Friday, May 24, 2013

Win More Games Without Changing your Plan

How to win more games without changing your plan, buying more models or changing your list

Here is a guest post from a local player.  I'm a big fan of what he's saying.  It touches on something a lot of people loose sight of; The basics!

Hello, this is Mike Loniewski with, well, myself. This would be my first official blog post of the entire internet. I am a long time Warhammer 40k player, father of three, husband of one, job holder and all around good guy. I post regularly on Dakka Dakka where I have a painting/modeling thread for my armies, I help run a small gaming group through Facebook and consider myself an okay player.

 40k for me has always been about all aspects of the game. I love painting. I love modeling. I love playing. I love reading fluff. When it comes to gaming it used to be Magic then 40k for me. But as I got older, I slowly but surely morphed into a 40k player. When my other pals wanted to play something different, I slowly gravitated back into 40k. The lure of Chaos is apparently just too great.

Today I plan on sharing some things that I feel would help the 20-40 something year old player win more games. I assume that if you plan on playing a game with someone, you should have the idea that you plan on winning the game. Games are made to be played and won. There is a reason that Monopoly usually ends in a fist fight: everyone wants to win and there is only one winner. 40k is unique because it has other aspects to it that make it enjoyable. Nobody I am aware of paints their Monopoly top-hats. I haven’t seen an effective Sorry game piece conversion. I haven’t seen a custom Mouse Trap game board and I don’t think there will ever be a series of books about the rise and fall of the Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Winning isn’t everything. If it was, we’d all be running the douchiest lists we could imagine. We all handicap ourselves in this manner. I run a Great Unclean One because I have an awesomely painted model for it and I think it’s fluffy. Newsflash: A Great Unclean One wasn’t in an Adepticon top 16 list. Players still use Monoliths over Annihilation Barges, Predators over Obliterators and Lysander over Vulcan. Even considering these handicaps, EVERY player wants to make the best of what they have. You may hamstring yourself in list building, you might limit yourself based on your model selection but you will never never NEVER pull punches in a game. When the models are out and on the table, you are playing to win.

So how can I make the best of what I have? I have some simple things to think about to improve your game right now!

1. Premeasuring is in. Jeeebus. Take advantage of this. You should never be surprised when something turns out to be in range of your oh-so-important unit. Do you know the range in which an Annihilation Barge is dangerous? Well, it can move 12” and snap fire its twin-linked tesla destructor another 24”. That’s a 36” kill range. If you have a unit of Warwalkers you don’t want shredded, I’d make sure I was 36.1” away and I’d ANNOUNCE this to your opponent. That way, no matter how he tries to finagle it, he won’t be shooting your precious pointed eared walker pilots out of their seats. You should be asking how far your opponents stuff can move and how far it can shoot and plan accordingly.

You can do this during and prior to deployment also. *Along with this, Warhammer is a game with a social contract. You need to enforce your will to make sure what you want to happen, happens. Of course there is a set of rules for this to occur in, but alas, you need to have the agreement of your opponent to make things happen. So, before you roll a die for a charge, determine what dice roll is needed to make the charge PRIOR to rolling. This avoids all sorts of arguments and will generally make you have a better game.

2. Precision shot. Sergeants, independent characters, crypteks, Nobz, Champions. Usually these jabronis have guns. Remember that if you can put out fire from your leaders, they can pick targets on a 6. How can you tell what they are shooting if you don’t roll separate dice for them? I have a block of green dice, some white dice and some black dice. Always bet on black.

3. Write down the phases of the game. This seems unnecessary. It is not. 40k has become a game of book keeping. There’s the Warp Storm chart, the Chaos Boons chart, the Tau Armory of insanity, Jakero-cheater-smith buffs, Maledictions, Blessings, Hull Points, wounds, Reanimation Protocols, Night Fighting, Zahndrekh, Thunderfire cannons, Velocity Locked, Jink and, well, a million other things to keep track of that you may not have a physical representation of on the tabletop. Things happen at the beginning of the movement phase. Things happen at the start of an assault. At the end of the turn. Before blows are struck. Get a pen on some paper and keep track of this stuff. It is to your advantage. Below is something I plan on using for my next tournament:

It takes care of all of my major book keeping. I have a separate card that reminds me of my turn order, telling me things like “cast blessings” or “moral checks” and such. If you have something that you’ve been routinely forgetting (Daemonic Possession or It Will Not Die come to mind), write it down in big bold letters at the top of that card. It will help!

4. Know the rules. Read them. Read them again. Read the FAQs. Read your opponents codices. Read your codex. Read. Read. Read. Don’t rely on your opponent to be honest about his rules. How would you even know? The next step is remembering them during game time.

5. Pay attention during your opponents turn. I feel I could write a whole article on this point alone (in fact, I just may!), but in a nutshell, if you want to win the game, you shouldn’t be getting a Coke at this point. Your opponent will probably outright tell you what he’s worried about (“That fracking Destroyer Lord is really screwing me,”) but if not, his movement phase might. If he keeps checking the range to your Vindicator before he moves each unit, you might believe that he is worried about that little guy. If he keeps checking LOS to his unit, maybe he doesn’t want it dead. Just like in poker, if you’re doing what your opponent doesn’t want you to do, you’re probably winning. Moral is important in 40k and I’m not just talking about models. If the unit he so meticulously hid behind that building suddenly vaporized to your outflankers, you might have just delivered a more devastating mental blow than a physical one.

6. Power pose. Watch this TEDtalk. It is 20 minutes that might just change your life… and in the process improve your 40k game. Staying positive and upbeat, despite the circumstances, will ALWAYS have a positive effect on your outcome.

7. Play the mission. This has been discussed quite a bit on the internet already but it is worth bringing up again. Remember that if you are playing book missions, 5 of the 6 missions involve you putting troops on small dots on the board. If you’re not playing like this is what will win you the game, you’re doing it wrong. Why are Necrons so good? Wraiths? D-Lords? Mind shackles? Barges?! FLAYED ONES?! No! It’s the single best scoring combo in the game: The Night Scythe + Warriors for instant scoring anywhere. All of the rest is a bonus.

 I imagine that even doing one of these things in your next game that you weren’t doing before would increase your chances of pulling out a win. Stay tuned!


  1. Nice bit! Very concise, also entertaining, and assuredly useful.
    On top of that, welcome to the blogosphere! :-)

  2. Beautiful post! I stopped playing a while ago because I always felt like I was studying for exams to play 40k. I think you nailed it with this too: "40k has become a game of book keeping." Between that and the less than amiable gaming groups in my area I am now a cabinet painter. Someday I hope to return to the arena, but for now I'll just cheer people like you on from the sidelines! Again, great post. Well written and completely in the spirit of the GAME we love! I want to see more like this from you sir :)

    1. Thank you so much for the positive feedback! I hope to contribute more in the future. It means a lot to know that someone would read what I am writing and find some sort of use in it. Hope to see you on the battlefields some day.

  3. I've been telling myself for years that I need to make a checklist for my turns. Pilots do it every time during their preflight checks and I wanted to take a page out of their play book. Perhaps when the new Eldar book drops shortly, I will finally create it.
    Good post, man. Keep it up. I love strategy and tactics articles.

    1. The checklist does help but it does take a little training to use it. I found that, much like taking pictures during a game, you use it a whole lot in the first few turns. Eventually, you get the hang of your army (at least in that game) and don't refer to it as much.
      I'm glad to hear you're excited about Eldar, I would love to shred more space elves with bolter fire! :) Thanks for the positive review!

  4. You've never read the epic tale "Hungry, Hungry Hippos III, Revenge of the Ravenous Rhinoceroses"?

    1. I believe I have the hardcover of that. Its between "HHHII: The Clone Boars" and "HHHIV: A New Goat."