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Friday, February 7, 2014

Bolt Action - Tournament Etiquette

Having just come out of my third, two day Bolt Action event in six months, I have noticed a few things.  First and foremost, I have noticed what an amazingly inclusive and friendly demographic we having pulling dice in anger.  If it is one thing that we have heard from around the world, it is that Bolt Action fans are a great sort.  That said, there are always ways we can strive, especially when playing in timed competitive play, to make our games lower stress and more enjoyable for everyone.

(Old Man Morin makes his BoltAction.Net debut! - Judson)

1) Messy Measuring: Quite a few people coming into our awesome community come from game systems that allow premeasuring.  I think this partially has to do with some players' lax attitude about measuring models' movement.  Bolt Action is a game whose missions largely depend on objective grabbing. If you are off by even an inch per move over the course of a game, you have gained a free advance move.  Every inch counts.  I have asked, and have seen people at nearby tables ask, their opponents to recheck their measurements.  True, sometimes things get distorted when you are looking from the opposite side of a table, but often the movement in question is significantly off.  This is not to say for a second that I think my opponents are trying to pull a fast one.  We have none of those dudes in this hobby thank goodness!  Messy moving can force your opponent to ask you to recheck your move. This adds unnecessary tension to a game.  I know I hate asking folks to do it.  Using some discipline when pushing models and asking opponents if they agree with questionable stuff before, and as you go, definitely helps.

2) Pulling Dice:  Again, I know no one is trying to pull a fast one here, but it is good etiquette to wait for your opponent to finish every part of their order and look up before pulling the next dice.  It takes a second more to wait perhaps, but this simple step allows both players to be in the same place at the same time AND can significantly cut down on hurt feelings later.

3) Know Your Stuff: When playing in a tournament, it is important to be aware of how much time is left in your round.  Even Alessio suggested the controversial 12 dice limit in the official Bolt Action player pack to ensure that games where played through to their full conclusion.  Having to stop to look up rules and reread national abilities takes time.  Asking TO’s to come over to rule on an unknown rule takes time, and can set up a situation that can lead to hurt feelings.  KNOW YOUR RULES!!!  Now, I do understand that we all have slightly different interpretations of the rules, and rule misunderstandings are inevitable, but having to continually refer back to a book (especially one without an index) takes time in an environment that by definition is time poor.  Knowing your stuff in advance will help everyone, TO included, feel less time stressed.

Please note!  This is not to say that you should not question that perhaps you and your regular playing buddies might be making a mistake.  BA is growing and at the moment, we are all playing in isolated groups around the world.  Rule interpretations happen, and any two people can read the same sentence in different ways.  Make sure that when these discrepancies arise, you use common sense and mutual understanding to figure out the best way to resolve any issues.

Checking LOS with "The Eye of the Tiger!"
4) Actually Check Line of Sight: Like the previous points, this one is fairly obvious.  I saw a game at Cancon this year (on a table next to mine) in which a player got fairly annoyed at his opponent because his opponent had said he could not shoot at one of his units (no LOS).  Well, a few dice later the opponent actually bothered to duck down to see what he could see and low and behold he could see the original unit in question.  He then tried to fire at that unit.  Naturally, the first player was peeved. It does not take long to check these things.  I know most players do this, but it does bear repeating.  Check your sights before you fire. (And the confirm it with your opponent. - Judson)

Look, as I said, I don’t think for a second that anyone is trying anything funny.  Bolt Action's turn structure necessitates players being “on the ball” mentally for longer periods of time than other games systems.  There is no “the other guy’s turn.”  After a few games in a row, it is easy to get lax or just tired, and forget to do something important.  Like the old poster says…  “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  We play these games to have fun. If something goes funny, laugh about it, make a decision that is fair for both players, and get back to playing - you are being timed after all.  A few easy steps can avoid issues and conflicts in an already potentially stressful situation.  Take the time for your sake and for the sake of your opponents.  Old Man Morin… out!

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