Picking Up the Pace

How to deal with slow play and running out of time in games.

Welcome to another tips and tactica instalment! Today I’m talking all about how to pick up the pace during a game, whether it be for you or your opponent. I’ll explain how I do this myself and how you can implement it within your own games to ensure time is rarely an issue ever again.

One of the worst things I hear in relation to Warhammer Underworlds is when people tell me they lose or draw a round in a tournament due to time related issues. It’s frustrating for both players really as neither one generally feels like they had a proper set of games and the outcome doesn’t feel fair.


Playing against the clock is something a lot of players don’t really think about until it becomes an issue during a game yet there are a few simple ways to counter this:

  • Practice
  • Know the Limits of Your Warband
  • Always Play With a Timer
  • Know the Rules for Going to Time
  • Challenge Your Opponent

Practice

I believe in recycling the same images as much as possible

The easiest method of them all. A warband you’ve practiced a lot with will generally be faster to play. This is because you’ll know your fighters and cards inside out. The familiarity will mean you don’t need to reference your cards constantly while being able to focus more on what your opponent is doing.


Know the Limits of Your Warband

Zarbag’s Gitz are notorious for hard time management due to having 9 fighters

This may seem a bit weird at first but when factoring in time during tournaments you really need to factor in how large your warband is. Elite warbands such as the Wurmspat only have 3 fighters which give you ample time to carry out actions. However when you have horde warbands like the Sepulchral Guard or even Zarbag’s Gitz, having 7+ fighters is a lot to manage. The simple movement of multiple fighters alone is going to take longer to carry out physically. Elite warbands give you more freedom but even then don’t take forever pondering actions. With horde warbands it comes down to getting lots of practice in so you can be really efficient with time management. If you know you suffer with time management for horde warbands then you may have to accept that you can’t play them in tournaments if you’re unable to play them within time.


Always Play With a Timer

This is the timer I use on my own phone

This is the big golden rule honestly. It’s something I always do and adopted early on in my time with Warhammer Underworlds. Generally tournaments have a public timer for everyone to see and/or the tournament organiser (TO) will give regular time reminders. Still I find it far more helpful to have a timer in front of me during a game. You can use whatever device you wish but I simply use my phone’s time, I set it to the time limit of the round and hit start once a round begins.Playing with a timer that both you and your opponent can clearly see always you to always have the time close at hand which will come into importance later on.

Generally a best of 3 round is 90 minutes so you’re looking at 30 minutes per game. Break that down again and your aiming for 10 minutes per round. This sounds like very little time, especially for round 1 which includes boards and setup but playing within this mind-set helps you tighten up your playing time. Generally I aim for 30 minutes per game. Round 1 usually takes 10 to 15 minutes at the most with rounds 2 and 3 taking much less time generally. When using horde warbands I suggest aiming for 35 minutes or 40 with Zarbag’s Gitz especially, there’s just so many of them!


Know the Rules for Going to Time

From the latest Beastgrave Grand Clash rules pack

Generally you should be familiar with the tournament rules for Warhammer Underworlds. If not the TO will always be able to tell you them in advance and the official Games Workshop tournaments all have the rules easily available in advance. For time it’s crucial to know the following things: once time is reached you play until the end of the round (UNLESS THE TO SAYS OTHERWISE) and what to do if you feel your opponent is slow playing. I’ll focus on the first one for now.So a good thing to know with playing to the end of the round is that you and your opponent can rush to finish round 2 and start round 3 when time finishes. As long as you’ve started round 3 you can play on, although if you finish round 2 and have a minute or less till time just call it there because you’ll hold up the whole tournament. Still the general thing is you finish the end of the round which gives a lot of finality. However PLEASE don’t think this means you can drag said round out indefinitely. I’ve seen too many people rush to round 3, hit the time limit on the round and then play slowly. You’re now holding up the entire tournament. Don’t get upset when the TO calls time mid-round.


Challenge Your Opponent

Now this is the most difficult part. If you’re opponent is playing too slowly you need to tell them about it. Challenging doesn’t mean accusing, however, which is the important part. A lot of the time opponents are playing slow due to either being new to the game or just not aware of the time. I discussed this a lot with my friend who plays X-wing competitively and he said he always uses the term “pick up the pace” like could you please pick up the pace. I find it’s better saying that than “you’re playing too slow/I need to rush you for time”. Those latter phrases put a lot of pressure on your opponent but simply asking to pick up the pace usually helps things along.

If your opponent continues to play slowly then you’ll need to escalate things which is mainly for tournament play. After 2 or 3 warnings you’ll have to let your opponent know that you’ll be calling the judge over due to them taking too long. Now I’ve never had to do this before but you’re completely allowed to do this as per tournament rules. When playing against someone trying to run out the clock who won’t increase their speed then a judge has to be involved. Once again I’ve never had to do this but it’s an important piece of information to keep in-mind.


Chess Clocks

Alexa, play Clocks by Coldplay

Might as well talk about the elephant in the room. Do chess clocks solve timing issues? No, not really. I’ve seen people try to say both players get 45 minutes each to use but it just doesn’t work. Some people are obsessed with chess clocks and feel they solve all gaming problems, they work in chess because of the simple back and fourth between 2 players but struggle in other games that don’t follow this format. You also have the big issue with Warhammer Underworlds: reactions. You’d have to stop the clock constantly for reactions which would add more time in itself. Next it’s the practicality of chess clocks. There’s no reasonable way to expect all tournaments to provide sufficient numbers so that all players can use them, after all if players brought their own in to use cheaters would definitely tinker with their own chess clocks. This especially to big events like those in the UK that attract 100+ players, it’s just not practical. Also you’re now adding another layer of learning and management to players which isn’t necessary at all.


In the end remember to always keep the clock in-mind when playing. Practice playing with a time limit in normal games, it’s what I always do. Also always speak to your opponent about their time management. 99% of the time opponents are playing slow due to either being new or just not aware of the time and not due to malicious reasons. Speaking to them usually solves this issue. If players are new, always give them a bit more time but you’ve got to live by the clock. Always play with a round timer clearly in view and always ask to “pick up the pace” when taking to your opponent about the time. Those will be the biggest help. Remember, not even crits can beat the clock.

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