Takeback Tuesdays

In an effort to address his rage and misdemenours I have instructed Paul to record and publicize his thoughts to the warmachine community. They shall be known as the Chronicles of an Angry man. At times they shall be controversial, mildly offensive and somewhat confusing. Should you experience any of these emotions whilst reading the chronicles please remember that it is all part of his process and while its just made you mad; he wont have to hurt a puppy tonight.

Many condolences for your obsession with an evil, life consuming and frankly bizarre hobby, 

Dr Wisheart


Tuesday night at the York Flail Dungeon usually involves two boards, two infamous Demi-gods of warmachine (me and Brett obviously…) and two local clubs lads for us to experiment on. These games are normally timed and involve a full Wilkie tactical debrief/consultation for a small fee. It’s relaxed but competitive. Well fairly relaxed if you don’t mind the odd scream of pain and agony from the front room while our girlfriends watch “one born every minute”. If you guys in the states are lucky enough to have not witnessed this hideous gore fest- it’s basically like a saw torture scene but its all going off in the lady garden. Blood, forceps and a husband that is about as useful as warhammer 40k dice set that only has 25 dice and doesn’t come with a bucket.

Anyway a few Tuesdays back I’m playing young Jake from York. This guy has undergone months of intense training from Brett and I. A while back playing a game against Jake was more like observing a hyperactive mentalist move models around in a pattern and style that only made sense in his own crazed mind. Tokens could mean anything from how many monster energy drinks Jake had consumed to how much focus siege didn’t have. Thankfully these days he is an absolute pleasure to play and gives a solid game. In our game Jake had enemo and i was rocking psev. His stormwall was front and centre and my entire army was aiming ready to smash its face in. The usual formalities of a menoth list takes place- caster upkeeps Eye of Menoth, loads up the jacks, choir moves in position for +2 and reckoner hits with first shot. “Dice -3” I state with confidence as a roll the dice.
“No mate, Arm 21 due to Failsafe” Jake replies. He then pulls an upkeep token with Fail scrawled on it from the back of stormwalls base. “Oh, didn’t see that or hear you upkeep it Jake, otherwise I would of just shot with Eiryss” (she had not activated and was shoot 10″ from big lad). This statement took us both to a land I want to eradicate from this game “the takeback zone”. In the takeback zone everything changes. You speak nicely in a pleading sort of way. You try to make reference to an earlier takeback you let them make or the fact you cooked their dinner just 10 minutes before. You tell them if you had known or seen the token it all would be different- it’s their fault not yours!! I hate this place. It’s awkward, often rude and puts a downer on the game. The takeback can become the bone of contention on both sides should it effect the end result. I have seen games where mid-way through a turn one of the players suddenly says “I said feat didn’t I?!!!” Knowing full well they didn’t. Both players look at the caster, see no token then go on a one way trip to the takeback zone.

The result of our game was that Jake (rightly so on reflection) held his ground and didn’t offer a takeback. At the time I was frustrated and grumbled about it being a “friendly” game not competitive one so should be allowed. However after smogcon during which I was subjected to some terrible takebacks my view has completely changed. The allowance of takebacks during “friendly” games is part of the problem. It gets you into the habit of sloppy play and stops you asking key questions. Jakes token should of been more visible, but it was on the table and should I have taken 2 seconds to clarify its armor at the start of my turn he would of pointed it out. In Jakes defense he didn’t do it on purpose and after this all tokens were extremely clear and in front of models.

The whole “we play for fun” argument also applies. Nothing beats a clean, takeback free game. Its fun to get on with your opponent and avoid entering the takeback zone together. At smogcon Brett and I played in the hardcore event and the game was immense. Everything was clear, tokens marked everything and we both played tight. We both know that takebacks were not on the cards and it took the game to a higher level. Yet the next day my opponent and I agreed a takeback which resulted in the game going to pot. It set the president for the rest of the game. We had more takebacks than ekaya (aka bestiality girl) has skinwalker  boyfriends- a lot. Imagine what she would do to teen wolf…sorry…where was I…

Oh yeah, takebacks. I have heard people say that takebacks make sure things happen as they should; ie. “I would of feated that turn, I just forgot because INSERT EXCUSE HERE”. Well when I’m playing a friendly 5 a side game of football and my shot at goal finds itself closer to a passing (and stunned) seagull I don’t cry out to the other 9 lads “Sorry boys that one was meant to go at the goal. Didn’t realise how far away it was. Just bring the ball back and il have another go”. That wouldn’t be fun for anyone; especially as we would be there until 5am the next day as I systematically spooned every shot.
The harsh truth of a takeback is that you messed up. You forgot something and made a mistake, deal with it and improve. Make your practice games tight. I guarantee that if you forget to feat and it loses you the game the chance you will remember next time will increased tenfold. Rely on takebacks in practice and you will only adopt it on the tournament circuit.

There is another side to takebacks that I have purposely ignored. Takebacks that are to undo a miscalculation in the game. This is something I feel we need to define differently to ensure they are not dealt with the same way. If you win a game by miscalculation or get your rules wrong then its not a takeback- its cheating. Whether you meant too or not you got it wrong. We hear and see this happening at major events. Finals games where on reflection both players go “oh man we worked that out wrong, you should of done 5 less damage to my caster. He should still be alive!!”. This is a different field entirely and the results of applying a “no takeback” stance here would have a detrimental effect. One possible solution would be to apply the following- should a player win a game which is later calculated and agreed by a judge to be incorrect, the player who made the mistake forfeits the game. I wonder if we adopted something like this how many people would absolutely ensure they know their rules when going for the throat. This can work both ways too; if your caster is getting attacked and you provide incorrect stats then you lose. As would the attacker miscalculating theirs. I accept this might be slightly controversial and people may be as we speak assembling effigies of skinny bee-gee type dolls to inflict curses upon me. But I do wonder, if you know your rules, play a good game and don’t cheat….what’s the problem?  😉

We need to unite against the takeback epidemic. State at the beginning of the game you will not be asking for takebacks and expect the same of your opponent. Play a clean, tight and concentrated game. If your opponent has a teddy fit sit back and watch the fireworks. They will soon realise they are the ones who need to change and improve not you.

Disclaimer – should any of the above cause mass trolling, complaint or major offence I take it all back.


Follow me @yorkwarmachine

Author: Epic_FM

Epic Flail are a UK Hordes and Warmachine Team. We attend every major UK event and release a regular podcast via Muse on Minis. The author of the Chronicles of an Angry Man is Paul North. His views are his own and do not represent the rest of Flail. Unless he is right and everyone agrees, in which case they are shared

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