Tavern Talk: Etiquette
Time to see what’s happening down at the tavern.
Etiquette is not something you might think about with our hobby that much, but it does still exist. It is the basic manners of gaming, what you expect from your opponent and what they expect from you. Would you game with someone who turns up with no list or codex/army book but claims the know it all off by heart? It also applies to the handling of miniatures, as well as the interaction between gamers and spectators.
Just what do you see as gaming etiquette?
As I see it, there is basically three types of game etiquette. They can loosely be classified as friend etiquette, stranger etiquette and tournament etiquette.
Friend etiquette is easy to define. It is the behaviour that is accepted by your circle of friends, and usually consists of a fairly relaxed attitude towards each other and the game. In the case of my group of friends, there is no problem handling each others miniatures, slanderous trash talk, fudging of rules, and generally treating the game in a light-hearted manner. To speed up the game we usually come with an army list prepared, but sometimes one is quickly written up on the day. Where someone is trying out a troop choice they don’t currently own, substitute models can be used. The etiquette we have adopted facilitates a fun and entertaining game, with the aim of allowing us to experiment as freely as possible.
Stranger etiquette isn’t the opposite of friend etiquette. Rather it is a slightly more subdued version of behaviours and rules. This is usually what you adopt when playing against a new opponent, like a friend’s friend, someone in a local store or gaming club. Stranger etiquette is different for all people, but usually it consists of behaviour that will result in a good game, and the possibility of more in future. For myself, this entails having an army list prepared. If the game is spur of the moment, then putting together a nicely balanced list quickly is preferable. Spending hours on a list, or building something hard-as-nails, isn’t the goal. I also find it best to check the sledging as much as possible, and aiming for quick solutions to rules queries. Basically, the old adage ‘a quick games a good game’ is the central theme to my stranger etiquette. Of note, it is polite to ask permission before handling someone elses miniature. Usually they are more than happy for you to have a look, and discuss it. But asking first is always a good idea (you never know when a models arm is blu-tacked on!).
Tournament etiquette is, as you have probably guessed, your behaviour and rules for tournament play. These are interesting situations, as you are in an environment that is simultaneously requiring friendly yet competitive play. Generally tournament etiquette seems unanimous, though whether everyone can abide by it is a different matter. Always have an army list written out as clearly as possible. Bring all your necessary tools, dice, rules, templates. Keep your gear and miniatures together as much as possible, and have a way to quickly transport your army from one table to another. Working through rules disputes ourselves is encouraged, but don’t be afraid to call over a judge and have a ruling made. And if it is made against your position, suck it up and move on. In a tournament everyone understand that, to some degree, you don’t have to become best friends. You just have to play the best game you can to the rules without being a jerk. Oh, and hands off the miniatures. Unless you are given express permission to handle them.
So that is etiquette as I see it. The nature of how we play the game, and who we play it against, determines the types of behaviours we are willing to accept. Obviously there are some places these categories mix, like playing against a friend at a tournament. I suppose the main aim in any scenario is to facilitate the best game possible. Whether that means quietly accepting a wrong ruling, or questioning the lineage of someones heritage with a collection of expletives, so be it.