As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t posted anything here on the blog since the eve of the big tournament I was attending at the end of November. A couple of months has gone by without a peep from me for various reasons, for which I apologise and hang my head in weary shame. So, what are the reasons for my slovenliness? Well…
1. Seasonal madness. As always Christmas comes and goes and with it the head spinning frenzy of family, friends and functions means that between work deadlines and last minute gift shopping there really isn’t that much time for blogging in December. It’s also supposed to be a holiday, so I feel a bit of time off should be taken 🙂 Chinese New Year was also early this year, so there was barley any respite before diving headlong into another festive period.
2. Relocation relocation. No, I am not appearing on the awesome channel four TV show of the same name (they say never meet your heroes, and Phil and Kirstie are well up on that list!), but rather we will be relocating to another country in the next few months. The last time we did this it was just the two of us and it was a bit of a nightmare, but this time we have two kids in tow so stress levels are currently elevated to say the least.
3. 40k Fatigue. Neither of the above were in themselves enough to probably stop me posting anything on the blog during this time. The real killer was something that we have all experienced at some time during our hobby life – burnout.
The tournament was the main cause of this – not only did I set myself too big a task in getting the battle company painted and ready (even painted to such a low standard) but there were also the warm up games I tried to squeeze in beforehand, the hours spent writing the short story to accompany the army submission, as well as the draining nature of the two day tournament itself.
Aside from these ‘physical factors’ of the fatigue though, there was a much deeper psychological fatigue related to the tournament, which I will go into detail of a lot more in the tournament write up (when I can face doing it). Needless to say the majority of people I played and spoke to at the tournament were very nice, well intentioned and friendly.
However, the attitudes of a small handful really left me wondering why to even bother attending tournaments in the future and whether the ‘competitive’ side to the hobby is, in some aspects, inherently toxic to some people.
First up there was a poor turn out this year. Last year they had 32 players, but this year were down to less than half of that. Only 16 people registered, and one of those dropped out on the day. That’s not really anyone’s fault, and certainly not the organizers (who did a great job), but it is a bit dispiriting to see such a poor attendance and kind of starts the whole thing off on the wrong foot.
As I said, the TOs generally did an awesome job in setting up the event and keeping everything running more or less smoothly, especially when dealing with the fact that the GW FAQ became official the day before! Well done to the chaps at Fun Atelier for doing a stand up job!
One of the recurring themes at this event was people complaining. There was a lot of moaning about lists, and not just the usual banter (oh yeah, playing Eldar are we? Ha ha, let’s just say GG and get a pint shall we? :). No, that kind of banter would have been a welcome relief and usually serves as a good icebreaker between strangers at tournaments.
Unfortunately the moaning encountered here was a general air of negativity with people complaining endlessly about any faction other than their own to anyone that would listen. This came to a head when I heard Space Marines being declared as ‘over powered’ by a player fielding a Farsight Enclaves list filled with the usual formations.
The mind truly boggles at the hypocrisy on show, and for me it soured my enjoyment of the event somewhat. Now I know that this is to some degree a reflection of the recent tsunami of releases from GW and the rules bloat that has come with it, but I think it also reflects the attitude that you bring in with you to the event.
The other defining feature for me was the level of WAAC-ness on display. Again, this was not in any way being displayed by the majority of players, but just a small band of guys who arrived with both eyes on the cup and who were not gonna leave without it come what may. Sure, I understand it’s a tournament and people want to win, but the amount of rule lawyering, measurement and LOS quibbling, bogus rule interpretations and ‘gaming for advantage’ was truly staggering. And of course the main culprits got what they wanted and ended up at the top table.
I know this is coming off a bit like sour grapes, but I never set out to win the tournament, and I think my list reflects the fact that I was interested more in fluffiness and having a good game than taking max points out of each game. For me it was more the injustice of having what should have been a great weekend of gaming and meeting new people ruined by a small number of equally small minded people. Which was a real shame, because a couple of the guys I met at the tables were great fun and were an absolute pleasure to play against.
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for competitive gaming, and yes I know I have a choice not to bother attending such events. But this isn’t the ITC circuit. The tournament styles itself as a friendly and inclusive experience for meeting new people and reflecting all aspects of the hobby (scoring for sportsmanship, painting standard, etc) and not a ‘no holds barred’ battle royal of egos and netlists.
My opportunity to attend such events is extremely limited – this is the only one in Hong Kong, and I have very little time for casual gaming throughout the year – and I would rather enjoy it than leave feeling jaded by the hobby I love. If you feel the inherent need to prove to the world that you are the best at playing toy soldiers, then please go do it somewhere where I don’t have to be a part of it.
I really don’t want this to come off as a tirade against competitive gaming, because it’s not. I enjoy reading batreps from the LVO as much as the Fluffy narrative driven ones from someone’s basement. There is absolutely a place for it in the hobby, and if that’s what you love then more power to your elbow, but does it have to come at the cost of ruining everyone else’s day?
A common refrain thrown at those causal players complaining about competitive gamers is that no one is forcing you to play at tournaments, so if you don’t like it stay away. That’s a fair comment, which is why you will never see me at an ITC event or the LVO. However, if I am expected to show that kind of restraint in choosing what events I attend then I would expect the same from the other side of the spectrum. If you are of a competitive bent, then maybe don’t come down to the local fluff-fest and crush all before you. No one is forcing you to attend and show what a jerk you are
Anyway, that’s enough complaining for one post. I’ll try to get back into the groove once the after effects of all that Christmas Ale and Egg Rolls have worn off.
Hope you all had an exceptionally Merry Christmas and have started the New Year with a bang! Game on 2017!