GW Grognard: Will the real 40K please stand up

Hey everyone! Adam, from TFG Radio, here to help with your critical thinking(not).

The tournament scene has come a long way. What initially had started as a way for general hobbyists and players from around the country, and world, to gather together in their love of the game has grown into its own little industry. Where once you were hard pressed to find a place to play, in some areas you can’t go 2 steps without tripping over an RTT or grand tournament. This also includes the new industry of “professional” 40K players that sell their knowledge for a, sometimes large, fee. All this is well and good but the question I’m asking myself lately is “What is a “real” tournament?

Now everyone has their own opinion about what constitutes a “real” 40K tournament. As we all know, opinions are like assholes*. For most of us, and especially for those that participate in the ITC, a real 40K tournament is one using the ITC format. This is the format as outlined in the Frontline website.  It is essentially the standard for the circuit and what most, if not all, people base their opinions about meta on. The beauty, and in my opinion also the curse, of the ITC is that you are not confined with having to use all the rules and missions that Frontline provide. It gives a tournament organizer a lot of freedom to tailor their event to how they want or how their area wants to play. Monodex tournaments, non ITC mission formats, using battle points to determine placing, and including a player’s sportsmanship/paint score, among others, are just some of the examples of the different ways that the tournaments are played. As a result, it is sometimes hard to tell if an army, or an army build, is actually good or not. It leaves that small amount of doubt that the winning army won due to the special rules of the event, not because the army is actually competitive as a whole. Luckily, we are at a point where we can track the numbers for all the different events, but the inclusion of these “unique” events can skew the numbers, especially for codexes that are not played very often.

There are a few people, mostly British, that insist that “real” 40K tournaments are those events run by Games Workshop itself. The problem is that, technically, even that format is not “real” as there is an imposed time limit. There isn’t a strict time limit in the rulebook, just an estimation at best. The other issue we are seeing is that, at least in the US, most competitive players don’t care about the GW tournaments because they are not an ITC tournament. So, in those people’s mind, it’s not a real tournament and so any result from that tournament doesn’t register. Some say it doesn’t matter since the players are just playing the game/scenarios that are given to them, so their win should be just as valid. Unfortunately, for many, one tournament win from a little used army, in an unusual format, does not really register on the larger scheme of things.

That’s all for this week, I hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know your thoughts, and what you think a “real” 40K tournament contains, in the comments section. 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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*Everyone has one and they all stink


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 judges for LVO and head judges other major 40K Grand Tournaments.

3 Responses to “GW Grognard: Will the real 40K please stand up”

  1. Rob Butcher May 18, 2019 9:45 pm #

    How can anything that’s independent be an official or real tournament ?

    Different rules, different scoring systems, different missions, different points all make things difficult in what is already a small, niche game. it may be expanding slowly but only 10,000 players is incredibly small. It’s also why no-one has done a clean-sweep of all the major events. Once a player wins LVO, Adepticon, London GT, GW GT and Nova then they’re the best in the world. Five assorted events including a couple of these don’t have the same effect.

    You also failed to discuss the venues. I’ve played in 24 different countries around the world but a large hanger, barn or hotel room has little magic. Playing at the castle-themed Warhammer World is magical. Even better would be playing in a real historical stately home or castle.

    • BRAINoff May 19, 2019 2:19 am #

      The real problem as I see it, is when units and/or armies are nerfed/buffed because of one specific format (example: ITC). But having consequences for everyone else playing the game, even for the “official” rulebook mission players.

      PS: I’m in no way saying ITC is bad. Just that it’s a different game and people should be careful balancing with this in mind.

      • Travis Kirke May 20, 2019 7:42 pm #

        I think people vastly overstate the effect of mission format on balance.

        Having played GW, ETC and lTC missions, and looking at the various armies showing up in the different events… you still see the same stuff. Eldar flyers. Plaguebearers. Riptides and broadsides. (Pre-nerf) Castellans with guard brigades. You dont see large numbers of necrons, or grey knights, or slaanesh daemons.
        The units that are good are good regardless of format.

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