Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Guest Article: My view on gaming.

 
So we have a guest article today. It comes to us from a reader who wants to put his own thoughts down onto paper. Give it a read:


So I read Nafka's little rant...and it got me thinking about a common problem I run into often. Now I don't write articles often anymore, but in this case I felt compelled to share a little story.
Grab your best dwarven ale, put down your Incinerators and put on some Tears for Fears in the background - this is going to be a long story. We hope.

It's the year 2006. For me, School was in its last few years and I was about to get marched off to College. It was the year I really started to experiment with Metal (Papa Roach admittedly, but that's a less interesting story), and The Lost and the Damned were still kicking around. Oh, and for some extra context - you know how 6th Edition Tyranids look now? Well the Imperial Guard were in a similar spot not so long ago. Between their 3rd Edition book and their Cruddanceing,  the Imperial Guard were a barely playable faction - most of the tanks they had (the cornerstone of many a Guard Army) were axed, a unwieldy Doctrines system was planted to make up for some of this (which offered little originality between players as everyone and their grandmother took the Carapace Armor Doctrine, Sharpshooters and some others I could mention), and most of the options were locked behind this system (also, a lot of people misinterpreted "Guard Infantry" as "every Infantryman in the Codex" - this included one game where I ended up fighting Carapace Armoured Ratling Snipers, hilariously enough). It was dark times for Guard players. 

And where was I in all this? I was just starting out with a few boxes of Cadians, and some other pieces I had gotten over one Christmas and Birthday period. Even if my Guardsmen were hideously painted monstrosities (Bronzed Flesh and Flesh Wash for skin with red armour anyone?). I would not be made aware that I was playing a severely underpowered Codex until several years after the story finished (though the fact I lost 98.6% of my games should have given this away).

Anyway, so along comes Games Workshop - who decided to run The Fall of Medusa V, a new Summer Campaign (and unfortunately the last one they'd run for Warhammer 40,000 - Summer Campaigns in general stopped soon after the Nemesis Crown for Warhammer Fantasy Battle), and I was hyped to all hell. Of course I begged and pleaded with my Mother and Father to take me to some in store events (while my Stepfather chortled and snorted at me as usual, because bigots will be bigots), as well as getting in a few more games at the weekends.

But I get ahead of myself.

For the shortbeards joining us, The Fall of Medusa V was Games Workshop's third Summer Campaign (with Armageddon and Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade being it's predecessors). The plot concerned the titular planet, where a warp storm called Van Gogth's Rapidity was going to swallow the planet and destroy it, and the various factions all had missions to complete on the world before it went kablooey. The Forces of Chaos sought to turn it into a demon planet under the control of Ygethmor, one of Abaddon's Chosen and Chaos Sorcerer extraordinaire, while the Space Marines under the command of Ultrasmurf Cato Sicarius (yes, he existed well before Wardification guys) sought to stop him. The Tau Empire sought to study the Warp Storm so that it may help their understanding of Warp Travel and other sciencey science, while the 'Crons fought to construct a Null Field around the planet so they can harvest the souls of everyone on it. Some had simpler goals - the Dark Eldar sought slaves in a plot by No'akei - one of Asdrubael Vect's former handmaidens - to depose Vect from power, while the Orks under the command of Warboss Nazdreg ug Urdgrub (yes that is his full name) sought to gather enough scrap to build a Rok to escape the planet - while krumpin' heads along the way.

And the humble Imperial Guard? Under the command of Lord Marshal Graf "Thank the stars I'm not a Cadian" Harazahn of the Vostroyan Firstborn (in their first canonical appearance by the by) were relegated to making sure the Hive Cities did not fall to the enemy, and making sure that humble Imperial Citizens escaped a-okay. A task easier said then done, as a new breed of Tyranid stalked the hives (Deathleaper, if anyone's wondering. Yes, he was first introduced here too).

When Captain Marcus Delvin of the 1st Maple Infantry answered the call with his men - most infamously Sergeant David "Big Dave" Krueger of A Squad, A Platoon and Armoured Fist Sergeant Tony Fletcher - he didn't meet Tyranids. His first battle of the conflict was fighting an unholy alliance of two armies - a Khronate Chaos Space Marine Warband and an Ork Warboss of the Deathskulls clan. What unholy power had bought the two together is not known, but it seemed that only by combining their points totals could they engage the heroic Guardsmen.

When the Maple Infantry saw the force approach, many wet themselves in terror. At the forefront of the horde was a horrifying Demon Prince, wielding a Berzerker Glave - a Khronate Artefact that gave it's wielder an unholy amount of endurance (in game terms, this was a power weapon that gave the Prince a 4+ Feel No Pain. Did I mention this Prince had a 2+ Armour and a 4+ Invulnerable beforehand?). And unholy it was. While Khorne Berzerkers and Ork Bikers fell, the Demon Prince shrugged off virtually everything thrown at it, from Lascannons to Airstrikes to the Regiment's armoured attachments. Yet they could not fell the abomination before it reached their lines as it tore apart unit after unit of Guardsmen - it was a one man Death Star! This thing made Godzilla look like a mildly irritated Dragon! It probably trimmed its beard with Chuck Norris, and used Bruce Lee for deodorant. Not even the Captain could fight the monster as it slew his attendents and delt the Captain serious injuries - though not before the Captain delt the Prince some serious blows of his own. Capitalising on this, the Armoured Fist Squad fired on the monster. None of their shots hit home until Tony Fletcher fired his Plasma Pistol. In one blow, the little Armoured Fist Sergeant did what nobody else could do the whole game, and slew the infernal monster. There was breif silence as Ork, Traitor and Guardsman alike stood in awe at what had happened, and in that moment the tide had turned. The Guard counterattack was so brutal it left only the Ork Warboss alive - who is reported uttering something like "Zog this, I'm goin' 'ome!". In reality, both players were begging for mercy after the Demon Prince fell to the little Armoured Fist sargenent. An unkillable unit was crushed that day, and somewhere in the Eye of Terror, Khorne hid in embarrassment.

Later that day, A Platoon and Delvan (with a few hastily conscripted aids) were attached to a large Imperial assault on a ruined Cathedral where Ygethmor was belived to be hiding. While Sicarius was not around, various other chapters and Traitors were there - including a pack of the infamous 13th Company Wulfen, surprisingly (yes, people were still using Codex: Eye of Terror during this campaign). While the Maple Infantry did not play a huge part (despite ramming a Chimera though the Catherdral's entrance and cooking alive the poor Traitors who stood at the door, though there was one event of significance that stood out. The Wulfen Pack had bitten off more than they could chew as Traitor Forces dogpiled them in a wave of power armoured bodies (and even some foul Xenos filth who seemed to have gotten lost on the way to their own battles), and what was worse the Wulfen were failing to kill any of them effectively, scoring only paltry numbers of kills.

Then David "Big Dave" Krueger decided he would be awesome this day. Charging into a combat that was going disastrously bad (the Wulfen scoring a paltry 2 Kills that engagement), David and his Squad looked to try and turn the tide. While he failed in doing so, David failed stylishly - with his three attacks on the Charge, David killed two Chaos Marines with a regular old Combat Knife. I like to think after game David joined the Wulfen for some well earned Brewskis for doing the manly thing.

There were more battles after this. We fought a rogue group of 13th Company (who was also the 1st Place player during the whole engagement - and yes, the guy was universally agreed to be a complete douche by everyone we spoke to) hand in hand with our Space Marine Brothers (played by my real life younger brother - I hate to say "little" because he's taken on Space Marine-like proportions by now). We stood vigilant as a band of Iron Warriors fought to destroy the Hive.

By the end of the Campaign, the Maple Infantry came in 30th. While that may not sound like much, in a Campaign played by 200+ people, 30th place is nothing to sniff at. The final total especially was three wins, two losses and one draw. Considering the army never truly won any games played before the Campaign, this was an achievement the low tier, poorly organised army could be proud of as they went into retirement - and I moved onto Necromunda and Inquisitor, but those are beardy tales for another time.
So why am I telling you stirring tales of valour and heroism?

This was a very low tier, poorly performing army. I didn't look up any Tier Lists, or read the opinions of others. I built this list with what would be cool and awesome in mind. With the tale now told, you can see why I don't take kindly to people telling me how I should build my army. And I do mean telling me by the by - I've had people walk up to me and start every kind of fight over why I would choose X unit, or why I'd give my Sergeants Y item, or - well, you get the idea. Even when I defend my choices with well reasoned arguments as to why I've taken this item, people glare or refer to me as a "n00b" or "scrub" (yes, to my face on occasion). Y'know, if people even noticed I was there at my FLGS at all. I get the feeling in another world, these people would gouge out my own eyes if I so much as looked at their pretty Warhound Titan.
This is also why I'm not a big fan of Tourneys, and get dismayed over seeing words and phrases like "ScreamerStar" and "Riptide OP" being tossed around casually. Yes, 40K has flaws - I would be a fool and a moron to pretend it doesn't - but I can't help but think these people would be happier playing something like Warmahordes, which seems better built around that sort of thing.
I feel personally that somewhere between translation, many players the world over have lost the Spirit of 40K. They've forgotten how to simply have fun with the game, and instead look to things like "the meta" for how to build their lists, and argue endlessly over how the Screamerstar needs to be nerfed, or how we shouldn't use Lords of War and D Weapons because they're "broken". This is the equivalent of General Montgomery walking up to General Rommel and going "You're not allowed to hide in the sand! It's OP!". The fact that these people would turn on one of their own speaks volumes of the callousness that goes on at "high level" play - and I imagine this is a frequent problem that has only now just come to light.
Furthermore, there are a few core things I'd like people to take away from this.
1.       To an outside observer, you are playing with little plastic toy soldiers. In their mind, you might as well be a Brony or even worse, a Manchild who never grew out of Toy Soldiers. In other words, stop taking yourself in this aspect so seriously. You might even have a little more fun this way, too.
2.       In the event of a Screamerstar, Lord of War or a Jetbike Seer Council (which I would also call "The Seer Council of Dicks" if Nafka lets me), find a way to beat it. The greatest Generals in history didn't always have a Baneblade at their side to help them. If you don't win, it may even come down to less your equipment, and more your tactics. 

On that note:
3.       Dice Gods are unfair and fickle creatures. I've seen even brilliant strategies routed because the General couldn't make his own rolls.
4.       Never, EVER throw a tantrum or the like after losing. I know this is sportsmanship 101 (and wasn't something I didn't learn until I spent time with the Hammer & Ales gaming group here in Nottingham), but I feel in light of recent events I feel this point especially deserves a reminder.
5.       In my experience, having a drink and talking about the game goes many ways to learning about what went wrong. Talking to your opponent over a Lemonade can tell you the world about him, how he plays his list and you can find out what you did right or what went wrong. Heck, the two of you might even form camaraderie someday!
And finally, the most important lesson of all. I've been saving this for last. The above points are generic, and don't apply just to 40K. But this - this is what I feel the Spirit of 40K is.
Warhammer 40,000 is a game about your dudes. YOUR DUDES. Not Calgar and Abaddon, or Ultramarines and Eldar, or Guardsmen and Tyranids, or even about who has the better Codex. It's about YOUR DUDES and what they do in this little corner of space. It may not be Necromunda or Inquisitor or even Mordheim, but it's still about an evolving narrative. That narrative being your dudes and what they do - their glorious victories and crushing defeats, all the joy and all the agony.
Don't ever let this community tell you how to build your army. They are YOUR DUDES. You do what you like with them. And if they don't step off, then you have my permission to take a Thunder Hammer to them.
I am the Phandom Renegade, and hopefully you enjoyed my little story and words of beggars wisdom.

8 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more. Narrative is everything to me and, as a fellow IG player, I've lost more than a fair share of games due to my love for flamers and being put against armies they aren't exactly effective against.

    I love my guard though, especially Sergeant "Hammer." :D

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    1. Someone else named his Guardsmen! Yay! X3

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  2. I agree as well. To me, the fluff and models are far more important than winning and losing. This is a hobby and a game, we should play it for fun, not to WAA

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  3. It's always comes as a surprise to me that people get so upset about certain aspects of the game, I mean people taking the strongest most op list they can think of to a tournament, what do they want to win or something?

    If they brought it to the club every week, yeah, I would be annoyed but I'd still play, after all how can you learn to beat something if you refuse to play it. One of the guys at the club plays a drop pod SW army with the storm wing thingy, been tabled twice, but now know 2 ways that don't work.

    I'll keep playing my boys as I do, tweaking as I go and enjoy every game, win loose or draw.

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  4. Great article. My hope is that commentary on sites like BoLS, Warseer, or even Faeit212 represent only the extreme elements of the hobby, whereas the vast majority of wargamers are only out there to have fun and build fluffy armies. Keep up the great work!

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    1. In my experience BLD, this is far from true. I get nice enough staff at my FLGS, but nobody ever really challenges us to any games. As far as they're concerned, I am a non person X3

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    2. Bummer. Sounds like you need to groom a bunch of like-minded friends and play at someone's house. That's what I'm lucky enough to have now, but I'll be moving this summer and could get stuck in a similarly bad position as yours...

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    3. If I had a bunch of like-minded friends, that is. Which I don't -_-

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