Timed games top 5 tips

Timed games can be a little intimidating when you first play them, but once you’ve got the hang of them they’re absolutely no sweat. Here are five of my top tips for playing in a timed game.

1.Practice with a “soft clock”

Timing out at an event can be harsh. The rulebook says auto-lose on timeout, we’ve recommended changing that to a “dice down and -1 tournament point” penalty in the 2017 Clash of Kings book.

Regardless, it can be a bit scary going into the game knowing that you could either lose or just be hit with a penalty for being slightly too slow. 

Try a few friendly games with a clock running. Not playing strict timeout rules, but just see how long you actually take. Make sure you time yourself with a game that you’re winning (or close to winning) since those take you a lot longer than losing the game. From there you can see if you need to speed up a little or if your general play speed is enough.

2.You have longer than you think

The first turn is fairly quick. You make some opening moves but you’re largely not reacting to the enemy too much and you have little in the way of dice rolls to make. I’d be surprised if setup and the first turn in a 2000 point game takes you more than 5-10 minutes out of a 50 minute game. 

The second turn is, in my experience, the longest in the game. Your opponent has also moved and you now have to start taking their moves into consideration. This means a lot more measuring, a lot more decision making, a lot more trying to predict your opponents game plan. You’ll likely also see the first set of major combats since the two battle lines will begin exchanging chaff and heavy hitters. 

It’s not unusual to look at the clock at the end of your second turn and… oh my god you’ve already used over 20 minutes of your 50 minute limit! Argh! Panic!

Except don’t panic. I’ve been guilty of it in the past too but don’t!

The second turn is the longest, by far. After the second turn, generally you not only have fewer units left on the field but fewer options too. Sure, your flanking units might have some decisions to make, but a lot of your units will be committed to ongoing fights. They’ll either have little option but to charge the unit in front of them, or will have limited targets to pick from. There won’t be the same amount of grandoise movement that you see in the second turn that requires so much measuring and decision making.

Even when I’ve used 25 minutes out of the 50 minutes by the end of the 2nd turn, I will still end the game with a good 5-10 minutes spare at the end.

3.Count your dice

This is a common one but it bears repeating.

Have a fixed number of dice in front of you. With my Abyssals army I was often either rolling 20 dice or a number very close to that, so I just had 20 dice out on the table. If I had a 20 dice attack then I just scooped up all of the dice. If I had an 18 dice attack, I scooped up all of my dice and took 2 out of the pile. For a 25 attack unit, I rolled 20 dice then re-rolled 5 of the misses.

Some people, including myself in the past, will have a few different colours of dice on the table, e.g. 20 white dice and 10 black dice. You can do this, but I’ve found that just having one common set of dice works just as well.

Always make sure that your maths is right though! I remember one game with my 20 dice on the table and I charged my Archfiend (9 attacks) into the rear of an enemy for a total of 27 attacks. In my genius state of mind, I picked up all 20 dice and took 3 away, rolling 17 dice instead of 27. Genius. Absolute bloody genius.

4.Pick out your misses/failures

This isn’t so much a tactic as a general sportsmanship/clarity point. 

I’ll often see players in the habit of rolling to hit, then scooping up all of the dice that have hit. Roll to damage, and scoop up all of the dice that damaged. When you’re playing against the clock and you’re under pressure, you’re likely to rush and start confusing your opponent. I’m not accusing you or anyone of deliberately cheating and picking up dice that missed, but when you’re scooping up those dice quicker than I can see them then you could easily be pulling a fast one on me.

Do it the other way around.

Roll to hit, and pick out all of the misses leaving just the hits on the table. Pause for a second to look at them. This doesn’t take any time at all, but even when you’re trying to get through your dice rolls quickly, your opponent can clearly see your successful hits/damages. That extra pause is so your opponent can also glance and see if there are any misses still remaining on the table. More than a few times I’ve had my opponent point out some extra misses that I didn’t see and would have scooped up as hits.

It’s clearer, it’s just as quick even when under pressure. Roll to hit, take the misses out of the pile, then pick up the remaining dice and roll to damage.

5.A point of order

A very common thing I see being done is someone charging me in the flank with a high attack unit (well, not that common unless I let them 😉 ). Large infantry horde with 18 attacks hits me in the flank. Great, you have 36 attacks and 20 dice. How do you roll that?

In my experience, a good 50% of players will do something like this:

  1. Roll 20 dice to hit.
  2. Count how many hits, say 12.
  3. Count out 16 more dice.
  4. Roll another 16 dice to hit. 
  5. Count how many hits, say 14.
  6. Add 12 + 14 (maybe a bit of confusion remembering how many hits were in the first round).
  7. Roll 20 dice to damage. Count out how much damage is dealt.
  8. Count 6 more dice
  9. Roll 6 more dice to damage. Count out how much damage is dealt.

This gets particularly time consuming when you have other re-rolls on top or you have really strange numbers of dice in front of you. 

Instead, this is how I do it:

  1. Count out 18 dice, put the rest on the far end of the table.
  2. Roll 18 attacks to hit. Keep the misses nearby.
  3. Roll to damage with any hits. Apply damage.
  4. Roll 18 attacks to hit.
  5. Roll to damage with any hits. Apply damage.

No more counting out how many dice you need in the second round. No more confusion over how many hits you had in the first round of rolls. Hell, no more counting how many hits you had. Just roll the dice, move the misses to the side and then pick up the hits and roll for damage.

When you are charging the flank or rear, roll each single set of attacks separately rather than trying to add them all together, unless they easily fit into the dice you have on the table. E.g. charging a 10 attack unit into a flank and you have 20 dice. Roll that as a single set of rolls. Charging a 16 attack unit into the rear? Nah. Just roll 3 lots of 16 attacks separately.

5 Comments

  1. These are great! I really like to take my time on those early turns, so I really prefer to use a clock because I’m only wasting my own time by measuring everything out and considering all of the possibilities. I have no problems moving fast on turns 4-6, but I just like to go slow in the first 3 turns. I’ve finished more than one tournament game with 2 minutes or less on my clock. Counting out the dice and measuring things on my opponent’s turn really help (also helps if I WANT him to see the things I’m measuring)

  2. Great article Nick!
    I just wanted to ask you why the time went from 1 hour per player to 50 minutes per player (including deployment). I suspect this came down to overall time restrictions in the venue? If you consider that you can have an additional turn at the end (turn 7), 50 mins is clearly not enough.

    • Is that from 2015 to 2016? The game size went down from 2500 to 2000 and I believe it went from 55 to 50 🙂

  3. Those concepts are very important in games against clock, but also are important in casual games… you have not the clock menacing your game, but your battle runs smoothly and faster, more time for photos and comments.

  4. And for the LOVE OF GOD please use dice that your opponent (and you) can actually READ. White pips on clear dice or yellow pips on orange dice are just EVIL. Takes you longer to read them and your opponent can’t validate your rolls.

    As a dwarf player, I find a “measuring stick” handy. That is, a stick 12″ long with marks at 4″, 5″, 8″, and 10″. I use the 12″ end while deploying each unit. When measuring your potential moves, you can eyeball using the stick to get a feel of whether you’re in range of something or not. Once you decide to actually move, it’s good form to use an actual measuring device; unless you agree before the game. But I find the stick quicker and less obtrusive than a floppy tape measure.

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