Monday, June 21, 2010
"Win At All Costs" in Action - Misused Phrases
So, my friends and I have oft discussed, and I've oft witnessed, the use of the term "win at all costs."
I think it's important to me as a player, tournament organizer, and competitor in all things to highlight and understand the subject ... especially since it rears its head most often during and in tournament settings.
I know a guy with a gorgeous, showcase-worthy and fluff-designed list he brings to tournaments.
I know a guy who will never go to a tournament without a perfectly optimized, spam-tastic power list.
I know a guy who puts all of his models on slightly too large custom bases. When he charges someone, he "succeeds" sometimes by just enough margin due to having a larger base. When someone shoots a weapon at him and is just barely in range of his base ... he claims they are out of range, b/c his base size should actually be a little smaller.
I know a guy who will shrug off every rules argument if it gets even a little heated and let it go his opponent's way, even if it means he's getting unfairly treated.
I'm still talking about the same 2 guys here. The fluff-built gorgeous army is the one who will take advantages for his modeling and deny his opponents fair return. The power gaming list builder is as considerate as it gets in a tournament setting.
I game with a group of players who, with few exceptions, take very optimized lists for their own play styles. Some of us are excellent painters, or converters (or both, damnit ... not me). What's relevant here is that when we all started playing together, the variety of the list caliber that we brought to the table was extreme. Nevertheless, a handful of us started the experience with very, very powerful lists (sometimes by accident, sometimes by design). Since we're all about as socially normal and easy going as it gets, there was no animosity toward anyone or FROM anyone about the armies hitting the table top. People simply adjusted. This is what competitors do ... they compete. Over time, the game meshed, all games became far closer, and the fun went up for almost everyone.
Cut to us meandering our way to tournaments, and perusing our way around the internet. Numerous blogs and forums out there proclaim the best ways to build lists and run armies, and how to play the game. For us ... merely by the chance of how we became 40k players ... it's "old news." What's that, a "best of" list? Boy it looks familiar. We don't think we had any influence on it ... we're just a few buddies. BUT these are conclusions that resulted from how we play together over time ... 40k isn't *that* complicated a game.
There are numerous players and groups that develop differently. Sometimes the most competitive and "win-oriented" people in the world never see their game elevated beyond a certain point, simply as a result of where and who they play with. Dialects of 40k, I suppose.
When a lot of us go to tournaments, without any malicious forethought, and with the same excellent sportsmanship we show in any game setting (including among buddies), we often "run over" players who are clearly competitive (sometimes too much so) but who are used to winning in lighter gaming circles on the power curve. Cut to EXAMPLE 1, of a fluff-based modeler and list builder who really doesn't compete with our best ... but who will take and nick every single possible advantage he can in a game.
TO THE POINT
Warhammer 40,000, and Warhammer Fantasy are extremely heterogeneous at the army build level. Most people tailor their army builds to the group they game with.
- GT and tournament "only" gamers who don't have a tight knit social group will tailor their lists to the all comers approach ... unless they're purely in it for the appearance awards, you can expect their lists will reflect the current literature on the web / blogs / etc., b/c they'll be tracking the tourney chatter and keeping in touch with what's currently winning tourneys, yatta yatta.
- Gamers who spend most of their time in local gaming stores or GW's playing are going to have ... probably whackier or less potent builds. The wide variety of "casual" or young gamers that frequent these locales often means you don't need to do as much list changing to win routinely.
- Gamers who spend most of their time playing with their social network or club / group are going to exhibit an enormous variety of list build. Some groups (i.e. mine) will be power built out the wazoo, some won't ... it's obviously not a practice of their powergaming or fluffgaming, but simply the potency required when you really don't play much outside of those regular opponents.
Here's something super important - none of the above says a damned thing about their attitude toward gaming and competition, and whether or not they are "Win At All Costs." It is so critically important that you all understand this when attending a tournament (especially one with such a variety of attendance as, say, the NOVA Open). If you don't, if you're incapable of enough deep/critical thought to recognize that a person's LIST does not reflect upon their CHARACTER by any necessary connection ... well, you'll be "that guy." YOU'LL be the Win At All Costs. Because when you lose a game, and instead of congratulating your opponent on the win ... you simply call his army cheesy, or wander around the hall complaining about how broken your opponent(s)' lists were ... well, that's just you attempting to "win" after all. I hope you realize this.
If you lose a game, but attempt to trample your opponent and slander his name afterward ... guess what - you're still trying to "win." The same applies to those who try to cheat during games when they know they cannot out think or out list their opponent. Both styles of player ... the post-game slanderer and the in-game cheater ... are the true "Win At All Costs." Avoid the abandonment of dignity, pride and true sportsmanship inherent to decrying your opponent's list and success as irrelevant. Avoid the same inherent to cheating.
Anyway, a ramble as usual ... but what do you all think of "Win At All Costs" as a label ... and what are your experiences with players you think/thought were "WAAC?"
To those attending the NOVA Open - anticipate that powerful lists will be present. They always are at big GT's. Prepare for it, or accept the inherent risk of not doing so. That said, your attitude and skill as a competitor are so much more important than the "perfection" of your list.
I'm going to open up 16 more 40k slots for the Open today.