While perusing the following thread at Bell of Lost Souls, I came across:
There are a lot of threads just like this, but the comments by "Melissa" entered the realm of interest for me with this post.
Melissa: competitive players on average care nothing about balance except where their own side is weaker, and they frequently set out to ruin every game they play (example, whining about allowing one to select more than twelve units at a time in Starcraft 2).
Melissa: To me, a competitive player is usually one who is hardcore into tournaments, powergaming and takes every single advantage without remorse or regret.
My reply pretty much summarizes a lot of my stance:
Melissa, you're referring to an asshat, not a competitive player. Being competitive is the OPPOSITE of a sin. A tournament by definition is a COMPETITION. If you are not competitive, you should not attend.
Asshats are people who take every advantage at the expense of sportsmanship, good fun, and fair competition.
If you go to a tournament and are not attempting to win your games, why are you going? I have yet to meet someone who has fun when their opponent ****s around all game and doesn't care about the game at all.
Competitive simply = sportingly attempting to win to the best of your ability. This includes understanding and utilizing the rules of the game (notice: not abusing).
Asshat = well, being an asshat.
There's an enormous breadth of people in the hobby, especially the internet, who seem hellbent on changing the definition of the word "Competitive" into something foul and uncouth. It is far from it.
In general, one of my pet peeves - that my friends know all too well - is the branding of various playstyles or army build styles as "bad."
I think this generally falls into it as well.
1) There are players out there who do not care much for painting their armies, or for being sporting beyond playing by the rules of the game fairly. I think they're fine to play this way.
2) There are players out there who barely know the rules, but build and paint gorgeous and perfectly-themed armies. I think they're fine to play this way.
3) There are players out there who enjoy building competitive lists, painting them to a solid standard, having fun while playing, and winning when possible and within the rules of the game and a sporting attitude.
4) There are players out there who enjoy breaking the rules anytime they can, as a result of their opponent's ignorance, and who subsequently enjoy talking total crap about how awful their last victim in a tournament was. I think these people play reprehensibly.
5) There are players out there who bring well-painted armies that follow a very set theme, and then spend half their time bitching about #1 and #3 above. They say that they are just "hardcore competitive" types or that they don't like to have fun, or that they don't know what the hobby is all about. I think these people are reprehensible.
Sensing a theme? EVERYONE should compete who comes to a tournament, and in fact everyone does. They compete for the sake of competing (sportsmanship), they compete to win (best general and overall), they compete via their artistry (painting, conversion), or they compete via their imagination (fluff, theme, creativity).
The onus is on the tournament organizer to make sure it is clear exactly what type of competition is going on - will painting have a bearing on overall, will sportsmanship be judged, etc. - but the onus is on the players to only attend if it is an event that suits their own preferences.
If you attend and behave like #4 or #5 above, the fault lies entirely with you. It is not your opponents' responsibility to play the game the way YOU think it should be played. One of the wonderful things about Warhammer 40,000 is that it is so deep in terms of enjoyment styles and levels. You can play the very best lists and compete to win games, or you can play balanced lists and try to prove that they are better than "netlists," or you can paint gorgeous armies that compete for awards in such a category as painting or conversion scores, or you can bring a really cool and thematic list, compete with it and hope it does well. You can even do all of the above at once, or a combination of some.
What you can do, but should not do, is shit all over the people who do one of the above but simply do it differently from you. I played in a tournament the other day, and in the final round went up against a person using a non-optimized Tzeentch list that he'd done well with all day - made it to the final table. While I beat him, it was barely. What kind of a whore would I have been to pre-game diss on him for not bringing a "perfectly optimized list." Meanwhile, he was nothing but complimentary of my painted (decently) 5vendetta+straken+meltavet guard list. It was a great game, b/tween two players with subtly different means of enjoying a game. I barely won.
More players should be like that. I would love to run into more people who paint and convert BRILLIANT armies (as his was) and yet are able to tolerate other players competing as they wish, than continue to see - across the internet and the hobby - players who angrily exclude and excoriate play styles and preferences different from their own.
As an impending host of a tournament, it will naturally be my intent to create an event that caters to #'s 1-3 above (and all the subsets I'm not referencing), but certainly does NOT cater to the latter two.