Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Competitive or Casual: Will it Blend?

What's up everyone? One of the topics that have come up in the chats, texts, messages, emails, conversations, and even on our podcast is the idea of Competitive vs. Casual play. One of the things I try to pride myself in is that I try to blend the ideas of Competitive play and Casual play in the same list. Understandably, these are two ideas that are very foreign in the same list, on the same table, and even in the same group.


Today, I am going to talk about how I try to do both. Remember, this is my way of doing things and honestly, everyone is different.
In the Grim Dark Future, everything has changed. We have gone from armies that could do crazy things or have incredible features (think 5th edition armies) to armies that can bring the hurt on a multitude of fronts. Regardless of what anyone says, we are all competitive. Even in "non-competitive" situations, we all want to do well and to win (think about Monopoly growing up). For our game and our hobby, it has become even more of a breaking point with sayings things like, "I am a casual gamer," "I am a tournament player," or "I want to win every game."

This is complete crap. The sayings are not what define a person. It is their action on the table. I am guilty; you are guilty; we all are guilty and it is okay especially considering where the hobby is right now. Your favorite army may be the laughing stock of everyone else, but you can still show up and have fun right? I am telling you that you can show up and still be competitive.


For me, I tread the line by looking at my army (mainly Space Wolves) and saying what can I bring that will be challenging to my friends or at a tournament that still goes with what I like; a good story.

Here are the steps that I follow to blend both.

First: What is the situation? Who am I playing? What are they getting ready for? Do I have the same end goals?  These are the questions I start with for my lists. I always think about what is going to happen when I show up to the table. The group that I am currently playing with is in the Road to NOVA event. I try to decide what would help them, what would help me, and then design my lists with those goals in mind. I don't have all of the models to make the crazy lists out there.  I don't have 15 thunder wolves just lying around waiting to be put into a MSU Thunderwolf List. I have the models that I have collected because of the sagas I want to bring. So with that in mind, I begin to create lists that are not just theme based, but could win a couple of games if I took it to a tournament. Let's face it, unless you are bringing the newest weapon (in our case codex) to the fight, you are going to be behind an 8 ball if you want to win the whole thing.

Second: Where am I playing? I then start to think not just about the list, but I evolve the story. In my most recent game against Evan for the Road to NOVA event, I have been trying to think of what would be fun to play in an event that tells a story. For this story, the list I made revolved around a last sort of line of defense. Two Land Raiders, 3 Groups of Terminators, 3 Rune Priests, a Wolf Priest, and a Vindicare Assassin. You can see, a small elite group of individuals trying to hold the line and defeat the bugs. A very themey list. This list can apply to different armies as well. Going up against Dark Angels; The Wolves and Dark Angels decide to see who is the better elite force in a war game. With the addition of the story and "Where we are," I now have gotten two requirements down. I have a competitive list, that has a theme behind it, that is built to give my opponents a tough game.

Everyone has a Role. You just have to find it.
Lastly: What happens on the Table? What happens on the table, stays on the table. Or at least it should. In fact, this is the greatest factor that sways someone from being Casual to competitive and back. Did your opponent just roll 3 6's to save a unit? Did you fail a 2+ armor save and lose a crucial point? Did your opponent do something that you think is shady? It happens. Sh*t happens. It is life. This motto goes to the battle field as well. So can you get down if you roll crappy? HELL YES, but what you have to remember is that it is probability. This game might go south for you, but who cares. Play it out, see what happens, and who knows, maybe next game your dice are on fire. It is the attitude you take. When I played against my buddy, Will, I knew that Logan on his chariot was going to get destroyed by his Dark Eldar, but I kept telling him, I am going to come back and win. Logan is going to run ramshackle, I am going to destroy everything, and then he was killed on the subsequent round of fire. It happens, but I held a cocky attitude because I had hope.

So how do you blend your own Competitive and Casual? It comes down to what your personality is. Knowing who you are and what you are can help as much as knowing tactics. Mine is one where I want to win, Type A in that regard, but I also understand that defeats, losses, and more importantly luck, have a way to balance everything out. I have played baseball, I have coached, and been around the game for most of my life, and I have finally understood that Baseball is a lot like 40k. Sometimes you will come up against the 27 Yankees and get absolutely housed (basically imagine the worst list for your army to face). Sometimes you come up against the 62 Mets, the worst Baseball team in history (imagine the best list for your army to face). Yet most of the time it comes down to this, it is a game. Luck will beat Preparation and Strategy 1 out of every 10 times. With this in mind, I always realize that at the end of the game, I hope that I have given my opponent a tough game where I haven't acted like a D-Bag.

In closing, know who you are, know what you want to do, and then bring something that is appropriate for not just your goals, but the goals of whoever and wherever you are playing.

Not everyone is going to have a brutal list, but everyone can agree to do something fun. This is the attitude if you take to each table, you will be set in the long run.