Etiquette for WH40K

9 Simple Etiquette Rules for Better Warhammer 40K Games

A hectic few weeks with storms in the Atlantic have kept my busy as well as an increase in military duties. Have finally balanced my schedule and gotten a few games in the new edition of Warhammer 40K.

The Changes

I like the changes and the new speed of most armies, and the fluffy feeling of each unit. I play Eldar, so glad some units play like they appear in the fluff. Striking Scorpions stalking out of shadows to assault a weak spot. Howling Banshees tearing across the ground at blistering speed. Dark Reapers rained death from afar. Grav tanks advancing as they spit fire. I could go on, but this article isn’t about the changes to my army.

With the new edition I have noticed a small ripple that is spreading. In learning the new rules, the basics seem to be slipping further away. I do not mean the basics of the edition and its rules, but the basics unwritten/written of etiquette with gaming.  Players, including myself, are quick to want to play, and sometimes forget the small things that can lead to cheating.


Just some points of etiquette that all need to remember going into the new edition…

1)  Have a list and try to be on time

The addition of Open Gaming, aka Power Levels, has led to players showing up and picking x Power level from the cases and scribbling down the number. This is great, BUT what wargear option was selected for what model/unit?

This is easily open to abuse. It does not take but a few minutes to jot down what units are being played, and what options have been assigned to them.

Okeley Dokely

Now imagine the same situation in a Matched Play game, and the list is created as the opponent sits patiently (fuming) to roll some dice.  We gamers can be flaky and run late often, and I’m no exception. But, I try to not make it worse by not having a list ready.  Take the time the night before, or day(s) before, and write a list.

2)  Walk your opponent through your army

Before the game starts, or when asked, walk your opponent through your army. This is even more important if you are using counts-as or proxies. Many armies have similar units that look the same, but have different rules and or abilities.  I play Eldar, and all my units are their Aspect colour, and as such opponent rarely have to ask what x-unit is.

With 8th edition and new abilities, I do try my best to explain, including stats, when asked and something even before. Ensuring to inform of any special rules or abilities, and pointing out which model/unit has them.  If asked mid-game, I gladly repeat.

This can help stop, what I have coined “teleportation model syndrome” in which a model becomes another similar model to effect a favourable outcome.

3)  Declare your intent moving a model/unit and before rolling any dice

Most games are small contracts between two players to be have a mock battle.  Before your hand touches a model your opponent should have an idea what you are doing. Especially with movement condition, and restrictions in the new addition.

Select a unit and declare why you are touching them or measuring a distance.  This avoids confusion in what unit did what this turn. It can be frustrating if you don’t know what a unit is doing because there is always that nagging doubt that they (the opponent) missed something, or got something wrong, or a unit might have activated twice.

Before your dice hit the table, your opponent should always know why you are rolling them. This starts before the game from the time you roll for mission, to the deployment, and deciding who goes first.  During the game, always declare what unit you are rolling for and why.  Which leads to…..

4)  Call out the number needed to hit, wound, and save modifier

This can be seen as optional, but its nice to know what dice results are needed before rolling.  Both players knowing the desired results helps keeps the game honest, and I have often been caught out by my opponent if I’m wrong.  I always appreciate this; it’s much more important to me that I get the roll right.

5)  Roll the %^#@ing dice

Pick up the dice, mix up in your hand – holding your fist closed, and roll the dice! Don’t just drop the dice. Don’t fling the dice across the table knocking over models and terrain.  It is not hard to ensure dice drop 3″ or more to a surface.  Dice Tower, dice cups, and dice trays can be used or made to assist with this.

6)  Pick out all misses OR hits

After rolling a handful of dice, pick out the misses or the hits. This helps confirm the correct dice have been rolled and ensures both players can see the results. Do one or the other and be consistent. Don’t pull hits for one units and misses for the next. It causes player confusion and raises questions on validity of results.

7)  Be engaged when it’s not your turn

Try to avoid the temptation to check your phone or flip through a rule book while you opponent is moving his army, and especially when they are rolling dice. It’s really annoying to call out a dice roll, roll the dice, then announce the results only to look up and see that your opponent is not paying attention. Stay engaged in the game, it shows respect for your opponent.

8)  Keep your cool and play out the game

The game IS frustrating at its best moments. Dice betrayal, opponent’s hot dice, and bad tactics can ruin any game. It happens. It’s a game – it uses dice, dice are evil.

If you do find yourself getting frustrated, take 10,  step back, take a deep breath, look over the board and assess your options with a fresh perspective, and keep playing.

Even unwinnable games can be winnable.

Example: Was playing a friends army as he had to leave for an appointment. By turn 3 (after the dice betrayed me) his Dark Eldar were decimated, and the Black Templar player held most of the objectives. I felt like quitting, but played on the next few turns and squeaked by as we both forgot about an objective, and I was able to claim it.

You may be tempted to quit early in the game, but consider your opponent’s perspective: the game is going great for them. No one likes a quitter. It may seem hopeless, but always try to salvage what you can and make your opponent earn their win. You might even pull out a tie or a win if you remember your mission objectives!

At some point you can reasonably concede the game, but make sure the game is truly finished before doing this. Even then, sometimes I keep playing and joking around just so my opponent can have some fun. But…

9)  Know when to quit and look in the mirror

This one might seem contrary to the above, but if your opponent disconnects from the game, and is no longer engaged, something IS wrong. Stop and reflect if your actions might be hampering their game and ask what is wrong. Take their comments or complaints in stride. Its game of two players, and if one is not enjoying themselves then it’s a hollow feeling.

This is one that is the hardest to acknowledge and easiest to ignore. A game is a social contract between two (or more) people. Everyone needs to be enjoying themselves or it doesn’t make sense playing.

If you find yourself frustrated then it does both parties justice to “concede”. Just ensure you state why, and give voice to any incidents that have frustrated you.  Helping pack up, and discussing concerns, can work as a great cool down and idea exchange. Stop and realize how a common mistake or misinterpretation might have ruined the game for you.

In Closing

I did not expect this article to be this long. So, apologies for the walls of text. These are just my ideas and concerns with what I have seen, experience, and been guilty of myself.

But, these small reminders can help deflect the malaise and boredom with gaming that can quickly creep in and sap the fun out of the game.

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Good to see you back, and with a great article as well.

I agree with all your points. I did want to say though that in regards to picking up hits or misses, you should always pick up the misses. That way if you make a mistake then the mistake is not in your favor. If you pick up hits then it’s easy to accidentally pick up a miss as a hit, which of course hurts your opponent.


I wanted to echo what Thor says on always pick up misses.

If fishing for 6’s I will try and pick and move hits to one side, Or have my opponent grab hits as they tend to be the smaller pile. (1/6 the dice). Or spend the time to confirm hits (of 6) with my opponent. I use dice with a symbol on the 6 so they are rather visually obvious though.

Bda Gamer

I agree with picking up the misses, it’s a practice i use. Also allowsopponent to see the face values of what ‘hit’


Depending on your dice and table surface, it may not be an option, but since I use fairly large, well-squared dice and typically play on “mousepad” style mats, I’ll often just slide the dice around so all the hits are in one group, rather than picking anything up.

With smaller, more rounded dice, and/or a more textured table, it probably wouldn’t work so well because there’s too much opportunity for dice to tumble as you try to slide them, but when the circumstances are right, it helps clarity. And also spotting when you missed 1s that you could re-roll or something.


That works too. I just find it’s quicker to pick up dice than to group them and slide them into piles is all.


Like I said, I think it’s the combination of well-squared 16mm dice and a smooth surface that makes it an option. I know I didn’t do it before I got these dice, and I don’t think I did it much before we started regularly playing on Frontline Mats.


Fair enough. I overlooked the 16mm dice part previously.


I try to separate them out, without turning them over, so both sides can see.


The dice stuff is my big pet peeve. I instantly get my hackles up when someone starts rolling dice without stating why or what they’re rolling for.
The non rolling is right up there too. Palming dice for the flat drop onto the table is blatantly obvious, as is the half hearted semi toss of a square sided casino die.
The disconnected opponent is always a tough situation to find yourself in. You want to play the game properly and don’t really want to insult someone by pulling punches or making intentional mistakes. But you also don’t want to continue a severe thrashing any longer than you have to.
I’m the sort of player who’ll stubbornly keep playing the long odds even when it seems like I’m out of the game. I wonder if that’s awkward for opponents.


I played a game once where my opponent just rolled dice the whole game with hardly a word about it. Just pick up dice, roll them, make some re-rolls, and then declare what it was. I was just confounded.

I don’t find it awkward if someone sticks in for the game. In fact, I respect them for it. Now, the guys who quit after turn #1 or #2 just because someone didn’t go flawlessly; that annoys the shit out of me. I’m not even talking a hopeless game, just they banked on something that flopped, so to them the game is over and they concede.


Defiantly share the boat of play the game to the bitter end. I’d rather finish the game and it’s story than quit. Some times I or my opponent pulls that hail marry. That said it is hard to judge if your just rubbing salt in or if offering the concession would be worse with people you have never played.

Declaring what dice are for is important. Maybe by turn 3-4 if it’s obvious you can start dicing as your declaring but yeah. That’s once a co-familiarity has ensued. (Like I’m moving and tossing a single D6 to advance as I’ve advanced everytime becouse they have no guns and can charge off an advance ect ect.

I think shortcuts are important to keep the game moving but be consistent.

Bda Gamer

I wont lie but recently I was that player that conceded a game after turn 1. BUT was due to a few things, not declaring what unit was doing what; random rolling dice without saying what is going on; ‘teleportation of units’, ie after declaring x unit was x, it later becoming a different unit. That last one was the final straw, so I not so calmly quit the game, packed up and left. Not a stellar moment or one I’m proud of.


I can understand that though. If the game is not enjoyable on account of your opponent, as extreme as you said, then I can’t fault anyone for calling the game.

Siph Horridus
Siph Horridus

You forgot the other part of the social contract, wash, wear deodorant and fresh clothes…. we gamers have a bad reputation for poor hygiene, granted not always warranted but sometimes is and that makes those Games difficult to enjoy.


It’s sad something like that needs to be said, but you’re not wrong. The last time I played in a random team tournament, I got paired with someone who literally farted all day long. I spent 8 hours next to someone who broke wind every 10 minutes. It was disgusting, and I have never done a random team tournament since.


Yeah that needs to be said. Sadly.


Excellent article. Definitely important to keep all these sorts of things in mind, as well as the actual Rules of the Game.

I have trouble sometimes with remembering to call out what I’m doing when I’m playing folks I don’t know, since I mostly play with the same couple of people, and we know each others’ Armies and habits pretty well. I think the most extreme case was back in 3rd, when one of my regular opponents and I both had the same convention for what colours of dice went with what Weapons, and made it through an entire game without actually saying anything related to the game at all, just chatting about other stuff and pointing at what was getting shot. I need to keep that more in mind when I do get out to stores and events.

I’ll concede or end games early in a few situations. Obviously if it’s literally impossible for one Player to win, and certainly if it’s extremely unlikely for someone to turn it around, but we have time for another game if we end this one now. Perhaps most importantly, tho, I’m happy to call it if it’s clear that neither of us is having fun. That’s really the point, and if we’re not enjoying ourselves, why continue.


We do the same where I play: end a game early if it’s obvious who will win and there’s time for another game. It just seems practical to me.


These are all good reminders that are needed to be seen every once in a while.

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