So have a read below, it may seem obvious but what separates war gaming from a video game in my opinion, comes down to the amount of thought needed. A video game is easy, start it up, master the AI and bam you will win most games. A wargame however takes effort, you need models, terrain, time and players with the same thing. This effort doesnt end, you need to have effort in every stage of the game. This effort should make it fun, so before I make effort into a fourth point and have to change my title lets continue.
As a note, this applies greatly to 40k, but other game systems need it too.
Remember anything that happens in a game is up to you and your opponent. Not the rules, not GW, not the dice (well not always) and not the army. Its up to you and your opponent to make the game work. If there is one thing that annoys me most its when my opponent blames my army or the rules for his loss. Now sometimes these claims can be legitimate, but I find even when I try to make the game as balanced as possible and do favors for my opponent they can sometimes complain. I will admit I at one point was a "power gamer". But I have since learned that it does not lead to a good game for anybody. Which brings me to my next point.
If you are tabling someone frequently, dont blame the rules, the army or the dice. Dont blame your opponent for sucking especially. Now considering what i said above this may sound odd? But at the end of the day the goal is not to crush your friend on the other side. Your goal should be to make the game fun for your opponent as well as yourself. So if you see that guy playing a penal legion list, dont smile and bring "Taudar" army and kill him on turn 2 laughing triumphantly. Change your list and maybe take a horde of storm guardians, or kroot instead? Make the game interesting.
Your friend may not have the models to simply change his list to make the game more enjoyable. So why not allow proxies? Heck if he (and you) find the game more enjoyable this way you may very well not end up using proxies for long.
If you havent noticed from reading the above the easiest way to state this is summed up like so. How you act before and after the game is what matters most. Your list building can turn a potentially good game to an ego stroking waste of time, your attitude after the game can turn a once fun game into a sour tasting memory.
So remember, dont make the game fun for you, make it fun for your friend. If he has the same attitude, he will do the same. Guess what the result is? You are both having fun! This is the biggest most important rule in wargaming.
So dont blame the rules, dont blame the armies dont blame anything. Its all on the players to make everything work and work well. Communication is key for this. So think about how you act and play, if you are doing it right, people will follow you.
|This is not the attitude to have! Join the light side|
How important is having enough terrain?
|Dont let your battlefields degenerate to this. lack of terrain is death.|
So how much terrain? Well the first thing to think about is "can the enemy shoot me on turn 1?" Now this isn't a bad thing but terrain should be placed in a fashion which reduces the amount of shots the player who goes first can shoot into you. This is important because not only does it help those assault armies it also prolongs the game. It makes you think about where you are going to move your men. It develops choke points and brings the fighting closer together. It also makes taking an objective much more important than relying on the killing of your opponent to win the day.
Have you seen many weapons that don't need LoS taken because they can shoot over cover? rarely. Most of these weapons are taken for their killing power and even then they are rare. More terrain on the table increases the value of weapons such as mortars. It also makes giant towering units such as the new Wraith knights or Riptides etc more effective for its ability to see over a lot of cover. BUT this makes them prone to taking a lot of fire too. Infiltrators, Deep strikers and out flankers wont be turned into gravy the turn they come in (well it will help them) because they will have places to hide. they aren't gonna arrive in the open all the time ready to take a fist full of shots.
The whole goal of taking more terrain in a battle is to help armies survive, not through cover saves but through Line of Site. This also adds to the utility of units and the importance of being higher than your opponent. Line of Site becomes a blessing instead of taken for granted.
There is another use however. Terrain can be placed in ways that make you play the game differently. Ever played those puzzle games where every piece of the map or game is made with adding depth in mind? Well you don't need to think that deeply, but something as simple as a river can really change the whole game. That building in the center of the map becomes more than a piece of terrain if it overlooks a vital objective. It seems simple but after observing how people play their games for a long time this is over looked. So many players give no or little thought to the map besides "its even enough".
Of course many people don't have the luxury of having enough terrain. But for something that's so important and vital for a good game perhaps if we all as players put more time towards terrain and maybe stop buying models for a bit (we are all guilty... :P) we could afford to make some amazing tables. Scenery which adds something to the look, quality and depth of the game is ideal.
- Enough terrain to block early game tabling.
- Enough terrain to ensure planning in the movement phase
- Enough terrain to shake things up each game
This bit seems awfully obvious: But how often do you think about the map you make for your games? I am guilty of just setting up any old map and then getting into the game. But it really has become a problem. When playing as Eldar it wasn't much of a problem. My weapons where short range and I had to move to get close. But playing as the imperial guard sometimes i would win games on turn 2-3. Which brings me to my next point, set it up for the armies playing.
Obviously if tau where fighting Guard you would want more terrain. 2 Gunline armies are not exactly fun to play. But make those gun armies move and get close and the game gets interesting. But Orks vs Tyranids would need a lot less. They (for the most part) just wanna get in and cut each other, this doesn't mean they need an open map though, they still need choke points, defensive positions, obstacles and so forth. So when making a map think about the armies involved and go from there.
But it doesnt even start there! You actually need terrain. Many players are restricted to gaming stores or simply lack the funds to make terrain. But the way i see it, terrain is just as important as models. You don't need to buy GW terrain, you can make terrain at home. Polystyrene is easy to use, sprews, old models, fish tank decorations and the list goes on! Check these guys out for cool ideas! LINK. Cheap terrain doesn't always take time and effort. Just got to be creative. Or get together with friends and pool together funds and time to create some cool boards.
Terrain is difficult overall and yes its easy to rely on others and focus on models but you are missing out! Heck as a kid at home I used books, boxes, toys and so forth to make maps for games and although it wasnt optimal it at least made for some interesting games. Far more interesting than some of the games I played with poorly set up maps.
So lets put some thought behind our maps and try get some terrain together to create a superior gaming experience. It can be hard or tedious but you will reap the rewards I promise you.
Once you have a board set up you may want to take it further. I belong to a club which has an abundance of terrain, I also have a lot of terrain at home thanks to me and my friends. So I decided to slowly make nicer things for my games. I started with some flaming vehicle markers. I simply used fluff, electric candles, black spray paint and some glue. These will feature in the campaign which will start in a few days. But they look great ans they just add some extra imph to the game. I plan on making "Plasma Casualties" for my men, little black smoking skeletons for when my guns explode haha. The list goes on with possibilities.
It can get better?
Even though a denser map terrain wise will add to your games in many positive ways reducing the size of your games go a long way too. I know its cool to use all your models, its cool to see 2 large armies crush each other and it makes building lists easier. But imagine how much better a game would be where everything in your army is vital. No longer do 40k games become a battle of heavy support, no longer does Flames of war become a parking lot war and fantasy doesnt boil down to 2 lines running at each other.
In smaller games your troops become vital. Loosing men is a big loss. Having back up units to do a task is not an option like it is in larger games. This applies to 40k more than any other system. I know it seems crazy but why not play a game of 500-1000 points next time? Force yourself to make the hard decisions, feel like your decisions are more than who shoots where and things that never used to matter start, well mattering. Like where your only anti tank unit is, or which flank needs that leman russ and s forth.
Remember smaller games means you are more likely to finish and actually get in more than one game. Just as a side bonus.
Im not writing this to say my way is better or anything like that. But after spending time on forums and talking to fellow club members I have realized how so many of their problems could be fixed by heeding the above. I plan on making this apparent to them in the campaign. Small games with lots of terrain.
Of course all the above is easier when you are friends with those you play, but if you find yourself playing pick up games why not convince someone to give it a try? Bring some of your own terrain and talk to your opponent before hand. Figure out what kind of map and army to use before a game and learn from it. If you find that its not working, look back on the game with your friend and find out why. Arrange to try things differently next game. Did you cut him down before his turn? Maybe better terrain placement is needed? Are you fielding flyers against someone who cant actually shoot them down? The list goes on.
I think with the right attitude, the right table and the right points everyone's 40k problems will disappear. Dont believe me. Give it a good few goes and take it seriously. You may find yourself enjoying the challenge. Who knows...