I know you know that I know you think you know, but did you know…
What a confusing sentence. Perhaps there is no clip more suited to this post than what can come out of the mouths of Captain Amazing and Casanova Frankenstein.
My group is an isolated bunch. We only play with each other and hardly any of us get out to a store with the exception of Apollo, even then it’s only because he can get to one without driving an hour one way. Now, I have to say, I really like it this way a lot better. I find my group does not have some of the preconceptions of the game that other groups have. Some of that is because they are new to the game, and have only been playing for about a year, but some of it is because they have never really played in a store environment.
My own personal experience with playing 40K in a store has always been bad. Maybe I’m jaded by past experiences I have had, but I never liked playing in the store apart from using all of the nice terrain. I always had the bad experience (and who hasn’t) of playing just that annoying person, or the person who is a jerk because you will only ever see them once. With my group, we are all already friends before we even talk about the game. For me, it makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
What this does bring up though is that in any isolated group, even if it is a group of people that you would be playing with on a regular basis at a store, eventually you get to know the person well. Well, let me just say this; there is no greater test of character outside a real world emergency than Warhammer 40,000. I am fortunate enough to know some people whom I really enjoy being around, and even that much more fortunate that they play Warhammer.
Learning how a person handles the ebb and flow of a game, as well as the victory and defeat is something that will reveal much of that person. Perhaps the most critical examples of this is merely looking up the rules and being able to admit that you are wrong about something. Perhaps it is the ability to encourage others to enjoy the game even at your own expense.
For me, this does not mean giving out “free” advice, or being lenient on measurements or any conceit in the rules. In fact, my group is just the opposite when it comes time to play things out. One could say we are despicably evil when it comes down to conceding partial inches on a tape measure. 24 inches is 24 inches, not 24 and 1/16th inches. However, everyone knows this standard for both measuring and the rules, and thus accordingly acts upon it.
What it does mean however is that the rules remain static, and you play by them for a fair game.
Playing against these people over and over gives you a view into how they play the game, and what you come to expect out of them as you learn to play with them. (Notice how I did not say against in this manner). You are working with your opponent to create an enjoyable experience. How you create that is up to you. For indeed, if you were in fact working against them, you would be trying to stop them from having a good time (much to my dismay, what I have found in my experience happens in a public setting).
The question becomes, how do you keep things fresh with your opponent that has become so accustom to playing with you, so that you are no longer “predictable”? People learn the routine and eventually they have a pretty good idea and understanding on what you are going to do in a game, even if you have never said a word to them about how you play.
Picking a new army to play is a good start for you and your opponent. It will give you a chance to try something new, and move away from the monotony that one army (can) provide. Using a second army is all part of the fun that goes along with playing the game, and it usually allows you to change things up, maybe to the fact that your opponent will be caught flat footed for some tricks you have not used in a while. Can you change up your existing army? Sure. Try new options that complement each other to modify your style, and work out new ways to try things. It is all part of the fun.
Take this video against Apollo’s Tau (sorry Apollo). He knows what I’m going to do to him, so I mix it up, using some different deployment and movement tactics to throw him off and get him to respond to a perceived threat, get him to commit to a side of the table, and gobble up the objective in the end when it opens up. I know he knows what I’m going to do to him, but does he know that I know that he knows? Only time will tell.