The Art of Conceding

One of the more controversial topics in the competitive 40k landscape is about whether or not conceding a game early is a sign of poor sportsmanship. On the one hand, Warhammer 40k is a game and as such is supposed to be fun. If you cease having fun, why should you be compelled to keep playing? Life is short, so go do something else that you find more enjoyable. On the other hand, you aren’t the only person involved in this game. By conceding you are cutting short your opponent’s experience and some enjoyment they may get from seeing the game through to its natural conclusion. While I sympathize with one argument more than the other, this is a fair discussion to have as many of us have been on both sides of this issue. This was further reinforced by the events from this past weekend where the final game of the London GT ended midway through the first shooting phase when one player conceded. Coincidentally, this was a player who apparently lived through his “lifetime suspension” from said event, further confirmation that COVID has really has lasted a literal lifetime). I believe players should be able to concede whenever they wish without being bullied or feeling guilty, however such concessions need to be handled carefully and professionally.

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As I stated earlier Warhammer 40k is a game and as such, its primary purpose should be to give us a fun time. (Tangentially the more 40k turns into something other than a game in players lives the more you see it begin to turn toxic and I think is at the root of many major issues in the current competitive world.) I think any time a game ceases to be fun players should be free to consider conceding, however other people are also free to have their own opinions about the manner in which one chooses to do so. I think much of the debate about whether conceding qualifies as “good sportsmanship” comes from our own experiences of witnessing some very poor concessions. If you huff and puff, blame your dice or in any way try to detract for your opponent’s victory then you’re being a poor sport. If you wish to maintain a good reputation just be honest about how you feel “Hey man I am just not feeling it right now, is it all right if we call it…” ask your opponent how they want to handle your concession “Do you want to talk it out? I can just forgo my turns, etc.) and volunteer to call a judge over (if required) to handle the procedure. Most players know the experience of playing 3, 6 or 9 games in a row and the mental strain it causes. By being honest with you opponent you can open a dialogue about your current state and give them some input into how to proceed. For those who think players shouldn’t be allowed to concede, I would challenge them with the only thing worse than having a moody opponent rage quit and then sulk while packing up their army is having to play against that moody player for the next hour while trying to salvage a game.

The main counter argument against concessions is that you are denying your opponent their right to a fun game. Just because it’s stopped being fun for you doesn’t mean you should detract from them. Furthermore we expect the professional teams we root for to still keep trying even then things are going poorly. Finally isn’t persevering through rough starts a sign of the mental toughness which we also associate with good sportsmanship? To this I reply: even the best players in the game barely qualify as “professional players” (this is a whole different topic ) but most of us aren’t athletes and these games aren’t our profession, it’s a hobby. Additionally, I would add that (as I mentioned earlier) playing against someone who wants to concede but can’t or against someone who is getting wrecked can be deeply unpleasant for all involved. In my opinion I would rather have my opponent concede turn 1, on the only victory of an event I get, rather than stick out a game with an opponent who mopes and sulks the whole time. To be honest, a lot of these events happen due to bad dice or going into skew or top tier lists and you have to feel a little compassion for someone whose match is ruined due to bad luck or just a poor match-up. I think we have a duty of compassion to those who are having a rough time to encourage them to finish out the game but understand if they want to end it early.

One further note about conceding is that if you do concede you have a duty to both your current opponent, and their future opponent, to do so in as fair a way as possible. TOs have been struggling with how to score these concessions. Given that you don’t want to reward a player who had the good fortune of facing an opponent who conceded, nor do you want to penalize someone whose opponent hit the eject button early. To that end I would encourage you, if you are going to concede to call a judge over and ask them how they want to handle it (assuming there is no written policy). I think if you are going to concede that’s your right, but you also then have a responsibility to make it easier for everyone else to handle the fall out of your decision. It can be embarrassing to admit you are conceding but if you wish to be thought of as a good sport you need to deal with it in a gracious manner.

King of the Sports Men

In closing, I would like to add that while I believe players have a right to concede whenever they wish, if you find yourself doing so multiple times in an event, or as a common outcome in your games it’s worth thinking about why. As I’ve said before almost everyone here has been dunked on, or betrayed by our dice in a tournament and such games are part of the hobby. If you find yourself conceding frequently it may be worth considering about why that is and if you are making 40k something more than just a game in your head. I’m not a psychologist or anything, but these can be moments that serve as a gut check and an opportunity to better understand our own actions.

What do you think? Am I leaving something out? Do you have an opinion?

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