Advice for New Tournament Players
New to the 40k tournament scene? Here's some of the basics
First, an apology. Life has gotten quite busy and it's been over a week since my last post. I will try to get one article out a week, but the time of 2-3 a week is definitely over for the foreseeable future. Luckily, tournaments are picking up again and I can do tournament reports in addition to my normal articles. My first one will be this weekend and I've gone back to my old staple of White Scars and Ravenwing. Anyways, if you're looking to get into competitive 40k for the new year, or on the fence and not sure what to expect, here's an introduction.
Player attitudes are no worse, usually better
This is a common misconception in my area, and I've addressed it a few times here in the blog, but I want it to be clear for new people entering the competitive 40k scene. Most of the worst "competitive" players are just really bad players. They'll be jerks in both tournament and casual games. Otherwise, tournament players tend to be a good group. I've made as many friends from tournaments as I have at my local club, and many of them are more than happy to talk to a new player. If you're looking to improve, ask the guys you play against what they thought of how you played, mistakes you made, and where you can improve. You'll be very surprised with how many of them have good advice to offer.
You don't need a "top-tier" list
Here's another common misconception, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's perpetuated by the same jerks mentioned above. You don't need to show up with the list that won LVO last year to do well. I've said before that what makes a lot of those lists top-tier is their lack of both good and bad match ups. They are almost completely player-skill dependent, and as a new player you don't want that. Bring a list that has clear win conditions and has units you're comfortable with. You will almost definitely have to make some concessions and drop units/equipment you like to make the list better, but you don't need to drop everything and grab whatever the most meta list is at the moment for a chance of performing well.
Understand the missions and format
I'm consistently amazed by the number of people who show up to tournaments with no idea how the missions work. It's impossible to make a good list for a format without understanding the format, and it's pretty difficult to win a mission when you don't know what the goals are. Before you make your list, sit down and read the missions and format, and check if there's any FAQ parts relevant to you. You don't need to memorize the entire ITC FAQ, but you don't want to be caught with your pants down when you find out electrodisplacement stops you from charging, or some similar problem.
It feels pretty cliche to mention this, but I think some people forget our hobby is for fun. Whether you're going there to try to win the whole thing, or hoping to make some new friends, competitive play doesn't necessarily preclude having fun, and you will have a much better time if you keep a positive attitude and don't take it too seriously.