Every game has them, a set of unwritten rules of etiquette to follow. What are the rules for 40k? How many have you broken? Learn how to be a good sport and a better gamer by following our rules for 40k.
All games have rules of etiquette that you won’t find in a rule book, and 40k is no exception. Some of these are obvious, some not so obvious, but at some point if you break one of these rules you will probably be called out for it. Follow these rules, and you will be the kind of gamer that people enjoy playing against. And really, isn’t that what this game should be about?
Be on time and ready to play
If you set up an 1850 point game at 11am at your friendly local gaming store, make sure you are there at 11am at a table with your army list already figured out. 40k takes long enough to set up as it is, so if you are 15 minutes late and you are still flipping through your codex putting together a list it’s just going to annoy your opponent. Now gamers can be notoriously flaky and run late often, and I’m no exception. But don’t make it worse by not being ready to go when you (finally) get there.
Walk your opponent through your army
Before you start rolling dice, you should always walk your opponent through every unit in your army. If you have “counts as” units, make sure you are clear about that. Never assume that they know what each unit or formation does. I’ve played against a lot of Tyranid armies and I still get all the names confused! If you have special rules or abilities, you should also let them know. There is nothing worse than being surprised by something you have never seen before.
Declare your intent before rolling
Before your dice hit the table, your opponent should always know why you are rolling them. This starts at the very beginning of the game, when you start rolling for psychic powers and warlord traits. It’s easy to zip past this part because setup can take time and they are usually busy rolling their own dice, but take a few seconds to call out your rolls and what you got. During the game, always declare what unit you are rolling for and why. Example: “this unit of tactical marines (point to your firing unit) is firing bolters at that unit of jet bikes (point to the targeted unit).” I have played against opponents who will just start rolling and then tell you how many wounds you need to save. It’s frustrating, because there is always that nagging doubt that they missed something or got something wrong.
Call out the number needed to hit, wound or glance
This one is more of an optional one, but it’s always nice to call out the dice results you need before rolling the dice. Sometimes I will call out a number to wound and my opponent will catch me if I’m wrong and correct me before I roll. (This usually happens when I roll against something that has a higher toughness than the rest of the army, such as characters or bike units). I always appreciate this; it’s much more important to me that I get the roll right.
If you are playing a newer player, this is very important for both teaching the game and etiquette.
Roll the dice
Re-roll all cocked dice
It’s very common to have cocked dice in 40k with all the models and terrain on the table. The rule of thumb is, if you place another die on top of another die and it slides off, it’s cocked. Before you re-roll, call out “cocked” to let your opponent know your intent, and re-roll the dice.
Pick out the misses OR hits the same way
When you have to roll a fist full of dice and have a pile of results, you can either pick out the hits (or wounds) or the misses to see what you have left. Do one or the other, but always be consistent with what you pull out of the pile.
Be precise with measurement and movement
You have a tape measure, use it! If a model has a base, make sure you don’t move farther than its allowed movement distance from the base. If the model is a vehicle, make sure you don’t move past the distance from the hull. When you are playing someone who is sloppy with their movement, it plants that seed of doubt in your head as to whether they are playing fair. Don’t give your opponent a reason to question your play.
Some armies, like Orks, have a ton of infantry models to move. It becomes way too slow and tedious to measure and move each one individually, so it’s acceptable to measure and move the front rank, then fill in the rest of the models behind. Some vehicles are awkward to measure and move, such as Eldar skimmers, so what I do is first measure the distance, place a die down at the end of the movement distance, and then move the model.
Be engaged when it’s not your turn
Try to avoid the temptation to check your phone or flip through a rule book while you opponent is moving his army and especially when they are rolling dice. It’s really annoying to call out a dice roll, roll the dice, then announce the results only to look up and see that your opponent is not paying attention. Stay engaged in the game, it shows respect for your opponent.
Always ask permission before touching another person’s model
If you see a model you admire and want to get a closer look, you would naturally ask to pick it up and look at it. The same thing applies when your opponent’s models are on the table. During the course of the game their models will probably end up on your side of the table. For some situations, especially in assault, it seems easier to just move the models for them. Feel free to ask if they want you to move their models, but unless they give you permission, don’t lay a finger on their models. The worst thing that can happen in a game of 40k is accidentally damaging someone’s prized model that they have spent the last month building and painting.
Keep your cool
The game can be very frustrating at times. Sometimes the dice abandon you, sometimes your opponent’s dice are hot, and sometimes you just get outplayed. It happens, it’s a game of chance and skill and you may find yourself on the poor end of both. Just remember it’s a game, and unless you are in a tournament, you are not getting paid. So, when you find your psychic death star vaporized by a perils of the warp, or your nasty melee unit failing a 3 inch charge or being decimated in overwatch fire, or one of your Knights going supernova and taking out a chunk of your army, just remember: it’s just a game. If you do find yourself getting frustrated, recognize it, take a step back, take a deep breath, look over the board and assess your options with a fresh perspective, and keep playing.
Play out the game
Sometimes it can seem like you don’t have a chance to win a game. Maybe you got hit with a brutal alpha strike or you lost a key unit on the first turn. You may find half your units gone by turn 2 and your original plans to win the game flushed down a toilet. You may be tempted to quit early in the game, but consider your opponent’s perspective; the game is going great for them. If you get frustrated or angry or mopey and quit the game before they can finish it, their victory may feel hollow or cheap. No one likes a quitter. It may seem hopeless, but always try to salvage what you can and make your opponent earn their win. You might even pull out a tie or a win if you remember your mission objectives! At some point you can reasonably concede the game, but make sure the game is truly finished before doing this. Even then, sometimes I keep playing and joking around just so my opponent can have some fun.
Shake hands after the game
Whatever the outcome, shake your opponent’s hand after the game and tell them it was a good game. It’s what kids in little league do, and it’s what you should do too.
There you have it, our 13 rules of etiquette for 40k. Did we forget any? Let us know in the comments below.