Come on in, the water is fine! (1)

Geoff “InControl” Robinson of Star Craft 2 fame, chimes in on his experience at the BAO!

On the heels of BAO we’ve read a lot of horror stories about what negative things COULD happen at tourneys and I read a lot of comments from people saying something along the lines of “SEE! That is why I don’t go to tourneys!” These people are referring to the fear of playing against someone that is cheating, is competitive to the point of having an attitude or in general just not enjoying the brutal lists that lurk in the dark waters of a GT. Let me start off by saying I get it. These anxieties are not completely unfounded and  people WILL experience these things to varying degrees when they go to a GT but I would like you to hang in their with me through the length of this article and allow me to make a case for why these things can be dealt with and are in my humble opinion out-weighed by the impact of what a GT can and does offer in compensation. 

Who the hell am I to talk about tourneys? Well, I’ve been a professional Starcraft: Brood War / Starcraft 2 player for the better part of 16 years. I’ve attended tourneys, played in front of 100’s of thousands of people and I’ve played for life changing cash. I’ve been embarrassed and I’ve been successful. In WH40k my pedigree is a lot less glamorous but I’ve traveled from coast to coast playing in the biggest tourneys over the last couple years and I have experience there as well. The point I am making here is I’ve experienced a LOT in tourneys. Cheating? Check. Horrible dickish attitudes? Check. Fluff armies? Check. Seer council with 5 wave serpents and a stone faced Tony Kopach behind them? Uh huh. I’ve also experienced beer-offering pleasant folks that gave me some of the most fun a guy can have in 2.5 hours. THAT is what I want to offer up first.

One of the biggest offenders of creating a potential wall for people who are considering attending events but read something scary online about cheating/attitude and then decide “NOPE” is playing vs. a dishonest or unpleasant person. Being honest, I can tell you this can/will happen. Sometimes these individuals are uber competitive and it comes off dickish. Sometimes they are just kinda… mean. But these people are in the vast minority and there are ways of handling it that in my experience usually mitigates the issue completely. Be up front with them!  Tell them point blank you are new to tourneys OR (if you are not new) looking to have a fair, pleasant and competitive game. I find that the vast majority of people that share in this hobby with us are intelligent, passionate people (otherwise WHY ARE YOU SPENDING ALL THIS MONEY?!?!?) who will probably have a lot in common with you. Appeal to that. If you start the game with a threat to their body or by holding them down and farting on them you will probably have an antagonistic game. The opposite is true as well (I don’t mean letting them hold you down while they pass gas on you). Another thing I’ve experienced that could work for you as well is BE THAT GUY. Yeah, I mean it. Bring  beer for your opponent or do what the guy next to me at my final round of BAO did and bombard everyone around him with jello shots. Just sit there and try to  have a bad time when you share a beer or booze with your opponent. It’s against ancient laws to do that but you just try it. 

People are a lot less likely to try and cheat if you are pleasant like this but it may happen. The obvious answer is know the game as well as you possibly can. We all try that though, right? The better advice here is if something doesn’t sound right or TOO good don’t be shy about asking them to reaffirm what they said or show you the rule. Be nice and pleasant about it but that is a part of the game. We ALL do it! You can’t possibly know all the rules and anyone that says otherwise is either lying (Reece), is full of themself (Reece) or they are so damn old they might actually know all the rules (Reece) Hey, thanks a lot! lol-ed.


Cheating will happen be it on accident or on purpose. The latter obviously sucks a lot more but in competition WH40k or otherwise it does happen. Don’t let the fact that it CAN happen prevent you from another absolute: Tourneys kick ass and are fun! To that point it was again just this last BAO where a guy was so damn honest and kind it was astounding. My list had a Barbed Heirodule.. a giant big nasty Tyranid model that can stomp at the full power of D. Well I did just that to kick off the game. His drop pod marines went for all the marbles and due to my cover saves and feel no pain I was able to basically ignore his alpha strike. I then murdered his Warlord and bad ass assistants with a single stomp roll of a 6. Now, I wouldn’t fault him for being salty and mad the rest of the game and he was definitely upset about this roll but come turn 3 or 4 he got his revenge (or so we thought) by blowing up the Heirodule with some great rolling from his storm raven. I was in the process of sadly picking up my now dead Lord of War when he remembered that he was supposed to be snap firing due to a jink save he took.. we redid the shooting and he went from 4 wounds and a kill to 0 wounds and no chance of winning at all. I had genuinely forgot as did he about the jink save but HE reminded us and we played the game in earnest. You will face some dickish folk but you will also face people that give you hope for humanity.

The last fear I’d like to address is the concept of being annoyed/afraid of the “ultra competitive lists.” I think we all know what I am talking about. People who have more themed, lore based or just plain fluffy armies aren’t all that interested in going to a tourney and getting their ass handed to them HARD. I hear that. I have 30 some odd Genestealers that will never see the light of day and I know I am not alone when I say that. Can you take your Thousand Sun army to a GT? Yes. Can you run Chaos Space Marines as troops even though you were told they suck? Yes. Will it be at the final table of the tourney? Probably not. BUT that is ok! Again at BAO I went into my final round of day one 2-0 and on table 5 playing against a pleasant middle aged gentleman who had a Blood Angels army that was kitted out for assault. He had never been to a GT and here he was doing just fine! This story doesn’t end with him making out with Heidi Klum and winning the entire thing but he had a good time and despite his theme based army he did ok for himself and attended a big scary GT.



I’ve played in basements, backyards, garages AND hotels. I can tell you that both are awesome and fun for different reasons. I can’t help but cringe though when I hear someone who LOVES WH40k and has been a part of the hobby for years say something like “I don’t go to tourneys, too many assholes and dumb armies” or something along those lines. TRY IT! Those dumb armies can suck but you can also have a helluva time being the underdog! You will also play other people like yourself who do enjoy lore based armies and playing the game that way. If anything you will be in a room FILLED with people as passionate about the coolest thing on earth as you are.

Avoiding tourneys because of a generalization that they are all bad armies and cheating jerks is not only untrue but it is robbing you of a potentially amazing experience. The last piece of advice I would give here is that if you truly are afraid of those insane armies and you DO want to do well enough at a tourney make the small adjustments. If you are a CSM player add obliterators. If you are that guy who drunkenly yells WAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHH at a tourney maybe also include Lootas. Not sure what adjustments to make? This community is chalk full of intelligent and helpful people. Check ‘s forum, torrentoffire ‘s articles and peruse dakkadakka/bells. Lots of great resources out there for you to find out what adjustments you can make. You don’t need to go full min/max but just a few competitive units can really round out your results and help you along. Beyond even that though the best way to become successful and happy at a tourney is EXPERIENCE. Guess how you go and get some of that?

In the end some of you just plain don’t want to go to tourneys and you know what? That is friggin cool man. Playing with buds in a basement with some tunes on in the background and beer in hand is some of the best damn time you can have. I would never tell you otherwise. This article is directed at the folk that are on the fence about attending tourneys and have a little bit of anxiety built up over the things mentioned here. Consider my advice, go to one tourney and hopefully have a great damn time. I am vouching for it and I hope you guys will give it a shot. 


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

36 Responses to “Come on in, the water is fine!”

  1. Reecius August 6, 2014 4:36 am #

    Great article, Geoff!

  2. Simon August 6, 2014 4:46 am #

    Very good article! I certainly like trying to get my opponents drunk too. Much easier chance of a win…


  3. TrueKnight August 6, 2014 5:29 am #

    But but GW doesnt intend for us to play 40k in a tournament! Lol jk. Great article. Im playing in my first tournament in 10 YEARS at my local shop at the end of the month. And you know what, Im excited for it.

    • Reecius August 6, 2014 9:06 am #

      Hey, hey, welcome back! Good luck, let us know how it goes!

  4. Novastar August 6, 2014 7:02 am #

    Really good article

  5. Logan August 6, 2014 7:08 am #

    I approve of this message. I have played in several different games, both friendly and Tournament.

    I will admit you will always have Cheaters, Power Gamers, WAAC, and That Guy no matter the game. From D&D, MTG, MMOs you will have issues. There has been times I wanted to punch the other guy causing me a headache over a trivial game, but I continue to play. The reason being, I have more good games than I do have bad. Granted I tend to remember the bad games more than the good because I have forgivness issues. I still think back to LVO 2014 and I want to still punch one of the guys I played. I still can’t read this persons posts/replies on this site without getting angry.

  6. PlagueFather August 6, 2014 7:41 am #

    The article hit the proverbial nail on the head. Thx Geoffrey. Re-do’s should be a part of all competitive gamers resume. If there’s an error and you discover it re-do the section ya screwed up on. To err is human, to re-do is divine.

  7. Fagerlund August 6, 2014 7:47 am #

    Cool! Just one question… hang in their WHAT exactly? You’re cruel. D:

  8. Jural August 6, 2014 8:44 am #

    Good article! I will say that if you are a competitive person and don’t have a competitive list, a GT will be quite frustrating. Personally, I am a bit competitive, but I knew at BAO that my model collection really wasn’t up to making a super competitive list, and that was after building and painting 5 monstrous creatures in the month leading up! I was able to view the experience as learning to play with some of the new toys, and had a great time. I only ran into one douche, and it was managable.

    The one thing everyone can do to make your experience and others better is to bring an actual list with your army rules and upgrades printed on it (Army Builder is perfect for this.) Nothing is worse than being a neophyte and getting a mostly blank sheet of 8.5X11 with a unit descriptor and a point cost, then trying to remember the entire rulebook’s worth of stats as your opponent blitzes through them while setting up.

    • Reecius August 6, 2014 9:07 am #

      Glad you came and had fun, Jural!

      • Jural August 6, 2014 11:20 am #

        The environment was so nice that I felt comfortable bringing my daughter the second day- just really well run Reecius, and the players were great. Except for that jerk Captain Dees.

  9. Archon-Kalafex August 6, 2014 9:06 am #

    Vote for Geoff! I did. B)

  10. FTGTEvan August 6, 2014 9:10 am #

    Amen, Geoffry.

  11. TheWarRoom August 6, 2014 10:08 am #

    Nice article iNcontroL!

    I agree completely. I’ve only been in a few thus far (TSHFT) but have had a blast. I think the people who complain that they’ve only had bad experiences are due to only playing in local ones (or just bad luck). Expand out.

    Planning on getting to LVO next year.

    • Reecius August 6, 2014 10:55 am #

      Awesome, see you at the LVO!

  12. Casey H August 6, 2014 10:46 am #

    The water *is* fine. It’s the air conditioning we gotta watch though. On Saturday, I think if we’d gone 50 more feet, passed the Mexican place, we’d have been a helluva lot cooler at 4th St Pizza.
    On Topic: For those that do poorly and don’t like the GT competitive level: I got clobbered at LVO and generally lose tourney games. However, I went 4/2 at BAO. Do as Geoff recommends; add Oblits. Grav/melta bikes. One Drop Pod of Stern/melta/guard for FB. One or two things to make your list “Get Some”.

    I ran a moderate eldar list, and practiced many games before hand and except against some 7′ foot ITC guy 😉 did reasonably well, even on my 2nd loss.

    Good article.

    Thanks again for the beer and fun drubbing, Grant.

    • Reecius August 6, 2014 10:55 am #

      Glad you had fun, Casey, and yeah, a few key units help a ton to give you that fighting edge!

    • Jural August 6, 2014 11:19 am #

      I think this is where IK and LoW can really help, they can make a *meh* list competitive, and for relatively low $ (in terms of dollars per point.)

      I’m thinking particularly of some veteran players who haven’t really updated their lists in a few years, it’s a great way to keep some continuity and jump back in.

  13. Adam August 6, 2014 11:13 am #

    I couldn’t agree more! Tournaments are a great place to meet new people, see some gorgeous armies and play games against new people. It’s usually quite uncommon to go against someone who’s more interested in winning than having a good time.

  14. Cuddles August 6, 2014 11:17 am #

    There are a lot of people that want competition. Of course, no matter where you go, you have to deal with people who cheat or exude misery. That is a weakness and you can either ignore (except with cheating I call people out) or use it to your advantage. The thing that gets me is that the rules are almost impossible to balance. During the 6th it became evident that competition was almost solely limited to Eldar, Daemons, Tau (for a while, at least), and space marines to an extent. The rules were very far from balanced. Furthermore, certain armies are always underpowered or unbalanced, and that will never change. If you want to have fun, and can keep a cool head when you run into the WAAC people that go to some tourneys, then go. Some of us would rather spend our time at home enjoying ourselves with friends, where there is a social contract that filters out a lot of the crap.

    I’d also add that tournaments try to make things fair by making rules meant to keep abuse at a minimum, which Frontline did here. However, sometimes those rules just make lower tier armies even worse. For example, there was no allowance for double CADs at the BAO. That rule single handedly excluded me from coming, as my CSM is run with a double CAD (we have nothing in the elite slot and most of our good units are in the heavy). I understand why the rule was put in place, but it would have forced me to play in a noncompetitive way, so I did want to even bother.

  15. Slaede August 6, 2014 12:16 pm #

    I played Geoff in Rd2 and his Heirodule ate my whole army so he is a poopyhead! Do not listen to his filthy lies!!1

    • iNcontroL August 6, 2014 6:55 pm #

      HEY! Hate the Heirodule not the player.. or something. haha dude.. that was a brutal game.

  16. Hotsauceman1 August 6, 2014 1:07 pm #

    Why should I listen to you Geoffrey. you gave me the idea of two chaptermasters and I lost 😛

    • iNcontroL August 6, 2014 6:55 pm #

      I can only assume you would have lost harder without both of them hotsauce ^____________^;;

  17. White925 August 6, 2014 5:00 pm #

    Great Article Geoff that was an awesome read and I really want to attend tournaments now.

  18. Joshhodg August 7, 2014 1:43 am #

    My Astra Militarum/Toughest Girls of the Galaxy army should be painted up by February so I have been thinking about saving up to go to the LVO. Only thing I’m not sure about is how I would handle having an army without a single infantry model being the correct model.

    • Joshhodg August 7, 2014 1:45 am #

      And by painted up I meant by the awesome people at Frontline Gaming!

  19. droozy August 7, 2014 5:44 am #

    I had all these fears. Went to my first tourney earlier this year and had my ass handed to me game one by Grant ‘s sear council. You would think that would galvanize my original feelings but damned if he wasn’t super cool about it. Playing with a themed chaos space marine list I didn’t really expect to do well but I was happy for my first round experience. I faced arguably the nastiest list in 6th edition and I had fun. After all, isn’t that what playing with toy soldiers is really all about? I’ve only met cool people at events. I know there’s some hyper competitive ass hats out there but I haven’t met them yet. Mostly just people trying to have fun with most willing to go out of their way to help you enjoy yourself too

  20. Nuln-Oil August 7, 2014 6:38 am #

    Isn’t this written by the guy who wrote the “vagisil” list?

  21. Greggles September 1, 2014 9:32 am #


    Just wanted to say, one of the reasons I went to Nova Open was because of this article…and I had an absolute blast. Thanks for taking the time to write it! (Was also great to meet you, Reece, and Frankie in person!)

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