I regret to inform you that I have already bamboozled you.
The title of this article most likely made you think of not getting cheated at a game of 40k due to the most recent drama going on in the tournament scene, but the title was pure click-bait (as the kids call it). While, of course, none of us want to get cheated out of a victory during our 40k games, I believe this to be a rare occurrence that is already being handled in a public and professional manner by both tournament organizers and the ITC. However, almost all 40k players have had some feel bad moments during their games that in no way constituted cheating. These moments can arise from the various other gray areas while playing an abstract game like Warhammer 40k, and they can make players feel as if they were cheated even if that was no ones intention.
A friend from my gaming group described it best to me when he said something along the lines of, “a lot of people mention that they would have won a game if they had known about a certain rule or tactic their opponent planned to use during the game, but those are just mistakes the player made throughout the course of the game to lead them to their loss”. This statement made me think about how some of the higher level players interact with their opponent in order to not find themselves in situations where they are surprised by something their opponent does through their tactics or rules interactions. Almost all higher level players talk to their opponents (and sometimes even to themselves) throughout their entire game. This talk isn’t trash talk, idol conversation, or even talk about how well someone’s army is painted. This talk is communication with the sole purpose of playing a tight game that runs smoothly in order to give the best player the highest chance to win.
The first opportunity you will have to set the tone of the game with your opponent is when you swap army lists before the game begins. Hopefully you have introduced yourself like civilized human beings who enjoy playing the same toy solider game, but after that should come question time. Now is the time to try and get a feel for your opponents overall strategy by looking at their army list and asking them specific questions about stratagems, relics, warlord traits, and anything else that could come as a surprise to your during the game. Most players love talking about the list they created, so this conversation will lead nicely into the next tip.
It is important to have an open line of communication with your opponent throughout the entire game. All the questions you ask while going over your opponent’s army list shouldn’t be the last time your talk to them during a game. Higher level players constantly are explaining their actions to their opponents as they move their models on the battlefield, and this even includes explaining their future intent for units in the game. A simple statement of, “I am moving my Necron Warriors here so they have an 8 inch charge, and I can re-roll that charge because these Warriors got my Chronomancer buff in the Command Phase”, can make a game run smoothly as opposed to having time wasted on an argument over the distance needed for those Warriors to make their charge.
This technique of being chatty can also help you remember some of your own rules. During the glory days of Eldar Flyer spam in 8th Edition my gaming group got awfully tired of me saying, “that plane is -2 to hit”, each time they rolled their shots against one of my Alaitoc flyers. They had played my flyer spam jank a ton, but this overly chatty play style helped immensely come tournament time when my opponent was not as familiar playing against an army that spams negatives to hit. This type of communication with my opponents saved me from waiting until my opponent was ready to roll their wound rolls to ask, “you know those were -2 to be hit, right?” (no, they did not know and they looked annoyed).
This last tip may make you seem slightly crazy, but if your opponent thinks they are dealing with a madman it could skew the game in your favor! Talking to yourself during a game can be extremely helpful to stay focused on what you need to do in order to score points and win the game. I am constantly asking myself (out loud) what I need to do for my upcoming turn. I have talked myself out of some terrible ideas this way that would have cost me games. So what if I look a little crazy?
Now if you are uncomfortable talking to yourself while your opponent gauges your sanity feel free to rope your opponent into your thought processes. Something along the lines of, “Well, I know I need to hold at least 2 Objectives for the Primary, so it doesn’t make much sense to push too hard this turn does it?”, can get you focused on scoring points and keep you from being distracted by the other, less important, things going on on the battlefield.
If you are thinking that this open communication sounds a lot like sharing your plan with your opponent you are, kind of, right! You don’t need to disclose everything to your opponent. Things like target priority, or your overall strategy to win the game, don’t need to be shared (although if you and your opponent are higher skilled players you both may know what either others win conditions for the game are). However, talking your opponent through your current turn can make for a much better gaming experience.
While the title of this article is satire, it never feels good during a game of 40k to realize you messed something up unintentionally that could have been avoided with a simple conversation with your opponent. It may not come naturally to many people, but it will come easier the more you talk and the longer the game goes on with productive communication from your opponent and yourself.