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How to reduce the length (time) of games

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Hello girls and guys,

Again, I'm coming to you looking for ideas and opinions on a topic that has quite some impact in our gaming group and I'm looking for your perspective on the matter, some ideas how to get around this and obviously about your situation - either if you are in the same or a different :) 

Our hobby time is quite limited, due to several reasons (I'm working in a different city and coming back for the weekends, girlfriend wants to have some time, others already have kids, etc. pp.)

When we meet, it's often Friday or Saturday evening, around 8pm, at one's house and we are usually 3-5 players. Typically, we will play 1 table, seldom 2 tables, 2v2, 1v2, 2v3 or something like this. Quite often it's already 10pm until we start the first round and they take forever... Usually when it's time to go to bed (around 1 in the morning) we have at max reached the third battleround. We play something like 1250-1750 per player, which obviously makes for a really dense table but everybody wants to bring his forces, so ... 

Often I'm the one pushing others to play a bit faster, do their setup faster, etc. but I also understand that they don't want to hurry as this is our hobby and not the work :D

But for me it feels quite sad that we are not playing the games till the end, as it feels like I'm missing on many of the fun aspects. From what I've read and seen on Youtube, the last 1-2 rounds are the most important ones and the heroic moments happen there, not in the beginning. 

We try to decide as much as possible beforehand (WhatsApp group) but still don't manage to play games till the end often... Do you have or had similar problems? How do you feel about this? Are there any ideas or hints you may want to give me? Heck I was even thinking about using a Chess Clock to reduce the time of one turn but feel like it the others won't like the hurry.


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I had just played in a 6-player Triumph and Treachery game on Friday for which each player brought a 1000-point army. Technically, we left out all the "treachery" stuff from the game, as it was our first go-round at it, but I still think we learned some things about how the multiplayer game works with our group. I've also participated in a handful of other monster games (usually in teams).

My first bit of advice is to use fewer points. Sure, the 1000-point level limits the armies rather distinctly (compared to the 2000-point level we traditionally play our 1v1 games with), but it makes things much more manageable timewise.

Secondly, you can (potentially) have multiple players conduct their movement phases simultaneously. For instance, when two players at opposite corners of the table are taking turns one after the other, there is very little that would affect the other player's turn, so they may as well go at the same time. That could shave a few minutes here and there from the duration of the game.

Ultimately, though, my (albeit limited) experience with multiplayer games has shown that even if you have 4 players with 1000 points each the game will take noticeably longer than a 2 player game with 2000 points each. Bottom line? Try to start earlier if at all possible...

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Two tables of 1v1 at 750-1,000pts. You'll get one or two decent games in 3 hours.

Alternatively, two tables and run a Path to Glory campaign between you. You start with so few models that the games can be as short as 30 minutes. As your warbands grow stronger after each game, the games will naturally get longer until you max out your time.

Alternatively, play through the Skirmish campaign, that's a good laugh.

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2 hours ago, Myzyrael said:

We try to decide as much as possible beforehand (WhatsApp group) but still don't manage to play games till the end often... Do you have or had similar problems? How do you feel about this? Are there any ideas or hints you may want to give me? Heck I was even thinking about using a Chess Clock to reduce the time of one turn but feel like it the others won't like the hurry.


Ran into the same problems. So for me these are the things I learned from it/want to try next:

1. Prepare hidden set up boards. Fun twist from a different scenario. So basically, decide in app which scenario. Maybe even set up table in advance. Roll to decide who goes where. Everybody sets up behind their cardboard 'wall'. Cuts down setting up by X amount of players :D And I expect a lot of deal making and breaking. 

2. Reduce points but lift battleline requirements but 2 heroes/behemoths max. Everybody wants to play with their shiniest toys! And you don't need 'absolute' balance when you got the 'Alliance' treachery :D.(Moving 20 dwarf warriors takes a a lot longer than 160 Ironbreakers after all) 

3. We discovered that coalition of death was a lot, a lot faster! (but we found it less fun though, so that's up to you)

4. Play more often! Some of the players really needed a lot time looking up rules. Which is the best remedy ;)

Hope this helps and I'll be following with interest. 

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My friends and I have quite some experience with FFA games or 1v3, etc. the allied players only get to communicate about tactics when their generals are within a certain range of each other. and their armies all have their hero phase and the following phases at the same time. in a way you can see these allies as 1 big army but with 3 generals which gives them a difficulty. having multiple players play at the same time doing this cuts time by half or even more possibly.

with big games like this we also agree upon the points we setup and usually do it in a single drop (premade warscroll), we roll for the deployment locations and the turn order. this way setup can be done in 15 minutes tops (excluding getting the models from the cases).

if these tips dont work, try adding an RP element. War is fast paced and so are the turns, set a timer for every phase except the combat phase (eg. 1 minute for hero phase)

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For my friends and I here are a few things that worked to speed up games:

-Try to have most rules memorized or easily on hand for each phase. A "cheat sheet" can help by listing each ability to use in the hero, shooting, combat, and battleshock phase

-Try to play with less horde armies. Moving Beastclaw Raiders around the board is much quicker than 80 Skeletons and 60 Zombies, or 100 Fyreslayers. If you do play hordes, a movement tray is invaluable for saving time

-Make sure to declare what you intend to do before you do it. This can prevent a lot of hassle later in the game when rules lawyering and pulling out the measuring tape might occur 

-Try to pre-measure as often as you can. It can definitely prevent conflict before it happens

-Obviously, less points make for quicker games. In many cases I feel that less points can even lead to more interesting games

-Keep things friendly. The more competitive the game becomes, the slower it gets. If someone forgets to use an ability or declare a charge or something, let it slide. Good things come around to your benifit eventually too

-Keep some dice handy for all players so everyone is not passing dice around the table

-Have some scenery set up before the players arrive. It shaves off a few valuable minutes and can keep things interesting by setting up aestetically rather than randomly

-Stay on topic as much as possible. In my group everyone usually gets a few beers deep by battle round 2 and we get wildly off topic with conversations that distract from the game. Its enjoyable for us, but if you want to save time focus on the game

-Try not to take too many smoke/bathroom breaks if you can help it. Waiting for an opponent to come back can be grating during an intense game

-Dont try to make an elaborate plan that requires 3 minutes of explaination and 15 dice rolls. Chances are it wont work and you just wasted everyones time with your wild fantasies  ?  

-Play with a simple battleplan, such as kill points or basic objective grabbing

Those are a few things that helped us in our T&T games. Hope you find something useful there!


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So I think ultimately it comes down to what compromises you want to make.

I find there are some large factors that can increase the game duration:

1. Socializing.

I think it's quite common, especially in a more casual gameplay environment (Such as a club meetup or at someones house) that people tend to socialize quite a bit before getting into the game, and during the game. I know when I play at someone's house, it might be an hour before we even get started on our game as we catch up, talk hobby, life, etc.

This can be a hard thing to cut down on, because these may be people you only see once a month or less frequently. That being said, if you see your opponents more frequently or in other outings, perhaps it should be a matter of just diving into the game, and chatting during the game itself.

2. Army Size

Larger armies lead to longer games. It generally means more models you need to move around, more situations you need to think about, and more dice you have to roll. That being said, playing normal sized games is where Warhammers 'sweet spot' is, so it can be hard to move away from say a 2000 point game in some respects because it's where armies start playing and feeling like armies.

That being said, consider decreasing your game play size, especially if it's more casual games. Find the sweet spot for you, that balances out fun and engaging games in contrast with the time spent playing the game.

3. Knowing the game

A lot of people don't know their game well enough. Common place in more casual players who don't necessarily play a ton of games. This is on the players to know their own armies so that the game can be sped up without having to look up every single detail on warscrolls and rules all the time. 

4. Prepare ahead of time

Many people write out their lists on the day, or forget some models so need to change their list up. If you're the host, make sure the board is out and terrain set up ahead of time. Maybe agree what style of game, scenario and armies are going to be used ahead of time. That way people can prepare and it's not left until the game night for people to spend time doing this.


In particular for the OP, I would say it sounds like you're suffering a bit from some of the above. If people arrive at 8pm and the game doesn't start until 10, what has happened in those 2 hours? I would guess perhaps socialization and some preparation. 

It also sounds like having 1250-1750 points is too large for comfort as well. That means you're often playing 2.5k-3.5k games. The GHB rule of thumb for Warhost (2.5k) is that they take 3 hours. That's without accounting for the fact you have multiple players per side, which inevitably will mean that people take time to discuss what their plans are and what to do. I daresay to get a full 5 turns in you'd probably need like 5 hours of game play so it's no huge surprise to me.

I would definitely consider as others have mentioned, either giving multiple tables a shot (1v1 games) or decreasing the points down to more manageable levels like 1000 points per player.


Overall though, discuss things with your group and see how they feel. Maybe you can swing with everyone starting 1 hour earlier. Maybe everyone thinks its OK to reduce the size of the games instead. Or perhaps the answer is to do less socializing before the game begins so you can all just get into playing the game earlier. Probably no perfect answer, as everyone has different priorities on what they feel makes a good timely game.

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I would look at the army size in models more than army size in points. I recently played 1000 point match, where we both had undead with massive regiments of skeletons and zombies. It takes a lot of time to move those models, sometimes even 3 times in a single turn and then roll all those dice for attacks and saves. Now if we both had Terrorgheists instead of those 40 skeleton blocks, it would have been a lot faster.

Of course it might be worse for some armies more than others, but I would target in a 1000 points match with limited time available to have around 50 models per player. It also "makes the table larger" as you have more room for the units. When this is agreed, it makes the army building different. The small units will perform better in the game when they are facing other small units. Having 4x10 troopers against 1x40 is often not very well balanced situation, especially as there will be just few buffs available in such a small game, as the units get bonuses when getting larger in size, more models will benefit from the buffs and in combat the huge unit can take the damage and even then dish out enough damage to wipe out those small units, so even by charging there might not be advantage.

One other alternative for balancing the smaller armies is to have a cap for points for single unit. Fot example 200 points max with possibly a single unit that can be up to 400 if people like their monsters. I have a gut feeling that while it might not reduce so much the gaming time, it will make it more interesting as there are more decisions to be made with more units and it allows the split of army to multiple objectives etc. Easier.

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I'm in a similar sort of scenario, the group of people I play with tend to only get together every 3 ~ 6 weeks at a local club and nearly always often end up with at least one multiplayer game. 

Pure and simple, a 1 vs 1 game will take less time than the equivalent multiplayer, regardless of the points size.  If we've a 6-hour gaming session we might be able to get two 3-way games in, if we really push ourselves.  Roughly speaking we estimate that a 1500 point game will take 2 hours with 2 players, but you're looking at 2.5 hours for a 1000 point 3-way game (plus half an hour set up)

We rarely play with more than 1000 points if doing multiplayer.  We also run the rule that you can only activate a unit in combat that is engaged with the player who's turn it is.  This massively cuts down game length when we implemented it (the active player determines who activates next).

If I ever have people round my house to play I always get everything ready beforehand.  Living room has been moved round, boards are ready on the table and selection of terrain on a tray ready to place.  Normally we're rolling dice within an hour.

There are a few corners you could cut too.  You could use the dice app rather than physically rolling dice.  This reduces the amount of time counting out dice and results by a huge margin, it also reduces the amount of space you require for dice on the table.  You could insist on movement trays for all units over 10 in size, this will certainly help if one of your friends is a "slow mover" and insists on moving every model one at a time in a unit of 40.

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If you are playing a multiplayer game on a 6x4' table, why not split into two 3x4' areas and play a couple of 1 on 1 games at 1,000pts. If you use the matched play scenarios, you can modify the positioning of objectives and will be restricted to 5 turns. These kind of games are still very fun; IMO one of the best things about the core rules of AoS is how well it scales up and down.

Let us know how you get on with whatever you decide.

Have fun!

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Play a more casual game?  I know when I play with more serious players locally they tend to measure every single model out of their 30 model blob to be exactly x inches.   That really slows down the games 

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A lot has been said already but I'd like to highlight one aspect which is the intention. 


What is the intention of the evening and is everyone going with the same one. If you are taking 2 hours to setup then it suggests that there's a very casual air to the evening, likely with a lot of social activity taking place. Now above there are lots of ways to help deal with this - cutting down game size; prepare before arriving etc..... Lots of methods which can speed up the game.

But is everyone at the group wanting to do that? Are they majority concerned about not finishing the games or have they had their fun through the evening and finishing or not isn't really a concern enough to make them want to change their behaviour. 


This is important because if you try to push for change you've got to first make sure that everyone understands why you are pushing for those changes and also to be sure that they want those changes to go where you want to take them. You might say "lets preplan more during the week" but they won't take that seriously or even do it if they don't want to help achieve faster and more efficient gameplay. Similarly if you try and "rush"* things and get them to start the game in an hour or half and hour instead of two then, again, if they don't want the same result from the evening they might not like this approach.


So I'd raise the subject; sure it might well mean one or two weeks where you spend even MORE time setting up (as you're chatting way more) but if it means you all come to a good agreement on where to take the group and start working toward that then it means everyone is on the same course and you'll achieve what you want far quicker and better.


*based on your current 2 hour setup time

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First, let me say  thanks to you for posting all these responses. I'm overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people caring about this. 

I'll not quote here to keep my answer concise but feel my love nonetheless :)


You have given me many helpful tips and ideas, both for the pre-game stage and the game itself. 

Sadly,  starting earlier is not an option most of the time as our game nights happen to be on fridays most of the time and I'm the limiting factor here... Leaving office around 3-4pm with an 3-3:15h drive home leads to the late start around 8pm :( .

When it comes down to list building, mission, terrain, etc. I'll look for better ways to prepare beforehand. Have already thought about putting all this decision making in some kind of app (I'm not a developer by my actual job description but a hobby coder so this is feasible) which will allow us to get all this sorted out beforehand. 

Our "socializing" time is quite long, that's correct. Not all of us meet every week and many people have new additions to their army, new minis painted etc. that they want to show which cuts away a lot of time ahead of the game, not speaking of the smoking breaks. This is something we might try to postpone to the moments when one side is for example doing their movement. I'm not the host most of the time, but I'll try to talk to him trying to convince him that he might do the prep work ahead of time. 

I love the idea of using some kind of cardboard to shield the vision for setup and have every party put their army on the table at the same time. We might even use some time limit and units not setup in that limit will enter the board as reserves (which might by itself give another aspect to the game as you can "hide" some units the other force doesn't know about - we usually don't show army lists to the others before the game). This might even cut down our pre-game phase by 30-45 minutes as setup tends to take ages for us. I've already magnetized all my armies bases and I'm using plastic containers where all units sit in cohesion to help me getting them out of the transport box quickly but not everybody has this. 

The ideas for reducing the point limit but also loosening battle line requirements, limiting unit sizes etc. are tempting and might help with quicker game rounds. You might also be right when saying that this will make the contribution of small / otherwise "useless" units greater and games as interesting as "normal" games. 

Coming from fantasy and having used movement trays long enough it was quite relieving to have units of individual models rather than regiments but we might give the movement trays a chance. I own a 3d printer so we can try this with ease. 


You are also right in questioning if this "just my problem" or if the whole game group has the same feelings and will openly discuss this with my guys. But I feel that they are open for the issue. We had one game on last friday and we had to end by the end of turn two again. Our undead player has admitted his defeat, but when we started discussing the course of the next three rounds and "calculating" the victory points, it was clear that he would have won. So at least he has directly felt the problem at hand. 


I'll try to post some updates about the progress of my quest, but don't feel bad if it takes some weeks :)

Thanks again to everybody, displaying the heart and soul of this helpful community.

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