Of Mice, Men and Munchkins

About a year and a half ago I got introduced to the wonderful gaming community at Twitter. It was very healthy group, people who are actual hobbyists, people who share ideas and tactics regardless of the gaming system. It’s still a very healthy group (when I say “healthy” I mean it has no competitiveness problems, no douchebags and no sell-outs), and I’m glad I can call myself a member.

One thing got me very interested in this group and that was that whenever I said I was a GW fan (and a Privateer Press anti-fan) and that I like playing tournaments, people would just respond with question marks and confusion, like I was something from a fairy tale. I didn’t knew what was going on (I had hints and ideas, but nothing concrete) up until about 8 months ago when I heard that the ETC is coming to my country this year. For those of you who are not aware, the European Team Championship is the greatest yearly tournament there is. It brings the best of them, and it shows the best gaming there is. I was so happy that it is in my country, saving me drastic traveling fees and enabling me to participate in such a great event.

Now… I don’t want to even know about it.

No, the event didn’t come and go; I didn’t get last or something like that. Instead, I learned what it actually means to be a competitive gamer and what do tournaments look like. I also learned why all the hate behind GW and all the praise behind Privateer Press.

Before I continue, a small digression: I dislike Privateer Press on a purely personal note. I never found their rules appealing, their miniatures are metal which is something I’m not interested in (and while I do like the concept of a Jack I have yet to find one whose looks appeal to me). Not sure about their fluff, but the gamers here locally were the worst of the worst when it came to the game. Munchkinism, rule loopholes, “inventive” thinking, the works. Personally, I hate that. Rules are there to speed up the game, not to be dug for potential misuse.

Back to ETC. I always found the 40k gamers to be friendly, not too competitive yet not too fluffy if you know what I mean. Everything was there, the willingness to explain the rules, to adapt to the situation, to make great tactics, to help the opponent learn the rules and enjoy the hobby. It was confusing when I heard how 40k gamers are acting abroad (namely in the western states). Rude playing, disregard for terrain, overuse of loopholes in the rules, radical interpretations of rules that were very clearly written if you consider them a narrative assistance to your game (I don’t swing either towards RAI or RAW, I’m more of a “as is” person xD). Those were the characteristics of Warmachine players here, what was going on here? Then I heard Warmachine is preferred for the same reasons as it is here, for those same rule-digging attitudes, but the rules themselves for Warmachine are more, how should I say, deliberately written to be dug. No thank you.

Wil Wheaton is dreamy…

As my training for ETC progressed (if you can call it that), I soon realised what the issue with 40k tournament gamers was. They are exactly the same as the local Warmachine players. The Warmachine tournament players were even worse! I couldn’t believe what was I reading, everything was thrown out the window for the sake of competitive play and who is the best of the best – in a game where dice are heavily used. In fact this was another topic, people were upset because GW was increasing the dice factor, instead of diminishing it. The hate also stemmed from GW putting out boxes of miniatures that weren’t “optimized” for best army list play. While I have not dwelled into Privateer Press prices, I sure as hell ain’t gonna buy something just because it’s effective on the table. This isn’t MtG. At one point during my “training” I just… had enough. This isn’t the game I played. This isn’t my definition of fun. Competitive play and fun play shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. That was in May.

I haven’t played a game of 40k since. Hopefully that will change soon, since I really like the game. As for Warmachine, thanks to some very kind persons in the Twitterverse I found out there are healthy WM gamer groups too. They’re ultra-rare, but they’re there. So there is still hope the game will stop being ultra-competitive and chess-like and become more, well, fun.

This was supposed to be a hobby. A game between friends. A time where you assemble something then show off, then see whether it can withstand the rules. Then adapt the rules if needed be for the story. I have no idea when it became a serious competitive game, this miniature wargaming. However, what I dislike most about it is that I’m one of the rare ones who think it shouldn’t be like this. To add insult to injury, 90% of the gamers are bashing down GW for every little mistake they make, and even for some things that aren’t mistakes and are intended to be like that. Nit-picking about every single detail that GW could have done better, yet no other company is mentioned, for good or for bad, just that they’re better only because they’re *not* GW.

Maybe I should stick to computer games… oh, wait, they screwed that up too, everything is FPS now, no more turn-based strategies or RTS-es. What’s left? Books?

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