Today I wanted to spend a bit of time talking through some quick tips on how to be a better opponent. Sportspersonship is an important topic in this competitive game. We want to make sure everyone has a fun time, win or lose. Here are some tips that I’ve found work really well to help craft a good experience for your opponent.
Communicate Clearly and Narrate Your Game
A big part of ensuring that you both have a good game is ensuring that your enemy has a clear knowledge of the game state. I’ve always found that it’s important to narrate your actions and declare them confidently. Think about this situation. If I move a model, slap a charge token down and immediately roll dice, do you know what attack I’m making? Do you know which fighter I’m targeting? But if I said “I charge with Slakeslash, three dice, looking for fury and single support, for two damage, attacking Huachi”, you would know exactly what is going on. Narrating your actions by giving the crucial details is a really quick change you can make to your play.
I think talking through your actions also gives you a good bonus. You can easily sanity check your actions. When you say “It’s two fury, against two dodge on guard with single support”, you might stop yourself because you realize that the attack is very odds off. Personally, I tend to remember the game better when I’m talking through each action too. “For my third activation, I will move Cragan onto objective 5”.
Being very clear about cards is really important. Whether it be in person or online, you want to ensure your opponent knows what you are playing. Announce clearly which upgrades you are applying. The state of your fighters is always far away from the opponent, so it’s important that they know that you just put Great Fortitude on a fighter as it might change the target of their charge.
It’s also crucial to announce which cards you discard in an end phase or upon mulligan because it’s really important to know what is no longer in play. If your opponent ditches Bold Deeds you know it isn’t as important to deny them access to your territory. Maybe your Distraction is better used a different way now? I always run through every card I discard when I play.
Give Your Opponent Basic Reminders
A competitive game like Underworlds is at its best when you have a game that comes down to skill and play, rather than mis-steps. I think that there are times that you should be reminding your opponent about game state. As per my point above about declaring upgrades, I think it’s really important to be clear about your fighter stats. If your opponent is asking about how many wounds a fighter has left, I think it’s proper ettiquette to also disclose any upgrades you have that may affect the attack math. “How many wounds does Duvalle have?” “He’s got two remaining, and also has Von Marusi Armour, so reduces damage by one.” It always feels the worst when you make an attack without a clear view of your opponent’s upgrades, think you’ve got the kill and then get told that you didn’t have the correct facts.
Other basic reminders include non-optional parts of the game, like when your opponent should have inspired a fighter or their warband. I think it’s important that when the Gitz get to three glory that they inspire. Your next attack should be against double dodge, not single dodge. Don’t use an honest mistake or a rushed activation to take advantage of the other player. Be a good opponent and let them know about obvious misses. Remind them to take their glory for Primacy.
Don’t Blame the Dice
As much as Underworlds is a game that involves a good deal of chance, it’s important to understand that the luck will swing game to game. It’s not appropriate to blame your entire loss on the dice of the game, especially during the game. You may have missed a lot of odds on attacks, you may have rolling nothing but double supports on defence and you may have had your opponent crit out of your most important attack, but it’s inappropriate to diminish your opponent’s victory by insinuating that it was all because of their dice. Along the way, they also would’ve made a number of correct decisions and played their deck well. After the game, feel free to complain to your friends (after all, it can be frustrating), but during the match, be a good sport and keep your frustrations in.
Speed Up When You’re Clearly Winning
There’s been some chatter lately about getting through a best of three in proper time (check out the latest episode of CritCast here on slow play). One of the tips that I’ve got here is that if you’re leading by a large amount or you’ve tabled your opponent, pick up your pace. The game is no longer in reach or no longer playable for the other player, so make your moves as quick and efficient as possible. It’s really demoralizing sitting on the other side of the table, with no fighters remaining, and have your opponent take minutes deciding each move. If the rest of the activations are just a formality, speed through them, score your remaining glory so that you can get to the next game as quick as you can.
I think that being a good opponent is all about communication, being considerate and treating them the same way you’d want to be treated. I’ve met some great friends through this game, through some of the most competitive games I’ve played. Being a courteous player is a strong part of building great communities and friendships and I implore everyone to think about this each time they sit down with their models, tokens, cards and dice.
Thanks for reading. And thanks for being a wonderful opponent. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Underworlds Discord channels as Matt ~ Set The Tempo. Take care and set your own tempo!