Hello all. It’s me again. The player we all love to hate, Joshua Death. Back with another tense, hot-button tale full of intrigue, drama, fortunes gained, fortunes lost, pain, treachery, and deceit! (Oh wait, I’m telling you about warhammer not my last marriage!)
Where was I? Oh yes, hot-button topic! I want to talk a bit today about a problem that has been plaguing the competitive scene these past few months and seems to be a very heated discussion no matter where I turn. List checking and the illegality of lists in competition.
The game as it is now in 7th edition 40k is more complicated and complex than it has ever been. I have been playing this wonderful game for over 25 years and competitively for over 15. I can honestly say that I have never seen the game more complex than it is now, but I can also say with certainty that the game (specifically the competitive side) has never been more diverse, and enjoyable than it is now. There are so many rules, factions, formations, supplements that the variety of lists you see in the competitive scene right now is more diverse than it has ever been. I have played in major events in almost every region of this country in the past year alone and can honestly say that the vast majority of these events have such a wide array of interesting armies that it is almost worth going to some of these events just to walk around and see the visions other people have created for their personal forces.
Being guilty myself of list issues and having been put smack dab in the middle of the drama as a result, I have a rather unique perspective of how this is affecting the community. With a number of major events over the past few months being plagued by list issues, points overages, interpretations made incorrectly, book interactions overlapping in wrong ways, etc. etc. it is obvious this is a legitimate problem and in need of some serious attention from the community as a whole.
There are two main sides to this issue that have caused a fairly large schism in the community. There are the individuals that believe that these mistakes are just that “mistakes” and should be treated in a way that would facilitate as little conflict and disruption as possible and there are those that feel even as a “mistake” given the nature and level at which these events compete punishment for such infractions should be swift and severe akin to that of other forms of professional competition. Now there are many different ways we can handle these issues as a community after they happen, but I am a fan of letting the TO’s make those decisions. What I would like to spend some time discussing is how AS A COMMUNITY we can start preventing these problems from happening in the first place.
Having been dealing with this issue for a bit now and having spent a great deal of time dwelling on this topic. Conversing with teammates, friends, TO’s, and other competitors on ways to assist in not letting this happen again; a few different ideas have been presented and I have implemented a few in my own tournament play as a way to stop these issues before they start.
First one is utilize the people around you to help. I would say that a large portion of the competitive community belong to some kind of group/club/team of some sort. These can be great assets in helping find issues with lists or points errors in your lists. Use your teammates and friends. It is very likely that one of them may catch what you may have missed, or may interpret something differently than you did when you built your list.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask. If there is something in your list that is potentially ambiguous in any way, or if members of your club seem to not agree on how a rule is read/interpreted then don’t hesitate to email the TO of the event you are going to and ask them. Trust me and use my experience as justification on this one, most TO’s would much rather have the opportunity to address a rules issue before the event even starts rather than try to mediate an argument in the middle of a tournament.
Thirdly, if you happen to be running a list that is rather intricate, or complex in any way? Take the time to put a little extra effort into your army list. I mean the printed version that you hand to your opponents at these events. I myself am rather known within most of my circles for running very complicated lists and an abundance of shenanigans. That in and of itself has led to confusion on its own multiple times. While it is generally accepted that most people should know the game well enough if they wish to compete at higher levels, and in a way I agree. It is your job as a player to be knowledgeable enough of the game to be able to compete. You need to know quite a bit about many different armies to be able to successfully win a major event. BUT, there is a certain responsibility that is on the part of the player to make sure his opponent is not confused by what “appears” to be happening on your side of the table. I recently had a major event that I was attending where I was approached by the judges on the second day of the event and told that a couple of my opponents were confused as to how I was using a certain piece of wargear in my list and how it interacted with my detachment. This confusion led them to get a sense of foul play and thus the judges approached me the next day. While I explained to the judges that I did not believe there was any foul play or deception in my actions, and I even got a little heated at one point during the discussion, after I stopped for a minute and had time to reflect on what all had happened I decided to DQ myself from the event and personally went around to my opponents to apologize to each of them for any confusion my play or list had caused. In the end the thing I realized in this instance was this: even though I don’t think I had done anything wrong, and that I was under the impression that my opponent must have misunderstood what had happened, that exact confusion was still my fault. If my opponent was not fully clear as to how my list was operating or how I was running it; or if my opponent was not crystal clear on each thing I did while I was doing it, that confusion rests on my shoulders. It is my responsibility as a player to make sure that my opponent fully understands what I am doing and what MY army is doing. If I have not done that, and I end up winning a game as a result of that confusion than I have failed as a player. An easy way to help prevent this is to take a little extra time when you write your list out for your opponent. Make sure there is an easy way for them to track which of your models has what psychic powers. Make sure they know very clearly who your warlord is, make sure they know about any odd special rules or wargear that would obviously affect their play style. “Well how do I know what I should highlight or point out for them?” That is a great question and I am so glad you asked. A very easy way to answer that question is this: If your opponent was running this list, would that rule or piece of wargear be something you would want to know about? If the answer is yes, then YES!
Lastly, take a little time before the game to go over your list with a little more detail with your opponent. I know there are a lot of people out there that like to have their “aha” moment when they spring their cool combo on their unsuspecting opponent, but I can speak from experience in that most of the time if your cool combo is as good as you think it is, it will work just fine even if you tell them about it ahead of time, and you won’t have an opponent walking away from the table thinking you’re a grade A douchebag. Take a little time before the game and go over your list with a little more depth, explain some of your crazy shenanigans and how you are planning on making them destroy his hopes and dreams. Give your opponent that time to argue why he doesn’t think it is going to work, you can both take a moment to make your cases and if you need to get a judge to assist in the ruling no one is going to feel like they got screwed because they are already half way through there turn and they would have done things differently had they known that ahead of time.
One of my own team members from Team Zero Comp is putting together a Facebook group soon for the sole purpose of allowing players to post their lists up to the ITC community for validation and checking. I think this is a brilliant idea as it will allow an element of policing that the community is both needing and seems to be wanting right now. Obviously the more people that join this group the more effective it will be so tell your friends and game groups to get them on here to help the community out.
So there you have it. Just a couple ideas on how to maybe help prevent a little bit of the list confusion and saltiness that has been going around the tournament community for a bit. What are some of the methods you use to help make sure your list is ready for an event? Any tips you might have for the community? Suggestions? We would love to hear from you.