I make no secret about being a casual gamer, and it just struck me that some of you might wonder why I go in tournaments at all.
When we read someone’s blog it might seem like we know that person, but really it’s more like we’re getting a thin slice of their personality. Even if you piece an entire blog together, I don’t think you’d get anything like an accurate picture of the author, as any collection of writing is going to mutate and change in response to its own history. There’s also this massive temptation to conform to your own online persona, especially when you start to build up a group of peers and regular sparring-partners. I try to resist that temptation to conform to digital me, but sometimes that means that what I write from one post to the next may seem contradictory to a reader. Online people are so much simpler than meat people.
So I thought I’d write something positive, and give you all a bit of insight into why I play in competitive events at all. This post is partly inspired by Thor’s post urging people to try out playing in a store. It made me think about the good things in the hobby, which is always welcome in the generally negative online environment.
I’m not the biggest tournament attendee, but I do try to make them when I can. Here’s six reasons why:
1. It’s exciting playing people you’ve never played before in a structured environment. I love playing my regular opponents, and that’s where the greatest nail-biting narratives of revenge and hope take place, but tournaments are unique, and a bit nerve-wracking and exciting in a way that playing at home just isn’t.
2. They make me feel connected to the community in a physical way. Talking about stuff online is all well and good. But come on, the game is the thing, and you gotta be there in person for that. Tournaments are like a festival where gamers come from miles around to gossip and perform feats of legend.
3. I’ve never actually had a bad time. Exhausting, maybe. Bad? No. I’ve found in every tournament I’ve been in that you get your super-competitive meta-player sword-saints, and your casual peeps who are just there for… well, for most of the reasons I’m listing here probably. The way the games play out, you’ll most likely end up playing people like yourself, unless you’re one of those unfortunate people who really really wants to be a super-competitive meta-player sword-saint and you just suck. Those people are not fun to play against when you’re fighting for the wooden spoon, I can tell you. But everyone else, if they know their limitations and their strengths, will give you a fun, memorable game. Whether they are a Dwarf player using his mates Tau in his first ever 40k game, or the guy who is in the top 5 in Australia and goes on to win the tournament. Both of these I played with last event I was in, and both gave me a great game.
4. It gives me inspiration to paint and build to the best of my ability. Painting for yourself and your (politely supportive) significant other is all well and good. But there’s nothing like having a bunch of strangers come up to you and tell you your Death Riders are awesome.
5. I feel like I’m experiencing an aspect of the hobby that’s important to many people. The competitive table-top gaming community is loud, and opinionated, and dominates the blogosphere – although not, I suspect, the community as a whole. I like to be a well-rounded gamer if I’m going to game at all. It’s part of my casual ethos. I don’t always want to be competitive (in fact, I hardly ever do), but I don’t like to be afraid of any aspect of the hobby. I like to get in there and give it a go.
6. As a blogger, I feel better spouting opinions when I know what I’m talking about. So you might have noticed that I like talking on the net about stuff, and I can get as opinionated as the next collection of electrical signals. Inevitably, tournaments are going to come up (see point no. 5 above), and I’m going to want to say something. But I’m all about honesty online and not misrepresenting myself. I’d feel like a fraud if I talked about tournaments without ever actually going in them. You can rest assured that when I say something about the tourney scene it’s from personal experience.
So yeah. I urge people to give it a go, even if you’re a casual player. What’s the worst that can happen, you lose a few games?*
*The worst that can happen is you knock your Death Riders off the table and your sergeant loses his right arm forever.