A Guide to Playing 40K Faster
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* Leave the rule checking for when it's your opponent's turn or after the game unless it's critical and/or game altering. You should know the game rules and your codex well enough to not have to stop every turn and every phase to reference something. If your question isn't going to alter the outcome of the game then just go with what you think it is and look it up later. When in doubt it's best to err on the side of your opponent and not in your favor. If you both disagree on it then roll it off.
If you're new to 40k and learning the rules then spend the most time learning things that directly pertain to your army. If you're using Tau then make a point to get down the shooting rules and procedures while spending less time on assault rules (generalizing here). Tau also don't have walkers, bikes and artillery (to name a few), so don't worry about memorizing that stuff at first. You will want to know it eventually but first get down the items you are using then move on to the things you'll be facing.
* Memorize the 'To Hit', 'To Wound' and 'Vehicle Damage' charts.
- In shooting to hit is always: 7 - ballistic skill, IE: 7 - BS4 = 3 to hit
- Wounding works as follows whether it's shooting or assault. If the strength is equal to toughness then it's always a 4 to wound. From there you scale up or down. If the strength is 1 higher than toughness then you need a 3 to wound, 2 higher would mean you need a 2 and a 1 always fails to wound regardless. So, with higher strength it's naturally easier to wound so you scale in your favor using 4 as the base value.
The other way, if your strength is 1 lower than the toughness then you need 5 to wound, 2 or 3 lower means you need a 6 to wound. You can never wound anything that has a toughness more than 3 higher than your strength. So, a S4 attack can't wound T8. Likewise, a S5 attack can't wound T9. So, lower strength makes it harder to wound, again we use 4 as a base value.
If this makes it easier to remember, think of it like this:
Strength and toughness are equal: 4 needed
Strength is higher than toughness: 4 - (strength - toughness) = to wound, IE: 4 - (S5 - T3) = 2
Toughness is higher than strength: 4 + (toughness - strength) = to wound, IE: 4 + (T6 - S5) = 5
- To hit in assault seems trickier at first but it really isn't. Any weapon skill less than your own means you need a 3 to hit and you can never do better than a 3 to hit. Any weapon skill equal to yours and up to a maximum of twice your weapon skill means you need a 4 to hit. Any weapon skill more than double yours means you need a 5 and you can never do worse than a 5.
- Vehicle damage chart is easy to memorize, there are only 6 results. Once you have the results memorized then work on remembering the modifiers, IE: glancing, open topped, etc.
* I find when it comes to remembering your army's unit stats that it's easier to find a common denominator. Orks for example, an Ork Boy stats are a good baseline to remembering other unit stats. Once you know a Boyz stats it's easy to remember a Nob is +1 strength, +1 attack and +1 wound more than a Boy. Also, Boy stats are used for other units like Tankbustas, Stormboyz, Kommandos, anything that's a 'normal' Ork. The same hold true of other armies like Space Marines. Also, take the time to learn the army you're facing; use this same method to make it easier.
Weapons can be a bit trickier depending on your army but it's still well worth the time to memorize them.
* You should be formulating your strategy as the game unfolds. As your opponent is making his moves you should be considering your response. As you're losing models from shooting and assault you should be considering your upcoming turn. Naturally the outcome of your opponent's turn impacts yours but if you're working it out as his/her turn progresses then you have less to consider once you're up. Do not wait until it's your movement before you start figuring out what you want to do. If you're pondering during your turn and spending time debating with yourself what to do with each and every unit then the game will drag on and on and make it far less fun for both of you.
* Measuring unit movement can take forever if you have an infantry heavy army, at least if you're measuring each single model in that unit. It's far faster to measure one model and then move the rest if you're keeping the same formation. I'll measure again for models that may need to circle around something or shift position, but for everything else that's staying in formation there's no need to keep measuring. You may not be 100% accurate but you'll be close enough as long as you measured accurately for the first model you moved.
* Roll all your dice for a unit at once. If you have a unit with different weapons, stats, saves, etc. then color code your dice. Try and keep your color coding consistent to make it easier, IE: always roll blue dice for plasma weapons or red for power weapons.
If you have saves like Feel No Pain that can be made then make those saves as you fail your normal saves. It's far easier to just roll those dice as you fail them then to track them and do it later.
You can overdue color coding though. If you have a complex unit, lots of uniquely equipped models, then I find it's easier to forgo color coding and just roll each model one at a time. Trying to remember what each of your 6 different colored dice mean tends to be confusing to you and your opponent. If you have a system for it and it works for you then by all means use it, just make it clear to your opponent.
* If you can, setup the dice you need to roll ahead of time. If your opponent just won assault and is making his consolidation move(s) then go ahead and get your shooting dice setup for your turn. Or if your opponent and collecting his dice to make his assault attacks and you have another assault to deal with after then get your dice ready for it. I'm making the assumption that you can trust the person you're facing and they aren't going to sneak dice into their roll.
Don't be readying your dice though once the rolls start, stay focused on what's going on. Distraction adds time to the game and also can cost you in terms of the game.
* When dealing with templates and how many are hit you should always either call all the hits under your own templates, or if you're inclined let your opponent call all the hits under your templates. Don't both sit there and look at it because without fail you'll both view it differently and it can lead to arguing over 1-2 hits. For the sake of speed and arguement agree on one method and stick to it. (Suggested by: enderwiggin)
If you make a point to do these things then you'll be very surprised how much faster your games go, seriously. All those little things that only took an extra minute add up a lot more than you realize. I can play at the local shop against someone who utilizes the above mentioned stuff and we can play a 2,000 game in 2 hours. I've played 1,500 games in an hour. We're not playing speed 40k either, we just know the rules, our own rules, usually enough of the army we're facing and make a point to use the procedures mentioned. On the other side, when I play someone who is constantly checking game rules, his rules, measuring every model, using bad dice rolling procedures, then I've seen a 2,000 game take upwards of 4-6 hours and at that point the game loses a lot of fun.
Remember, the more efficient you can make your games the more you can play. Not only more games in a day, if you're fortunate enough to be able to do so, but if a game takes less time out of your day then you can more easily find the time to play them; you don't have to set aside a 6 hour slot to play.
Lastly, if anyone has anything they do that speeds up gameplay then fire away. I'll gladly update this to add in things I didnt' think of.