Hello all, Rawdogger here to talk about staying calm and keeping on in the face of 40k rules interpretations that you do not necessarily agree with and staying grounded in the fact that we are grown ass adults playing with army men.
I normally don’t get involved too much with the ITC or tournament side of things for Frontline Gaming as I am not really part of that world and to be honest I’m just not that good at the game nor do I want to put the time and effort into being knowledgeable enough to help out with that side of the business. However, in the past couple days there has been a rules debate going on that just absolutely seems to be bringing out the worst in some anonymous individuals and I felt the need to write a little bit on my feeling regarding the whole situation. I’m not even going to re-hash the current outrage that some 40k players feel has been thrust upon them, as we seem to go through this every single time there is a new release for the game. Instead I want to talk about the attitude of some of the player base that I feel is toxic to the health of the competitive tournament system.
To understand my viewpoint on the whole situation it is necessary to understand a few key truths. The game of Warhammer 40k that we all love so much that we are willing to spend not only our hard earned money on but also our evenings and even a couple weekends every year is a game that is not designed for competitive play. It’s not and it will never be. The rules are not written in a way that supports balanced play and it’s been pretty apparent for a while that Games Workshop is not interested in providing a ruleset that facilitates this type of play. Now, does that mean it can’t be played in a competitive environment? Of course not! What it means is that if we as a player base desire a ruleset that allows us to play in a balanced and (importantly) friendly environment, for BOTH players, there must be concessions made on the part of the players to allow tournament organizers to modify the existing ruleset in a way that makes this possible. Tell me, in a game that places two players against each other what kind of irresponsibility do we see in a company that allows rules such as a 1+ Feel No Pain save to even be a possibility? What’s worse is that I’ve actually (in real life) heard several different players try to make the argument that they SHOULD be able to actual have a model with a 1+ Feel No Pain save. The argument being that it is in the rules so obviously Games Workshop meant for them to be able to take a model that can literally never be taken off the table. Let that sink in for a moment. If not for the intervention of the TO in both cases where I’ve seen this argument take place how many of those player’s opponents would have felt compelled to return to a tournament where that type on non-interactive play was allowed?
Every month or so we find ourselves in this same position. Games Workshop releases the latest wacky power option and we break off into two camps. One camp will want to keep the powerful rule or wargear item as is and the other camp wants to modify it. The reason given for wanting to keep an over powered item or rule as is because it allows codex (x) to compete with the previous codex which included over powered item or rule (y). This argument always reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Bart inadvertently unleashes bird eating lizards into the town of Springfield. The lizards eat all of the pigeons and the townspeople are overjoyed, until the lizards started overpopulating the town. When Lisa asks Principal Skinner how they will get rid of the lizards, he says that they will be importing snakes that will eat the lizards, then they will import gorillas that will eat the snakes, and finally the gorillas would die once winter set in and they would freeze to death. The constant power struggle and the whole ‘well THEY got this so why can’t I have THIS?!’ argument never seems to end and Games Workshop is laughing all the way to the bank.
When did it become necessary to try and exploit every loophole in the rules or read every rules interpretation in your own favor. Too many times when players are told that they cannot have a re-rolleable 2+ save or that their entire army cannot have twin-linked cover ignoring firepower they immediately feel that it is THEY who are being punished by the tournament organizers. That is simply not the case. By limiting the overwhelming power of these items or rules the organizers are actually contributing to the long term health of the hobby. I constantly read on the forums that formats like the ITC are killing the hobby, but I have to wonder if that is the case when ITC events continue to sell out nationwide, including the Las Vegas Open which sold all of its 272 seats (largest competitive 40k event in the country) within a week and has 100+ people on the waiting list. That tells ME that the vast majority of players WANT some kind of structure that keeps an inherently unbalanced game relatively balanced.
I suppose what this whole article is meant to convey is my frustration with the current state of the hobby. I feel that Games Workshop is completely to blame for the fracturing of the competitive community, which is a sizeable portion of their customer base. If they would just write sensible and balanced rules for the game we would not have these us vs them hissy fits every time there is a new release. Ultimately it is up to the players themselves to self-regulate and NOT read every rules interpretation as only benefiting them. Remember that in every game you play you are the ambassador for the hobby. We are all directly responsible for the health and continuation of the competitive 40k community. So the next time you are writing your lists ask yourself, even though I can take an entire army with a 3+ re-rolleable cover save or an invincible deathstar made up of elements from various codices, will this cause my opponents to give up the game entirely after a bad experience playing you? If the answer is yes, and you are STILL ok with that then perhaps it’s time to look inward and really question what it is you get out of this hobby and why you continue to play if your one and only goal is to completely take away your opponent’s ability to interact.