Are you that guy?

That Guy is a commonly accepted member of almost any gathering of people, and nerd gatherings are no different: The most annoying person at a social outing or gathering. There’s always someone who doesn’t quite get it, and even though these guys can be great people in most situations some things put them in “TGM” (That Guy Mode) and they often don’t realize it themselves. I know that guy because everyone knows that guy.

It’s the guy we like but wont play board games with because he turns into a total retard when we do. He’s the guy we know but refuse to share a forum with because anything the man says online turns us homicidal. He’s the guy we refuse to drink with because alcohol turns him into an asshole and he knows it but keeps getting drunk, and the list continues. The funny thing is that even that guy knows that guy, he just never looks at himself and goes: Oh!

This article will probably end up causing me some problems since it carries the risk of me actually being that guy because I tend to overdo the whole honesty thing and offend a lot of people. Most people appreciate honesty but many people don’t, and when I involve the people that don’t I become that guy. I become that guy because there’s a social agreement in place and I’m stomping on it, and we call that a Tacit agreement: implied or inferred without direct expression.

Breaking the Tacit agreement

This is where most people become that guy when we’re talking about miniature wargames. It usually happens when one player allows something and his opponent refuses to return the favor. This could be a situation where one player allows his opponent to allocate to his Warjacks even though he technically already passed that phase and moved a model. The opponent asks for permission to do this and the player agrees, and in that situation a Tacit agreement is made because at some point later in the game the player can request a similar consideration and the opponent should agree. That guy denies the player the same consideration he’s given because it might cost him the game.

In this situation that guy is completely within his rights to deny the player what is essentially a take-back, but when he does he breaks the Tacit agreement and moods turn sour. The player feels cheated because he agreed to an unwritten contract, and that guy wins a game he probably should have lost. This then leads to a revision of the players “rules” on Tacit agreements and the sour mood spreads. The next time our player is asked for a consideration he will most likely not agree because his confidence in Tacit agreements is gone, and the entire foundation for this kind of arrangements erode. Many players don’t enter into Tacit agreements for just this reason, but I feel a system needs this flexibility in order to work and it’s sad when it disappears.

Let’s do some examples to illustrate just how important Tacit agreements are to the flow of a game. The situation in this game is that Player1 has moved a model and Player2 raises a rules question that has no relation to the model or move. They stop the time and find the answer in the rulebook, but when P1 restarts his clock we face the problems.

  • P1 adjusts the facing on the model he moved before the rules question. P2 could argue that the models move is finished and he cannot adjust the facing. If P2 does not argue this he has established a Tacit agreement that tiny mistakes can be corrected. If P1 does this he also agrees that tiny mistakes can be corrected or he shouldn’t have done it.
  • P1 resets the model to it’s prior position before the move because the wording on the rule they just looked up gave him a better idea. P2 probably should argue that this is an illegal move but if he doesn’t he agrees that mistakes can be corrected. If P1 does this he also agrees that mistakes can be corrected or he shouldn’t have requested it.
  • P1 tells P2 that had he know about that rule he wouldn’t have assigned 3 Focus to his Warjack and asks to take them back. P2 has an almost guaranteed assassination opportunity that will be foiled if the three Focus return to P1’s Warcaster. P2 probably should argue that this is an illegal move but if he doesn’t he agrees that major mistakes can be corrected. If P1 does this he also agrees that major mistakes can be corrected or he shouldn’t have requested it.

These are very simplified versions of Tacit agreements and there will always be differences of opinion. I usually limit corrections to tiny mistakes in tournament games, but I do feel these are needed in a complicated game to allow it to flow. If an opponent denies me the opportunity to deal with tiny mistakes I’ll deny him the same, but when I’ve already allowed him to correct tiny mistakes I expect the same treatment and I’ll be pissed if I’m then denied that opportunity. This is where we find that guy most of the time, and it makes for some really shitty games.

I’ll give you a few examples of things I’ve experienced where Tacit agreements were broken or where I’ve been close to breaking them. In some cases opponents have had to remind me that if I should be allowed to correct that mistake they should have been allowed to correct other mistakes and this is what I call “Negotiating the Tacit agreement”.

  • In one game I agree on using my opponents clock instead of my own to track time. It’s a very close game and I know I’m running low on time so I hail mary and kill his caster. I cheer and run around a bit, but is then informed by my opponent that a spectator says my time had run out when he died. The alarm hadn’t sounded but when I looked at the clock it was timed out. The spectator who is a friend of my opponents informs me that the clock ran out about 30 seconds before I killed him. In this situation I expect my opponent to accept the results as they stand but he doesn’t. We were using his clock, it didn’t sound an alarm, and neither of us had an eye on it as it ran out. Claiming his victory is breaking the Tacit agreement because the game had a clear winner and a very unclear possibility that I actually lost.
  • In another game I made a huge mistake because I was pressed for time and forgot to move my Warlock after I cast all the spells I needed to cast. The result was that when I quickly moved on to the next model I moved my warbeast out of control range and couldn’t force him. In my rush I went to move the beast back and move the Warlock forward but my opponent rightly informed me that I had begun the move and it would be illegal to take it back. I reviewed our game and found that he had asked for no considerations or corrections at all so he had every right to hold me to my actions as he did. If I had insisted on taking the move back I would have broken the agreement because our agreement was “no corrections”.
  • In a game a while back my opponent insisted on seeing my every measurement. He insisted that we agreed on every distance before I moved and he insisted that I call all distances, dice, and intentions before I made the moves. In his turns he simply moved the models without informing me of intent, rolled dice and told me what they were afterwards, and didn’t bother explaining any of his abilities to me. This is also breaking the Tacit agreement because it’s a consideration he’s asking but not giving as well. This guy broke them to such an extend that I never want to play him again, and it had nothing to do with breaking actual game rules.

Tacit agreements and considerations are a huge part of having a good game with a great opponent, and if you have any doubts then simply “agree” on “no corrections of any kind”. This makes the game feel a little clunky at times but it’s easier to keep the good mood. If you ask for considerations you damn well better be prepared to give some back, or you instantly become That Guy. These considerations are not simply game related but also concerns bathroom breaks, talking during your opponents turn, using different means of tracking time, conversions, and any kind of behavior or considerations that might come up during a game.


There’s another area which that guy often fails to understand what’s going on. Relations are the various connections between people that make our lives easier, like greeting coworkers in the morning or patting a player on the back when he rolls snake eyes and loses an important game. Relations are important because that’s what keeps people coming to tournaments, playing the game, and enjoying themselves, and in most tournament reports the first thing players write about is their opponents (if they were good ones anyway). Losing isn’t as annoying if you had a good time with your opponent, bad dice aren’t as annoying if your opponent agrees that you’re being screwed over, and winning feels better if your opponent isn’t angry about it.

Relations matter a lot and that guy doesn’t understand it. That guy wants to win and will do what it takes to accomplish that goal. That guy will not encourage you or play for a more interesting game, but will time you out and not worry one bit about it. I’ve been timed out and I’ve seen people being timed out where one little sentence makes all the difference: “It’s a sad way to win but you had me” says my opponent, and everything is alright.

My opponent acknowledges that I had him, he acknowledges that it’s a sad way to end a game, but in doing so he lessens the annoyance I feel at losing on something stupid like time. If my opponent is feeling really generous he could slip me a couple of words about how the different ways of timing tournament games are all flawed, allowing me to push a percentage of the blame unto a flawed system instead of my own sluggish play.

Relations are something all human beings need, and ignoring them in order to win a game of toy soldiers is not only bad behavior but bad for the game as a whole. We need new players to keep the hobby going, we need good experiences to keep them interested in tournaments, and when the new guy loses his twentieth game in a row a couple of encouraging words could be all it takes to keep him going until he wins, and that guy is all it takes to make him quit.

Socially accepted behavior

This is a hard one but knowing what is socially accepted behavior is crucial and that guy doesn’t. That guy knows he’s not supposed to get naked in IKEA while swinging his “piece” around, but he doesn’t bother learning how to behave in nerd gatherings. This is not about “the guy who doesn’t wash” or “the guy who talks really loud” even though they can be annoying as hell some times, but about the little things like insulting someone who just lost by declaring their army list a complete failure.

This is about that guy who mopes around for hours after losing and blames it on everything but himself. This is about that guy who always fills his plate even if the TO has told people to go easy on the grub until everyone has gotten their first serving. This is about that guy who simply doesn’t understand all the human interaction that goes on at a tournament and unknowingly tramples a lot of people in the process.

That guy is hard to reach because he never sees himself as that guy. That guy is hard to teach because it’s everyone else that should grow some thicker skin or learn to play the game like it’s supposed to be played (this is a guaranteed way to spot that guy, because only that guy ever utters that sentence). That guy cannot be shown that he is that guy because if he accepts the notion then suddenly he becomes responsible for all the shit that has happened in his life. I know one guy who is perilously close to being that guy, and every tournament he’s in an argument arises around him, but I’ll bet you a dollar he wonders why everyone always gets their panties in a bunch.

That Guy!

If you meet that guy just know that you can’t really change him. If you meet that guy try showing him this article and insist that even though he cannot recognize himself this is how others see him, and make sure he knows that you like him as a person just not as a player (if that’s true of course). I know several people I would call That Guy, and I get along fine with them in most situations (one is even a very close friend, I just refuse to play board games with him while he’s drunk), but sometimes you’re forced into a situation with that guy in “that guy mode” and it’s hell on earth. if you’ve recognized yourself in this article your probably not that guy, because like that guy we all make mistakes, but since you can recognize those mistakes you can change them and that guy can’t.


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21 Responses »

  1. Very good read. I can only recall I’ve met that guy once or twice. Maybe that’s because I am that guy or maybe it’s because we don’t have a lot of that guys in our meta.

  2. Great article.

    We’ve had 1 or 2 that guys in our meta. One of them is only that guy from time to time and the other is almost always that guy.

    I’m even that guy myself sometimes. I can blame myself (and the dice) so much for loosing that I’m actually stealing the pride of victory from my opponent. It’s difficult to be proud of winning when you only won because of your opponents failure or crappy dice…..
    Normally I realize what I’m doing and apologize for my behavior.
    Not sure if my opponents sees me as that guy or as a good gamer that sometimes just need a bit of time to realize he’s been beaten by a superior player.

    I know which one I’m voting for.

  3. We all have a little “that guy” in us honestly I see a LOT more in 40k then Warmachine I went to a GT and a Warmachine tourny spread only one week apart and I have to say at least in my meta I rather enjoyed all my games win or lose in Warmachine but 40k I went against 2 guys that wanted to win no matter what and it just gives me headaches.
    I am sure there are “those people” in this game too because one of my wins was a 2nd round assassination and he got mopey and he said assasination are cheap and he hates them I could tell anything I said to the dude wasn’t going to solace him so I let him be.

    • I have a feeling that ‘that guy’ has more trouble in WM than he does in other games, simply because more of WM is about ‘you’ and not the ability to net-deck something epic :D

  4. I didn’t want to become that guy. I realized after a game that I was in danger of becoming ‘that guy’. I was frustrated by getting wiped off the board by the Mountain King. I mean I was housed. I think my frustration showed. I got to thinking “I’m in this for FUN, it’s a hobby and a way to relax. Why am I getting so uptight?” I’ve rearranged my priorities. Being hyper competitive is not what it is about. Sure I still like to win. But the point of the game is hang out with people I like and enjoy my TIME spent with them.

  5. Really really good article.

    I think we all have a bit of ‘that guy’ in us (i know i have…).
    The trick is to make the distinction between the goal of the game, which is winning, and the point of the game, which is to have fun.

    That distinction is not always easy.

  6. Many “That Guy”(s) will never change because they inhibit mental disorders like Inferior Complexes and in certain cases, some are Sociopaths.

  7. Excellent article!

    Me and my brother have known the guy, the guy who stopped having fun and just played to win. Fortunately he’s long left our circle and good riddence to him. Irritating bloke!

    Recently me and my brother were getting started with some 6th Edition by playing Dark Vengeance. Just as I was about to begin my assault phase my brother pointed to my autogun cultists with heavy stubber and said they hadn’t shot. By being a fair and just opponent who warns the other player when he/she is about to do an oops! you avoid the whole need for a Tacit agreement. Just my opinion, based on games with my brother, so I’m far from an expert.

    Just for the record, they didn’t do any damage to his Ravenwing who were then assaulted by the CC cultists. He became bogged down in an assault which eventually claim the bikers.

    • Couldn’t agree more. I’ve had good relations with most of my opponents by pointing out when they’re doing something spectacularly dumb (‘You know my Paladin squad has a pretty much guaranteed assault on you there right?’). Tournaments are a bit of a different story but when playing friendlies I like to keep them friendly. Playing more cinematically in these games helps too. Lets say I’m in a position to nuke a critically important troop unit on turn 3 and pretty much insta win, or set up an epic battle with the enemy HQ. In a tournament game winning is important, so you take the first option. However, when playing friendlies FUN is the most important thing, so I’ll send my lord to go duel the chapter master. That’s the kind of thing you remember in a game, and that keeps people playing with you.

  8. Great article.

    I have to say that I know a few, most are thankfully only that guy occasionally. I must also guiltily admit to being that guy from time to time. I do have a tendency to aportion a lot of blame to my dice. I don’t mean to moan, and do feel ashamed about it afterward. When I started out it was a lot worse, to the extent that a friend actually bought me some new dice!

    I hope at least that being aware of that guy bubbling away in my subconscious stops him from breaking out too often.

    • It’s a cliché, but the first step is always recognizing that one has a problem. Solving ones issues takes time, and a well placed beer and apology goes a long way when you mess up :)

  9. Nice article.
    I have one question though; where you write:
    “In a game a while back my opponent insisted on seeing my every measurement. He insisted that we agreed on every distance before I moved and he insisted that I call all distances, dice, and intentions before I made the moves. In his turns he simply moved the models without informing me of intent, rolled dice and told me what they were afterwards, and didn’t bother explaining any of his abilities to me. This is also breaking the Tacit agreement because it’s a consideration he’s asking but not giving as well. This guy broke them to such an extend that I never want to play him again, and it had nothing to do with breaking actual game rules.”

    Did you ask him to show you the same courtesy?

    • Indeed I did, twice, and he completely ignored me. Had I been a veteran tournament player at that point I would have called a TO, but I was brand new and completely shell shocked :D

  10. Nice article.

    Though I question the “That guy at table – nice guy otherwise” statement.
    As far as I experiended, your whole personality – behaviour, attitude, etc. – is being copied onto your tabletop games.

    If someone keeps kicikng up tacit agreements by the gaming table, or being an a**hole while drunk, it is just right to ask yourself: would he behave like that in other situations too?
    My experience is unfortunately that many times they do.

    It also applies to the good things too. Even if they are not obvious at first sight.
    On my first tourney (40K, 4th ed) I played with my necrons against a soldier, who ran a tank-IG army. Being a rookie I started to measure the distance for shooting, before moving with my other units.
    He said: “OK, so you’re done with moving, right?”
    I said, “No, why are you asking?”
    “‘Cause you just started to measure range, and you cannot do that outside the shooting phase.”
    In an instant I realized that there will be no corrections, not even for minor mistakes. Not typically the play style I used to play until then.

    The battle ended with a crushing defeat, 3 of my large squads ran off-board from artillery fire, and the rest phased out. We were to sum up the points, when it just kicked in. My units should not have run away, they should have been pinned! Recovering from pinning, they could alter the outcome of the battle. Not for victory, but I could go for a minor defeat.
    My opponent did not hesitated for a minute in accepting his failure, apologized for it, and offered a draw. It was fully an honest mistake, just like mine, but as he did not tolerate any failure from his opponent, he was also unforgiving for himself.
    A very straightforward and honest behaviour, just like the guy in real life – as I later learned..

    • I agree in principle, but I happen to know an exception to the rule. I have a friend whom I’ve known for ten years now, and he’s rock solid in every aspect, except for board games while drunk, where I’m sorely tempted to punch him in the mouth every five minutes :D

      In general though you’re right, and most douche-bags on the table are douche-bags in every other aspect as well. The type of player you describe meeting during your first tournament, is the type that keeps me coming back, and thank god most of us are just regular people having a good time.

  11. Passive-aggresively chewing out a faceless crowd of “other players”? Yeah, you are That Guy.

  12. I have been that guy a long time ago. Then changed to be a far more friendlier player. Several months ago I actually became that guy in a game. Noticing it immediately, stopped myself and told the other player that I’m going to bow out of the game because I felt myself becoming unfriendly and that he didn’t deserve that. He was understandably upset because he couldn’t continue his fun.

    Informed him that this should be fun. Since I was becoming unfriendly and wasn’t having fun. I was going to quit the game rather than do unreparable harm towards future relations.

    Unfortunately damage was done. I messed with his fun by dropping out of the game. I feel he became that guy by dictating behaviour if I agreed to another game with him. He’s a great guy. Paints all of his models and loved that he actually had a painted army.

    Thanks for the read, Lamoron! Great name also.

  13. I can honestly admit to having gotten so competitive in the warhammer fantasy scene that I feel I became that guy. I lost all enjoyment of the game and felt winning was everything. Tournaments actually started to become a chore and I was getting so stressed and depressed if the results were bad.

    At this point I took up warmachine as well and took a step back to realise they are just games and games are meant to be fun lol. Since then I have won several best sports and am loving the social and tournament scene of both games.

    I think this article is fantastic and just hope that it helps more people address bad behaviour and win at all cost attitudes.

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