This is in response to an interesting post, found at: http://www.baldandscreaming.com/commentary/my-manifesto-part-i/
By the way Danny Internets has framed the debate, he demonstrated through logic that fun vs. “competitive” is not a real dispute since competitive players also play for fun. Unfortunately for us all this does not neatly wrap up the issue.
Let’s put aside the cheating, aggressive asshats that partially populate any competitive arena. We can call them WAAC players, or tool factories, or douchenozzles, whatever. They do not represent a faction or philosophy; they represent their own insecurities and moral failings. Bad sportsmanship is not really the issue here.
It is clear that competitive players are out there. They build lists to win, they play to win, and they attempt to exploit any weakness in the opponent’s strategy and deployment. They will not try to win at all costs… because they won’t cheat, bully their opponent, stall the clock, etc. This is a war game, and there are rules established to hopefully ensure a fair and balanced experience. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this style of play. It is a matter of taste.
The so-called “fun players” should not be called “fun players” because everyone in the hobby is looking to have fun in their own way. We don’t really need to label everyone, we can call them hobby players or whatever but in reality everyone is on a continuum. Someone could conceivably win both best painted and best general because playing and collecting are separate realms. In any case, some players want to incorporate a story or theme within what they play. This will limit their selections, and therefore limit the potential effectiveness of their army list. This could be as low-key as taking a couple useless pieces of wargear because it fits the fluff, or your whole army could be made up of sub par units because it matches models you like or a story you want to tell.
For example, I refuse to take Vendettas in my traitor guard because I feel it doesn’t match the theme of the army, even though Vendettas are perhaps the best unit in the Imperial Guard Codex. However, since I still want to win games I made the decision to mech up and leave the infantry hordes and cavalry at home. This was a personal compromise, and each player has their own balance between effectiveness, models, and theme. Players with different priorities should not be mocked for bringing a sub optimal unit and still trying their best to win, not everyone in the hobby should be expected to bring only the best cutthroat killer units.
One could argue that any army could have a story that justifies their composition, but this is working backwards. You can come up with a rationale for why four land raiders with assault terminators showed up to fight some Orks, but this is not the same as honestly trying to balance story and effectiveness. In rare cases there are units that are so broken I would consider them an exploit (such as 4th edition holofield falcons) but fortunately the worst cheese is slowly being written out of the game. If you want to play with broken combos play Magic the Gathering or online games.
Composition scores are counterproductive since they are almost purely subjective, and weak lists should not be rewarded. Roll up awards for representative or themed lists into the appearance awards, or just leave them out of scoring altogether.
Someone with a killer but soulless list shouldn’t brag about how awesome they are, since there is more to the hobby then winning games. If you see a player with three units of converted Ogryns it is an interesting change of pace, and I don’t want to see 40k devolve into a handful of cookie cutter lists. Conversely, those with a real theme or better painting should not bash the purely competitive players. It’s obvious the player with lots of land raiders or vendettas wants to win, but so what, so does every other player at the tournament. Ideally we can all learn from each other, this is supposed to be a hobby community and not a pissing contest.
Your friendly neighborhood Chaosgerbil