From my tabletop gaming experience, I have witnessed the all too often occurrence of players being completely ignorant of their opponents force. “Those units do what?!” is often heard ringing out from neighboring tables as flustered players angrily remove their hard painted miniatures from the table. The problem often evolves from a player’s sole dedication to their own force, at the cost of disregarding the rules of the game and the units/abilities of their opponent. Knowing which regiment your company fought for, or who was commanding it, are neat for enriching the gaming experience, but never at the cost of becoming ignorant of the game on a whole.
Not knowing your opponents force will lead to unsound tactical decisions that will usually result in an overall less fun and competitive game. What most players fail to realize though is how easy it is to obtain information about other armies in a variety of game systems. The easiest and most overlooked method is simply asking your opponent before or during the game. I am a large proponent of helping out my fellow opponent if they have any questions regarding my force and I would hope that most gamers are willing to take the same steps. Winning a game because you withheld information about your units abilties (rules wise) is not only mean but also cheap. Explaining the basic stats of your units if asked will also greatly aid new players who might otherwise be deterred by a poor gaming experience. Remember we want our hobby to grow!
Now the next method may sound self evident or obvious but seriously, read the rules and other army lists. The literature for all armies is out there, weather it be on the tactics section of a forum or in the actual Flames of War campaign book or Warhammer codex. Doing a quick run through of others codexs/ army books can give a player at least the basic understanding of what they might be going up against. For Flames of War, there is literary no excuse for not knowing your opponents rules and unit stats as a result of the “Know your Enemy” combined references PDFs that are available for free at the main website http://www.flamesofwar.com/Default.aspx?tabid=278. These helpful sheets will cover every rule from mid war and late war along with all of the hero characters and every unit’s stats from Tigers to rifle teams. 40k can be a more difficult beast to tackle as a result of the expanding number of units and weapons along with the ever lurking problem of Codex creep. However, even in 40k players can just as easily read up on codexs in local gaming shops or ask opponents (or allies) about the various statistics of units they might encounter.
Most importantly, once a player has gained a basic understanding of their opponents abilities/units they can begin to understand how those units fit into an overall strategy on the table. Once opposing strategies and tactics have been understood, one can begin to come up with counters to match or outright defeat those of the enemy. All of this tactical reasoning, however, can only be achieved if one first understands their opponents force at the most basic level.