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This episode provides tournament play tips for Age of Sigmar. These practical tips will help you finish your games in the time allotted while still having fun.
From the outset, I would like to acknowledge that this episode builds on and reflects on previous podcasts and blog posts by Heelanhammer, Tronhammer, Nico and Jabber Tzeentch. I hope this accurately captures their thoughts and mine in one short package.
- Completing your game on time – the social contract of tournaments
- List writing – can your army finish games?
- Practice, practice, practice – know your army?
- Practical tips for the table
- Further Resources
Completing your game on time – the social contract of tournaments
For me timely play is a fundamental part of the social contract that we as gamers enter into when we turn up at the table-top. That contract includes, in my view, a commitment to complete the game at a reasonable pace with an equitable split of time between the two players. Most tournament games are between 2 and a half and 2 and three quarters long for 2,000 points. It is both players’ responsibility to manage their time wisely.
Avoid the sour taste of a rushed or incomplete end to the game
No one wants to feel rushed through their decisions, but you also don’t want to feel that you are being slow-played (either deliberately or inadvertently).
If players do not use their time wisely, then you can find that you are left with the difficult decision of whether to try to fit another battle round in before dice down, play into a lunch break, or to rush through turns. All of these can leave a bad experience, especially if you make crucial mistakes because you are rushing.
Armies are impacted differently by time – Some armies win in 2 turns, others need 5
Also different armies are affected by time in different ways. Lists which do most of their damage in the first one or two turns are not affected if the game only gets to turn 3, while some grind or highly mobile lists which are dependent on capturing objectives late once an opponent are whittled down, need all 5 turns to execute their strategy.
I’m not an advocate of allocating a certain time to each player, and then enforcing those limits with chess clocks. For me that puts an undue focus on time restrictions and ignores the realities that some lists take longer to move, shoot, fight etc than others.
Being time efficient while still having fun with your opponent
Efficient play does not require you to be rude or unengaging with your opponent. Nor should it discourage banter and enjoying the narrative of the game as it unfolds. Warhammer is a social game, even at the highest competitive levels.
I like to consider an analogy with golf. In golf, the premise is that you take the time you need to take your shot, but you move efficiently at all other times so you don’t hold up play. You don’t stand on the green to mark your card, you do it while walking to the next tee or waiting to tee-off. While your opponent is taking their shot, you might be moving into position for yours in anticipation etc.
So what does that mean in practice for AoS?
List writing – can your army finish games?
At the list writing stage, think about how your army plays. If you are running the Kunnin Ruk from Bonesplitters, and have 500 shots a turn, come prepared with enough dice, or perhaps don’t bring the list at all if you don’t think you can get through a game in time.
Practice, practice, practice – know your army
Nothing beats experience with an faction or a list to speed up play.
Read and re-read the rules. To save time in game, especially with the move to electronic battletomes, scrolls, FAQs and rules, you may want to have a hard copy cheat sheet to act as a helpful reminder of what you need to do in each phase, including synergies, combinations and rules. An example can be found here.
With my Sylvaneth army I also have a separate one-pager which has all the rules for my army (including any FAQs I rely on) – it’s a useful reference for me and I can share it with my opponent. The one I used at my last tournament is here.
Play practice games with your tournament list. Perhaps think about how your army will deploy in each scenario in advance – of course you will have to tailor for your opponent, but the changes will not be dramatic – know how many drops you have in your army.
Practical tips for the table
So what should you do at the event?
Pre-game: Moving your army and explaining your force
Think about how you will carry your army as you move from table to table – an open top box lined with magnetic sheet can be far quicker and easier to move models than a foam carrying case which is more ideally suited to long-distance travel.
At the start of the game, introduce your army to your opponent and offer to explain anything then.
Try not to deploy your units from foam – get the units out onto a side table (or the middle of the game table) before the game even starts.
Consider using movement trays for early turns. I also use movement trays for packing models in and out of my box. When removing casualties during the game it is easy to put them back into the tray and into your box, ready to move to the next table.
Pre-measure a charge in the movement phase – agree the required amount in advance.
There is no need to agonise over positioning when charging, for example, when you get to make a 3″ pile in during the combat phase.
Also in relation to movement, and depending on your opponent’s view, you may way to agree that you don’t need to measure for every model – move one first and keep the rest in line. You may also want to combine destruction or other hero phase based moves and runs in one go for standard units. It is normally not a good idea to do this for wizards, heroes or buffing characters where range (and their board position in a particular phase) matters.
Avoid unnecessary disputes – narrate your actions as you go so there is no confusion.
Have your dice ready – I always have piles of 10 in different colours, so I can easily pick up how many I need – don’t mix sets so there is no confusion over whether symbols are on 1s or 6s.
Roll in a set spot or clear space near the dice – don’t spend time hunting for dice.
Rolling attacks together if stats and rules are the same
Tokens and cheat sheets
Use markers and tokens – scenery dice, buffs, wounds etc. I can’t really stress enough how much you need tokens. There will be so many synergies, rules and abilities in play affecting different units that you will want to keep track of them somehow.
Save time looking up rules by having a one-pager that contains all your rules in one place (example here). Or a prompter to remind you of what you need to do each phase (example here).
Think in their turns – put your phone down and prepare that you might win the roll-off in advance.
Leave breaks for after the game – bathroom, drinks, smoke (or if you must, do it in the opponent’s movement phase).
If running short of time – discuss, even out turns, or could extrapolate out last turns.
So those are just some of my thoughts on efficient tournament play. Let me know what you guys think.
As always, you can find on me on Twitter at @antipodean7 and other social media platforms. If you enjoy the episode, please subscribe and leave an iTunes review.
My tips for efficient play I’ve gathered to date:
Never assume your opponent knows what you are doing/rolling/targeting. Say what you are doing out loud to your opponent. Be clear.
On a related note, have your rules on hand and do not be offended if your opponent asks you to clarify and show a rule which you have memorised. Ironically, the more info you communicate, the less you’ll have questions.
I use tokens but many players use dice for wound markers. IMO these should NEVER be the same as the dice you use for the game. Make sure they are clearly different. Picking up and rolling a wound marker accidentally will cause consternation and slow things up.