Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Arête (Swearing Ahead!)

Warning - large ego ahead. The sensitive may be offended ^^. Bite me, Kirbs. (He's right though.) Always is.

“I’d really like to start writing again.” I told a guy at my local club. “I just haven’t been into 40k as much as I was lately, and I don’t think I feel comfortable writing about Warmachine until I feel like I at least have some expertise with it, maybe in a couple months.”

He scoffed. “I’ve been playing for years and I wouldn’t call myself an ‘expert’. This game is too complicated, and there are too many surprises and rules for anyone to call themselves an expert.”

I have a talent.

I am superb at games. Not just tabletop games, but board games, and video games- anything that you could reasonably call a game I have always excelled at. I would never claim this is because I am smarter than others, or because I am somehow innately “better”. I’m just wired for it. I read a rule once and it’s there in my mind for good. Playing games is more than just winning for me; it goes beyond competition and friendship. I have struggled a long time trying to find an explanation for exactly why.
Have you ever a sublime moment, an entrance into that realm of flow where all the pieces fall together, and time passes effortlessly? It’s something I hear my programmer and mathematic friends talk about, artists too. When the work isn’t work and it isn’t exactly fun, but you can feel all of your efforts slide smoothly towards an excellent completion.

I think everyone has a talent like this; we all have our own arête. Raw brutal natural talent combined with skill. I’ve spent my entire life playing games, working on games, and hell, winning games. Eventually, you reach the point where the rules aren’t simple restrictions to play with and around, but are instead an art form in and of themselves.

It’s weird, and exciting, to be helping prepare for a major event.

I’ve been helping with Feast of Blades ever since the last event. In charge of missions, making this balanced. (Expect to see a few articles on this in the future.) But I think the weirdest thing is the way the organizers talk to each other about different types of gamer. I’m by far the man who is least a hobbyist and by extension the most competitive. They're great though, and not the target of the article, just a good example. This is the oddity:

“Man, there’s all these players that care about winning and stuff, but that’s not the game. The game is about having fun. You shouldn’t care about maxing an army or figuring out the best way to annihilate your opponent. Those guys are assholes, and they need to learn to appreciate the game.”

A paraphrase, but not by much. This isn’t an attack or some attempt to make them look bad, they are a fine group. What bugs me is when I protest, and say that in fact I am that guy. I have been assured that no, they aren’t talking about me of course, I’m cool.

That’s bullshit. You know when I’m happiest? When I’m at the final round of a tournament, and I’m just wrecking the guy. Like turn 4 and it doesn’t look like turn 5 will be worth playing. When the dice just shine and everything I look at falls over and dies.

I. Love. Winning.

I’m not ashamed of that. I’m also don’t buy into the American bullshit that the term “elite” is somehow dirty. Do you know why I beat you, mister bitch-about-the-latest-codex guy?

Because I fucking worked for it. I spent so much time learning about this game. I spent hours writing about it, and that has made my thinking clear. I have created, discussed and revised my list a dozen times. It’s because I want to win and I want you to lose. I am an expert. I can tell you every major tournament build in the game, I know rules most people never even think of, and I can even build you a legal list out of half a dozen books without even referencing them.

Here are the two uncomfortable related truths about this game and the people that play it:

1) There is no excuse for being bad at the game. What do I mean? How about a popular one. When you first start playing, you say “I’m new”. Yeah, that works for your first couple games. After that, you’re not new, you’re bad. You are bad at this game. If you try, you will get better. If you don’t, you will stay bad at this game. The idea that “I’m not WAAC so I don’t win” isn’t an explanation, it’s an excuse and the truth is: you are bad at this game.

Sometimes, even if you try your very best, you will still not become much better. You stay bad. That is FINE. Seriously, you don’t need a consolation prize excuse because you are incapable of being the best. No one else gets to be Usain Bolt, but the world is full of happy runners. Do your best, and try to reach that personal peak. In life, there is admiration for a fuckup who tries, but there’s only contempt for a fuckup who refuses to believe he’s a fuckup.

No one gives a shit if you’re bad at this game and you admit it. But those of us who do spend the time to get good do get pissed off when you say we’re the bad guys and that you just play “a different kind of 40k.” No, you don’t, you just play it worse

2) You are a 40k player. You are not a “fluff player” or a “competitive player” or a “competitive-casual” player, you are a goddamn 40k player and that is ALL. What you are besides that is simply you, and not some slot that you pop into suddenly when you start playing the game. If you lose to a guy who proxies the shit out of his list and steamrolls you with rules lawyering and aggressive real-life bullshit, he’s not a WAAC player, he’s an asshole who plays 40k. Don’t play that guy. He’s an asshole.

If you’re into painting and not playing, don’t say that it’s part of the hobby and deserves and equal share as the actual gameplay part. Yes, painting and modeling is PART of the hobby. It’s not 40k. Only the game of 40k is 40k, the rest is painting and modeling. You paint and you model. You also play 40k. Because you are good at your hobby of painting and modeling does not mean that I will think you are good at 40k, because that is a different thing. Don’t get confused.

The game doesn’t make you who you are. It’s just a game. You are you and also you play 40k, so get it right, be yourself, and try.

It’s not like it’s difficult to start playing well at this game. Just talk to players that do. Every person here writes because they want to help EVERYONE get better at this game. It’s teaching. Ambush any one of us in the chat box and we’ll gladly help. Hell, if you ever find me in real life I’ll work with you for hours on your list, explaining everything even though it only takes about 30 minutes to make an excellent first draft of a tourney level list. I make no claim to 40k mastery- there are players who are far better than I. I think I can, however, claim expertise. Expertise: deep knowledge of the game. Guess what? A lot of us can and we're here to help. If nothing else we do that.

So what's the point of all of this? Yeah, I didn't write a damn thing for a good few months there, and it's because the people in this game are completely mislead and foolish about actually playing it. It hurts me, right in the heart, every time I hear some dude at the game store tell me, "Yeah, I just don't have time to get really into this game." Yes. Yes you fucking do, because this is just one of many sites that will help you start building excellent lists in like a freaking DAY. Learning how to build a good list takes a tiny fraction of the time it takes to actually build an army.

So no more excuses, no more categories of players or bullshit about “your way to play the game”. If you play a shit game try to make your game less shit the next time around. Do that until your game is no longer shit.

In short:
No bullshit excuses. Fuck you. Play better.

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