Thursday, May 8, 2014

The 4 Mantras of 40k: Play your game, let others play theirs

Keeping it Positive: The 4 Mantras for 40k: Play your game, let others play theirs

Patron God: Nurgle. Live and let live kinda guy. He's friendly and wants to give you his gifts of friendship.

Backgound Information (not important if you want to get to the Crunch below)

40k attracts many kinds of individuals, ranging in ages from pre-teen to older adults. Some come to the hobby at a young age, while others might not buy their first model until their mid-40's. Most, if not all, 40k players have some nerd quotient. My nerd quotient started as a child, with my father reading me books about Tom Swift Jr.. We watched Star Wars as a family, and in addition to a swingset, we had a plywood shuttlecraft in the backyard. My first model was a cardboard airplane glued together, which the dog promptly ate. I was devastated and my dad went and bought me a F-15 fighter model that we assembled and painted together. I was hooked.

My nerd quotient increased as a Boy Scout, when my friends spent many campouts and patrol meetings playing Magic the Gathering, Risk, Axis and Allies, Star Wars CCG. I enjoyed these games but enjoy playing none of these games today. When I was 16 the same group of friends picked up a Boxed Set of 3rd Edition 40k: Spaz Marines vs Dark Eldar. The first time I saw 40k being played was on a couple chemistry classroom tables pushed together on afterschool day at science club.

I don't remember what I thought at that time, but I remember that within weeks, I had the beginnings of my Steel Legion army (one infantry squad and a Chimera). By Xmas I had the army boxed set and was well on my way to 40k enthusiast. What really started me as a lifelong 40k player was reading Dan Abnett's first three Gaunt's Ghost books.

(The Crunch Starts Here)

I'm sure many (most) 40k players all have a similar story, while other 40k players have a much different story, of how they got into the hobby. For me it was a love of science fiction, building models, friendships, and great fiction. My game is to collect armies that match the fluff, build models, and play friendly games with friends while drinking a few beers.

Other players, and from my observations, the most vocally negative on the Internetz, are the FLGS pickup crowd. I am no knocking this market segment, because I've played many games of 40k at the FLGSs here in Indiana. For many 40k players, the FLGS scene is their only opportunity to play 40k.

The prevailing business model of many FLGS for other games (specifically CCGs and prepainted miniatures games.) By providing a location for players to meet up and get a game of whatever (40k, MtG, Heroclix) in, the FLGS acts as a facilitator and clearing house for players to meet-up. And every time someone plays a game at the FLGS and looses, its so easy for that player to look at the rack of models or binder full of cards and buy whatever they think will win them the next game.

All that is needed is a single coincidence of wants (I want to play MtG, you want to play MtG.) In the FLGS environment, I've found that there is a mix of four kinds players: new (and new-to-the-area) players, veteran competitive gamers trying out a tournament list, veteran narrative gamers trying to meet new 40k gamers, and players that are "that guy." This environment is competitive rather than collaborative. The tournament scene is an extension of the FLGS model. And that is great for some players, its just not for me. I've played too many games against "That Guy" and been rickrolled by the latest FOTM netlist enough times to convince me that games at the FLGS just ain't for me.

FLGS by their very nature drive out players like myself: hobbyists that collect many many models (full companies 4TW) who need online discount retailers to stay solvent, enjoy having a beer or 2 with their game, and would much rather play with a friend than someone they just met. We retreat away from the FLGS to basements and garages, forming close-nit but isolated groups that try to Forge the Narrative through fun games and cool campaigns. Now conventions are something entirely different. Adepticon is so close that I need to go, and it has something for every type of miniatures gamer.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, or if you span both groups (more power to you), don't ever forget there is always another side to the hobby and game. Tournaments might not be your thing, but that doesn't mean a tournament player's opinions or perspectives on balance are invalid. And if you are a competitive FLGS or tournament player, try to maintain respect for your opponent and don't be "that guy." Instead, strive to be more like "this guy."

Father Nurgle (GW) loves all his children: the ones who play in tournaments, in FLGS, and in basements and garages. As long as you offer up your hard earned (or trust fund) Cash for the Cash God to buy your plastic models and hardbound rulebooks, you've appeased GW. Once you've bought it, you've got to own it: by playing YOUR game how YOU want to play. Don't let anyone negative on the internetz or That Guy at the FLGS tell you differently.

No comments:

Post a Comment