Tuesday, April 19, 2011

40K Tournament Etiquette: Anti-Meta Tactics and Why I Don't Like Them

(Go read THIS first)

As most of you who have read my posts before know, I travel around the galaxy for Warhammer 40k tournaments, which as we all know is serious business!

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 experienced players caught in the cycle of alleged optimization.

Instead of using the widely accepted fully optimized internet-accepted best builds, some players are instead using models they like and units that haven't been proven to be the most optimal through long forum flame wars. These units are so rarely seen on competitive table tops that springing them on competitive gamers is unfair, as if it's not a Vendetta or Razorback they don't know how to respond to it.

The list exchange in the beginning of a tournament game is about giving your opponent the required standard army build to theoretically level the playing field.  It is to take for granted that the person you are playing with only owns the most highly rated codices and has only memorized stat lines for optimal choices.

While some people play to have fun, most people do not.

I had this happen to me several times over the Madepticon weekend and it really hit me when I looked down at a Tyranid player’s list and noticed that he did not have Hive Guard listed on his roster.  It wasn’t printed anywhere on what he gave me but instead he made sure to tell me about his Venomthrope.

I ‘knew’ it was there and was expecting Nids to get cover saves anyway.  I needed to shoot him a lot to prevent him from getting attacks on me in CC. In short, even if he got a 4+ save I probably would have still shot at him, heh.

Point being that a more experienced player may not have known how to handle this weaker unit and not bothered trying to shoot at all.

This is just one example of why I don’t like this ‘new anti-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 standard copied netlist format when this occurred.  A couple of them had netlists they had considered before discarding as too boring.  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 a legitimate power build but they wanted to be ready if they ran into someone savvy.   For those of them that didn’t have a copy of a netlist with optimized choices I asked that they produce their codex and rewrite the list to include more MSU melta.

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, just like I'm not buying Whirlwinds for my Space Wolves while there are still Long Fangs left in the world.

I would like to see more tournament organizers requiring netlists or similar herd-optimized armies.  Tournaments should be won with dice on the table top with prescribed choices, not shrouding your tactics behind sub-par choices and hoping your opponent doesn’t know how to think.

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, unlike the lists I want to run.

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 less powerful models to his advantage or one who will use things in novel ways in an attempt to throw his opponent off his game or sneak out a win from an automaton.  Those two tactics are well known tools in the box of TFG all around the country.  This ‘personal list building’ 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 a list you've already seen online and played against a hundred times,  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 try to take advantage of you.

Be aware and don't be afraid to ask questions or ask that your opponent produce proof that the unit actually exists.  Lose the game based on real strategy, real tactics or bad dice rolls, not these sorts of shady dealings.

So - am I just ordo hereticusing here or do you feel the same way?


  1. lol, I already trolled enough comments on that BoLS threadnought to not repeat them here.

  2. Haha maybe I should be bringing Ogryns and Rough Riders more often on the table :P

  3. Threadnought is an excellent word and I'd like to see it used more often.

  4. Its getting quite ugly over there @ BoLS. I've now been called a quote: 'underhanded cheat' for not using AB (and compared to some of the arguments raging on there, that's rather mild).

    Goatboy's liable to be jealous of all the nerd rage & internet hate generated by another BoLS author.


  5. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Thanks, that was great!

  6. Love it :D

    My reaction would be "So in addition to buying minis, paints, rule books, codex's, travelling costs while gas is an all time high, hotel costs, and so on the average gamer is expected to drop another $40/year on software to make their list pretty?"

    People should have their lists on black paper with white ink and tell opponents who have an issue that the rest of the information is in the fog of war.

  7. Nice one, and the comments are a whole lot more fun than in the original.

    I do get some crazy looks when my Armored Sentinel comes plodding onto the board with my Imperial Guard; when they see I have one squad of Veterans (and a Powerfist on the Sergeant!),no Vendettas, and no Psyker Battle Squad I definitely get the reception you've described.

    I apologize to everyone for my heinous acts of cheatology.

  8. @Papa - thanks!

    @Dave - I agree with (what I think is) the OP's basic point - which is that we should endeavor to avoid surprises. But I disagree with his proposed solution.

    @Jwolf - Apology accepted.

  9. That was one of the funniest 40k articles I've ever read.

    I love the bit "a more experienced player may not have known how to handle this weaker unit and not bothered trying to shoot at all." That is gold.

  10. @James S - Which one? ;-) Glad you enjoyed it.


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