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GUIDE: Tournament Speed Play


The Jabber Tzeentch

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After my recent tournament experience at Blood and Glory I noticed that many people (myself included) struggle to complete their game to a fair outcome within the allocated time. Due to the nature of tournaments you have to fit a lot of gaming in to a short amount of time and unless you play very often it can be hard to accomplish. 

I would just like to first point out that it is completely acceptable and part of the rules that you play until your allocated time runs out. However some armies need to play more turns than others to maximise their potential in game, so you should never try to slow play for an advantage and always try to play an equal amount of turns per player. This is especially important considering the double turn, playing an uneven number of turns can really be one sided. 

I'll use Vanguard and Championship games from Blood and Glory for examples:  

• The Vanguard games of 1000 points had 75 minutes per game, which is 7.5 minutes per turn if you complete all five turns. 

• The Championship games of 2000 points had 150 minutes per game, which is 15 minutes per turn if you complete all five turns.

Note this isn't including any set up time before the first turn! Which can take a surprising amount of time to do if you're not paying attention. 

In my mind there are four main areas which affect the speed of a game, which I'll expand on with tips to help speed up your game:

* Player experience
* Knowledge of the rules
* Army composition
* Efficiency of play

Player Experience

Simply playing more games in general will, over time, help your speed of play. Mostly because you will spend less time looking up rules you don't know, and less time disputing rules you've got wrong! 

With Age of Sigmar there are many different rules and abilities for each army, so having experience with your army in general and each specific unit can really help. Many people play with different armies and list all the time so it can be hard to get back in to an army you haven't used in a while. 

It's not just about the rules themselves but about how each unit interacts with each other, abilities with different deployment strategies and synergies need to be played right to make the most of them. Having experience with your army allows your decision making process to go that bit quicker so you don't spend ten minutes deciding whether you should charge or not!

Tip: Before a tournament, make sure you have at least two or three practice games with your exact army you will be using. 

Knowledge of the rules.  

This is similar in a way to player experience, but they're not mutually exclusive. You can have excellent knowledge of the rules but no actual experience in game, and vice-versa. 

Tip: Spend some time the week before rereading the main rules, generals handbook and going over the more unique rules on your units warscrolls and battalions. 

Bonus Tip: Read the tournament pack as soon as you can after it's released. Then read it again the week before the tournament! 

Army composition

You are welcome to take any army list you like providing it meets the standards of the tournament. However, some army list can be particularly slow to play. 

Armies with lots of models is obviously going to be slow to play, even with movement trays once you reach combat and start piling in its can be very slow. 

Some units have special rules which can slow the game daaown, often with very minimal impact on the game. Units with lots of different, but similar output weapons for example instead of just one weapon with many attacks. 

Tip: unless you are very experienced with your army, take a smaller model count list and minimise any strange  convoluted units. 

Efficiency of play

This is the mostly about preparation before and during the game, there are many simple things you can do to speed up your play. 

Tip: Print off or make lots of counters for everything, terrain, wounds, buffs etc. This will massively speed up your game compared to noting down or using dice which you may forget. 

Tip: When your opponent is taking his turn, make pile of dice in fives or tens in different colours. So you don't have to waste time counting up dice when it's your turn. 

Tip: Plan your turn as best you can whilst waiting, make a primary and a back up decision for your important units so you can quickly make choices in your turn. 

Bonus: Buy a set of each dice at www.scenerydice.co.uk

I hope these tips help speed up your games, it gives you and your opponent a fair, fun and competitive game if you play in a timely manner. And can help your sports scores!

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How about us who like to play fairly large armies? The current meta-example is the Bonesplittaz, but It applies the same to any army with hordes like Skeleton, Freeguild guard units or some Bloodbound armies. These units are much slower to play no matter what. You can't complete a full turn (in which you perform all relevant actions with all units) as fast as a beastclaw raider army. Should tournaments allocate more time to rounds, so that these armies are more viable? It is effectively a comp on large armies, since they find it difficult to finish all five turns.

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Great post @The Jabber Tzeentch! I especially like the bit about planning your turn during your opponents phase as it's something that comes naturally to some. But I've played the odd person who when you pass the baton over with a "your turn mate!" they react as if they're seeing the table for the first time. Where have you been for the last 15 minutes? How was the weather there? Yes the Kurnoth Hunters have arrived through that forest. 

@Darth Alec I do feel for armies that need more than just a default 15 minutes per turn, and I'd naturally speed up my turns to accommodate my opponent. But that's not really equity. Especially not if it gets to the later stages and your opponent was planning on a turn 5 tactic and you both decide you're not going to get there. 

If my opponent said that they'd struggled to complete each of their games due to their army size i'd suggest only playing to turn 4 to take the pressure off. But if we hadn't had that discussion beforehand and I was wrapping up turns in 10 minutes while my opponent was taking 30, I think it'd only be fair that the decision to play turn 5 or not would be mine to make. Or that if we did play turn 5, forget rolling for priority, it's mine by default. 

 

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@Paul Conti and myself can blaze through games now, we played a 2500 point game in a couple hours the other day. That's with Skaven and Free People armies! We use all of the guidelines above, and playing at least once a week (sometimes multiple games) really helps.

I think one additional thing that helps when playing large armies is a concession on both players parts: Don't measure for every model. Measure the front models, move the rest in bulk by picking up multiple models at the same time up to the already measured/moved ones.

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4 hours ago, Darth Alec said:

How about us who like to play fairly large armies? The current meta-example is the Bonesplittaz, but It applies the same to any army with hordes like Skeleton, Freeguild guard units or some Bloodbound armies. These units are much slower to play no matter what. You can't complete a full turn (in which you perform all relevant actions with all units) as fast as a beastclaw raider army. Should tournaments allocate more time to rounds, so that these armies are more viable? It is effectively a comp on large armies, since they find it difficult to finish all five turns.

Yeah i definitely agree it should be viable. But with the current tournament timescale if you're not experienced with these armies it might be worth using another until you are. That way you both get a game more than two or three turns.

Personally I'd prefer 3 hour games so I can have a few drinks and not feel rushed. 

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3 hours ago, The Jabber Tzeentch said:

Personally I'd prefer 3 hour games so I can have a few drinks and not feel rushed. 

@TheJabberTzeentch who were you? I would have said hello on the Sunday but your real identity is a mysterious secret. 

As to the gaming, I agree I like a slower paced game. The 500 point tournament on the Friday night was crazy quick! It was far more rushed than the 2000 points. 45 minutes a game is 4.5 minutes a turn. I don't think there was a gap in between games either, or at least there didn't feel like one. 

I personally didn't have an issue with the timing of the 2,000 games. Most of mine finished early. That was probably down to playing opponents with smallish armies though. @Painted by Ghad the same issues as you because he kept coming up against hordes. 

For me, 2.5 hours is a decent length of time for a tournament or club game. If I'm playing in the house/shed though, I prefer to be a little bit more chilled. We were clocking around 4 hours but it's been a couple of months since we had a game that wasn't with Blood and Glory lists. We'll probably be a bit quicker now. 

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I was only there for the 1000 pointer on the Friday this year unfortunately. 

The thing is I would much rather play with larger mode count armies, not even horde armies but I like more models on the table in general.

And it also seems a lot of armies like this fare batter over more turns as they win by attrition. Which doesn't as well work if you only have time for 2, 3 or 4 turns, fast alpha strike armies tend to be at the top of the meta. 

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True.  I definitely wouldn't want to go to a chess clock system or anything like that though. AoS isn't a pressured game.  Even at Blood and Glory, each game was really relaxed (in the bottom room at least).

i think the issue is that smaller games aren't necessarily loads quicker than bigger ones.

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2 hours ago, hobgoblinclub said:

True.  I definitely wouldn't want to go to a chess clock system or anything like that though. AoS isn't a pressured game.  Even at Blood and Glory, each game was really relaxed (in the bottom room at least).

i think the issue is that smaller games aren't necessarily loads quicker than bigger ones.

I definitely agree with this. You get half the time in the 1000 compared to the 2000 and it always feels much more rushed. 

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On the flipside of the arguement for longer rounds, consider those players who have no problem completing games in 2.5 hours and the extra time that would be spent milling around waiting for others to finish. 

I've always played fairly varied, mid sized armies and never struggled to finish games (same under 8th) and TBH given that probably 95% of tournament games are under 2000 points, the frequency of games still going on when end of round is called is pretty low. I can't really comment on 500/1000 games but I think that's a separate arguement.

Some players are just slow - lots of deliberating, phone gazing etc. Some people like a ciggie half way through, or going to and from the bar, some people play horde armies. Non of this is bad except in combination - but at that point that person should do a self awareness check and realise he's compromising the enjoyment of his opponent. My personal bugbear is slow dice shaking, I just don't get it :)

I doubt TOs want to elongate already long days and for those who travel a lot of distance the thought of appending 1.5 hours onto 'home time' is unappealing. They are tournaments, so are distinct from club night games or whatnot.

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4 hours ago, Marc Wilson said:

My personal bugbear is slow dice shaking, I just don't get it :)

Haha! Seriously, two good shakes when they're in your hand is plenty. Or long enough to explain to to hit and to wound stats and any hidden mechanics if there are any. 

I had another thought about speeding things up. If you have a unit that hit's and wounds on the same number, so 3's and 3's, and there are no hidden bonus on hit or wound mechanics like mortal wounds on hits of 6+, would it be cool to just roll 2 dice at once. 

If you need a 3 to hit and a 3 to wound and one of those fails it doesn't matter much which

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58 minutes ago, RossMHoward said:

Haha! Seriously, two good shakes when they're in your hand is plenty. Or long enough to explain to to hit and to wound stats and any hidden mechanics if there are any. 

I had another thought about speeding things up. If you have a unit that hit's and wounds on the same number, so 3's and 3's, and there are no hidden bonus on hit or wound mechanics like mortal wounds on hits of 6+, would it be cool to just roll 2 dice at once. 

If you need a 3 to hit and a 3 to wound and one of those fails it doesn't matter much which

But you'd be rolling the maximum number of wound dice instead of just the ones that hit, giving you a much better chance of wounding. 

For example, 18 attacks at 3s to hit is 12 hits. Then 3s to wound is 8 wounds. 

If you rolled them together, you be rolling 18 hit dice and 18 wound dice. You'd get 12 of each and assume 12 wounds. 

It'd totally skew the results. 

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Efficiency of play

This is the mostly about preparation before and during the game, there are many simple things you can do to speed up your play. 

Tip: Print off or make lots of counters for everything, terrain, wounds, buffs etc. This will massively speed up your game compared to noting down or using dice which you may forget. 

Tip: When your opponent is taking his turn, make pile of dice in fives or tens in different colours. So you don't have to waste time counting up dice when it's your turn. 

Tip: Plan your turn as best you can whilst waiting, make a primary and a back up decision for your important units so you can quickly make choices in your turn. 

Bonus: Buy a set of each dice at www.scenerydice.co.uk

I hope these tips help speed up your games, it gives you and your opponent a fair, fun and competitive game if you play in a timely manner. And can help your sports scores!

Great post and really helpful for beginners. Lots of other good points above. 

I played a Destruction list with 110 models  There are a lot of things you can do to help. Here's some more:

  • Divide up simultaneous tasks, e.g. my opponent rolled my scenery dice and I put down a marker corresponding to it.
  • If it's your first tournament, then a low model count is a good idea, especially for your back. 
  • Agree ad hoc measures to speed things up but be very clear about it e.g. Darran Palmer and I both agreed to combine Destruction Moves and Moves and Runs as appropriate for those units and just move all the models once (we had over 275 models with Destruction Moves on the table and managed to get to a conclusion which was fair to both players). For things like Wizards and Heroes (where buff ranges matter a lot), we did the Destruction moves within the hero phase as normal. 
  • It can also be useful to pre-measure a charge in the movement phase, agree it then and there (and then optionally leave 2 dice showing what is needed to make that charge next to the model) - Dan Ford taught me the first one at Firestorm Fours.
  • If you know that you will frequently need to roll a fixed number of dice (48 in my case), then have that number of dice pre-prepared (or count it out during your opponent's turn).
  • Use small dice for bigger rolls. Mark Wildman taught me that I needed to speed up my dice rolling, which I've now done.
  • You will run out of time in some games - try to be reasonable about it - you could play drop dead on the clock (although this can open up unfairness) or you could equalise the turns as at the end or you could do a reasonable extrapolation of what would happen in the final turn(s) (effectively this is a complex form of conceding the game I suppose). 
  • It's worth bearing in mind that the first and particularly the second turn often take a multiple of the amount of time that the later turns take up. This was particularly the case for my list.
  • Flat terrain/hills or up/down or diagonal movement; flat objectives; measure from edge or middle of objectives; and how to deal with cocked dice are good things to resolve at the start.
  • Roll dice in a leather box (less noisy) with shallowish edges - this stops dice going all over the place and speeds things up a lot - also your opponent can see it (although they might need to stand up or even adopt a power stance to do so). Mine is about 45cm long and 20 cm wide. I think it was a lid from a box for storing stuff. I have two.
  • One option is to print out all of the rules and FAQs and Hints and Tips that your filthy combo relies upon. I did this (to a frankly ridiculous/paranoid extent (3 pages worth); and was pleased to have not needed to make use of it the whole event. Your opponent can read it while you carry on doing stuff or read it later or you can use it as a script to walk them through the rules. #onlythefilthful
  • For lesser disputes (e.g. is model X of 20 within range or is this pile in legal), offer to dice off rather than asking the referee. You may or may not want to set a precedent for/against yourself and a 50% shot might be fine for both of you unless it's a huge point for the list. I'm pleased to say that the only rules dispute I had was something that an opponent did and was handled very reasonably by all concerned (both Ben and Mark as referees and Craig Chester the opponent - hope to see you at another event soon). It was whether a unit set up on the board (summoned) can score in 3 places of power that turn - it cannot do so as a set up is distinct from a move (which is what is required for 3 Places of Power) You need to setup then charge or pile in to score that turn. I had this problem with a Runesmiter on the Friday.
  • For big blocks, I kept them in a pattern, (as mentioned above) moved the front-most (for the charge distance), left and right models, and filled in the rest from the pattern 
  • Explain stuff as you're going along. Say "ok?" or "cool?" in a questioning manner as you do things to check for understanding.
  • Read the list and work out whatever key questions to ask (e.g. command abilities, traits artefacts (you should ideally have an approximate knowledge of what 90% of these do, i.e. the ones that are good in advance of the game).
  • Know the Warscrolls as well as you can. I derped massively in game one by misremembering the debuff range of the Mourngul (thinking that it was the same as the Cursed Book). I must be a fluff player, since my two painted Mournguls have been sitting on the shelf unused at South London Legion.
Quote

Some players are just slow - lots of deliberating, phone gazing etc. Some people like a ciggie half way through, or going to and from the bar, some people play horde armies. Non of this is bad except in combination - but at that point that person should do a self awareness check and realise he's compromising the enjoyment of his opponent. My personal bugbear is slow dice shaking, I just don't get it :)

  • This is exactly right. Don't buy drinks until after the game if it's obviously going to be a slow one or if you do, coordinate with your opponent as he is going to the toilet, making a sacrifice to Mork or something else.
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I very rarely run out of time playing 2000 point games, and the couple of games I have run out of time it has been against someone with a reputation of slow play.

Some of my thoughts:

Get all our models out at the start of the game, then just rearrange them on the board for deployment. Watching someone need to reach into their case to fish out a squad, then think about where to put them down seriously slows down the beginning of the game. Also helps each player visualise the opponents army and ask questions about certain models.

Get easy to read dice - I have been guilty of buying dice that "looked awesome" only to find when rolled on a table, and under bright lights, that they became unreadable. It also creates a certain distrust from your opponent when they cant tell the difference between a 1 and 5.

Create a cheat sheet for your army - one of my opponents edited his entires armies details onto a double side of A4.

Toilet breaks - I usually time my comfort breaks during my opponents movement phase. I explain that I trust their honesty to move their units, but ask that they wait for me to come back before rolling dice (unless it is for them to run).

Have trust in your opponent - "Yes, a Frost lord on Stonehorn does have hit/wound rolls of 2+ due to battlebrew. Please dont make me show you the rules for the third time in a row".

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I'm preparing for my first tournament and want to share how insightful this thread this. 

A few comments on how i'm preparing on top of what has already been shared;

  • I've created a one page cheat sheet with all my rules broken into phases 
  • I'll be creating a one page cheat sheet with my key unit stats with all relevant buffs
  • I'll be creating a deployment cheat sheet for each tournament scenario (based on @Painted by G

I love to take photos throughout the game, so one of the challenge will be taking great photos while paying attention while planning moves while remembering rules 

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