Tuesday, September 13

Tournament Talk: Sacrificing for Competition

So, I was talking to a good buddy the other day and he brought up something that I thought was spot on.  What he said he was realizing is that at some point you have to choose what to sacrifice: Competing at top tables or fluff lists.

Sacrificing fluffily lists is something that I have come to just simply expect.  You have to build the most effective force possible and if you can get something in there that you like 'just because,' then fine.

Lets think about chess.  How fluffy is it to have two knights and two castles.  Shouldn't a 'fluffy,' chess set have one castle, lots of knights and a cannon? And what is with all this MSU-pawn-spam crap!? 

On the other hand, at what point does sacrificing for the sake of winning become nothing more than a disgusting action that isn't good for anyone involved.  If you pummel your opponent so bad he wants to have nothing to do with competitive play did you sacrifice too much?

I love this next picture because it speaks directly to the heart of the issue (Pun 100% intended).  "All we ask for is your heart." I can tell you that ever since I switched my play style and simply accepted the new competitive environment that it is extremely hard to turn it off.  I used to bring army lists to pick up games where I built the entire thing off of a black library novel.  I don't feel like I want to even try anything like that anymore.  Mostly, I don't get to play more than once a week and when I get to play I want to "practice." Just like any competitive sports team, you don't practice for competition by screwing around.

Does that mean I lost my heart?  I'd like to think no.  I still really want to play narrative games where the epic stores of yore happen on the tabletop.  I want to see thunder terminators charge headlong into titans and cripple it.  But when it comes to tournaments and my tournament list I am not going to bring a worthless HQ like Astorath and 100% Death Company, even though I think the list is really cool.  I would play that list in apoc.

So, here is the question.  Is it a reality that when it comes to competitive tournament play you have to give up either fluffy lists or choose to not be in competition for the top table?  Can you do both?  Show me how to have my cake and eat it too.



  1. That was why comp was in tournaments long ago. It was designed to keep people in check to prevent the WAACL (Win At All Cost Lists). Some events even gave bonus points if you named units, provided a paragraph or so about the background, etc...

    For the most part, most tournaments ignore comp, they ignore sportsmanship and they ignore painting thus encourging the attitude of building these lists instead of developing hobby skills and the community.

    I still try to stick to the old flavor of the comp style of at least 30-40% of the list should be troops. To me this is putting a player back on track to having cake and eating it IMO.

    To me many players have lost the point of the hobby and the concept of a tournament when it comes to the social aspect of the event. It ia mix of your hobby skills, your ability to play and about the community. Of late, many people don't go to events because of the powerful lists and some players desire to take the top table spots.

    Lists can win an event, but so can a player. The problem is that of late the lists are what is winning, not the players in essence. I can give a new player some of the powerful cut'n'paste lists, teach them the basics and they can more than likely win as often as the average player that uses the same list. I have seen more and more people rely on the crutch of their lists than their own playing skill and creativity in tatics on the field. I heard a player say he didn't want to play in the random pairing event because he could not build a "decent" Dark Eldar list for the event. Really? I could for 1250 pts, would it be over the top and powerful? No, but that is attitude we are fostering in the gaming community. A sad thing to say.

    On a final note, you can add an element of fluff with your painting and converting. I paint my own stuff, it may not be the Golden Demon level, but it is my own work and I know the elements such as color choices, bitz I added and so forth that makes up that army fluffy and I can discuss it with anyone that asks questions about my work. When you have the Generic Marine list that can be Vanilla-BA-Dark Angel-Space Wolf-Templar because you want to be playing the latest codex isn't a fluffy army. If you paint your Space Wolves red and call them the Blood Wolves and stick to the same rules set and convert them to fit the theme then that is a win for fluff IMO.

    I have always had the attitude that if you want to be a "top dog player" then go play Magic and try to qualify for one of their "big money events". If you want to have fun, roll dice, paint toy soldiers and be social then Warhammer is for you.

  2. I feel my chess list would just be 5 queens and a King. But it would be "fluffy" too, I mean kings have harems right? {sarcasm}

  3. What can I say, I gave up on a "fluff" list long ago. No one I play on the weekends will give me an inch if I dont try to take it. And I wouldnt have it any other way.

    I play what I like and what I think will do good. No coach ever said "Dang, Jimmy sure does drop a lot of balls, but he is so funny with jokes all the time. And last year he got me a real nice watch, so I gonna keep him on the starter roster."

    Its OK to want to win even in a for fun game, its almost a respect thing for your opponet. Think about it,if we played every week and I ran a sub-par list every time. And you blasted me off the table every time, and I smiled and said WOW, dang I guess I lost annother one, well shoot.

    You would be bored to death, and wouldnt have any fun after a while. I think I owe it to my opposition to bring the heat and make them be on top of their game.

    Also I agree that some people get lost in fluff being only a list build thing. Modeling, painting and back story can all be a part of a competitive list.

    Example: Dark Angels all terminator list.
    This is your theme/fluff but it is still a strong and unforgiving list. And if modeled/painted to a great level it seemes to me to be the best of both worlds.

    Tastes great and less filling!

  4. PS, I only play chess with 4 bishops and 2 queens.

  5. @Tylermenz: LMAO! gotta love the harem! I always play with 5 queens.

    I agree spot on with you Swags (as usual) When I go play pick-up soccer in the beginning of the game I'll pass a few balls to the guy who sucks horribly just to give him a shot, but once the game is in full swing and goals have been scored I stop passing to him, I'm not trying out for the world cup, but winning is fun in soccer and winning is fun in 40k.

    Is the problem with winning, or is the problem with the guy who loses and then says "I didn't have enough fun!" Im sure I played many soccer games where I left PISSED!!! because we lost. Oh well.


  6. The problem with your example Duke is your talking about a sport and a hobby. Two different things really.

    Sticking with your line of thinking, you also have to have the right gear to play right? Not a basketball or a tuxedo/dress shoes instead of shorts and sneakers. You still could play, but is it proper, the answer is no. Unless you had a few beers and this sounds like fun at that point in time. *laugh*

    The point is wearing shorts, socks and proper shoes to play soccer is seen at the right thing (fluffy). Sure you could wear a tux or a clown costume to play but is it how it SHOULD be done? Not fluffy if your playing soccer the right way.

    Not cracking on you Duke or you either Swags (Swags knows the type of guy I am), just tossing out another perspective is all.

  7. @styx: I agree that the soccer point wasn't a perfect analogy, but I would equate wearing cleats and shorts as requirements to play as tape measures, dice, models etc. Sure you could play without those things but it is harder. (though I once got 2nd place in a street 3v3 tournament while playing in a suit w/o jacket.)

    Though soccer is a sport I used to play competitively (College) it has become more of a hobby for me lately, I play pick up games where we don't keep score and guys play in tennis shoes while some are in "full gear."

    I almost fell that this could easily be another blog post... Hmm


    Ps: I don't feel like your cracking on me... I enjoy the conversation.

  8. Speaking as the person who was lamenting the dilema brought forth in this post, I'd like to provide the perspective behind it.

    Most of you are aware that for a long time the imperial guard were a "hobbyists faction." The sheer number of men involved, with wide array of collectors models. It is a point of pride for me that at one time I had mastered this faction, and wielded it to it's best potential, while remaining true to what I felt it was to be a Guardsmen.

    What is powerful now, no longer falls in line with what I found it was to be a guardsmen. Now, guard are an elite fighting force, armed on par with the space marines, and riding aircraft to the battle, to cleanse all before them. This is not the army I once commanded on the tabletop. My battalion was armed with lasguns, supported by battle-tanks, and used fierce fire discipline to eradicate the foe.

    My father told me, after he was relieved from his unusually long battalion command, that he felt as though he had been freed from the longest headache of his life, but by god he missed it already. I feel similarly. The struggle of what it was to be a guard commander at that time made the victories all the sweeter, and I came to trust in the figures I moved around the tabletop. I was once a guard commander, not a guard player.

    And so this is the choice I see before me: To sacrifice what I feel it means to be guard commander, play what is good in these days, and a player at the top tables someday. OR, I must sacrifice the opportunity to play on the top tables, soldier on somewhere just out of reach, so close and teasingly right over there, and maintain the integrity I feel the men I have led deserve.

    IT is naturally your right to think I'm a total lunatic for thinking of toy soldiers as men, and to you I say I embelished it a touch to better get the message across. Nor do I say that there is any fault in anyone else for what they choose to do. But for me, it's a very personal thing, and it boils down to a very simple choice: Do I want to play guard, or command them?

  9. Question for arguments sake.

    Can a Guard player/commander take on the task of playing a mounted company as their fluff?

    And if thats what is winning now is that guy WAAC?

    How does Draigo fit into this? He wasnt even around before the new codex. So where does a Draigo wing player fit if that is his fluff and he has a great looking army and still curb stomps 80% of the oppisition?

  10. True enough. Running a 'mounted,' company is still 100% fluffy.

    Oh and Draigo broke the fluff... like superman wearing the hulkbuster-ironman suit.


  11. Point being that fluffy does not always = weak.

    It is assumed to however due to the fact that lists that people think are "fluffy" usualy dont do so well. But some do.

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  13. Another sports thought came to mind. In baseball, certain types of bats are not allowed in leagues. Those with specific cores, etc...

    Anyway, a list that is kitted a specific way (or rather weighted like a bat) to give you a specific benefit. Leagues see this as something that does not balance the game and gives some players an advantage over others. The same goes in theory for a "loaded" list that is kitted out to be the top table army instead of a fluffy or true hobby army.

    I guess this could spark a whole new line of thinking with what I about to say…

    Did you loose against a superior list or a better player? I feel the meta-game attitude pushing to building these powerhouse lists actually is a crutch to many players that wants the quick road to winning their games. To me, I say congrats you built the better mouse trap. People are always going online and looking at winning lists, taking ideas and some outright making an exact clone of the list to try to garner the same results. Psychologists call it instant gratification, we don’t want to wait or have to develop something, they want it NOW!

    What happens if both players were given the same army and lists? It would come down to luck of the dice and who is the better strategist. Even with the perfect list, the dice can screw you in the end. Being a good strategist is something you develop like a sports player. When you practice and learn from your mistakes you better yourself as an athlete or player in the case of 40k.

  14. Some cons (bolscon) have a "mirror match," where everyone plays the same list. Kind of a cool idea, if you ask me.


  15. Lets not forget about the guy who came up with the "40K Wife Swap" idea.

  16. @ swags

    yes, it is certaintly within fluff to run a fully mounted regiment (Armaggedon regiments). It is much less fluffy to run an army of mounted veterans, though still within reason. My point is not that unfluffy armies are impossible. But I would like to point out the the Imperial Guard is the most Diverse fighting organization in the galaxy. You certaintly wouoldn't know it looking at the table tops though. And up to this point, while the Chimera has always been "ubiquitous", the focus had always been the guardsmen themselves. Almost all the stories you read about guardsmen are about infantry, and never about what the hero does, but what he leads his comrades to do. Imperial Guard are essentially and irrevocably about being an Infantry man. A short list should help illustrate this:

    Regiments famous for chimeras: Steel Legions

    Regiments famous for Aireal insertion: Elisyans

    Regiments famous for having skilled and determined Foot Troops:

    and several others.

  17. This post is bad and you should feel bad