Sunday, May 26, 2013

Playing Like a Bro

Or "How to play in tournaments without being a complete douche (ie me)".

*Warning: What follows is simply my ever-evolving opinion on Sportsmanship. If you disagree, cool (feel free to comment!). If you're offended, relax. We're just rolling dice my brother.

Many of you may be wondering why I'd write this bad boy up as opposed to my much more sporting colleagues (like Sportsmanship Award Winners Phaneuf or Ruins), and honestly, I'm not even sure.  I'll be the first to admit that I can be pretty tricksy during games, and much like the French commander from which I take my name (Nabroleon), I have a tendency to apply brutal force to weak points in my opponent's army to quickly and decisively win.  Add in some solid luck at key moments, and my opponents sometimes wish they'd never been matched up against me!

While this is great for the Battle score, this can have a fairly detrimental impact on my Sportsmanship score.  Not only has it lost me a few points in the "Would I play this army/opponent again category", but it's highly possible that I've lost out on a few (or many) "Favorite Opponent" votes due to this style (also for being a dick in general, but that's not something I'll get into here).  As tournament regulars know, these Sports points can be key to getting an Overall award (and rarely can one win without at least a solid score in this category).

More importantly, I think, is moving past the scores and looking at how one's play affects their opponent's game and general enjoyment.  This is a concept that I think some tournament goers (myself included) sometimes forget.

There are some (few, I think) people in this world that want to go balls-out all the time and don't really care whether they win or lose.  The competition and strategy does it for them, regardless of how they do in the game (they could get tabled and still have a good time knowing they went all-out).  This seems like a rare mentality.  The vast majority of players, on the other hand, would prefer to always be involved in the game somehow (whether they want to feel like they participated in a back-and-forth game, see an awesome/epic battle unfold before their eyes, or actually win something--most players don't want to get completely hosed).

Thus, building/playing an army/style with the intent to frustrate and/or deny your opponent's ability to play not only hurts your score, but also prevents your opponent from having a good time (I won't go into much list-building here--you can look to Ruin's recent article from a few days ago for that).  Can you win without utterly crushing your opponent? Yes. Do you need to send that 3rd Purple Sun down that Ogre player's line? Bro...

And shit, I'm not trying to go all high-and-mighty here. I've never shot a 3rd Purple Sun at someone, but I've done my fair share of hobby killing. In fact, the last time I used Purple Sun in a game was a hobby-killer, and although it was on one of the top tables in a large event, I couldn't shake the fact that I had completely soured that player's tournament. Since then, I haven't used Purple Sun and don't plan on it unless I a) have no other way to deal with something--ie Frosthearts or WoC Daemon Princes (but then I don't feel too bad, since unless it takes Hellcannons, WoC don't really have much for tools against those) or b) am matched against an opponent that either is as douchey as me or we have an agreement to go balls-out (Dale Bartz and I do this, but that's 'cause we're eternal rivals--he took Charmander after I chose Bulbasaur. What a dick!).  But 6th level spells aren't the only things that can hurt your opponent's game either--there's a lot more to solid Sportsmanship.

Since this is getting long (and I only have so much free time for blogging), here's a short list of things I've learned that allow your opponent a better time in your games (and for those of you that care, might get you a better Sports score!):

1) Be careful of the nuke spell that peels off huge chunks of your opponent's army. Purple Sun, Dwellers, Final Transmutation, Dreaded 13th, etc. Does that mean you can never use them? Not at all. If your opponent death-stars (a bunch of tooled up characters in a huge unit meant to deny points and crush your soul), then by all means, Dwellers away. Those spells, while scary, are meant (in my opinion) to be the counter to death-stars (and this balance is also why I think ETC rules are silly, but again, I'm deviating).  But if your opponent is balanced, spread out, and simply playing solidly, maybe consider buffing your units and going into combat. Give both of you the chance to roll some dice.

2)  Be transparent.  Declaring what you're doing is many times part of the game (swift reforms, marching, etc), but there's an extra here that involves not wanting to catch your opponent by surprise. You don't have to play his/her game for them, but saying "I'm lining up this unit to be able to overrun into that unit--cool?" goes a long way.  I've gone as far as to tell people charge/overrun angles as they move and laying down an arc template for them, just so I don't catch them off-guard when their intent was to protect flanks or units behind their lines.

3) Don't be a ninja-dice-picker-upper. Roll your shit and let it sit for a second. Hell, I've started picking up failed rolls (wounds, hits, etc) just so people don't think I'm scrambling to pick up the hits and am covering up the misses. Most people appreciate this, especially if you have dice that are tough to see.

4) Careful about being completely shooting focused (I said I wasn't gonna do much list construction, but this is worthy I think). Some armies rely somewhat on their big guns and that's cool. Shooting brings balance to your army (spoken from a poor WoC player...).  But focusing your army on completely peeling off your opponent's models before combat makes for a shitty game. Back when I played a shootier Brets list, I actually took serious hits to my Sports score because I lobbed Treb shots and peppered people with bowmen before charging in. And that was with Brets, an army generally considered one of the worst. It's not fun to pull off models without getting to do anything, and while it's part of the game, it might be something one does in moderation if they care about their opponent's game.

5) Buy your new friend a beer after the game. Nothing goes with Warhammer stories like beer.

That's about it for now. If people like this enough, I can go further into some more discussion on it. And again, if you disagree, there's a shiny comment button at the bottom of this page!



Michael Butcher said...

Well said Mike, well said...

Hinge said...

Excellent article. You don't need to put on a fake act to try and get decent sports scores, most players see through this anyways and don't appreciate it if you are shoving their face in. Just be precise and transparent, take your panic tests and DT tests with out having to be reminded every freaking time by your opponent,Don't try and take advantage of every ambiguous rule out there, and look your opponents in the eyes and shake their hand before you start.


Nabroleon said...

Hi Mike,


Totally agree on the fakeness bit. I can understand why people would be fake about it, but it's definitely not something people appreciate. Gotta feel the sportsmanship bug from the heart bro!


Unknown said...

Just won my first best sports award at a 40 player 2 day event this weekend.

What I did:
1. Played a list that was not totally cookie cutter, but it did contain a lot of hard elements but mostly combat focused. Army was TK by the way.

2. Lost 4/6 games, if you lose whilst giving someone a good smash up game they enjoy it even more!

3. Get into combat and try to score as many vps as possible, people love everything to be fighting, makes every dice roll all the more tense.

4. Play the rules correctly, if your opponent gets something wrong correct them and just play on. An example was the WE I faced where I beat his 6 treekin unit up and he failed his LD by 1, general was out of 12" but was a treeman, he said out so failed and I pointed out the large target 18" rule.

5. Play the bad matchups with a smile, faced a (old book) HE list with double S7 banishment and double white lions which is basically an game over for TK. Friendly abuse before the game started about how he should smash me then tried my hardest to make a game of it and kept it respectable by killing as much of his army as I could - everything but the WL and characters in the end.

6. Don't take it too seriously, win or lose does it really matter, it's toy soldiers. Also win with grace, don't apologise and don't play it safe. There is nothing worse than someone being down big and having no chance to play a game because you're just backing off, push home the victory and give the player the credit of a well fought game where it just didn't work for them.

7. Buy beer, but not too much!

Nabroleon said...

Thanks for the comment Dave! I like the list--added some solid elements to my own (playing bad match-ups with a smile especially--that tends to really get people bent out of shape!).

Congrats on the Sports award--sounds like it was well-earned bro.

Post a Comment