Hey everyone, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming with my weekly 40K diatribe!
First off, I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful time spent with family and friends and as I did. Perhaps I drank too much eggnog, perhaps I am just still feeling infused with the holiday spirit, but I was thinking about ways to make us all come together in this silly hobby of ours.
We all know there is a divide between “casual” and “competitive” gamers. That gap is much exaggerated on the internet and if one were to only see it from the perspective of the online communities, it would seem that if any two of us from opposite camps were to meet in real life, it would be pistols at 10 paces.
Of course, that quite simply isn’t the case. The vast majority of us fall somewhere between the two polls of the spectrum, and enjoy gaming both competitively and casually. I myself started out in miniatures gaming as a fairly hard-core fluff gamer as I loved the background of the game(s) I played so much. My armies always represented the background of the game and it bugged me when someone else would “power game.” It felt like they didn’t respect what made the game unique and cool. I loved the way my friends and I would engage in cooperative story telling where the objective was a great story that unfolded on the tabletop and within our minds. We always had great stories to tell about our characters battling it out (all of whom were named, of course) and the histories between them as the battled it out became little legends in our gaming groups. The efficiency of a list or unit was secondary to it’s “coolness” and we developed emotional attachment to our little toy soldiers.
However, I am also a really, really competitive person by nature and my instincts to play to win conflicted with my desire to see the awesome stories of the background play out as what is good in the fluff often isn’t good on the tabletop. As I become involved in “power-gaming,” I came to see that people who played competitively did so not out of a disrespect for the game’s fluff, but simply out of a desire to play the game the way they found to be most enjoyable. It was no better or worse, just different. There is a certain beauty in finding the most efficient way to do something, and a well crafted list in a game as complex and with as many variables as this one, is something i have really grown to appreciate as a creative expressions that requires a great deal of intelligence and knowledge to accomplish. What I once saw as an ugly thing became something I admired a great deal.
As I went further and further into competitive play, it got to be more and more enjoyable for me. I loved the high stakes, and the way a really competitive game of 40K got my fully engaged in the moment. However, a part of me always loved the RPG like aspects of a narrative campaign and exploration of the game’s background, and I stayed involved in those types of games as well, often running them and enjoying writing the narrative pieces of these campaigns to bring the battles to life.
As a game store owner now, I see both types of players walk through the doors of our shop and understand the appeal of both play styles. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a part of all aspects of the hobby and feel that if others were to also enjoy a more well-rounded involvement of the game, they would be more open-minded to alternate ways of doing things, and less likely to engage in the silly arguments we so often see flair up online about something that is ultimately, completely meaningless. Familiarity breeds tolerance, and ignorance breeds intolerance.
So, my request to all of you is to make it a New Year’s Resolution to try and play the game in a way you may have previously considered to be the “wrong” way to play. If you are a tournament junkie like me, get involved in a narrative campaign and play in the spirit of that type of game, with an army based on the background fluff. If you are a casual gamer, and think that tournaments are not for you, throw caution to the wind and jump in there, giving it an honest try. I think that for both types of gamers that do this, and give it a fair chance with an open mind, they will see that in reality there is very little difference between all of us. I think they will see that there is something to love about both types of gaming and may discover a whole new way to enjoy 40K. And maybe, just maybe, we can all get along with one another a little bit better this year than in years past and reap the rewards of a more cohesive community.
Happy holidays, everyone!