Eight Tips for Tournament Play
1. Play Competitively
It is essential that you play games against competitive opponents in a competitive environment. Every game should be played at the point level of a tournament army and under the two-hour time limit typical of tournaments.
2. Know the Rules Inside and Out
How far can a transport move and the passengers still shoot? How do blast weapons target ruins? Simply put, you must know the rules to avoid making mistakes but also to prevent your opponent from making mistakes too. From wound allocation to claiming cover saves there are many rules mistakes, perhaps inadvertent perhaps not, that could make the difference between a win and a loss.
3. Read Codices
Sure you are familiar with the codex of your army, but what about the rest? Whatever army you are playing you must know the following codices: Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Orks, and Eldar. Obviously you should read any other codex you get your hands on too!
4. Experiment with Lists and Spend Money
Tournament play is expensive because it requires a substantial army investment. Most of the so-called top tier codices possess at least two or three competitive builds. Finding out which one works for you takes time and money.
5. The Internet is good, the Metagame is Better
Tactical advice and army lists are easy enough to find on the internet. What matters more, however, is the metagame. What is the metagame? This refers to the trends in army building. Metagame exists at the local, national, and even international level. Tournament players tend to converge around specific builds or problems. The problem itself and the solution to the problem is the metagame. In 2008 there were three official GW Grand Tournaments in the United States. All three were won by Ork Nob Biker lists. In 2009 the ‘problem’ of Nob Bikers has been largely solved and they are more or less absent from the top tables in tournaments. Developing lists that go against the current metagame can be risky but also competitive. The evolution of the metagame is a continuous process that you will have to follow.
6. Read the Rules Pack; Play Test the Missions
Tournaments present special rules and missions. At the risk of bringing an illegal army or losing every game you should understand them both! The best way to do this is to play test. You must identify which missions favour your army and which ones put it at a disadvantage. Be creative. Play these missions more than once and attempt radically different strategies.
7. Be Organized
This is mundane but important. Learn how to fast roll dice; be familiar with how the attacks of your complicated units are distributed. Use markers and other gaming aids to make your turns fast and smooth. Develop a storage system that allows for easy deployment and minimizes the risk of leaving a model behind. If you have a large army figure out a way to deploy it quickly.
8. Like Your Army; Read the Fluff
According to Georgy Zhukov, the great Soviet general of the Second World War, “It is a fact that under equal conditions, large-scale battles and whole wars are won by troops which have a strong will for victory, clear goals before them, high moral standards, and devotion to the banner under which they go into battle.” Ultimately the most compelling thing about Warhammer 40,000 is the universe in which it is set. To this end if you actually play an army you like, and are familiar with the fluff, you will enjoy playing your army more and you will actually be more competitive with it.