Learn your army AND the rules, 3 must do's

I'm always spouting off about how you need to learn your army. If you've read it once, you've probably read it a hundred times here.

This time, we're going to cover the rules.

The rules are there for a reason, no doubt about that. But these days, they're more of a framework for me than they are hard and fast laws to live by. I do agree with Col. Corbane when he posted that you should at least make an effort to learn the rules. He suffers from what is apparently a widespread disorder known as MES. Poor guy, I hope he pulls through it.

You see, the problem is this... it's not that there are tons of rules, it's just that some of them (the rules) aren't written as clearly as they need to be for certain kinds of players to get them through their thick skulls.

When I saw Arcadia Prime's post on The Inverse Law of Arguments Mattering, I sat there and weeped. I've actually seen people arguing like this. In fact, there were times when I was caught up in this very thing myself. It's part rules-interpretation, part thick-headedness.

These days, I don't argue over the rules anymore. There's two reasons for this. First, because of who I choose to play against. Gone are the games against opponents like this. Now I play against like-minded players. And second, because I'm too lazy to fight for a fraction of an inch anymore. Maybe I'm just getting older.

I do my part to know the rules just like every good player should though. I keep the big rulebook by my bed and occasionally flip through it at night before nodding off. I look at the pictures for the most part, but I do thumb through the front of the book where the actual rules are every now and then looking for loopholes like this.

I'm not even going to get into the myths and urban legends about 5th edition like Sons of Taurus has done here. That's another whole can of worms.

But I do like to stay at the top of my game you know. I'm actually so bad at remebering the rules (especially deployment), I've got to use my own cheat sheets. You would think that I would have the stuff memorized by now since I wrote the things up.

So I have a 3 "rules" recommendations for you readers...

1. Learn the rules, but don't look for loopholes.
2. Don't fight over a fractions of an inch.
3. And give your opponent what you would want from and opponent.

Don't get me wrong, rules are important, but the game is more than just the rules. There's a reason the first thing you see in the "rules' section is three paragraphs about the bigger picture and keeping things in perspective. There's a great quote by Skcuzzlebumm that I stumbled upon once that sums all this up and it goes like this...

"It's game about war, not war about a game."

I'm off to read my rulebook now.

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Ron, you and I need to play a game one of these days. Be both have a very similar philosophy about gaming and I would love to see some of your models up close.

  2. i wish i had people to play against full stop. i'm not someone who wants to be competitive, i want a compelling story to happen throughout a game. not even a narrative from the offset, but let characters develop. the last time i gamed (Which is far too long ago) was blood bowl, and for my humans i'd come up with a back story about why they're called the mordheim raiders, mainly due to being crap warriors and even worse at treasure hunting, so they give up and come across some old crazy rich man who pays them to play blood bowl. and it meant i cared about every player i fielded. i want this from40k too if i ever find people to play against!

  3. Treatment is going well mate, although even with a drink, trying to swallow a rulebook twice a day is tough going.

  4. I totally agree with all the above. Its one of the things that really bugs me. I understand if someone is still in the process of learning the rules that you cut them some slack, I often point out afterwards that they should have actually done X as per the new rules, but for that instance let it slide.

    But I have lost count of the amount of veteran gamers and tourney players who have no clue about what the actual rules are. Worse still when you point them out they get all pissy about it.

    Anyway the real reason for posting was to say that I am in fact the actual author of that quote (hence why it is on my blog) :)

    I made a sign saying that in the GW I used to work in year ago as a reminder to all the kids who got too worked up about the game.

  5. HuronBH: You're down in my neck of the woods aren't you, if so, we do need to play.

    Very funny Col.

    Neil: Excellent quote, I've changed it to show you as the Author.

  6. I do understand why people get upset though. It's a game, people are nervous (especially if there is an audience), and their well laid plans gets ruined when the rules break down on them. It's cool if you want a relaxed game, if you'd play me that is what you would get. Play competitively against me and the gloves are off. I'm the kind of guy who reflect my emotional environment in some ways:)

    That said there are three reasons why rules break down. Because you plain don't know the rules. Simple solution, read them! Because you don't have the codex you play against. Trickier, but asking about all major special rules per unit on the table is a thing you should expect. Rules that aren't clear. This is where things get sticky for sure.

    I actually think that it is healthy to have rules discussions online. And offline. Because the one time you never should fight over rules is *during* a game. That ruins the game.

    I also don't like people who pull the "let's roll about it" when they know they are wrong. Though I've found that in friendly games you can ask about and explain rules without trouble.

    Now I am going to check the reference sheets:)

  7. You know, there's always one of those complainers out there. The guys in my group learn quickly exactly what the rules are and what everyone's expectations are when playing the game, well, the ones that I would considered skilled at this point. We have everyone from new players, to older players. I'm the most senior player there, and I'm usually the one everyone asks for advice.

    In our group I'd have to say the best three armies that get run (not trying to be biased) are my Eldar Exodites, followed by another guys Necrons and finally Apollo's Tau. Ironic that these armies tend to be the table favorite even with new books out there. Both of them have improved a lot, and are starting to become a real challenge for me on the table (which is good!). The Necron player is starting Space Wolves though, and we've got a new Space Marine player who's learning one game at a time.

    Right from the get go whenever we're teaching a new player the game, we always tell them to read the Rule Book. Heck, we've got about a bazillion copies of the AOBR book now we pratically give them out for free. Do we always get the rules perfect? Nope. I suffer from MES myself. Do we make an effort to make the game fun, using the rules as the framework, yep. Sometimes we can be downright ruthless when it comes to enforcing the rules, I'd say we're more RAI if anything, but there is basically no conceeding anything - in my opinion this is what has made them stronger players; the desire to improve and overcome themselves by understanding the game.

  8. Yup, I was actually at Game Vault on Saturday for Matt's Rapid Fire Event with my Howling Griffons. I have a gift certificate I didn't use, sounds like a perfect excuse to get in a game while I am there.

  9. I'm starting to get a little concerned. My plan is to go to the UKGT at the end of the year, and so I'm doing my best to learn the rules properly, but from what I'm reading online, most of the people who play in tournaments don't seem to know the rules or know them in a way that is an advantage to them.

    Now, if I go along and start pointing out error because I do know the rules, I'm going to shafted on the sportsmanship scores. It's a shame that tournaments don't use a rule where if you have to get a TO/Judge over for a ruling and you're right, then you get full marks for sportsmanship by default preventing malicious players using sportsmanship to have a go at you.

  10. Being relatively new to playing 5th edition 40k I feel like I'm actually in a pretty good place to comment!

    I (literally) read the rulebook in bed each night, going over and over the rules, flicking between pages to cross reference them. I think it is so important to know the rules to allow you to play a reasonably paced game.

    I'm also a reasonable person and believe that is everyones duty to point out inconsistancies or incorrectly applied rules. By doing this everyone will end up knowing the rules better. This should be done with respect rather than shouting 'you cheating ...'. I'd love people to help me with the rules.

    Finally I agree that in tournaments you should not have disputing the rules as a mark against you (especially if you were right) but this would be hard to monitor because someone could be correct with all the rules but still be rude, obnoxious and condescending for the rest of the game - deserving to be marked down.

  11. Sportsmanship is bogus. It's not about being a stable nice guy that knows the rules, play fair, and makes things fun. It's about, well, not so nice things really.

    Having a judge at each table would be an awesome way to play games. It would be far more fair and no need to butter someone up so they don't lower your score.

    I think you should learn the rules, be a nice guy, don't let people push you around and hold your head high.


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