thanks. Pulling the army out isn't a big thing for me, if it can be done quickly. I typically don't pull my own out until I'm sure I'm going to get a game, and even then some things will stay packed until it's time to deploy them or at least I know which table and side I'm going to be on!

    @Loquacious - Excellent point. Roll that into the whole human interaction part! It's also nice to talk about how cool the other person's army is. ;-)

    @Powerposey - Sounds like we might be talking about the same store, and maybe even some of the same people. ;-) If you want to try 40K again sometime email me and hopefully we can arrange some games here, at the store or at the Cage.

  5. I totally agree with everything you've said. I run a small club and I've even set up games and gone over to players houses.

    Even with the week advanced warning and me calling them on the phone an hour before they STILL don't have a list or a board or their army set-up by the time I get there. It's quite annoying sometimes cause I have a baby girl and a wife... I have time constraints!


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