Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Hey guys, hope everybody had a nice New Year.  I look forward to 2012 for a number of reasons, some of which are personal and I'll share them with you now.  Don't worry, this is all minis related and I promise you you won't be disappointed.

First, a sad realization:  I have plateaued as a minis gamer and in a bad way.  To categorize myself in a nut shell:  I love list building, playing the game and putting models together.  I hate painting, thinking about fluff or anything else really.

Now it's time for me to tell a story:

Something like 4 years ago, I played my first game of 40K at the gaming company I work at now.  I played a slightly older chap who used to work at GW and he had the most beautifully painted army I'd ever seen.  I was almost embarrassed to pull out my completely unpainted miniatures that I just put together.  This was back when 5th Ed. was still young and I just got my hands on some new Space Marines.  Long story short:  I tabled him by turn 2.  He turns, looks at me and says:  "Larry, I give up.  I'm not having any fun."  This is probably the saddest thing I have ever heard.  To me, everything was going perfectly:  Shrike Infiltrated and charged where he needed to, my Drop Pods came down and unloaded their Dreadnoughts precisely where I wanted them, my Sternguard arrived the next turn and annihilated their intended target... everything was perfect - from a strategic and tactical point of view.  However, one thing was not perfect:  My opponent was not having fun.  I was having fun because I view myself as a great general with a ton of experience.  That's what happens when you play the hobby and focus on its gaming aspects for the last 11 years.  Sure, I have painted armies before and had my shares of fluff discussions, but gaming is my specialty and what I do best.  I remember this story perfectly and vividly because it is the hallmark of where I failed as a minis player.

Another story:  A month or two ago, I played a friend of mine who is also considered a casual player.  He likes to paint a lot and I swear to God he builds the worst lists I've ever seen.  He's one of those one-a-list players but his models blows mine out of the water in terms of presentation.  Now, I'm playing with Dark Eldar, another completely unpainted army because I spend all my time building and playing these armies instead of anything else.  The gist of this story is that I've already "calmed" down as a competitive player.  I purposely took no Venoms, no special characters, no min-maxed Dark Lances (even though I still had 3 Ravagers), Wyches without FNP Haemonculi and no Wracks or Beasts.  Basically, I played what I viewed as "optimal but fair".  Sadly, I greatly outplayed my opponent and a day later an email goes out to my gaming group labeling me as a power gamer.  This is what prompted that post about FW model because my friend actually wants to take a Achilles vs. me just so he has a chance.  Sadness again.

Just recently:  I played a Warhammer Fantasy game, High Elves vs. Daemons.  I saw my opponent playing Kairos a previous game before and I asked him before we played if he was taking Kairos.  The reason why I asked is because if he was, I was going to take Teclis to combat him.  I have never done this, ever, in 11 years of wargaming.  I used to take whatever I want, whoever I want, whenever I want and never gave my opponents any ands, ifs or buts.  But hey, times are changing and I'm getting older.  Moving on:  After hearing what Teclis could do, my new friend says he'll take a normal chicken lord instead and then I asked him if I can take the Book of Hoeth.  Not even a special character, but now I'm asking if he's OK with an item.  I never thought this day would happen, never.  Anyways, we play the game I max out on my tactical acumen.  My Eagles redirected accordingly, I played superb and I'm basically way ahead of him.  Out of sheer sympathy, I let him rear charge my Spears after I opted to flee with my Eagle instead of just letting my Eagle redirect.  The reason is because I want him to kill something.. anything.

For one, this is not a spiritual funk that I'm in.  It's true, I've been inactive from minis and this might be one of the reasons.  Years of dedicated gaming has made me a great general, but for what?  I hardly make mistakes, I know the ins and out of my army and my list is battle-hardened and optimized.  There is no competition, I don't attend any tournies anymore because people are assholes but in turn, I'm viewed as one because of my gaming apparatus.  At the same time, I still feel the need for competition and I'm an elitist regardless of what I do.  When I see unimaginative and poorly-tuned lists, I think to myself why.  When I see poorly executed maneuvers without any consideration for the future, I think why.  When I see 5 marines charge a full squad of Wyches and Archon instead of getting back in their Rhino and running away, I think why.  "Why" is the definition of self-proclaimed superiority and the personal view of an elitist when you constantly question other people.

I think for this new year, I want to break the mold of asking why but rather ask:  Why not?  I spoke to a friend today and asked him what I should do.  He's an older gentlemen and has tons of experience with minis gaming and I know he can tell me something.  Maybe the reason the guy charged 5 marines into a full squad of Wyches is because he wanted to see something epic.  However tactically-flawed or outrageous, he just wanted a story in the lines of:  The Space Marine Sergeant punched the Archon through the face with his Power Fist.  Maybe the poorly designed lists I see are people who don't care winning (at all) and all they care about is physically portraying the different spices of life, sprinkled in the form of toy miniatures.  Maybe people misplay and make tactical errors because they are not as experienced as I am, someone who has tread thousands of battlefields in the fantasy-past and space-driven future.

I've offered for other people to build my lists, I've sacrificed units just so I can say I lost something and I've asked for my opponent's permission to play things.  My new year's resolution is to simply:  Play the beer and pretzels game the game was intend to be played.  I'm still going to blog about the competitive aspects of gaming and share all my knowledge about becoming a better general, but I want to do it with one important message:  Make sure you and your opponents are having fun.

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