Being a Better Opponent
Time for some tabletop Real Talk. One of my biggest pet peeves in gaming is… well… gamers. How many times have you brought out the dice, the books, the minis, the plethora of gaming accessories, spent hours preparing the perfect list, the perfect scenario, you have everything ready, and you plunk down at the table to find that your opponent is just a rotten tomato. Literally. The guy stinks, is sloppy with how he uses table space, proclaims ignorance of the rules when he makes a mistake, but is an absolute legal expert when it’s in his favor. His measuring is suspect, his rolls are fishy, and the arguments loud and braying.
I’ve yet to see a gaming group that didn’t include this guy, and there’s more even than that that they do. So I’m going to run down a list of things that you should pay attention to if you want to encourage people to play with you.
- DON’T show up like a slob. Seriously. Most gaming places, even modern ones with great setups turn into sweat boxes when you pack 40 fully grown men in there. Don’t show up smelling like you never encountered a shower in your life. Brush your fangs, wear deodorant. You know, high school stuff. Do some laundry once in a while too.
- DON’T hog table space. Again this is pretty basic manners. Some game nights there’s barely enough room, or not nearly enough, a game of warmahordes shouldn’t be sprawled over 2 full 8′x4′ tables. There is just no need at all for it. use cases, to store minis, stack your books, don’t have templates and counters all over the place, be considerate of others. Again not rocket surgery.
- Be knowledgeable about the rules, no more, no less. Unless you are “That Guy” in your group. Don’t feign ignorance on a special rule on a trooper you bring every battle. Don’t be an absolute expert on an obscure mercenary solo with a special rule you’ve never seen before. If there’s an actual expert, refer things to them, if not, make a note, roll off, and do the research later. Unless the game literally rests on the interpretation then feel free to google away on your smartphone.
- Kvit your Kvetching! In my gaming career I’ve ran into literally 0 people who have average luck. 0. Everyone bemoans their luck, talks about how the dice betray them, how they are always JUST out of range. Well people, let me tell you, you, yes you, each and every one of you, will roll a 7 or higher 58.3% of the time on 2d6. You will roll a 1 on a single d6 16.6%. of the time. You will roll a 6 a grand total of: 16.6% of the time. Don’t bet your game plan on single dice rolls. They fail. Sometimes they fail a lot. Don’t blame the dice for a loss that resulted from one roll. Blame your planning that required you to make that one roll or lose.
- DO talk it out. Whether it’s with your opponent or someone else, go over the game, what you were thinking, what your opponent was thinking, and figure out what you did well and what you shouldn’t do. Both in game and meta game. This right here will make you a better player, and a more fun opponent to play against.
- Bring a theme list. Not every sunday morning pickup game is a steamroller tournament match. You don’t need to bring the min/maxed list of death, or even a max sized army list every single time. Mix it up. Bring crappy casters. Play the weird tier lists no one will touch. Play Warhammer Fantasy with that all High-Elf Cavalry Army you haven’t seen on a table in 3 editions. Play Empire with nothing but infantry. Spam Tactical Marines in 40k. Run an Ork Gunline (no, seriously, try it sometime) the point is play a game for fun rather than just to add a tally to your win column.
- Watch games. See what other people do. See what looks like it makes the game better, see what looks like it just drains the fun away. Heck find a mentor if you are a nooblet, either a friend or a more experienced person to step you through your first few games. If you are more experienced take someone under your wing.
- Don’t be a negative nancy. Seriously, whining all game about something, about how you are doomed, and about how everything is against you, your army is crap, your opponent’s is OP, just makes people never ever ever want to play with you. Get over it. Check your attitude at the door. If you are struggling with your army, look online, find ways to overcome its limitations, and realize that your army isn’t meant to be perfect. Neither is anyone elses.
Remember it’s about having fun. When I bring unconventional lists, I have fun. I bring gimmick lists, I unapologetically bring solid blocks of cheddar, then I bring theme lists that have no ability to win a game. I probably argue too much and I have to catch myself when I have a run of bad rolls, or even fail a key one, but I’m much better at keeping a lid on it.
So play the game, and have fun doing it. Quit making it miserable for others and for yourself.
(note: I’m not sure where this came from, my last two opponents in DM have been an absolute DELIGHT to play against)