The height of hills and coping with foreign norms

What do you mean you can see my dudes!!

A question of etiquette and how or when to deal with curve balls


Hello everybody!


So recently I have taken some time off of my otherwise overly demanding job and during that am on something of a personal hiatus.  I thought I would use this time for reflection and a bit of re-evaluation as to where I’m going on this journey called life and what better way to do that then to go back down to Adelaide and chillax with my old crew!

Just briefly I’ve been living in Brisbane for the last four years and before I came up here I was living and working down in Adelaide and had been for the twelve years prior to that.  So I have a lot of history and connections there that I was more than keen to catch up on not least of which is my old War machine stable amongst whom remain my best friends.

I had brought my RET down with me because nothing clears the head better than some focused fire and imagination as you bring down the opposing jacks in a crashing pile of magically infused quarrels!  Much to my surprise though, Terry Mason (Tilaurin) the local press ganger down here put on an impromptu tournament on my behalf (The Tobias Ford challenge) – well it ended up being a kind of a family affair with seven people coming down and I got to see some of the old guard that I otherwise might not have got to see as well as some of the newer players since I’d left.   //Cheap pop coming//  So thanks very much to Infinity for hosting us and putting up a pretty cool prize considering it was unscheduled and free to enter!

Now if you’ll excuse a little more background here, one of my best friends is a guy named Heath Eblen (Kojiro) and he very hospitably has allowed me to stay with him and his fiancée.  Well we have been besties for nigh on sixteen years and have spent many a night discussing / debating rules and minutiae as well as fluff and story over a number of games.  This evening though we were discussing something that had happened during the first round of my tournament.  As I was playing against my opponent it occurred to me that I ought to clarify what height the hills were for this event.

Now in Brisbane there is kind of this arbitrary situation that hills are considered to be two inches in height and thusly block los to small based models.  Well when I went to clarify this point my opponent pointed out that – no, I was in fact incorrect on this point and as hills are ‘rolling’ they do not in fact block los.  Not wanting to get into a debate and ruin the flavour of the day I said ok, no worries and explained that it wasn’t what I was used to but adapted and took it in stride.

The situation being set, what I want to talk about right now is how important it is, especially when travelling or going to a con that you are otherwise unfamiliar with to ensure that you know the ‘lay of the land’ so to speak.  The reason for this is that as was pointed out – every Meta, or play group has established norms and parameters that they play by.  Yes we all have the rules, and the same core guide lines to play by but there are some things which every locale is going to handle differently, whether (as in this case) it is the height of hills, or the inclusion of deep water, whether the buildings can be destroyed or not etc. etc.

I think that what is really important here is to determine all this out before the game kicks off, because once the dice start flying that is when we can let the pressure build up and get to us and if a terrain based curve ball hits us half way through a difficult turn or trumps whatever we were about to do then not only can it rattle you and put your entire mental game out of whack but it can really leave a sore taste in your mouth too if the ruling has gone against you.

Another instance of this is during mki (for the veterans amongst us) Cannoneers had a trait on their cannon called batter which allowed them to deal double damage to structures.  Now I can’t remember the specifics but I remember that there was something soft and squishy on the other side of a building that I needed to kill and mki Skorne being what they were at the time I couldn’t easily go around so I decided to try and bring the building down.  Well most people never attack a building and have never seen one attacked so when my opponent called the TO over to veto the move (which happened) I had to go with that and find another way to complete my task.

I imagine a similar kind of debate would occur when someone tries to fly over a lake only to find its ‘deep water’.  There are two ways to deal with this kind of road block one of which is during the game, and the other is pre-game.

So basically during the game if something unexpected like this comes up then there are infinite ways on any given day that a player might react – I would please like to stress though that it is super important to remain calm and keep your cool.  Griping will honestly achieve nothing and just lower your esteem in the collective eyes of the group – so don’t give in to the anger :p.  Just remember that the moment you lose your calm you are on the path to losing the game (and possibly some friends).

Even if you have to take a moment to leave the table for a second to collect yourself before stepping back in do it.  I was playing a game of Agricola (of all things) with another pair of friends today; and one of them can sometimes get excessively caught up in their own expectations, but I was incredibly impressed when half way through after a bunch of unforced errors he excused himself and took five to just collect himself.  It made the game environment so much more pleasant and that act dissipated all of the residual tension that would otherwise be mounting in response to it.

So I feel that it’s important to keep relaxed and even if you’re crying on the inside just go take five and come back refreshed.  Because in addition to you feeling ‘done over’ and raging over a negative ruling, a bad attitude really puts an imposition on your opponent as well and actually damages their overall experience even if not their game.

The second way of dealing with this kind of thing (and the one that I feel is very preferable) is to discuss it before the game and to do a quick once over of the terrain and that way you can quickly come to a consensus as to the value and parameters of all the terrain pieces.  I generally find that if I’m a guest I will concede to local ‘rule’ and when I am playing from home I will project our ‘rules’.  I think that this way of dealing with things is the polite and dignified response and growing up I was always taught that good manners will never let you down – so I try to live by that, and this is one way to apply that credo to war gaming.

That isn’t to say that after the game some of these things might not hold up under the weight of reflection and discussion, the time and place to make that call though is after the game rather than during it.

Having said that, that is basically the discussion I’ve just finished having and I’m not sure if I’ve ‘won’ but I do believe that going through the book I have concreted that hills whilst they may well be rolling (which is the counterpoint to a stepped ziggurat) they still irrespective of that do have a physical mass and as such a height and footprint on the gaming table.  Whilst saying hills are just ‘hills’ will get you so far at some point I feel you do need to set them an arbitrary value and anything under 1.75” may as well be flat – if however, the hill is over 1.75” then it begins to matter as at that point it’s going to block LOS to small based models.

A hill may not be a barrier to movement and it may not provide cover or anything else but it certainly has a height and I for one like to have that clarified before I assume that my SBM can’t be seen through it.


If anyone is mildly curious I ended up doing ok in that gathering winning two of my three games with Kaelyssa against Cassius in command and control (with a hilled centre point), and then in game three against PHaley and Stormwall, but losing in round two with Rahn to the PDShaper tier 4 rune shaper spam (Grats to Kris for taking out the day and all and sundry for coming too!!).


So in closing, Know your location!, and if in doubt clarify the facts before the point of no return.  If you get caught out take a deep breath and woo-sah or just take five, above all though enjoy the game and all that good stuff!


Cheers for reading



Author: Desertspiral

Brisbane, Australia

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