The discussion on my recent post about the new Sisters of Battle codex taught me something I hadn’t really known about myself – when I play 40k I think of the games I play against my friends as the “proper games” and games I play in tournaments (and pick-ups against strangers at clubs) as training, and not really counting as real games. This is because to me the history of adapting and learning against a particular opponent, coupled with the relaxed atmosphere of hanging with your mates brings so much more depth to a game.
Games in competitive or formal environments on the other hand tend to be standardized in format and lack context. You meet someone, adjust to their personality (or not), play the game and move on. I go in competitions not to win (although I try my best) but to learn and gain experience so I can unleash new tricks on my friends when we meet to play a proper game.
I can understand too though that people could think of competition games as proper games, and casual games as training. We have some pretty decent prizes these days after all. This recent article on Bell of Lost Souls discusses such an attitude and whether it fits what GW games have historically been. I don’t think it does.
I guess also that if you go in competitions all the time, or play regularly at a club, the opponents may become your friends and rivals, and then you get the depth of having regular sparring partners and playing for the belt. But most of us do not regularly make the top tables, so this situation is actually pretty rare in reality.
So what do you think? Do you think casual games are the real games, or do only competition matches count? Or are you a freaky sword-saint of Warhammer who never trains, but instead treats every game no matter what as the real thing?