Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why being a nice guy could be the best thing you do for the hobby

You know, I have been thinking a lot about what this blog conveys as its message.  A dominating theme of many of the well known blogs out there is competitive play.  I think that is fine and dandy, but I think there is a hitch in the outcome that those blogs are trying to achieve and the perceived point of wargaming. 

Tactical blogs (what I will call the blogs whose purpose is best described as list building, competitive play, and tactics) focus on trying to strengthen the hobby and community by helping players achieve high quality results with their armies in competitive settings.  I think this is a good thing as it promotes solid knowledge of the rules and game mechanics.  These things overall, help the community.  You all know of those times where you played against someone who had a poor grasp of game mechanics or who tried to twist rules into pretzels and how annoying that can be.  A fundamentally sound gaming community is a huge blessing.  However, the has to be something said for sportsmanship. 

My reasons for creating a blog that focuses on the hobby and on toned down, less optimized lists is because ultimately, I think the mindset of the gamer helps the community out.  Being a good sportsman is central to creating a good gaming community, even more so than knowing the rules (I AM NOT ENDORSING THAT PLAYERS NOT LEARN THE RULES WELL).  Here are my reasons for thinking so.

1) Tactical blogs are great, but only a small percentage of gamers achieve the level that these players idolize as the gold standard.  Also, included in this is the fact that this is a game of dice.  You can't plan for all occurrences, though stabilization measures can be taken to aid you achieve some consistency.  Finally, even at competitive events, a sub-optimal (not necessarily fluff bunny) list can do well in the hands of an experienced general and min-maxed, optimized lists can do poorly for various reasons.  I know this sounds like a dig against those tactical blogs out there, but it isn't.  I value them for the information they bring to the normal player (like me) and hope that they continue to do so as new books and editions come out. Stressing less about being tactically perfect, however, allows you to enjoy yourself more, come across as a nice guy more, and ultimately gain a better reputation as both a good gamer and a good sport.

2) Competitive games (read: tournament games) are a relatively small percentage of games played by a gamer.  Most games are played in casual environments in homes, local gaming stores, and at clubs where there is little to no stress.  Why bring stress with you?  Even tournament prep is generally played with friends who are willing to help a gungho tourney player out.

3) This is a multiplayer game.  This one is obvious.  In general, you want to get along with the people you play against or you quickly find yourself with no one who can tolerate you.  Being a nice guy insures that you get games with people, that people you play are amicable towards you, and that they will want to play with you again.

4) Being a nice guy helps to create a climate that people want to join in on.  I come from a background in WFB. As such, before my current LGS opened, a few buddies of mine and I would play at the local GW store which happened to be in a mall.  The GW guys loved having us play because 1) we knew how to play, 2) we had nicely painted armies, and 3) people who watched us play well and enjoy ourselves and each other's company wanted to play.  We were living, breathing advertising for the hobby.  We complain a lot about where the hobby is now and how communities decline, but we have to wonder if we are advertising well for it. 

So, let's wrap it up.  What is this guy saying?  Well, I am not saying to forget rules knowledge and solid gameplay and tactics.  These are cornerstones to the game.  They make playing the game more enjoyable and rewarding.  We wouldn't be playing a tabletop wargame if we didn't want some kind of tactical challenge.  I am also not saying that you have to soften yourself up to make friends.  I rarely bring an army that isn't somewhat competitive.  I play such armies as Space Wolves with razorback spam and missile spam and Vulkan Marines.  I like bringing a gun to a gunfight. 

I am saying that your attitude towards others and the hobby goes a long way in creating a cohesive community that is vibrant and growing.  Ultimately, when you are finished with a game, two things go through your head, your overall performance and impressions of the guy you played. Don't be the jerk that no one likes simply because you want to be competitive.  Don't use "being competitive" as a cover for being a jerk.  I know many a competitive person who are awesome sportsmen.

So, ultimately, what's your goal with the hobby, to enjoy yourself, to see a community grow, and have a bunch of friends to play toy soldiers with, or to have a little trophy and a few minutes of the limelight?

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