Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking part in my first ever tournament scene and experiencing chess clock timed game play mechanics. Now let me set the stage real quick before I jump into it all. I have been playing Warhammer 40k since I was a child, but this is the first year I have ever played regularly and by regularly I mean 1-2 times a week with my best friend for the past several months. Since then I have began to intently scour the internet and YouTube channels for more Warhammer 40k content I could absorb in and start learning, so I could start taking the game to a more serious level of play. Of course I stumbled onto Frontline Gaming’s and Forge The Narrative’s channels on YouTube. And from them I started to listen to as many podcasts as I possibly could. I say all this so readers understand that I knew about the slow play issues and the coming up of chess clocks before I entered into the tournament over the weekend.
First off I would like to start off by saying that the Battle for the Wooden Spoon - May event was a blast! The players were all great with their sportsmanship and just a real pleasure to play alongside with. The T.O. is Jason Horn and Jason did such a great job preparing and organizing this event and really helped me (a new player) feel welcomed and comfortable. The location for this event is at Paper Games in Bartlesville which has a really great set up for the event and such an awesome staff of employees. If you haven't yet please go visit Battle for the Wooden Spoon - June and go choose the “Going” option and come out and join us June 19th, you won't regret it!
Now enter my thoughts and takeaways from last weekend's event with chess clocks.
Do not fear the chess clocks!
They are very simple to use and the mechanics they play into the game are not clumsy or unintuitive to feed into the game play. As a new player the biggest concern I had (more than winning or losing even) was moving fast enough so I did not hinder my opponents game play during the event. I must say having the chess clock there really helped me overcome this and adapt very quickly to the tournament style of fast play. Being able to see how much time I used up allowed me to manage my turns more efficiently and gave real insight into what was taking me to much time and where I could spend a little extra time. Honestly the great part of chess clocks was that if I were to (and I never did) take to much time it in no way affected my opponents time, it would only hurt my time. This is because while im going through my turn his time is paused and mine is ticking away. Not allowing another player to play in a tournament because you are taking too long of turns really hurts your opponents gaming experience.
Pausing for point tally.
I don't think this was intended, however I am making note of this because this really helped me as a new player. This allowed me to really hustle through my turn and when my turn was over we paused the time for barely even 60sec to tally up the points. Doing that allowed me and my opponent to recollect ourselves take a breathe and then charge forward again. Honestly even with these 60sec pauses for point tallying we still managed to finish our games before other games around us. This really should be considered for a built in mechanic (preferably for new players). With that said, I do think that at the winners table the clock should not be stopped as this leads into my next point as well as to point out the winners table is generally experienced players who do not need to pause for point tallies.
I made brief note of this in my first point above. Having to quickly decide move left, right, backward, up a floor back in of line of sight or stand still and stay out of line of sight, really made for super intense critical role of game play mechanics by being pushed up against the time. One thing that makes for great entertainment in competitive sports are the buzzer beater shots that are made or missed. The game winning touchdown or field goal as the time ticks down. My last game I felt the pressure of the clock ticking down. I was being crushed by the inevitable weight of time and there was nothing I could do to slow it or stop it. My opponent rushed his warlord out into the open and I was up against time to roll fast enough to get points for slay the warlord. This was exhilarating! The rush and euphoria I experienced during this moment was so surreal and one of the most memorable moments for me during the event. And in all honestly the one I love telling my friends and family about when they asked me, “how did the tournament go?”. Not only was it exciting for me, but when I’m telling my friends or family about it you can really see the engagement sparked for them and they always follow up with more questions about that moment.
All in all do not be afraid of the chess clocks. They are actually a lot of fun to play with and really add in new dynamics to the mechanics of game play. There are some little wonkey areas, but if both players come to an agreement on the subject matter then still all is fair moving forward. I’m not here to address horde armies or what's fair or not fair for players or certain armies. I’m here to talk about the role the chess clocks filled and how I think they impacted the games that I personally played in. I for one really enjoyed them so far and look forward to using them again. I would encourage readers to pick one up and just try playing with them in your practice games with your buddies to get the feel for them. They will also be very specific to where your weaknesses are for time management during your phases.