Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Timewalking Archive Trap: 40k, Part 3 of 4

Like anyone whose desire to say something is matched only by their desire to waste time saying it on the internet, I've been blogging for a while. Timewalking Archive Trap presents select treasures from yesteryear for the enjoyment of my readers and the easing of my creative duties. 

This one is dated 15 October 2007: 

The Play
I was visibly concerned about Richard's armies. Concerned. Not, 'concerned that he was cheating' like I was about his handwritten army list (We are collectively convinced he exports 99% of Louisiana's willful ignorances, self-justifications, and outright cheats). I can lose a rigged fight and salve my wounds with a one-off barb that gets under his skin. It's the fact that I knew I should have expected a gathering of elite, special ability unique-type Imperial Guard characters. That's what was bothering me before. Massed tactics with untrained units are something Richard sees as inelegant, clumsy, and relying on luck. He'd rather take one guy with fifty special abilities than fifty guys with one each. I figured each one of his guys was going to possess some kind of butt-kicking thing that would--when activated in concert--turn my Space Marines into so many genetically-augmented, pre-packaged cans of soylent green.

You see, at this point I thought he was merely inattentive, overprepared.

I didn't realize he had never even seen a Warhammer 40,000 rulebook in person before, save his outdated Codex. He had never played. His ensemble of unique and terrifying elite troopers? The product of running through a list of soldiers and picking them based on how impressive their special abilities sounded. I'm not even sure that when he found a guy with the 'Bionic' enhancement he knew it required a roll of '6' on 2D6 or 1D6. 
"So cool. I'll take two. They can be twins, right?"

I had--and it was a slow realization--gone all-out against him; hitting his troops when they were down, arguing rules and rulings fully (which I let up on when I'm facing someone who's new to a game or who's badly outclassed), and calling him on rules errors. I even treated my jump troops like they were standard ground forces, until I jumped them over a wall three times their height using a ground movement twice anything else on the board, fired at his unsuspecting squads, jumped into close combat with them, brutally beat them into a pulpy red finish for my squad's power weapons, and finally using my follow-up move to jolt yet further towards his lines of panicked, immobile snipers (note: I did describe my force composition to him before the game started up, but he was anxious to get back to his FFT and I assumed that he knew the difference between Jump-Capable Assault Marines with Power Weapons and Drop-Pod Deployed Scouts with Master Crafted Power Weapons).

My actual understanding that he wasn't 'in form'--that is to say, incredibly munched out from top to bottom and ready with an unwritten list of rules to push/break to support his post-game gloat--was slow, at first manifesting as frustration that he couldn't be bothered to know the finer points of the rules ("Wait? Infiltrate? I think all of my guys can do do I do that?"), to sheer disbelief ("And my unarmored humans don't get a save for getting hit by artillery?" "Uh, no."), to realization, some shame, and a little bit of anger that Derek and Terry--
who should have known better--plunged our pathologically loss-adverse friend into a vicious, five hour marathon of strange, slow death at the hands of his archnemesis as an introduction to the game.

Granted, at that point, it was turn four, my go, and Richard had to leave, but not without letting Derek joke his way through his turn and riding my ass through my go, because suddenly he has work the next day. Whether he really had to work early the next day or not, he was a real jerk about it. Maybe that's fair--if it's one thing writing these blogs gives, it's perspective. In light of how much he can't deal with losing and how I was being a jerk myself.


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