Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To Be or not To Be (Competitive)

Often folks in our hobby speak of having to make a choice between a "fun" list and a "competitive" list. I don't understand the difference. And even after I ask these supposed "fun" players what makes them think they are having fun and us "competitive" players aren't having fun, I rarely receive an answer that makes sense.

So what is it that "fun" gamers do different than competitive gamers? They try to justify their lists through "fluff" reasons (fluff for any that aren't familiar with the term, means based on the story or history) or through "comp" (comp is short hand for composition, or the make up of your army. comp scores are given at some tournaments based off your army build) reasons. But to a competitive gamer, these fluff bunnies are breaking their own definition, because by limiting your composition, you are making things less fun for yourself. For instance, one thing that fluff bunnies dislike is spamming the same unit over and over again, however what if the army I am building relies on those core elements for the theme that my competitive list is going for? Or what if its the only option available (i.e. Necron warriors)?

And what exactly is not fun about trying to win? Isn't that the point of playing a game? A game, by definition, is  "an activity engaged in for diversion or amusement" Nothing in there says anything about winning, so I guess if I play a game i'm not supposed to win? Tell that to an NFL player, a Nascar team, or a Sculling Crew. Have these people trained their asses off to come out and play? Hell no, they came to win! Winning is fun!

Oh those are team sports you say, OK great, do you play Chess to pass the time? Have you ever played to a draw in Chess? Its the worst feeling on Earth! Do you play checkers because you want to get to know your opponent better? No you play these games to win.

Well folks, there is nothing wrong with playing to win a game. If people weren't supposed to win games, games would have never been invented. Have any of you ever won a game? How does that feel? Winning is one of the greatest feelings humans can ever feel. Its like watching fireworks for 36 hrs straight, it never gets old and it excites you every time! 

So why are competitive gamers looked down upon in 40k? 

I think it stems from GW putting out battle reports for years where players spend most of the 10 page report talking about all the fun they had using every unit they had available instead of making a list designed to win. I mean most 40kers have read White Dwarf over the years, and we know those lists are not designed to decisively win a game. "Really, Gav took 6 sternguard on foot and gave the Serg a combi-flamer?" "Wow look at all those Bio-Morphs on that Hive Tyrant, why would you spend 280 pts on him when you could just get Swarmlord for better flexibility?" "Wow did you see that Phil Kelly had 5 dire Avengers walking in that battle report against the non-mechanized non-Lash CSM list?" 

Another reason I believe competitive gamers are looked down on is because many competitive gamers are also WAAC (Win at all Cost) gamers. Sometimes that term is the same as calling someone a cheater or shady. Nobody strives to be TFG (that fucking guy) but most WAAC gamers are TFG. And many WAACers and TFGs are also self proclaimed competitive gamers. That doesn't bode well for us have fun while winning sort of folks. In reality, these players are not competitive, they are cheaters or assholes. Sometimes both. Nobody likes TFG, not even TFG's mother, nor Jesus.

It boils down to this, if you think competitive gaming isn't fun, maybe you should try to win a few times. I think all us competitive guys will agree that winning is what keeps us all coming back. The challenge of building a list that can completely shalack the other guy is fun, the challenge of breaking that person down on the battlefield is lots of fun, and talking shit to those guys on forums, Facebook, or whereever is also fun.

What do you guys think? Are competitive gamers not having fun? Do fluff bunnies make up excuses to lose?



  1. I believe that many gamer's who say they play "just for fun" are actually competitive gamer's that get tired of losing, so if you aren't really in it to win it, then you didn't really lose right? I say this, because I have seen many self labelled competitive gamers change to playing "just for fun" after either an edition change or maybe new competitition shows up that challanges their ability. So rather then adapt they give up.

    On the flip side I am VERY competitive but I also really want my opponent to have a good time. I can also lose gracefully and even have fun in the process, especially if it was to a new tactic or innovative strategy.

  2. @dy_namic_ Untrue. See Starcraft: competitive gamers there are hailed. Also, Magic: the gathering. And Chess. And virtually any sports. They're there because they have pushed their limits and the game's limits. To be good, you must have an attitude that you want to win. True, it's not about winning. it's about trying to win, and what you've learned from that experience

  3. I think its not so much that winning is bad.. its the whole winning with out grace.. its how you handle yourself after you've completely decimated your opponent that causes such loathing of "the competitive player" mix that in with the WAAC/TFG players and winning in 40k means you're a douche.