Tuesday, 8 November 2011

General Ramblings: The "You Shut Up Now" Rule

So, I'm still kind of struggling for ideas.

Sure, I could do a hobby post. Badly, probably. But that would require me to get my camera out. I could similarly actually photo my Trollbloods collection. But that would not only require the camera to be out, but brought down to the club, where my Mega-Smurfs are languishing in a display cabinet.

I could whine about the Internet. I'm sort of good at that. But no one's actually annoyed me thoroughly enough lately. At least not about anything even remotely Incarias-related. The politics are staying off this site for now. Mostly.

So, I'll talk about my club. And one rule we have that deserves spreading.

I like to call it the 'You shut up now!' rule.

Down at the Club (we're called Troll, and if you're from anywhere near Stockholm, this is a site you should visit), wargames are a spectator sport. It's rare for there to be no people just standing about, commenting idly on what's going on, discussing something entirely irrelevant and generally distracting the players.

This is fine. At least until it isn't. This is part of what makes wargaming a social activity for me; the side-talk. There's a good word in Swedish for it. I can't find the equivalent in English, for some reason. You know, the kind of talk that's absolutely, utterly pointless, except for the talking itself.

Oh, well.

Anyway. There is one thing we are fairly adamant on, when it comes to these onlookers.

No back seat gaming. No pointing out possible moves (beyond the absolutely ludicrous, at least), no reminders of optional-to-use rules, no leading questions. No tactics, no strategy.

There are exceptions to this rule (it is, for example, considered fair game to encourage any Blood Bowl player to perform a Foul, at any time). But during games that matter, in the slightest (campaigns being the most frequent offender), the rule is not negotiable.

Rules are fine. In two situations. One: one of the players makes an explicit rules question. This question can then be answered, as restrictively as possible, so as not to give undue tactical advice. Two: one of the players violates a rule (accidentally, we assume). The violation should then be noted, explained, and rectified. This second point also applies if one of the players cites a rule incorrectly.

What this rule does is to make sure that it is the players who are the ones actually playing. Before the 'You shut up now!' rule, some players (yes, I was a repeat offender) tended to coach their comrades a bit over-much, to the point that it was almost the back seat gamer making the decisions, and the actual player just moving the minis and rolling the dice.

This was deemed a problem.

What this rule also does (less purposefully) is cause a lot of mutterings from certain onlookers. It remains the case that it is always easier to spot possible moves when you're not actually playing, and some of us have a bit of trouble containing our wisdom. 'Wisdom', really. Some of our advice is undoubtedly crap.

The phrase 'I know what I would do' is frequently heard.

Of course, during some games, we ease the rule. Introducing a game to a new player opens up the floor somewhat. Overly specific advice is still frowned upon, but gentle nudges in the right direction, or pointing out rules the new player is unfamiliar with or seems to have forgotten, is generally fine.

It is a good rule.

I recommend it.

Now, I'm done.

I might think of something better to write about soon. Or I might not, and feel obliged to show you my trolls.

Either way, ta ta for now.


  1. I do tend to say "I know what I'd do but I'll save it for later" a lot. In my defence, I did spend eighteen months teaching Warmahordes to two sets of newbies, so the advice-giving reflex has been conditioned by being semi-appropriate (obviously they have to learn, but pointing out possibilities and helping people make choices is how good teaching works).

    That said, it is a good rule, especially if it helps keep people like me occupied...

  2. Well, sometimes, we do feel the need to write something down, so we can tell one of the players what they should have done, later on. It's not always easy shutting up...

    Eighteen months, though... That'll build some nasty habits.

  3. What Von isn't gonna tell you is that his voice is so silky smooth and beguiling that his 'sideline commentary' entrances everyone, and pants fall to the floor and inappropriate touching begins....

    We have a similar rule in NYC...but we call it the 'Shut the F up or we beat you into unconsciousness.'

  4. If you're interested, the english expression for "... the kind of talk that's absolutely, utterly pointless, except for the talking itself." is:

    small talk

    Around where I play we just tell people to "Shut the &*%# up." as that seems the most polite way to express ourselves.

  5. Well, yeah, 'small talk' might have worked. Problem with that expression is 1) it conveys nothing of the rudeness or insanity of the conversations, and 2) it never did seem adequate to describe a more or less shouted conversation between three, one hundred kilo apiece, guys.

    The talk might be many things, but 'small' is rarely a word I'd choose.

  6. For trivia's sake, the English equivalent (or at least closest match) would be "kibbitzing," although that has a strong implication that the comments/advice are unwanted and unneeded.

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  8. So what's the Swedish expression? (wanna see if we have something similar in German)

  9. 'Snacka skit'. A straight translation would be 'talking sh*t', but the tone is different...

  10. Kibitzing doesn't really conveive the idea of

    "... the kind of talk that's absolutely, utterly pointless, except for the talking itself."

    as it's usually a quite pointed conversation. But in light of the rest of his description I'd agree that it is the right word just used in a derogatory manner. I doubt "Snacka skit" is a literate translation of kibitzing.