Pickup Games: When do you bow out?

Hey folks,

Ok, so you have all had this situation, or at least know some one who has.  You go to a LGS and end up in a pickup game against a guy you don't know. The game starts up, and usually fairly quick, you end up in a silly debatument over a basic rule. Not quite an argument, but a little more than a debate.

At that point you have to decide, spend the next three hours playing a game with a guy you don't know, who may turn the entire experience into one long rules debate... or bow out.

Rule number one of 40k is to Have Fun.  Both players are responsible for doing their part to make the game enjoyable.  I am certainly guilty of engaging in drag out arguments, but most of the time it is the argument that is more of the sport than the game, and always it is with guys I know and respect.

In tournaments, you have no choice who you play against so certain amounts of beardy behavior can be expected and tolerated. But need it be so in a pick up game in an LGS?

One big factor in this issue is that in tournaments you are being judged on sportsman by your opponent, so you are less likely to encounter issues. And also, most simple things are clearly defined, like how to play terrain. There is usually an accepted FAQ and rules are clearly defined.

 This is not so in a pick up game.  With no penalty for dodgy behavior, guys may go unchecked.

Well one of these situations ran into me tonight. I went out to the LGS in my area to play a game. I posted on the boards that I was looking for an opponent for my new 2k competitive GT Blood Angels list, some one replied, and there you go. We met at the LGS to play.  I have seen this guy there every time I have gone and he was always friendly, if a bit of a rules lawyer.

A good point of note is that I can't be sure if the guys playing against him were having a good time.  The three or four times I've seen him playing it looked like the opponent was just humoring him to get the game done.  At least that was my impression.

So any way, he sets up his army and pulls out his 1750 Necron list.  I guess he missed the details.  No big, he just added another monolith and wraith.  And we progress to table set up. He suggested we play no terrain... I thought he was joking. Then he suggested again. I laughed and shrugged, then went to the shelf to get an armload.  The WHFB piece with skulls, the sloping chaos piece with the sculpted rock.  Good LOS blocker for center field. The rest of the pieces were some standard LGS stepped stone foam pieces, and your usual ruined corner of building made of 1/2" foam with 1x2" windows cut in the walls on a board base.

Like this but much smaller, just two levels.

Game is Kill points and DoW. He wins roll and gives me 1st turn claiming he will seize initiative.  I declare no deployment cause my stuff is in pods, and he starts deploying.  At this point it occurs to me that we may want to discuss terrain...

So I say "ok lets talk terrain".  :)  "Lets keep it simple, every thing is 4+ cover save if you are on it area terrain. The buildings are ruins as per standard rules."  He agrees.

Then he says "Ok, you better hope you don't land on these." pointing at the ruined walls.

A little confused, I say "It wouldn't matter much, I would just be landing in terrain and not much bad would happen." (If I roll a 1 it gets immobilized which instead destroys the storm bolter.)

He looks at me coyly and wags his finger, "nope, Mishap table!"

Now even further confused, I ask why... those are ruins.  Then he says that you cant land on ruins, or pass through them if there are no doors.  Then he went on to quote deep strike rules, how I mishap if I land on ruins, or on models.

Uh oh.

"So you are saying that you want them to be impassable terrain?" (I didn't feel the need to get into inertial guidance systems yet.)  I then went on to explain that according the rule book it didn't matter if there were actual doors in the ruins. Models could move through it as difficult terrain as normal.

He insisted that they could not, then went on to say that bikes definitely could not. (Or something like that, I cannot remember.)

So I ask if this LGS played things differently from normal rules? He insisted again that the way he was saying it was the way it was supposed to be played. SO, I bust out the rule book and turn to page 14 and quote him the rules that say that models can push through walls and the like regardless of windows, doors etc. It is assumed that they are bashing their way through, or using weapons or explosives to blast a hole. It just took a second, in the early days of 5th ed that particular discussion was had many times at BFS.  At this point of 5th ed, this rule is pretty much the accepted norm, at least in tournaments.

After reading him the rule I paraphrase that what it is saying is that unless we both agree to something else, this is how it is played.  That since he wanted it a different way, and I wanted it by the rules,(We were in disagreement)  it should be played by the book.

He insisted again that my pods could not land on the ruins.  Honestly, I don't even disagree with him for the sake of game play. We have all seen the silly pictures of land raiders balanced on a skinny wall. This causes all sorts of issues. I agree that a pod should not be able to land on the wall if it cannot rest without help. In that case you would just move it a bit more or less to get it to rest. (not mishap) But it was his insistence that models could not move through the wall that bothered me.

At this point I am getting frustrated but keeping a cool smile on my face and a calm tone of voice.

So I explain that we were at a standoff. He wanted it one way, I wanted it another. But being a decent sport, I digress. The fair thing to do would be to roll it off. I offered a 123 my way 456 his and roll the die.

He exclaims... "But this is the house rule!"

My blood drop die rolled off the table and my interest in the game drops through the floor.

Impasse.  Time to decide! So what do you guys do in this situation?

I can just give in and let him have it the way he wants and play the game knowing that I was probably in for more of the same, continue to argue, or bow out of the game.  Plus it really didn't matter, my inertial guidance would have kept me from harm. But that's not the point.

I chose the latter.

As I am picking up my blood die, he says "It's just a game, you can have it your way."

True, it is just a game, I appreciated his admitting that, but I explained that I decided to take a pass on this particular game. I don't think he heard me as he continued deploying his army.  So I zipped up my transport and offered him my hand.  I thanked him for making the trip and apologized for bowing out and asked that there were no hard feelings that maybe we could play at a later time. I really did feel bad for bowing out, but frankly, I wanted to watch Idol with the wife and didn't want to pass it up to play a game and end up not enjoying it.

He said "So you are not going to play?"

Nah, I'm taking a pass, I'm sorry.

He finally got it, and said "Ok have fun!"

So I open this up to you guys. How many of you would have played that game? The guy really wasn't being a jerk. Believe me, there have been many times in tournaments that I wish I could have just walked away from much worse, but could not. But with that in mind, I knew I just didn't have to stay, and could not let myself.



pbagosy said...

"The guy really wasn't being a jerk."

He attempted to rules lawyer three different points and failed miserably on all of them. One of two things was possible:
1) He really was ignorant of the rules
2) He was hoping you were ignorant of the rules

If it was the former, then he was a jerk for attempting to be a rules lawyer on things he obviously had no idea of. If it was the latter, well, that requires no explanation. "It's just a game, you can have it your way" is the real kicker. Doesn't matter if he said it with a smile, the real message is either "I agree to play by your arbitrary rules even though you're wrong" (even though you weren't) or "I guess I'll have to cheat some other way."

Taking a pass in this situation was the right move. If he was clueless about the rules, he showed no sign of wanting to learn, so there was nothing to be gained on either side of the table for playing.

Asmodai said...

You did the right thing there, and you shouldn't feel bad about it. In that case it really was in the best interest in both parties. It's better than the game continuing and both of you leaving angry and upset. Also, good job on you keeping your cool and being a gentleman through out the event.

jon paul Adams said...

Right call - I was recently playing a guy who argued about multi-assult accusing me of bending the rules and exploiting the situation.

We discussed it for about 5 mins- and this was ontop of 3 turns of complaining about my army (yes it was grey knights).

So I thanked him for the game so far - complimented him on his nicely painted army and finished the game- I was winning at that point but that was beside the point. Its a game you invest 2-3 hours for fun, not to listen to complaints or argue about rules.

You made the right call- mind you that was what made me decided to shelve 40k for a while and play Infinty. I find i see allot of 40k players getting increasingly frustrated with the rules and the game around here.

bring on 6th i say its time for a spring clean.

Jwolf said...

I'd have laughed at his attempts to rules lawyer and played the game right, regardless of his protests. I only really get to game one night a week, and I will not let something like this interfere at all.

Frankly I find these sorts of games helpful for when you run into TFG in a tournament; sure, if the guy wants to win Overall at most tournaments he has to be a good sport, but plenty (especially of the TFG stripe) of players are just going for Best General and don't care about their Sportsmanship score.

Heck, I think this guy might play down here, too (with a different army). We were setting up for a game, and I had a lot more dudes to unpack, so I said "set the terrain up anyway you want," assuming that he would do so like anyone else - somewhat balanced. He put all the buildings at the 12" line in his deployment area, and all the other terrain either behind those buildings or on the edges of the table - clearing my deployment zone and the whole area between us. I laughed and moved terrain to be balanced, and he protested - didn't I say he could set up the terrain?

It just got worse from there, with all sorts of interesting interpretations - intervening units don't provide cover, I can't flame the second floor of ruins, you can't assault multiple units or units on different floors, you can't assault onto a floor if the floor is covered with enemy models (even if one model can stand on the floor, the rest can't, so you break coherency), and so on. I laughed out loud when he tried all of these things, showed him in the rules where he was wrong, and ignored his continued arguments (which generally went on for a couple minutes after I ignored him). The guy came and played for maybe a couple more months, but after he pulled the same tricks with pretty much everyone at the store, he couldn't get a game anymore and hasn't been back.

So for getting rid of a TFG, your choice is probably the right one.

Grenn Dal said...

We have a few guys like this in my LGS. Since I am the nice guy that will play anyone I get paired up with these guys more often than not. I take one for the team so my buddies can find better opponents and then we can all have a good laugh at what they tried to pull off this time.

Dalinair said...

Soon as he said it was a house rule I would have gone to get that confirmed, since it sounds like BS to me and if proved wrong see what he came out with. However if he's pulling that kind of thing right at the start what will he say later? the list on crazyness could have been endless, you did right to get the hell out of dodge.

IDICBeer said...

Maybe it was just the house rule! But then again, how many other house rules was he going to spring on you. I suppose you could have said that you were testing your army for a tourney, and you needed to play by the book rather than house rules, but was it worth missing Idol and a cuddle with the Mrs for =)

Kelmar40k said...

I have had roughly the same situation. I had a guy I got started playing 40k with just lost his mind and I called the game and left.

It was his first time playing Tyranids (realize we were both about 2 months in total). He started by building a net list of Chaos Space Marines. 2 DPs with Lash, Nurgles in rhinos, 3x3 Obliterators.

I started with a Drop Pod, tac squad and combat squad with 2 more sets of Black Reach space marines.

Yaaaa, I lost to him about 20 times in a row. I never did net list marines as I just kept plugging along building my list how I wanted to play.

So back to his Nidz, he's playing a Tervigon spam list and I have matured to the 3 full tactical squads in razors with tllc with 3 dakka predators and 2 full units of sternguard with Kantor and some landspeeders w HF/HB.

I proceed to shoot his nids off the table. At turn 3 or so, I run both squads of Sternguard up and speartip (inverted V) the rhino so one full set of sternguard can drop dragon fire rounds on termagaunts sitting in cover.

He brings a hive tyrant over to assault but he can't because he has to be in base to base. His hive tyrant "bumped" the rhinos with the spindly armys and magically opened a path.

He wouldn't reverse it. He just couldn't take the loss. He wouldn't back to down and wouldn't be reasonable. I told him I was headed home. It was the last game.

Natfka said...

You did it right. It was time to walk.

Stormy said...

I'd like to hear his side of the story too before I make my mind up on it, even if the first impression makes it sound like he was acting the maggot.

Jawaballs said...

I want to reiterate that the guy was not a bad guy. I think he honestly just thought that was the way it was supposed to be. (Though I don't doubt he would have used those walls to shoot through with his necrons when I could not get at him in assault.)

I did ask if his understanding was some sort of house rule, but he replied that it was THE rule, as in the way it as 'supposed' to be played.

The bottom line here is that if I am going to play a pickup game, I want to spend that time enjoying myself. Not arguing basic rules. I absolutely don't mind playing a 'teaching' game with an inexperienced player, but I made it pretty clear when I posted I was looking for a GT competitive game.

5th Ed is in it's "Lame Duck" phase. (A lame duck is a president who is still in office for a couple weeks after a new president has been elected but not been sworn in.) The last thing I want to do is debate the basic rules of a system that we all know has numbered days.

I think the biggest issue is that I am just used to guys just accepting that I pretty much know what I'm talking about. (the fools) :) If this was a house rule, he should have acknowledged the rule as it should be played, then explained why it was house ruled.

Jawaballs said...

Stormy you are right on and that is the stand point any one should take with any thing they read. This is definitely a one sided tale. But, I tried to be as word for word as possible, and as fair. I wrote it right when I got home, so it was very fresh in my mind.

Fritz said...

Took some real baals to walk out, but was the right call. We both have continued to play guys like this even after the first warning signs at the start of the game and it only gets much worse as the game goes on...

Feldmarshal Goehring said...

The game is supposed to be fun. So, you don't have to endure that type of behavior. You were justified in your choice to bow out.

I just can't imagine someone refusing to acknowledge a rule that you shown him in plain print on the page of the rulebook.

Big Jim said...

JB, totally the right call! I would have totally said thanks but no thanks to the game. I just don't have the spirit or time to play a game if it ain't fun it does not matter if I win or lose it must be fun.


Kevinmcd28 said...

Ahh I know the player type...we call these guys rules bullies or game store trolls...or for one specific guy stewie (like in family guy)..since they always seem to be trying to take over the world with their way of thinking and fail miserably.Activities of these guys include trying to BS a rule where it does not exsist, not calling their rolls ...which also leads to them rerolling stuff they do not like when they are not allowed to...Now not to say the guy you were playing displayed all these traits but if the game went on I wouldnt be surprised if he didn't persist (usually its a power thing, they fel the need to win to make themselves feel better....like an uncompetitive waac player in a way)...Bowing out was smart, it shows them that play like that is not accepted by the group and
usually they move on to haunt a new store or have a revelation and stop the actions...

...and Fritz might u say he slammed his baals 2 the waals? lol sorry I had too...good article jawaballs

Tim said...

Well, I think gaming with strangers pretty much requires that you be more flexible with the rules. If he doesn't want models to walk through walls, I say fine! That's how we'll play it and it will apply to both of us.

Mostly I am looking to roll some dice and have fun rather than sticking to the rules. And I also think that if you are so concerned about the outcome of the game, you might want to contemplate why you are playing...

Focusing on winners and losers really detracts from the spectacle and fun involved with the process of playing.

I try to keep this saying in the back of my mind at all times: the process is more important than the product.

Twyg said...

As someone who's been labeled a "diplomat" player I've got to say, after working in corporate long enough, that I've unconsciously translated it to game time. You made the right call for you and the situation, and I'm getting to the point you are. There's no need to play someone who cannot keep on point with the concept of fun. There's also a pretty obvious line between their fun, and mutual fun.

What I cannot tolerate are folks who are not only wrong, but conceited and pretentious about it. For those players once it begins, the book comes out, and keeps coming out until they can no longer stand up to the constant scrutiny/questions and make a choice; they either back off of the constant abuse of the rules (and abusing/treating me like I'm a mis-informed child) or are willing to start seeing that I'm no longer going to tolerate the behavior by me turning the tables and "rules lawyering" them. Psychologically I only hold up a mirror, it's their choice as to whether or not they like the reflection they see.

Should it continue beyond this compromise and blending point, and should it get to a point where the game has to stop we hit a critical point. Are we here so that "you" can table all who oppose you, pitying them condescendingly with their incomplete knowledge of the rules, or are we here to have a good time? We're supposed to be here to relax and have fun, even if it means that we may commit a sin before the almighty Gods of Rulebooks, (Or means that you don't get your way...)

If I stop a game to have this discussion with an opponent there's a good chance that the game will not continue, whether it be WH40k, Space Marine, BF3, WoW, or even a d20 role playing game. We're here to have a good time, and even if it is my only day this week to play it isn't worth getting heated over it. Someone above said it right, is it worth missing out hanging with the wife/husband? Definitively not.

I have had the good fortune to be, in this new game/hobby for me, opposite some seriously good players who haven't abused our shared three hour time slot, and in fact have helped me to really enjoy myself. Even those players who have begun treating the situation poorly have been valuable teachers, and I would play many of them again with our mutual understanding that I do not accept shenanigans no matter how kindly I speak it. Needless to say my introductory "community" to the game has been indeed a good one, so I'm quite lucky.

Jawaballs said...

Well said guys, I appreciate the experiences. It's interesting to hear your points of view. At Battle for Salvation there is a guy named Burt who has a dubious reputation. I only use his name because he knows it, and I enjoy playing him. But that is only because I understand him, and know what a game against him is going to be like. Pretty much I just instigate him and try to see how red I can make his face with my snickering. In the end, he knows I'm just having fun, and I know that in his way, so is he. But that understanding was earned!

I think articles like this are good once in a while to be little self checkers and keep us in balance. Just reading this stuff I realize that I certainly could have been more tolerating myself.

frznwater said...

Tim nailed it in the head

ming from b&c said...

I have run into some bad game situations, but none as bad as this. More importantly if I understand wat you wrote....pods NEVER are considered as deep striking (they just drop in) and never roll on the mishap table....so maybe that should have been cleared up. Pods never mishap (althought they might miss the table...). Regardless, I likely would have told him I'd play him in the future when he had a better understanding for the rules. I'd rather have played the game than not....

Jawaballs said...

Yup, the pods would not have mishapped any way unless I flew off the table (Happened twice last time I played), but the bigger concern for me was him saying that models could not move through the wall. This raised the opportunity for him to shoot me, but me not be able to reach him. But mostly, it was just plain wrong.

breng77 said...

Hey Jawa,

Sorry your game did not go down well...I know the guy you are talking about (as I assume it is who you had agreed to play on facebook.) For him it really is that he just he does not know the rules very well, the last time I played him we argued a rule for a good while, until I finally got him to see the correct rule. More often than not I know more about his armies rules than he does, I think he has been playing this game for several editions, he is not very competitive, and does not make a huge effort to learn the rules right (how he has never learned this one I'm not sure). That said hope it does not sour you on playing down here, and if you want a GT competitive game (this would not have been one), We'll have to get on the table again with My GKs. There are unfortunately a very limited supply of GT level gamers down here...

Jawaballs said...

Brendan I plan on being there Saturday night! Maybe we can get a game in then. I won't know til closer to the time. I will definitely still play there. I will even play this guy again. Maybe see you Saturday

Kevinmcd28 said...

What store do you tend to haunt in connecticut? Always looking for some travel games

breng77 said...

Gaming ETC in Stratford is where I usually play, they have open gaming on Saturday Nights starting at 5:30ish, I also play at Clockwork comics occasionally

Narceron said...

Did you just type you wanted to watch Idol? man card please, you won't need it, :)

sucks that you guys drove up to not play, but really, better to cut it short than create awkwardness in future meetings.

Unknown said...

He wanted to play his Necron shooty list with no terrain on the table guy is a jerk bottom line.

Gonewild said...

It never ceases to amaze me when a player adamantly asserts a rule as being correct, when in fact it is wrong.

Always go with your instinct. You come across as an easy going guy, and if your gut compelled you to walk away- there must have been a reason.

This sort of thing is a case by case basis for me. There is one dude at my FLGS that gets all 'James Woods Hades' when the dice start rolling against him that I refuse to play against.

GDMNW said...

I played a game with no terrain once. Never again!

As for when should you call it when things start to go south. Only you can be the judge of that. I know there have been many situations where I have later regretted seeing something through to the end. Cutting and running while things are still civil is an art in its own right.

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