The 11th Company 40K Podcast

Welcome to the 11th Company BLOG. The 11th Company is a Warhammer 40K podcast dedicated to players, strategies, and tactics.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

#1 Tip for Improving Your Game?

Simple. Know the rules. The first tip we ever issued on the Podcast, episode #1, was RTFM (read the rulebook in less abusive language :) )


So before getting into WHY this is going to improve your game, let's cover a few obligatory topics.....

First and foremost, most likely, you are not a genius or a memory master, and most likely, just like me, you don't have the time to drill 40K rules on a daily basis to ensure that you could compete on a 40K Game Show like this goes does sports trivia: (

So, accept your human limitations, and go ahead and get all the "boo hoo I don't have time to memorize rules" out of your system. Nobody does! You are not a computer, and no one expects you to be. You never will be. This is something that Chess players recently figured out. (Computers versus Chess Players). Second, that guy at your local store who seems to "know it all".... he doesn't. So, just because he says it doesn't mean he is right. Look it up yourself. Also know that the more you look things up, the more apt you are to remember them. Practice makes perfection.

Third, know that there is a seemingly limitless supply of ambiguous and contentious rules in 40K. Next time you are really bored, do some research on the topic. The more familiar you are with these ambiguous rules and how they get resolved at large, the better you know the rules. Large FAQs like the INAT are a good place to start. Don't take anyone's word for it on a rules ruling, but you most certainly should discuss them with your play group. Also know how contentious and ambiguous rules will be resolved at any event you might want to attend. (At least be prepared for some core rules to get changed on you in the middle of the game by a judge. That's also just a fact of 40K life. )

Lastly, before I really start discussing how knowing the rules is going to help your game, beware the "this is the way we've always done it" mentality. Lots of people play this game in a certain fashion because they didn't update themselves on the new editions. It's okay to house rule things, but know what is and is not a house rule in your local club. This could be a big problem if no one even knows that they are using a house rule.


So, how is knowing the rules well going to improve your game? First, it'll make the game go by faster since you aren't stopping to look things up every few minutes. This will let you get more games in in an allotted time which will equal more practice!

Aside from that, let's examine what is at the core of any strategy game. The foundation of any game is decisions. You make decisions to reach an outcome. The assumption that strategy games "insert" is that there is such thing as a "correct" decision, or more often than not in strategy games, a "most correct" decision given a certain circumstance. Theoretically, if you always make the "most correct" decision in every circumstance, you win! Some things seek to disrupt this though when it comes to 40K. The first, most obvious, disruption is dice rolling. Since dice are random, it is quite possible to always make the "most correct" decision and still lose a game because your dice go sour. Another big kicker in 40K is differences in codices. Sometimes, the "most correct" decision in any given circumstance might still net you a loss because you have a bad match-up. Scenarios are another great example. It's exactly this randomness, though, that makes 40K more entertaining in a lot of ways than chess because the decision trees are much, much longer. You also can't simply study and memorize them.

So, what's a decision tree? A decision tree is a long list of this... "if I do this, and then this, then my opponent will do this, which means I will respond with this, to which he will respond with that.... " and so on. It's a tree because you take a fork every time a decision is made, and the combination of all the decisions made will give you the outcome of the game! If you were a computer, like a chess computer, you would calculate billions of outcomes in a matter of seconds and choose the path that leads to victory! You aren't though! :)

So, what does this have to do with knowing rules? Well, you should always be striving to make the "most correct" decision in every CIRCUMSTANCE. A circumstance is defined by the rules of the game! Think about it. The position of your models, what they can do, what will happen if you shoot, move, assault, and even what your opponent will do to react to you is all defined by the rules of the game. If you don't know the rules, you can't fully analyze your situation, otherwise known as your circumstance, and thus, you won't be able to define the "most correct" decision because you haven't yet to define the circumstance.

Simply put, the more rules you know, the better able you are to see and comprehend what the best decision to make is because you more fully comprehend the situation you are in.

Here's an analogy. Let's suppose you are blind. Now, you can rely on your other four senses to help you negotiate the world. You can smell, touch, taste, and hear. You can use those four senses to help you make decisions about many things in your world. However, these decisions won't help you know to "duck!!!" when someone tosses a dodge ball at you. The thing is, you know what ducking is. You know that it is an appropriate reaction when something is heading for you, but what you DON'T KNOW, is that the circumstance you are currently in might warrant ducking as the "most correct" decision to be made because you can't see the oncoming ball.

Here's a 40K example. If you don't KNOW that Orks can declare a WAAAGH! once per game that gives them fleet, you might think you are SAFE from assaulting to be 13 inches away from a big mob. You won't even find out you were wrong until next turn when your opponent is on your poor marines like white on rice in a snowstorm because of his WAAAGH!. Had you have known about the WAAAGH! move, you probably could have made the "more correct" decision which would have been to GET AWAY! (or DUCK as in the previous analogy).

Often, I get asked, how do you think TACTICALLY? The answer is actually a lot simpler (as it always is in life) than you might first think. Thinking tactically is simply making the best decision possible in a given situation. The only way you can do that is to fully comprehend your situation or circumstance. In the game of 40K, the only way to truly comprehend your situation is to know the rules to the best of your ability.

Quiz yourself. Challenge yourself to answer questions, and then, check the book to see if you are right. These are all great exercises to help out.


  1. Well written, and accurate. Also, as a plus, it didn't make my head-spin like the formula system you discussed last post. =D

  2. Whenever a rule is discussed on the 11th Company podcast, look it up to see if they were correct and then post on the forums to let them know… No, just kidding (and they tend to be right when I do look it up myself). But the point is very valid, look rules up when you are planning, after games, etc. It sticks so much better.

    It can also pay off to just read sections you seldom look up. I am for instance interested in if anyone on the 11th Company has looked up the rules on shooting at buildings. Have a jump shoot jump Tau hiding? Blast whatever he is hiding in with your Vindicator and see what happens, or why not ram it with a battle wagon?

  3. Thanks guys, great article. I have a pretty casual knowledge of the rules for both my marines and the game in general and I am finding this a bit of serious limitation at times. Since getting back into 40k I have spent more time on the hobby side and while I enjoy playing I haven't really done my home work.

    Not great and I know I need to change, your article has helped to reinforce that. Thanks for the good read!



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