Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rules: If you can't do something smart...

This is something I've waxed on before and believe it to be very important when it comes to what we do.  When it comes to rules you can either run them incorrectly or correctly.

When I'm playing 40k I would rather spend time looking up the rule to play it right than to accidentially play it wrong.  The reasons for this are legion.  Some useful, others not.

I've never had a bug up my ass like this before.  Not that long ago it wouldn't of mattered to me.  Now it does.  Primary reason it matters to me is that I've become involved in tournaments.  Where unfortunately Rules trumps Fun most of the time.  The rules weren't as important to me before I joined the tournament scene.  In fact very few game mechanics mattered on the table before I joined that scene.

In those days of gaming all that mattered was marching a model across the field, rolling a die and shooting its big gun.  Tactics, not so much.  If they existed at all.  Sometime ago during our Fri night RPG game I saw two players doing exactly that.  Heavy weapon units out of cover.  Vehicles in terrain.  Foot troops moving across the field 6" at a time.  In a word: disorganized.  I loved watching it.  Nostalgia set in and I became envious.  Pointed it out to the fellow gamers and shared that joyous moment of times past.

Basement gaming is a different ball game than store gaming.  Store gaming there is an artifical, sometimes real, time limit.  Rules that take too long to look up are often disregarded for game time.  While I understand the importance to roll the dice over having your nose in a book with the time limit hanging over one's head.  I feel that is a disservice to the gamers involved.  Often times those rules are swept aside with the empty promise of looking it up later.  Which is never done.  It may be a well intentioned goal to look up the rule later but have yet to do it myself or know anyone I've gamed with to do so either.  No doubt there are some who do.  Those I imagine they're far and few between.

At least for me tournament play makes me want to know the rules.  Perhaps I'm seeing it in the wrong light.  When it comes to tournaments the player that knows the rules best wins.  There are exceptions that prove the rule.  I take my time to look up a rule, especially during at a tournament, to make sure everything is on the up and up.

With great power, comes great responsibility.

Also looking up and re-reading rules is helpful for many other aspect of the games.  Some can use that power for good and evil.  I have my own example of using rules for evil.  Most of time we use that power for good.  To teach someone the rules.  To be of use at the store when someone asks a question.  To learn more about the game.  To be at peace with one's self and the game.  Quickly quote rule and book with page number online.  The last point has helped me tremendously.

One thing I've gotten into the habit of doing when it comes to a rule provided during a game that I'm unfamiliar with, I hand my copy of the book, rulebook or codex, to the person so they can find it.  This does wonders for "onlookers."  Onlookers are what I call people who aren't playing the game but sit on the side and make comments about the game you're involved in.  In my experience this instantly shuts them up and keeps them out of my game because they are busy looking up the rule.  Sometimes they find it.  Other times they don't.  Either way I've bought myself some peace.  There have been times when I've received rather incredulous looks for handing someone a book.  They have this look like I'm challenging their knowledge to look it up.  Perhaps they are giving me the look because the way I'm handing the book to them.  Perhaps I need to do this in a softer manner

Concluding this post.  There is the fun factor of playing the game.  It should be the first goal at the table.  This I believe.  Fun trumps Rules.  Your opponent wants to shoot into H2H, hand-to-hand, because they know their guys won't get out alive.  They ask if you if that's possible.  If it makes the game fun and cinematic, go for it.  You think everyone in a squad should be able to throw a grenade not just one model because it's more fun.  Do it!  As fun needs its day in the sun so do rules.  More importantly the context of when to use them.  Hence the saying from Shepherd Book "If you can't do something smart, do something right."  Helping fellow gamers play the rules correctly pays dividends you'll never know.  That one player plays against another using the correct rule.  That player who learned the correct rule teaches it to another.  Those two share it with four.  Four share it with eight and so on.

slainte mhath


  1. I try to look up rules later. The problem I run into is I remeber there were 3 things I was going to look up, now what were those 3 things again??? I usually can remember within a day what at least most of them were.

    1. Same here. Then I started writing the rules down to look up later. Which began rules of the game. Fortunately rules from rules of the game are learned in the game and used appropriately. Unless of course you completely forget about charging through difficult terrain being two lowest out of 3D6. Thanks, Shadowcl4w.


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