Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rarkthor's Response: The Nature of the 40k Tournament Scene

I have posted the link above for context. Read the article first, in case my response seems confusing.

Torrent of Fire has posted these "Weekend in Review" articles, pretty much every week since the creation of the website. Often, these posts do call out for the normalization and standardization of the 40k tournament scene. It has been a fairly constant theme and concept proposed by the author and creator of the site, Chip Boyd.

I find the major obstacles for this goal are two-fold: the lack of standardization from Games Workshop and the mentalities of 40k gamers.

The first issue is self-evident. Games Workshop has given up on the tournament scene in most ways. 'Ard Boyz is a thing of the past, and Games Day tournaments have not been held in years. It is easy to see that the design behind Games Workshop games is intended for narrative/beer and pretzels gaming. There is nothing wrong with that mentality, but for many, the competitive aspect of the game has a very strong allure (myself included).

The second issue, however, can be divided into two groups: The Tournament Organizers and the Players.

Tournament Organizers are motivated folks who only wish to put on a great event for their players. I, having organized several tournaments of various flavors, harbor a great respect for these individuals and their staff. They are Gentlemen beyond compare. That being said, I think that they have very specific ideas about how the game is best played. This is extremely evident in the NOVA open style, and it is also evident in the BAO style event (I use these tournaments as examples, since they are considered the major East and West coast events, respectively). These concepts do not necessarily co-exist together, for these ideas are often the product of the Organizer and their staff pooling their understanding and conceptions of the game. It then becomes difficult to compromise certain elements of the game to reach a standard. It is worth noting that 40k gamers in particular are generally smart individuals; however, sacrificing creative children is not an easy task for a gamer. This is not a slight on the two organizers specifically, but it is, instead, an observation that has held true over my years of gaming.

The Players suffer from a similar issue, but it is different in its nature. Players are often seeking the best scenario for their own interests. Eldar players really enjoy having a massive arc of fire for their Wave Serpents, and Daemon players would have been elated to have summoned Objective Secured troops. They are willing to ignore the balance of the game as a whole, if the imbalance benefits them personally. This mentality creates a concept of "What rules and standards will benefit me the most?" A Tau player loves having little terrain and firing lanes the size of Texas, so they "don't mind the terrain." An Ork player will put forth a recommendation to increase terrain. So, since there is no real standardization from GW, players will argue for their own benefits. There is no correct answer, so they can argue from any direction they see fit. No justification required.

I anticipate some to disapprove of these ideas based on their somewhat (or very depending on the author's perspective) negative slant. I can only say that this is my own philosophy, and I acknowledge the skeptical nature of it. I am also a 40k Gamer, and I am fully aware that I have my conceptions and ideas about the game. I try my damnedest to hold my opinions and create events that are ubiquitously fair and even, regardless of my true feelings on the issue. An example I would give is the inclusion of a painting score. Personally, I don't care if you bring the infamous Grey Army of Grey Doom, but the players that create well sculpted and fully painted armies deserve some recognition for their work. That is, in my mind, fair. 

These gamer base issues are really the impediments that the 40k tournament scene faces. I hope that someone will be able to unite the masses and bring standardization to the competitive scene of 40k. To do this though, the personalities will need to be quelled long enough to achieve results. 

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more here regarding us players and the TOs/judges among all of the events we attend. It's a mixture of frustration and understanding because I personally give organizers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the decisions that are made regarding list construction, FAQs, terrain, and mission format. It's unfortunate that not everyone can be so trusting due to the amount of foul play/mistakes that have occurred in the past, but as a whole, I believe that every event is a learning experience for everyone, especially during a year in which a new edition drops.

    In regards to rules decisions that seem to nerf aspects of any one army in particular, it's understandable when people get defensive about a perceived bias against them, but we have to accept that decisions are made in favor of not breaking the game, and not specifically to give someone an advantage over another. It's true, I would have loved to summon ob sec units at will, but would that have really been fair? Instead, I knew what I was getting into from the start, and had to plan for it accordingly. The only thing I can think of that could be done better as a whole would be more transparency when it comes to FAQ decisions, though I've been told that this didn't work when it was done in the past. The rate of evolution for these FAQs is also so quick due to the amount of content released in the last 2 years, makes the job all the more difficult for the volunteers who are trying to create a balanced and fair environment, which is only exacerbated by the communities calls for the inclusion of escalation, stronghold, and Forgeworld.

    In the end, we can make requests until we're blue in the face, but the limited resources will always prevent full satisfaction from the community as a whole, at least until we finally see a decline in the release of content from GW. Until then, all we can do is ask for FAQs and mission packets in far enough advance of the event so we can then make an educated decision as to whether we'll enjoy it or not. The decline in attendance across every GT since 7th ed was released is disappointing, but I believe that things will rebound once things have finally settled down. It took the community long enough to accept that 6th Ed needed balancing, I see it as a positive sign that they've started making adjustments from the start in 7th. Comp may be a dirty word to some people out there, but it's something we all have to accept in one form or another if we want our hobby to bounce back from the recent dip in tournament attendance.