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.
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.