What follows is the BoLS checklist with comments on my own progress.
Play at least 20 games with your tournament armies.
This is the most important thing for a number of reasons.
Firstly, you will see the strengths and weaknesses of your build, and you can make adjustments. You will tune your army more the more games you get in with it, and the better the army suits your playstyle, the better you will use it.
Secondly, the more familiar you are with your army, the less time you will spend thinking about what to do with it. The less time you spend thinking, the less trouble you will have with the clock. All it takes is one game not finishing to keep you off the top tables.
Lastly, you will memorize or at least come close to memorizing all the stats for your army. This will increase both efficacy of use and speed of play, both of which matter. And constantly having to look things up in your army book / codex makes other players much more likely to have a bad gaming experience with you.
Review the basic rules of all phases of the game.
Not only will this make you less likely to make mistakes, but it will make you more likely to catch opponent errors, thus reducing the chances your game will have problems that might make you feel cheated later.
Bring spare measuring devices and dice.
Because both of these things can get lost. Also having a block of very plain dice is a very good idea. For most games, using lots of different dice is just great, but playing with uniform dice on top tables for the last game, you really want a generic dice block to avoid any questions.
Practice judging distances.
Learn how tall your basic models are, exactly. Knowing this will make judging distances a lot easier, and the difference between 6.01 and 5.99 can be the distance between defeat and victory.
Eat right and get some sleep the week beforehand.
Tournament days are long, and there is usually not a lot of sleep while you are there, and you eat more junk food, too. So put some juice in your batteries – you don’t want to be half asleep like I was last Sunday morning.
Wear comfortable shoes.
Yes, seriously. I think work boots are the best choice; fatigue contributes to making boneheaded choices that you will regret.
If there are primer missions, play them. If there are missions from last year, play them.
Familiarizing yourself with the mindset of the people who run the tournament helps you to be ready for the curves that are headed your way.
For example, the 40K Missions for BoLSCon last year were all themed on 80s music titles. This year, the 70s will get their chance. The WFB Missions were a narrative quest for The Frostblade; expect another quest.
Know the scoring system.
If you want to do well, knowing what constitutes doing well really helps. Sometimes all you really need to do is kill your opponents, and sometimes you have to have a pretty army as well. At BoLSCon, if you have your army painted to a 3 color standard, you treat other people with the respect you would like to have, and you crush your enemies, you will most assuredly win the tournament.
Play your nightmare army.
After (or while) you get in 20 games with your tournament army, you should play against your own army with the army you least want to face. A couple of times.
Prepare all the references and army lists you need before leaving home.
Don’t expect to have a printer available to you at the tournament, or to use the one in the hotel business center. Have a folder with all your army lists ready, and all the books you will need ready to go as well. Reducing the amount of last minute details you have to take care of helps you to enter that first game with a clear head, setting the tone for the event off on the right foot.
Remember – this is just a game.
We aren’t curing cancer, we are playing toy soldiers. Don’t take winning or losing too seriously; you will do better if you are having fun and not a ball of stress and angst