Thursday, August 9, 2007

Warhammer: Competitive versus Friendly Games

Yesterday was a day of overwhelming frustration. I got pissed off. Probably more pissed off than I should have. I think part of the reason for this is due to a feeling of betrayal. Maybe partly for feeling like a fool, or simply misjudging people.

Let me lay down the scene.

I'm playing in the Last Square, Wayward Star, Warhammer 40,000 League. This was explained to me by others as a friendly league where cool guys come and play 40k, newbies and old-timers alike are welcome. I know a lot of the guys in the league because I played in the last iteration of it.

Now, while I'm fairly inexperienced in this version of 40k, I have played since it was Rogue Trader, and I'm basically familiar with the material. I'm not a competitive player. I'm a collector, painter, and 40k Fiction buff...and occasional player.

When the league started, I decided not to play because what I prefer to play: friendly games instead of competitive tournaments. A number of my other Friendly Player friends (Robin, Katz) jumped on board, so I figured, it would be safe to play.

Now in the previous league, we had a number of really good, experienced, competitive players: Seth (Black legion), Cole(World Eaters), Nate (Word Bearers), Josh (Eldar)and Paul( who filled in when necessary with either Space Marines or Chaos). These guys were pretty much unstoppable when they played. Josh in particular was undefeated, and I think Nate was as well. Mike is a friendly player and pretty good as well. Damon I think is a friendly player(Daemonhunters).

Last league I was slaughtered in every game (Blood Ravens).I had a crappy list I spent five minutes on because I didn't intend to play in the league, just a pick-up game...and i couldn't change the list. Sucktastic. Either way, it was still mostly fun. No complaints really.

This League we have the same, except that Paul is playing his Chaos full-time, and we added Eric (Death Guard)[awesome player], Levi (who has really improved with his unstoppable Lost and the Damned, with the Bloodthirster)...and a number of newer players and Friendly players: Robin(Crimson Fists), Katz(Blood Angels), Mike(Dark Angels), me (Blood Ravens) and Damon (Daemonhunters). Josh is playing his undefeated system of Eldar only in Cityfights again. Tom is playing his Ork Mob in cities with the same Ammo Dump strategem. Ted...well...Ted is Ted.

Again, the Forces of Chaos are unstoppable. Josh is untouchable when he's in a city, and absent when not.

So the other day I made a recommendation to the league for the next iteration of the league:

I'd like to see a greater emphasis on sportsmanship and fair play. I explained that I don't want it to seem like a damnation of the players that they are not sportsmanlike, or that there is no fair play, but that there is always room for improvement and I'd like to see it move in a specific direction. I tried to be diplomatic, tactful and fair in my request. It seemed reasonable, though I understand if it wasn't necessarily clear to all.

For example, when playing new players, inexperienced players, friendly players, it's not necessary to steamroll them. Play nice. Maybe give em a break. Maybe play to their disadvantage a little. I mean, realistically, they are going to curb-stomp these poor folks anyhow, does it really matter if it is a victorious slaughter or a solid victory?

The main purpose in this is because we have a mix of friendly players playing in the same campaign as competitive players, and as usual, the competitive players are riding roughshod over the friendly players. Also, at the end of last league it was "The Plan" that my wife would play in this league. She likes 40k and wanted to play. She's woefully inexperienced, and really if she's just going to get owned every single game, with absolutely no chance of making a dent on her opponent, she (like many other newer or friendly players) will simply drop out and lose interest. being my wife and all, I don't want to see that happen.

Here's where the problem falls:

My assumption, what I believed, and what I hoped, is that the guys, who I considered friends, would play nice. Give the new guys and friendly players a break, and maybe kill them a little less efficiently. Maybe just be cool about it (Nate's example is at the bottom)


Actually, the part that caused the anger was that I was told that they shouldn't have to be penalized for playing better. They earned their right to kick the crap out of people and too bad, so sad.

I was stunned.

My own thought is that friendly players and competitive players shouldn't play together.

I believe that the focus is on GAME as in it's to be FUN*. That means fun for both sides. I think it behooves us as friends to have at least a bit of concern that our opponents are having fun as well. That's what friends do.

[*I realize this isn't universally true for everyone]

What I found out is that the game is focused on competition: winning and losing, and based also on constant evolution of the ultimate efficient killing army list and usage of game strategies and tactics to go for the almighty WIN!

My own thought on that is, "where is the challenge in beating up on someone who has almost no chance to even come to a draw with you?". It's like beating up the retarded kid at school. It's not about a challenge, it's about getting to catharsis: get that overwhelming Victorious Slaughter!

I went in to this League to have a good time, expecting to lose every single battle because my lists aren't as competitive and I'm just looking to have some fun moving around little toy soldiers and rolling dice. Hang out with friends. I want my opponents to have a good time as well as myself.

What I found out is that the people I considered as "friends" have no concern or consideration for my fun. They just want the win, and really don't give a shit about whether I enjoy myself or not or more importantly whether the other Friendly Players and Newbies have fun or not. The Newbies in the league...they're getting owned. The friendly players...getting owned. (except Damon, he's pretty darn good).

I dunno.

The only responses have been pretty much: "They earned their bones, and they've earned the right to thug the newer players and friendly players all they want. Tough shit. Get better and more competitive or shut the hell up" (I'm paraphrasing a lot and exaggerating some as well.)

It wouldn't be so bad if someone...anyone chimed in and supported me in this. Instead, I'm the lone stranger, only guy and a whiner.

Am I simply unrealistic? Am I high? Am I asking something unfair?
Is it too much to ask to have the guys who want to play competitively, play each other...and if/ when they play the guys who really have no chance...give em a break and slaughter them a little less efficiently?

Since I'm apparently the odd man out, I'm not bringing it up anymore.

I would like to mention that it's entirely possible to thug someone and make them still have a good time. Nate was a prime example of that. Nate, arguably the best player in the league and I played last turn. Victorious Slaughter of course. I was wiped out to a man, and he still had three full units unscathed, as well as most of this other units (I did kill the Greater Daemon and the Dark Apostle and a number of marines from various units). While I did get thoroughly nuked, and I believe he would have done the same without his Daemons, it was a blast of a game, and Nate was very cool about how he played. It's like he handed me a shit sandwich, I ate it, and somehow he got me to like it.

THAT, is what I'd like to see. I don't mean that he has to drop his britches and let me drill for gold...just make sure the opponent has a good time too...or at least try.

My fear in this, is that new players, and friendly players will get tired of getting steamrolled, and stop playing...which means I have fewer people to play that I really WANT to play...leaving only the Competitive Guys.


Katie said...

I agree that these games should be played for fun. BOTH sides having fun.

Obviously, the guys who win every time they put dudes on the table are going to have fun. And really, it's okay for them to have fun winning. But there's no reason to crush the other guy (newbie or otherwise) into bits and make him/her feel like crap.

Jeff said...

Hence my hesitation in your participation in THIS league.

It's your choice of course, but I'm afraid of you getting your feelings hurt and quitting.

Charles Green said...

See, this is my problem with 40k. It is not designed for this type of ruthless, competative play. It become all about the tweaked army list and kicking the crap out of newbies.

Wanna see anger? Wait until one these thugs gets their ass handed to them by the new guy in town. When the game becomes about WIN instead of abot FUN, then the prospect of losing can be too much.

I pity these players, I really do, because they cannot play the game as it is intended, and miss out on much of the joy of playing 40k.

Jeff said...

The irony is that with the new Chaos codex coming ot (some members have seen it) and MAN you won't believe the bitching going on. Serious nerfs to some of the main things the Chaos armies do. Let us just say there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I can't help but laugh.