Monday, November 09, 2009

Q: What Constitutes a Friendly Game?

I played a 1500 pt WHFB game this weekend that raised some questions for me.  My Ogre Kingdoms opponent asked me, "Is this a friendly game?"  I answered that it was, and that it was my first game against Ogres.  He responded by telling me that I would definitely want to use my power dice to dispell his toothcracker (or some other unpleasant sounding) remains-in-play spell.  I did so.

As the game progressed someone on the sidelines did a bit of kibitzing, reminding me of rules or things I had forgotten to do, like re-roll for hatred, etc.  As things started to go south for the Ogres I could hear my opponent muttering "I thought this was supposed to be a friendly game" or similar under his breath multiple times.  Clearly he thought someone helping me remember things was beyond that scope, even though I am a very occasional player (1-2 times a year.)

So this raised the question:  What constitutes a friendly/casual game?

Thinking it over a little, I think these are the sorts of things I would do in a casual game:
  • Allow my opponent to do something he had forgotten in a prior phase as long as it wouldn't rewrite history too much.  A good example is allowing him to rally a fleeing unit after charges are declared.
  • Let any charges / range checks of my opponent that are so close as to be questionable go in favor of my opponent.
  • I would not require explicitly visible actions (for people who roll so fast that you can't see anything and all they say is "okay, 4 wounds" during combat.)
  • Be congenial over any rules that are  broken, but try and point out any obvious errors and give him the opportunity to correct them.
  • Allow him to look up any rule that gets questioned without making disparaging comments about knowing the rules or the time rule lookups take.
Little things like this keep the narrative of the battle alive with a minimum of the sort arguing that takes the focus off the models and puts it on the cantankerous gamers.

So what are your thoughts?


  1. I got sucked into a "friendly" game about a month ago...

    A young man came in with about a platoons worth of IG and borrowed the store's army to play against me.

    He mentioned it was his second game of 40K. What he didn't say was that he was a tournament winning Warhammer Fantasy player.

    So, we begin and I pointed out a few things about his deployment (and let him rearrange to his satisfaction).

    One the second turn the Valkyrie comes in and had a DS mishap that I let him work around so that it wouldn't suffer a mishap and could stay in the game.

    All this time I am pointing out little things that will maximize his IG force (ie, orders, cover saves, etc.)

    As the third round closed down I began to realize that I was losing. Not by a slim margin either. I was getting my butt handed to me and rapidly running out of options on the battlefield.

    It was at this point that he began to point things out to me!

    Needless to say, the game ended on the fifth turn and it was definitely beginning to not be "friendly" anymore.

    We shook hands afterwards and as I was headed out the door for a much needed smoke, one of the other regulars pulled me to the side and quietly let me know that my "noob" opponent was anything but inexperienced.

  2. Its sad that someone would specifically ask something like "is this a friendly game" and then get ticked off when they start to lose. In a "friendly game" one would never rules lawyer or get mad if someone is giving someone who is rusty some sideline advice ... where you playing in a tourney? If not that guy was way out of line. If that is the case I'd say that guy is clearly incapable of a friendly game himself and is likely a tool-powergaming stereotypical store gamer. I myself have sadly had to leave a large gaming group the past year and am embarking on finding a new one in a new area ... I'm dreading the inevitable store "friendly" games. For every cool fun opponent in a store it seems like you must face 10 stinky jerks whose apparent only care in life is beating people at mini games. I have always been fond of the notion that in mini games of all kinds ... save pre-painted collectible stuff on a grid ... the game starts with a gentleman's agreement. That agreement in essence is to let the rules and the dice decide the game in a civilized manner, the fundamental premise of mini games of all kinds is a grown up make believe game ... no matter how much those of us who love this stuff puff ourselves up ... that is what we are doing. We are simulating real life events and with even the most exacting system ... in very, very abstract ways. So one must cut their opponent considerable slack. The only thing I ever get a little upset about are people who take way way too long to make their moves ... by that I mean that a 2000 point game of 40K should take even with time for BSing, frequent piss breaks, interruptions by friends no more than 3 hours tops .. more like 2 and a half. If someone pushes the game beyond that I start to get bored. Other than that ... if you have a painted force and your not rude ... we are going to have a good game. Sadly many people out there struggle to ever have a "good game" with any opponent.

  3. In a tournament setting, having someone standing over your shoulder offering advice is very poor sportsmanship, and most players won't stand for it. In a casual/ friendly setting, this sort of thing is much more acceptable, but there are limits.

    It might have seemed, from your opponent's point of view, that he was having a friendly game with you, and while a few reminders from the audience are fine are you sure that is all it was? There is a big difference between someone standing beside a game and offering rules tips to both sides, and someone teaming up with only one of the players to help beat the other guy. It might not have looked like that to you, but maybe it looked like that to him.

  4. That is an excellent point that I had not considered, Sholto. I didn't really feel like I was getting strategic advice as much as the rules "oil can" on the rusty spots, but perception from his end may have been very different. Thanks for the insight.