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The Tiger Roars 

Best and Worst Moments I've had Playing 40K 
If you ask some long-time 40K players about what have been the best times they’ve had they might tell you about the impossible number of successive 6’s they rolled at a crucial time, or the character they had that survived everything thrown at him by the other army and won the game almost single-handedly. 

Conversely, they might tell you about the Vindicare Assassin that missed or failed to wound on every single shot (it’s happened to me) or the “cheesy” Virus Outbreak strategy card that wiped out all but three of their troopers. I too have my share of those experiences but the ones I consider the best and worst usually have something to do with more than just luck. Read on and find out what I mean.

Best Moment in "Rogue Trader"
A bunch of us guys got together on a hot summer afternoon and had an enormous three-way battle on the floor of a gym (the playing area was so huge we actually had to measure to see if our missile launchers—72" range back then—could reach their targets). If I remember correctly, it was me and Thom (Marines) vs. Pat and Andrew (Orks) vs. Joey (Squats). Rules? What rules? Rogue Trader didn’t give you any sort of structure for your games: no missions to run, no objectives to accomplish, not even an idea of how you conduct the game or determine a winner. Back then we usually divided the board or playing area in half, deployed troops and vehicles as we pleased, and played until one side gave up.

Three-way fights are rough because there usually (either deliberately or through happenstance) comes a point during the game when one side gets simultaneously ganged-up on by the other two. Unless the side being attacked has a huge strategic or numerical advantage they’ll soon fall to the massed fury of the other armies. While no one was specifically out to get Joey, he nevertheless made the mistake of getting in between the Marines and the Orks—and paid grievously for his error. Squish! Within a few turns, Joey was out of the game but he took it very well, laughing at the cruel situation he had found himself in and hanging around to watch the end of the game.

Marines and Orks duked it out for—oh—hours, until Pat and Andrew finally threw in the towel. It was a very long, very tiring battle but still an enormous amount of fun because of the light-hearted attitude all of us had. It’s been a long time since I’ve started gaming, but there still isn’t much in real life that’s a whole lot better than having a few beers and gaming with your buddies.

Worst Moment in "Rogue Trader"
Unfortunately, that light-hearted, buddy-buddy attitude was conspicuously absent months later when the gang got together for another big slugfest, this time on my living room floor. It was me (original Ozone Scorpion pirates), Pat, and Andrew (Orks) versus Thom (Marines), Joey (Squats) and Brian (Imperial Guard). Back then, all of us played 40K very competitively and we all wanted to not just win but humiliate our opponents. I must admit that I was probably the worst offender that day, as I wanted very badly to beat Thom (who, being a real Marine and not some grad student like me, was very good at tactics) and Joey (he was living with me at the time and REALLY getting on my nerves). 

The game quickly spiraled into trash-talking and arguing as each side tried to psych-out the other. Things got so bad that I told Joey it didn’t matter if his side won or not because I was kicking him out of the apartment after the game. The evil part was that I really didn’t mean it, I just wanted to make him nervous and throw off his game. What I jerk I was….

The Imperial/Squat side won, but no one cared. Everyone was steaming mad and sick of that game, sick of 40K, and sick of each other. The six of us never did get back together again to play another big game like that. When our wives/girlfriends came back that day and found us all snarling at each other they couldn’t understand how we could have spent the whole afternoon like that when we were supposed to be having fun. I couldn’t understand it either.

Best Moment in 2nd Edition
During 2nd Edition, Pat and I were tormented by “The Giggle Twins”: Pippa (his wife) and our friend Reese. Between the two of them they collected the world’s largest unpainted Eldar army (well over 10,000 points) and consistently slapped Pat and me around with it. The four of us played a lot of games, those two on one side (Eldar) and Pat and I on the other (Squats or Space Wolves and Fighting Tigers). 

We called them “The Giggle Twins” because they played together so cohesively (they picked their armies and planned strategy together) and because (we knew) they spent a lot of time giggling to each about how clever they were and how they were going to humiliate us yet again the next time we played. And they had a lot to giggle about. Pat and I never beat them, a source of considerable pride to them. Those two put the “insufferable” in the phrase “insufferably smug.” Perfectly in character for Eldar players, you know.

But ironically, the best moment I ever had in 2nd Edition came in a defeat to “The Giggle Twins.” Before what turned out to be the last time the four of us played together, Pat and I got smart. We sat down before the game and planned out our armies as a cohesive whole. We planned our strategy for each turn and asked ourselves how we would attack and how we would respond to their attacks. 

When the game started, we carried out our plan exactly as we had drawn it up. And as the game went on, those smug smirks on the faces of “The Giggle Twins” faded. They started to get nervous as they eyed the increasingly likely prospect of their first defeat at our hands. And it was a good thing we were playing in a ground-floor apartment, because they both looked like they wanted to jump out a window when Shiva blew their Avatar into flaming hunks of molten goo with his assault cannon.

We lost by less than 100 Victory Points, but as far as Pat and I were concerned, we had won. After we tallied up the final score, Pat and I carried on like we had won the Super Bowl while those two looked like someone had just shot their dog. “A win is still a win,” Reese reminded us—and himself.

I’ve mentioned that that game was the last the four of us played together. We all had a very good time that day, everyone was a good sport, everyone agreed that it was a lot of fun—but that was the end of “The Giggle Twins.” Pippa and Reese soon stopped playing 40K, and I think part of the reason was how close Pat and I came to ruining their perfect win/loss record. I don’t think they could stand the idea of us using their techniques of careful planning and cohesiveness against them.

Thanks for the lessons, “Giggle Twins”: you two really taught me how to prepare for 40K. And let Pat and me know if you ever want a rematch—after all these years, we’re more than ready for you.

Worst Moment in 2nd Edition
It was, of course, against “The Giggle Twins.” We were all new to 2nd Edition and for our very first game that any of us had ever played, we decided we would have a two-on-two battle: Pat and I on one side (Squats and Tigers) and them on the other (Eldar). And because 2nd Edition was new to us, we chose the only logical approach: have a huge battle (6000 points a side) involving psychics, wargear cards, Strategy Cards (remember them?), vehicles, special characters, victory points, the works.

What the hell were we thinking? 2nd Edition was complicated even for long-time players. We had no hope of making sense of it all. Learning 40K like that is like learning to swim by trying to cross the English Channel.

After literally 13 very competitive hours of squabbling over rules, lines of sight, “cheesiness,” and so on, everyone gave up. It was another exhausting, overly emotional crapfest (like the one where I told Joey I was kicking him out) and we all agreed that it had been a mistake to start a new system (much different from the "Rogue Trader" we were used to) with such a large game. Let that be a lesson to you!

Best Moment in 3rd Edition (so far)
It didn’t involve my Fighting Tigers. Rather, Pat and I teamed up to use his Ork and Chaos armies against our friends Eric (Sisters of Battle) and John (Imperial Guard).

I’ve told you about the invincible “Giggle Twins” but they weren’t the only smug, smirking agents of Satan who made 40K hell for Pat and me during 2nd Edition. Another was our friend John, whom I’ve dubbed “The Immovable Object.” John is a damn good player (and despite what I say, is a very good guy and all-around cool human being) who sometimes used Dark Angels or Genestealer Cult armies but who preferred to terrorize other players with the Imperial Guard.

I started calling John “The Immovable Object” because every 2nd Edition game against him went something like this:

1. You lined up your army;

2. Your army rushed straight across the board (unless you wanted to stand around and get into a firefight with the Imperial Guard, and if you did you probably played Eldar, smoked crack, or both); and

3. Your army smashed itself into a bloody mess against his tanks and Guardsmen just as if you ran face-first into a brick wall.

Actually “immovable” was a misnomer because his Guard moved alright—back in 2nd Edition tanks could move and fire all they wanted to. I recall, in a previous game, chasing his tanks around the board with my Assault Marines, wondering how an army described in the all the books as being “slow and ponderous” was outrunning a supposedly “rapid deployment force” like Space Marines.

Pat and I had teamed up many times to play John—to no avail. He always won. Always. Except for that one time that John and Nathan teamed up against Pat and me, but that wasn’t John’s fault: if Nathan was on your side you would always lose the game. Andy Chambers and Nathan could team up against your kid brother and your mom and still lose. 

But that was 2nd Edition. Thank God for 3rd Edition, where an army defined as “slow and ponderous” isn’t allowed to use supercharged engines and fire while moving at top speed. That day I played Pat’s Saracens and he played his Orks; we rushed across the board and—instead of smashing into an immovable object—tore right through those Imperials. 

We had a couple of nervous moments at first, when John’s shooting was just as deadly in 3rd Edition as it had been in 2nd (I winced when a single battlecannon shot annihilated an entire Veteran Chaos Marine squad), but when our troops reached their line the game was effectively over. Once my Fleshhounds, Bloodletters, and Bloodthirster had clawed their way through three or four squads and a Leman Russ, the mighty “Immovable Object” conceded defeat. 

Even if I never win again against John I will always remember that glorious feeling of finally—FINALLY—beating someone who had handed me my hat time and again.

Worst Moment in 3rd Edition (so far)
Ironically, my worst moment in 3rd Edition also came at the hand of the Saracens, Pat’s Chaos Space Marine army. This was my second 3rd Edition game, and I thought it would be cool to play the "Planetfall" mission out of Codex: Space Marines. In that mission, the enemy uses Hidden Setup and the entire Space Marine force uses Deep Strike to arrive on the first turn, intent on hunting down the opponent’s HQ unit. I dropped my units all around the board, hoping to find Zgorch, Pat’s Chaos Lord, and kill him.

Of course, the problem with this mission is you don’t know what enemy unit you’ve dropped your troops on top of until it’s too late. My Assault Terminators wound up near Pat’s Possessed Marines, who had rolled the ability that allows them to ignore armor saves and treat their own 3+ save as invulnerable. My Assault Marines—not one of them with a powerfist—deviated and landed right by Pat’s Chaos Dreadnought. And so on. Every unit was out of position or up against a unit (or two) it could not hope to defeat. And the really ducky thing about the Deep Strike rules is that your troops can’t move or assault the turn they arrive, so my Assault Terminators couldn’t charge and my Assault Marines couldn’t jump away. Carnage ensued. Khorne was well pleased at my army’s total defeat.

As far as a “worst moment” goes this one wasn’t so bad. I didn’t get into any screaming matches or act like a dick or lose friends or all of the above. But I felt like I had let myself and my Tigers down, because although I thought I had planned well, I clearly hadn’t. I had only thought about all my army’s strengths and not at all about the Saracens'. What was I thinking, spreading out all over the board like that? Why was I bringing all those assault troops against an army that was in every way superior to mine in close combat? Why did I Deep Strike so close to those enemy units, letting them charge mine and giving them an advantage (all those extra attacks) they didn’t need? It was like picking a fight with a heavyweight boxer and letting him take the first punch. Pat’s Chaos Marines tore up my Tigers with sickening ease—I still cringe at the thought of his Dreadnought pulling my Tigers of Kali to pieces. What a chump I was.

Since then I’ve been even more careful in my planning. Whenever I play I put myself in my opponent’s shoes. If I were him, given his objectives and the units and points available to him, what would I do to win? It’s only once I’ve come up with what he would do that I start thinking about what I would do to stop him and win the game myself. We played the "Planetfall" mission again a few weeks later, and though I still lost, it was a much closer game. I kept learning, we kept playing, and eventually I won the campaign we were running between my Tigers and his Saracens.

What I've learned
40K is more than just rolling dice and hoping for the best. It’s about having fun and discovering things and spending good times with your friends. Learn from the mistakes you make and become a better player. Learn from the mistakes you make and become a better person.
 

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© copyright Kenton Kilgore, March 2000.

Top

Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle