Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Tournament Etiquette and Sportsmanship

 Having recently ventured back into the tournament scene after mostly playing amongst ourselves for the year so far, as a group we have noticed a few “quirks” in the way the wargames in general are played. Thus, we offer the following observations on gaming etiquette, particularly at tournaments where you are often playing unfamiliar opponents:

It's "grumpy old(ish) men" time! We're not nearly as grumpy as this post sounds. It's just sometimes a good old rant is more entertaining to read and write :-)

 1.  Dice rolling, specifically the physical act of dice rolling. Massive kinetic energy does not enhance your odds of getting the required number! Much time can be wasted retrieving dice from the far end of the room. There is no +1 bonus for added height on your dice roll/throw/launch. If you throw dice into terrain that frequently results in cocked dice, continuing to throw dice into the same terrain will continue to result in cocked dice. A die is cocked if another die will not sit on top of it, with out falling off. Do not throw dice into piles of other dice, its then difficult to see which dice you threw and what the resulting number was, as the dice all bounce about from the impact. Just shake up the required number of dice in your hands, and then drop or gently roll them onto a flat, open area of the table. Easy.

If you really just can't keep the dice under control, then for everyone's safety maybe you need these? Knitted dice! Perfect for winter.

2.  Dice rolling, specifically the declaring of. Do not start rolling dice without declaring what you are rolling for, what number you need, and how you arrived at that required number if need be, eg: “rolling to unpin my artillery, needing a four” or “three main gun shots at your Panthers, they’re Veterans so that’s 4’s, long range 5”. Remember that you need to declare the targets for all shooting teams in a platoon before any dice are rolled. If you just start rolling dice in front of yourself, scooping them up and claiming success without your opponent having any idea what you are doing, do not be surprised if you are asked what you are doing. Full disclosure at all times is a good rule. Likewise, pay attention when your opponent is declaring. Don’t claim you didn’t know what was happening if you weren’t focused on the game.

3.  Declare your force at the start of the game. This entails a quick run down of what is in your force, any special rules or characters you may have, any proxy models you are using and anything else your opponent may need to know. This doesn't need to be your life story, just a heads up on any relevant points. Having done this does not relieve you of all obligations to be sporting on these points during the game. Don’t expect your opponent to gain an instant knowledge of the ins and outs of your force. Answer their questions, correct any mistakes, eg:  if you have mixed skill levels in your force, point out if your opponent is shooting at Trained troops as though they were Veterans (i.e. he thinks he needs a 4 when all he actually needs is a 3, not correcting this, is poor sportsmanship indeed). Declaring dice rolling (and listening to your opponents) helps to avoid errors like this impacting a game. When deploying, and throughout the game, be clear about where platoons start and end. Remember too, it is your responsibility to know when your platoons need to take morale checks and to take them at the required time, it is not up to your opponent to request that you take them.

Never a truer word! So don't try and hide them or use confusing proxies please.

4.  Declare intentions. This means be clear about what you are doing. If you are fully inside a wooded area, state that you are moving to be fully inside the area. Most of the time you will be able to show this with no problems, but it will save you being caught out if a base gets bumped later and a corner is poking out of the wood. It also reduces the need for tedious micro measuring where you have ample movement ability to execute what you want to do. Declare lines of sight and concealment, eg: if you move a tank forward behind some cover, state whether you can see an enemy team or not. You may assume there isn’t a line of sight to a particular target, so you don’t shoot at it. It’s not good to find out in your opponents turn that you can suddenly see each other. You may have shot, or not moved there at all.

5.  Discuss terrain at the start of the game. Make it fair. A good general guideline is “keep it simple”. Terrain should obviously have an impact on the game, but you should be fighting the enemy first and foremost, not the terrain. Be really clear about what constitutes area terrain, concealment etc and then stick to it. Different groups play these things different ways, so long you are both playing the same interpretations it often doesn’t really matter.

6.  Rules disputes – play the ball, not the man. For anyone unfamiliar with the sporting metaphor, take this to mean stick to the issue in question. If you can’t resolve a rule issue quickly and to mutual satisfaction, look it up in the rule book. Don’t try and force your view on your opponent without backing it up. Nobody likes a bully. Don’t try and brow beat someone into your point of view, and then back off saying “ok, we’ll play it your way because I’m such a nice guy” when you realise you don’t have a leg to stand on. If you’re wrong, admit it. Stick to the issue, reach for the rule book. If in doubt, dice for it and move on. Simmering tensions will quickly lead to more issues if anyone feels they are “owed a break”. Similarly, don’t question someone’s integrity or call them a cheat without being able to back it up. You may know they cheated, but you won’t achieve anything positive without being able to prove it. Conversely, just because you forgot something or didn’t ask about something you were unsure of, or had a genuine miscommunication, does not make the other player a cheat. An error on your part does not constitute cheating. Deliberate, contrived cheating is extremely rare, and most issues can be sorted in a gentlemanly fashion, so don’t be too quick to start name calling. There would be few sadder sights than grown men having fisticuffs over a game of toy soldiers! Plus, you never know who’s secretly a ninja-trained killing machine when they’re not painting little tanks…

Don't be this guy.

7.  Some real basics, but you’d be surprised (or not) at some of the things we’ve seen. “Elastic tape measures” are one of these things. Also measuring movement, then taking away the tape measure and moving the model past the allowable distance. If you’ve forgotten to do something in a particular step and moved on to the next step, either suck it up and remember next time, or ask your opponent if they mind you acting out of sequence. Do not just start moving models around after shooting, or deploy a “forgotten” platoon half way through the game without asking first. 99% of the time it will be OK, and you should always try and correct these errors in a way that doesn’t adversely impact your opponent. After all, it was your mistake. I once had an opponent start making some “forgotten” movement in my turn, after I’d moved some of my platoons! He didn’t even ask, just did it brazenly. I was not impressed.  

8.  Take it like a man! Don’t deliberately play slow for a time out win. If a game times out and robs you of victory but your opponent was playing at a good pace then don’t take it out on them. Likewise, don’t blame your opponent for slow play if you spent half the game wandering off around the room. If it’s not going your way, don’t sulk. Always try and play as positively as possible. You’ll have more fun and gain more respect, and probably get better results too. 

 Whew! Quite a rant indeed! Please note that these observations are gained from years of our own experience, the experiences of others, and just general pet peeves. They are not aimed at anyone in particular, but hopefully set a standard for all of us. In my own experience, the vast majority of gamers play to enjoy the game and that will always shine through. At times things can get tense, but communication is the key. It’s all war stories in the end.


 Paul and Scott.


  1. Great advice. Love the dude with the dickhead haircut. Awesome. We do have some tense moments and I must confess getting a bit grumpy when one of our group ("Chris") comes up with "rules" that he thinks make logical sense but aren't actually rules cause he hasn't read the rule book. Steve has a tendency for the measure then move past where you measured move. I'm sure he will come on and point out a few of my foibles. I. Think the big thing is learning to chill out and enjoy the game. That usually means not trying to push things when you are playing, and not getting too worked up about dice rolls.

    1. Thanks Dan. Everyone has their foibles for sure! I guess it really comes out when you play people you don't know under time pressure.

    2. I always feel like my troops can move that extra little bit. Alas they cannot. Where should I start with your foibles Dan :-p Err well Ill leave that for you to work out. I agree chilling out and enjoying the game is probably one of the most important things. Once you have mastered that then good sportsmanship will ensue I'm sure.

      Great post and some useful tips! Play the ball not the man is a good tip, useful in our gaming group I am sure.

  2. Replies
    1. Cheers :-) Was concerned it might sound a bit bitter and twisted, but I think everyone can relate to at least one of the gripes!

  3. Great post agree with everything. Dice rolling is one of those quirky things that we all have issues with. One other rule there - don't pick up or touch other peoples dice. For some reason I can't stand it when people do that to me... yes if I drop one or it goes flying across the table feel free but otherwise leave alone.

    I also prefer it when people pick up their dice and give them a good shake before dropping them. You see some people palm them and roll them slowly out of a flat hand - drives me nuts...

    Wonder if knitted dice would roll more 6's????

    1. Thanks John. I hate unsolicited touching too (of any kind!) Dice "sliders" annoy the crap out of me too. Do they think we can't see them or something?

  4. Good post guys, agree with the dice rolling as well, had this one guy at Panzershrek a few years back now, who quite literally threw them across the table like he was reliving his Quarterback days! bouncing all over the show and into models, which is a big no no.

    Also cant stand people who moan while playing them, doesn't happen very often, but had played this one guy who moaned about my list all throughout the game - not fun, those players should just stay at home.

    My little rant of the day out of the way now, good day.

    1. Cheers Mark. Fully agree with your comment. All moaning should be confined to the internet! :-)

  5. Ah the joys of moaning - happens more in WHFB than FOW I find. Personally I have 3 aims in each game at any event (1) to enjoy myself (2) to throw lots of dice by getting into big scraps with something and (3) to kill at least one thing belonging to my opponent. Sometimes I might get royally wrecked by someone but if I achieve 1, 2 and 3 then I'm happy to get pantsed.

    1. Wise words there John. When the game gets taken too seriously, that's when tempers fray and things get out of hand. Never lose sight of having fun.

  6. Good to see this issue raised on the blog. Paul and I had a fair ol' chin wag about it before hand. We simply hope to see a more positive gaming experience for all concerned on the tournie, and indeed friendly, scene.

    I tweaked the post a wee bit (just a couple of small elaborations to help get the point across)

    I reckon we may now be referred to as 'Statler and Waldorf' in future events - perhaps that could be our team name! ? ;-)

    1. Ha ha! That's next year's Panzerschreck name sorted :-)

      I did sign it off from both of us, but good to note again this post was a joint collaboration. No fun having a moan on your own!

    2. Cool :-)

      Yep spotted that, all good :-)