Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Gamers Lounge episode 10: tournament play, when is enough, enough?
I was listening to the 10th episode of the Gamers Lounge Podcast and they were discussing the topic; tournament play, when is enough, enough?
This has spurred me to share a story that I haven’t shared fully on the internet, because it sucks to show yourself in a bad light, but I figure if someone can benefit from my experience than it’s worthwhile.
This is the point where I changed from a super optimized tourney player back into a themed could care less if I win go to a tourney for laughs kind of guy. Around the time that my buddy got his discharge from the Marines, he came home and wanted to play a game of 40k; which I obliged to give him. I had been playing in tournaments every other weekend for two years, spanning three game systems, so had gotten used to building mean lists meant to do nothing but 'beat face'.
I had completely forgotten how to build a themed fun list, because my mind had been rewired to highly optimize everything to death. Needless to say his themed fluffy old school Orks got trampled by my highly optimized Space Wolves; in the end neither of us had any fun. Who the heck wants to crush their best friend? The look on his face was too much to bare, the last thing I wanted to do was run off my best friend from high school.
I reevaluated why I play miniature wargames, the root of that is purely for having a good time hanging out with good friends. My Pop had drilled this into me from a young age but something went wrong.
So where did I go astray? Well first off most of my family and gaming friends had stopped playing wargames for various reasons; enlisted in the Military, gotten married, had children or other real life situations that put gaming in the back seat. So I had to find a new group of guys to play with; one of the local game shops became my new second home finding a group of guys that seemed pretty fun to game with. It was a win in my book.
Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a slow spiral into rules lawyering and a I must win mentality. I must say the guys were quite convincing in discussing how to optimize a list and using the math to determine what is a good or subpar unit. I was hook and a convert to the Mathhammer cult. I did quite well in our bi-weekly tournaments, and was genuinely having a good time; scoring well in both sports and comp I really had this tourney thing down.
Then I went to the first tournament held at one of the local game cons, the guys in the group warned me not to bother going because it was a poorly run tournament. I found the tournament to be very well run, I had a great time playing my games, but I was shocked to get a poor score in both sports and comp. I thought I was a friendly opponent, and couldn’t figure out what was going on. It turned out that there was some video from the event that showed why I did poorly; I argued miniscule little rules disputes, not being a jerk or anything, but I would argue them to death instead of making my case and moving on, or calling a judge over for a ruling. Now this type of thing was totally normal at the LGS, so no one even notices these arguments.
Not wanting to come off poorly in public, I immediately changed my ways, if there was a dispute I would pull out the MRB and make my case then move on, there was no need to beat a dead horse. After that I had begun not having quite as much fun with the guys, because I really started to notice all of the bickering going on.
Eventually I moved on to a not so local game store, and began having fun again. I taught them all the little optimization tricks that I had learned from the first group, and within a few months everyone was crushing each other with great highly optimized forces. I got the shop to run tournaments every other week on the opposite schedule to the local shop.
So by the time my buddy Sean got home I was playing in tournaments every weekend. I was all about ‘bringing it’ and winning, so much so that nothing else mattered. Heck I had even stopped painting or changing my list.
If I could go back and do it all again, I wouldn’t change all the memorable times I had at the two shops playing 40k and WFB, I would change my attitude. I just wasn’t being myself, I had adapted into being one of the group so that I’d fit in better. There is nothing wrong with that in a lot of cases, but you must be careful to stay true to yourself.
Now when I walk up to the gaming table I am all about creating a situation where both my opponent and I have a good, fun time. I honestly could care less about who wins or loses as long as we both walk away from the table; feeling satisfied that we both had fun.
The moral of the story is don’t be weak of character and always stay true to yourself.
Back to the question at hand; tournament play, when is enough, enough? It’s enough when you realize that you are only participating in small part of the miniatures wargaming hobby, there is so much more involved than participating in tournaments. Neglecting things like campaigns and scenario driven play is a shame. Hanging out with good friends throwing back a couple of brews can be just as, if not more satisfying than crushing some random guy at a tournament.
BTW if you are not listening to the Gamers Lounge Podcast click the link and do so. They have a great show with hosts that bring tournament discussion to a new level. IMHO