GW Grognard: Sorry Casuals, Competitive Play Actually Matters

Hey everyone! Adam, from TFG Radio, back for another week to wake you up before you go go, to your nearest store!

As I almost always mention, I’ve been playing in tournaments for a long time. At this point it is almost the only time I get to play 40K. I do play the occasional casual play but I don’t think I would classify myself as a casual player. In the last year or two I’ve been seeing a growing sentiment from casual players lamenting the news about competitive players and their influence on the game. Sorry to break it to you but the influence of the competitive scene actually helps you, in the end.

This is my concern every tournament

I’ve seen these quotes a number of time:

“This is why I hate competitive 40K”

“Why does GW pay attention to the competitive scene?”

Other than being misinformed, this actually lessens my opinion of that person, group, podcast. The reason is that it is a form of elitism, in that they feel that the opinions and actions of the competitive scene are less relevant, and important, than the casual scene/player. I rarely, if ever, have seen a competitive player echo a similar sentiment, probably because they are too busy getting their next netlist ready.

In case you haven’t figured it out, we are all playtesters. Sure, Games Workshop have both internal and external playtesters, but lets be honest, they can’t think of every possible comb0. This is especially true if they don’t take Forgeworld into account. We are basically helping GW find any bugs in the game and they continue to put out FAQ/Erratas to correct the course of the game. Now we all know that there is their Facebook pages and their email address, in order to get some type of answer to these questions that we may have. The issue is that not everyone has the initiative to pose a question. Many times they simply assume that someone will do it, or they may not even see it as a problem. In addition, similar to Trickle Down Economics, the broken units, and/or combos, trickle down from the major tournaments to someone in your local game group. They then bring it to the next club meeting and begin to #rekt face to their unsuspecting clubmates who may not follow the tournament scene. This is where the competitive players come in.

Everyone knows someone like this.

The competitive player, and by extension the competitive scene, helps accelerate the discovering any loopholes, weird interactions, and other inconsistencies that may crop up. They do this sometimes because it benefits them, but also to preempt any possible abuses at the next tournament. By monitoring, if not actually running, the tournament scene, GW is able to watch and see how the game develops in a large scale, with a large pool of players, all at once. They can see that if certain things cause the competitive community a negative play experience, then it will trickle down to the casual gamer and expand that negative experience to a larger audience. So, by reacting to the meta at major tournaments, GW is able to keep pace with the changing face of the game and try to bring a positive overall play experience to all player types in the hobby.

All that being said, it is your game. You can ignore the pages of FAQs and erratas. You can play using just the books that you bought and not have to worry about any trends or fads happening outside of your circle of players, and that’s alright. Just don’t blame or complain about the competitive scene, or players, because one of your friends figured out, or discovered, that 8 Dark Talons is a good and fun list.

That’s all for this week, I hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know your thoughts on why you think the competitve scene helps, or hinders, the game we all love. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook, Twitch, and Patreon pages to stay up to date on what we’re up to and when episodes drop!

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About Adam

Adam, aka Latin Gandalf, has been gaming since the early eighties and has played 40K since Rogue Trader (among a number of other games). He listens to more podcasts than any healthy person should and is currently the host for TFG Radio. He also is one of the head judges for LVO and other major 40K Grand Tournaments.

6 Responses to “GW Grognard: Sorry Casuals, Competitive Play Actually Matters”

  1. Visitor June 2, 2018 3:03 am #

    You’re probably not helping your own argument by bringing up the comparisson to trickle down economics, a theory that has been proven wrong many times…

    I do agree however that blaming the competitive scene is a bit like killing the messenger. They are not causing any problems with the game, they are just revealing them. It’s then GW’s job to find a solution that doesn’t negatively impact casual games.

    • Kevin Lantz June 5, 2018 4:47 am #

      The fact that it doesn’t work in economics doesn’t mean it doesn’t work in other cases.

  2. Cavalier June 2, 2018 3:34 am #

    I dont play at tournaments (because there are none in my area) and I place a huge emphasis on painting, theme, fluff etc. and play pickup games/arranged games with my friends exclusivley. Yet even I realize that everyone in my group is getting inspiration from the armies and builds that are the most competitive… and those combinations are usually discovered by the tournament scene. I dont understand why this divide exists… especially in 8th edition where there are so many fluffy builds that are very competitive.

    If anything I’ve seen that competitive players tend to find the stuff thats TOO good and GW nerfs it, and the fluff first guys find the units that suck and GW buffs them (or gives points reductions). IMO things are just getting better and better. I dont see why one group should be taking potshots a the other. If anything all the hub bub from the competitive crowd got GW involved in the community again.

    IMO both groups are helping each other even if they dont realize it

  3. happy_inquisitor June 2, 2018 7:04 am #

    I think you overstate how much competitive play matters for the balance of the game for regular gamers. Most of the FAQ clarifications and quite a few of the errata have little or nothing to do with the competitive game and the ones that do – such as Spam restrictions or the Boots on the Ground rule – are there to address problems that only arise in competitive environments anyway.

    There is a bit of feedback from tournament play that should be relevant and useful but really not nearly so much as i think you believe. Outside of GW run tournaments the 40K scene does not even use BRB scenarios so it is always questionable how relevant the results are outside of a particular tournament pack. If tournaments are to be play-tests for regular games then they would have to actually play regular games – not scenario packs that have a huge impact on list design and play such as used by the ETC and ITC.

    GW react to the meta at tournaments because they want to support tournaments; not because there was ever really a problem with local social norms controlling the occasional idiot who thought they should turn up and play 7 flying hive tyrants in a friendly gaming setting.

    • Man1ac June 19, 2018 12:56 pm #

      ^ Perfectly put

  4. Sam June 4, 2018 11:26 am #

    I agree with happy_inquisitor

    Competitive players are largely finding problems that exist with competitive play, and not doing a whole lot for people who want to play their army as it makes sense thematically. Having your army be less functional narratively because competitive players found a unit and spammed it to death is annoying though.

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