Sportsmanship in 40k is having a sportsmanship revolution. As the game becomes more and more visible online, players are finding that they cannot be jerks, cheats, or shady individuals and get away with it.
Leaders of the game like Richard Siegler and Nick Nanavati are showing that top table environments are chock full of moments where sportsmanship reigns over being cutthroat. Case-in-point is Nanavati reminding Siegler to use his melta-buff on his commander in the finals of the Atlanta Pro event, which didn’t ultimately win the game, but was a solid sportmanship moment during a game where a win translated into some serious cash.
Siegler has been featured in numerous interviews talking about his desire to win a game because he played better than his opponent, not because his opponent forgot to take an action or use a rule. He also makes the point that it’s just as important to make a friend in a game, than to beat that person at Warhammer.
Which can bring about the question: How nice should I be? I was discussing this with a friend of mine, Lieutenant Dan, from Goonhammer, and we thought about scenarios where you can see your opponent making a blatant mistake that you know you’ll be able to take advantage of.
I think about a game I had two years ago at NOVA. My opponent made it explicitly clear that he was going to fight a unit of Storm Guardians with his Tzaangors, and then wrap a unit of Wracks because there was no way they could escape a tri-tip.
We were playing game 6 of NOVA and not up for any awards. We were essentially middle of the road players having a practice game.
I was presented with a dilemma; do I tell him that you can’t trap Wracks? They have a 2 CP strat called Black Cornucopias which lets them be removed from the board and appear nine inches away from enemy models, and you can use it when within one inch of enemy models. His intent is obvious. Neither of us is playing for anything. The only thing that will come from me not telling him is a gotcha moment and he will lose his entire unit of Tzaangors.
I’m not obligated to tell him this; he obviously doesn’t know about the strat. His loss, right? I’m not responsible for another players knowledge. This is a competitive game, bro! Sucks to suck. Git Gud. All of that.
On the other hand, he made his intent very clear. We talked the whole thing out and he showed me how he would be able to totally trap my unit. I had obviously made a mistake by letting this happen, but I had an out. He didn’t know about my obscure little stratagem. The fool! How could he not have read all the stratagems in the Drukhari book?
Ultimately I pointed out that you cannot trap Wracks, and he chose to kill the Wracks and wrap my Storm Guardians instead. I felt good about that. At a certain point, I need to remember that this is a game.
G-A-M-E. With little toys.
It might be set in the grim darkness of the 41st Millenium where there is only war but we’re just a couple of grown men playing with toy soldiers in an event hall.
I think these situations fall into a couple of categories, and there are rules I follow when I identify each situation. If somebody tells me their intent clearly in their turn, I am going to tell them if I have a trick up my sleeve. You’re going to charge a unit near my Solitaire? Watch out, I’ve got a 6’ heroic intervention strat. You want to wrap my Death Jester? You can’t; he effectively has the fly keyword.
To me, there isn’t an acceptable scenario for a gotcha moment. I agree with a lot of top players; I don’t want to win because somebody forgot a rule here, or didn’t know about an obscure ability. At the end of the day as much as I want to win, I want to make friends and be a decent human being. Everyone knows how much a gotcha moment sucks, and there is no reason to continue doing that.
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