Check out Team Zero Comp member, Dan May aka, Capt’n Dees’ interview over at Torrent of Fire!
Originally posted at http://www.torrentoffire.com/1960/player-spotlight-dan-may
Northern California’s Dan “Capt’N Dees” May has been wargaming since 1988. To put that into context, that was the year Woodrow Wilson was elected president, the New York “Knickerbockers” attempted the first jump shot, and the entire nation laughed at the exploratory hijinks of Lewis and Clark.
That’s a lot of experience pushin’ minis, or, as they were called back then, diminutive-style tottenvonders. A 40k man since ’06, Dan is also sometimes called “King of the Soft Scores” for his excellence in painting and sportsmanship across events like Storm the Kastle and Dundracon 40k RTT. He took a minute from cranking out daily gems for his blog, The Preferred Enemy, to question our historical accuracy.
What’s your best 40k memory?
I’ve played a lot of fun games against lots of great folks over the years. One that stands out was in 2010, playing game three of a local shop’s event. I was paired up against a guy’s Space Wolf Thunderwolf Calv list with my Battlewagon Orks. We had both already lost a game, so this was purely for glory, but we just laughed so much that game. So many silly shenanigans were happening, like Ghaz dying to a Fearless save and his Lord being finished off by a vehicle explosion! It was a comedy playing out before our eyes.
It was a close game and he eked out a victory, but we were crying laughing and just had a great time. As it turns out, that guy was ranked #1 in the country at the time (Frankie from Team Zero Comp), and we’ve been great friends ever since.
From what you know of the game and have seen, is it possible for someone to become the Babe Ruth of 40k, just totally dominant, or is there too much within the game to keep things balanced?
I’d say one of the biggest differences is going to come down to practice. All professional athletes practice, yet some are more amazing than others. I’m not sure the Babe practiced more or harder than any other player, yet he stands out as someone that changed the shape of the game.
I think there are a lot of great 40k players. Some of those great players you see winning big tournaments may also be just innately talented folks. However, I think most of those “elite” guys do generally have an edge largely from the quantity and quality of games they’ve played.
If you play the same buddy and his same army over and over again, it is hard to build a big repertoire of tactics. If you get out and play at the store or at tournaments against new players and armies, you can build out that database. This helps with your rules knowledge, your tactics, and your list-building.
Certainly this is still a game of chance, and because the rules and ‘dexes change at ever increasing speed, that database needs constant updating. That helps balance the game a bit, but I don’t think I’d ever refer to 40k as balanced! So a less experienced player can beat that dominant player on any given day, but the elite general has that depth of knowledge to outplay the opponent more often than not.
Oh sure, and I’ve been in the dumps after tough losses too. It sucks to make an army you think will do well, paint it up for weeks or months, then show up at an event and get curb-stomped. You don’t want to blame the other guy, or the luck of the dice, but you still feel dumpy about it. We all play this game for fun, but we also like winning, right?
So it’s okay if someone feels a bit crappy after a loss. But you pick yourself up, get yourself an adult beverage (age permitting) and just get back to having fun!
Damn, we were hoping for a story about a guy going through a plate glass window. Do you ever get into tense moments when playing where it stops being fun, or do you always keep a “Screw it, it’s just a game” attitude?
I am guilty of this cardinal 40k sin:
Early in game:
Me: “Woe is me, I’ve totally lost this game.”
Opponent: “Dude, you can totally stay in this, just keep at it!”
End of game:
Me: “Oh. I guess I won. My bad.”
This is a terrible habit I’ve had, and have seen it in other players too. First you start sounding a bit whiny, and good for the other guy for trying to pick you up and have a fun game. Playing against Whiny McWhinerPants is not fun! Then you win; maybe the luck of the dice turned, or maybe you were never really out of it. But now how does that other player feel? So way to go, Me, for making his game not a terribly fun experience. I would feel even worse than had I lost!
I had a game like this recently where things were not going well and I didn’t see a path to victory. For a moment my brain had that “boo hoo” moment and I had to catch myself. So I just turned on “goofball” mode and started saying silly things as I rolled the dice. I was joking around and laughing about things lightheartedly because “Screw it, it’s just a game.” I did not want to be Debbie Downer for my opponent, who was playing a great game.
And you know what? I pulled a draw.
Again, no shattering of plate glass, but we sense that we’re headed there eventually. Maybe there are other games you use to get away from 40k for a while, perhaps games that drive you or others insane with plate glass-worthy rage..?
I try to squeeze in a little Warhammer Fantasy, and I have some mostly painted Trollbloods for Hordes. The problem is, the older I get and the more responsibilities I take on, the less gaming time I have (said to the surprise of absolutely nobody).
So if it comes to having only one or two game nights a month, I usually try to get in 40k over anything else.
What have you observed about the psychology of miniatures folks? Is there a dominant trait among them that separates them from other types of gamers?
I’d say almost all minis gamers are outgoing to a greater degree than the normal populace. I’ve met people from all walks of life, creed and culture playing tabletop war games. There are LOTS of different personalities I’ve met, and I don’t think there are a lot of hard and fast rules when it comes to miniatures gamer’s psychology. Yet almost everyone I’ve met is someone who’s happy to shake hands and say, “Hey, how you doing, you ready to have fun?”
Yes, yes I am!
Um, normally we do not approve of an interviewee asking and then answering his own question, Dan, but we’ll let it slide just because your home store, Frontline Gaming, is all things to all people. Let’s move on. If you could change one rule of 40k, what would it be?
Seize-the-frickin-initiative. I positively hate this rule. It is the only SINGLE dice roll where you can turn an even fight into a massacre, and I think it is a terrible rule.
Some people may argue that it adds chance, tactics and flavor to the game. I think we have enough of that already being a game packed with chance, tactics and flavor! This single dice roll is probably more responsible for “This was not a fun game” than any other rule in the book.
If you could play anyone in history, and as a wargamer since 1988, you’ve already met most people who ever lived, who would it be?
I suppose it would be hard not to want to play Alexander the Great. Clearly he is one of the most accomplished military leaders of all time, and you’d love to see how that applies to a miniatures war game. Of course, he’d probably think the game is too easy, since we don’t have to actually command and lead living beings or wage real campaigns that require so much planning and preparation. Then he’d probably take over most of the known world, and I’d be held responsible.
Hrm, I’m over thinking again. Can I just change my answer to Goatboy?