4. Undefinable Unpleasantness

Can you see me?

  • The deed- Not a specific ‘cheat’ as such, this one covers a multitude of sins simply around one of the most contentious issues in wargaming- Line of Sight. Despite games systems increasingly relying on even more absurd abstractions (even one toe outside LOS- in cover!, or the alternative- I can only see one toe, but as you aren’t within 1” of terrain- no cover!) this topic is still the one I hear echoing round the gaming rooms roof more regularly than any other. ‘True’ line of sight is rare in games, as even games which claim to use it can have oddities, and players can take advantage of it in many unusual ways (removing flying stands so vehicles are easier to get behind cover, crawling/kneeling armies, even an army wading through a swamp that took every model off at the knees!) and  along with such wonderfully vague terms as ‘more than half’ can cause more arguments than it solves.
  • Warning signs- you can tell it’s all going to go wrong when you’re opponent starts balancing models behind individual streetlamps and asking you what cover it counts as, or measures models to see if they are indeed more than half the size of the terrain
  • Prevention- laser pens, red dots, pre-arranged agreement, even the TO sticking post it notes to the bottom of each terrain piece are all usual ways to combat this demon, however it can unfortunately reduce right down to rolling a dice or having an argument. Human nature means most people will view any situation as favourable to them if they can, so for me dicing it out tends to solve it best. Also- see Wheaton’s law.
  • Dastardly rating- 2/4, boundless optimism (if annoying) can be forgiven, blatant rules lawyering and whining is big gaming sin.

Line of sight quotes of legend

“Yes he’s more than half covered, but that’s because he’s slouching, if he was stood up straight he’d get no cover save”

“It says ignoring weapons, banners etc, it says nothing about feathers, that’s part of his head as far as I’m concerned”

“Putting two spikes on a base and telling me it’s tunnelling doesn’t mean I can’t see your 30 foot tall monster behind a 4 foot tall hedge”

“From the waist down isn’t half covered, the bodies mass is centred more around the abdomen really”

“If you didn’t want him getting shot over his men you shouldn’t have used a scenic base”

“No you can’t see through that building. It’s a building.”

 “Yes, the laser pen can indeed see him, unfortunately the laser pen is a good foot from the model you declared shooting with”

“Shuffle all you like, you aren’t getting a five man squad behind one tree, this isn’t an episode of Top Cat”

The Landscape architect

  • The deed- A contentious rule has arisen, well not really, it seems like the sort of simple rule a beginner would know, but nonetheless your opponent has got his books out “I just want to be sure.” He clears a space for his epic sized hardback on the table and flips to the page in question, you were right all along, and the game carries on. Later that turn he has to move his book away to allow his death star unit enough movement space to charge in and destroy your armies core- but wait, what happened to the entire stand of trees that occupied that space before they were evicted by his rulebook? (This has also been applied to carrycases, spell cards and even pints of beer in reports) In fixed terrain tournaments some especially unscrupulous cads have been known to utilise this technique before the game even starts to gain a territorial advantage.  
  • Warning signs- we have all at some point decided that terrain X is so far from the action that we may as well remove it to create space for our ever encroaching dead pile, but if the terrain your opponent moved was in a fairly intrinsic part of the playing area you may want to mark its position somehow, as there is a chance he may be planning ahead and that dastardly difficult terrain was going to make his life, well, difficult. In tournaments space can be a premium too, so the odd bit of shuffling needs to happen, but watch out for opponents that have somewhat elastic morals when it comes to replacing.
  • Prevention-keep space around your table if possible as then there should be ample room for books etc without the need to get Capability Brown in to rearrange everything, if you can’t do this have enough generic tokens (NOT dice!!) to mark out its position before you move anything.
  • Dastardly rating- 2, it’s pretty blatant, and your shamefaced opponent will usually replace the terrain without too much of an argument.



The Cloaking device

  • The deed- The game is over, although it was pretty tight at the end you managed to smash just enough of his scoring units to pull the draw, it’s not pretty, but it’s not a loss either, as you are packing up your opponent gestures to a sealed building/his dead pile/behind his sandwiches to reveal an entire unit that you had totally forgotten about- which is apparently your fault for forgetting, not his for hiding them..  I have also had reports of players hiding their opponents models (see below) which if anything is even nastier, but even easier to apply the deeply immoral‘well you shouldn’t have forgotten…’ defense to.
  • Warning signs- for a start- if his dead pile is more than a few inches from his table edge take a good look at any models standing straight within it, especially if they are still in formation, other than that this can be hard to spot, because that’s kind of how it works..
  • Prevention- Keep an eye on your opponent, summary sheets of your units can help keep track of them each turn, and notes during the game, whilst boring, can keep track of your opponents nonsense too, best advice in any game- keep checking the table from all angles before making decisions, walk round to his side, the flanks etc if you can every so often.
  • Dastardly rating- 3, it’s pretty mean, and would deserve a higher rating, but it does depend entirely on you having a terrible memory..

“My manager had a story about how when he was playing at one of the opens in nottingham. He was playing some guy who had outflanked a unit of 20 ghouls into a pretty stellar position, enough to completely gum up my manager's backfield. Apparently he (the manager) then casually placed his large rulebook ON the unit. The opponent promptly forgot about them until he was defeated and packing up and my manager removed the book... He wasn't even sorry about it…” 


Backseat gamers

  • The deed- We’ve all seen a friend struggling and given them a hand, but we also should all know there is a time and place for this- and that is usually NOT in the last round of a tournament on the top table. Coaching is massive no-no in organised play as players want to play their opponent, not a tag team/gaming equivalent of the egg heads. Now I feel I should clarify that pointing out a player getting the rules wrong, cheating or forgetting something major (or compulsory) isn’t coaching- in fact if you see an opponent doing any of those you should probably remind them yourself as allowing an opponent to get something wrong for your benefit is cheating in its own right. Coaching is specifically a third person giving tactical advice from the side-lines of a game, thereby taking away any tactical advantage one player has and giving a tactical advantage to the other player. Don’t do it, it’s irritating. Even to the player you are trying to help sometimes (see below)
  • Warning signs- one of your opponents friends has wandered over, recounted how he smashed/got smashed/ was cheated in his game and then turns his attention to your table.. after some humming and hawing he questions a couple of rules before starting to try and play the game himself..
  • Prevention- Tell them to piss off. Politely the first time, and if that doesn’t work actually tell them to piss off. If that doesn’t work call a TO over and ask them to tell the interloper to piss off.
  • Dastardly rating- 4 cheating in your own game makes you a bad person. Cheating in someone else’s game- makes you a bad person and rubs that badness off on your friend..

“I had everything in hand, I had played the long game to get my opponent’s models into position for a coup de grace, so whilst it looked bad I wasn’t worried, as soon as my turn came it was all going to me, probably a massacre that would swing me right up the table. Then my stupid friend walks up during my opponents movement phase, whistles through his teeth and says ‘looks grim mate, don’t forget your units ability lets them attack when they rally…’ My opponent looked like he could have kissed him, I was not so pleased…” 

The straight up, low down liar..

  • The deed- I said 36” didn’t I? your opponent looks up at you innocently as they measure the range of their artillery, you know they said 30”, they know they said 30”, but they are trying it on to see how far they can push you… unlike in a situation where there is something physical to ask a TO to judge on they are relying on it being your word against theirs, which will probably come down to a dice roll, which still gives them a 50% chance of getting away with it, all part of their evil plan to avoid the fact that they made some sort of mistake, usually one not even that bad. Gits.
  • Warning signs- very little warning signs of this, they’ll either get away with it, or not. They may hedge their bets a few times on minor things to see how you react though before going for a big cheat.
  • Prevention- you have to challenge them, even though you know that’s what they are looking for, don’t give them an inch, even a dice roll will force them to think twice next time.
  • Dastardly rating- 5 an aggressive and personal level of cheating, placing someone in a position of having to either confront or allow blatant cheating. This is nasty wargaming bullying at its worst.

Go long!!!

  • The deed- This is how real asshats play wargames- he has a model out of position, some terrain he wants  moving or even a token or two to ‘redistribute’ but he doesn’t want you to see, the solution- roll a dice so hard it flies off your end of the table, you bend over to pick it up and it’s a free table for him, I’ve even seen players just roll one that hard from a bunch, then casually change the other dice for successes whilst their opponent was scrabbling on the floor.
  • Warning signs- none, this is unexpected despicableness, although if you opponent keeps doing it you may be more suspicious.
  • Prevention- 2 rules help with this: rule one) “if you miss the table, you miss the shot”, all floored dice are discounted from play. (harsh and needs to be TO created, but tends to get the point across) or a slightly less harsh “fetch it later” rule- finish the current action/turn before getting the dice, this stops any foul play and if they lose the odd dice perhaps they’ll stop throwing them like they’re playing craps.
  • Dastardly rating- 5, this technique makes outright cheating available in many ways, making it another particularly nasty one that also takes advantage of people’s good nature.

Your penmanship is atrocious.

  • The deed- “I’m sure I wrote it down on the army list…  oh no, I brought the wrong list!” says your opponent, having been caught out using a piece of war gear or item of magical prowess that it now seems they did not, in fact, write on their army list. Poor penmanship may be excused in pick up games where we can’t all be expected to write excellent cursive script on a whim, just as the odd resource point over may be forgiven in casual play because we aren’t all the rain man, however, most tournaments and competitive events usually give players a fair bit of warning to sort these things out, and turning up with a list scribbled in illegible shorthand on the wrapper of this morning’s bacon and egg McMuffin (or worse- a nicely typed out and yet illegal list) just isn’t going to cut it. Nor is lying about your list during a game to get an advantage,
  • Warning signs- The war gear on his general just changed over the course of two turns, and he has very little wysiwyg on parade. Also he always has the answer to your plans.. after he checks the book.
  • Prevention- The TO of an organised event should ensure legible, legal army lists are provided (perhaps in advance) by every player. And legible means whole words please- it has been known for players to abbreviate items on their army lists to the point where they could be anything.
  • Dastardly rating- 5 pre-meditated cheating usually, that is hard to spot unless you read and memorise things at an unbelievable rate.


Upon my honour sir!

  • The deed- You know the sort of opponent we’re talking about here, sometimes  called TFG, or ‘That F***ing Guy’ he’s been pushing at the edges of the rules all game, and has probably tried a handful of tricks we’ve looked at so far if not more, some he got away with, others you didn’t even spot. This time you have caught him in something, probably something small, like a modifier, or the rules for a specific weapon, he’s arguing the point and you reach for the rulebook, and that’s when he really comes into his own. First, he’s going to be offended that you aren’t just taking his word for it, slapping on a guilt trip “Why would I lie mate? Don’t be like that”. Then he’ll switch to anger that you haven’t been swayed by his manga eyed sadness “Fine, I don’t bloody care, we’ll do it your way, let’s just get on with the game…” (He just wants to stop you looking in the book by this point). Then- utter shock, how could he have been wrong?  He’s sure that’s how it was played, he may even utter the immortal lines of “Must have been an earlier edition” “They must have changed it in Beta” or “Well that’s how my last opponent played it against me”. This barrage of psychological warfare will occur every time you challenge him on any rule, with an increasing reluctance to engage with you on any level outside these surly rapports and a palpable air of hostility for the rest of the game, because you’re the bad guy here after all...
  • Warning signs- This guy will do anything barring setting fire to the corners to stop you looking in that book, or calling a TO, or querying anything he does really. (which won’t stop him questioning every single action you take of course) it won’t take long for you to spot him, you can be sure of that.
  • Prevention- You’re going to have to face the fact that this game is going one of two ways- either you let him get away with it, lose and possibly have fun anyway, or you face the pain, call him out and play as fast as you can to end it quickly under his dagger-eyed stare.
  • Dastardly rating- 5- bullying an opponent into letting you cheat is like cheating squared, or maybe even cubed, either way, this guy is the scourge of the tournament scene for all the wrong reasons, if you can’t avoid playing him, we can all at least try to avoid being him.. (have a look at http://www.houseofpaincakes.com/2010/10/that-fucking-guy-by-gmort.html for another take on this shady character.)

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