Wednesday, 11 December 2013

NZ Scene too competitive?

One of the NZ top 12 players and I believe member of their most enjoyable podcast put up a blog about the competitive nature of the scene.  I started to write a response and then it somewhat ballooned and was too big to post, so I thought I'd make it a blog post of my own.

Ways in which to remove the WAAC mentality?

1. Remove any form of rankings (It's a way of people measuring how 'good' they are, it promotes the mindset of if I finish higher I'm a better player)
2. Hugely incentivise soft scores (really just moving the goal posts as winners are not pure hardcore gamers but gamers who can paint and not be an asshat at the table)
3. Heavy comp on netlist builds (again more a case of moving the goalposts as people tend to build the best list under a comp pack)

4. Change human nature (by design/genetics we are competitive, some people are able to put that to one side for things that are 'just a bit of fun' others aren't so regardless of the challenge/activity they will try to 'win' at it because the act of being better at something is the reward.
5. Use scenarios (again shifting goalposts but if you need blocks of infantry to capture stuff then it forces people to use more rounded lists)
6. Wait for the majority of current players to get a bit older and have kids (having gone through this recently myself it's amazing how many people simply enjoy a weekend away playing toy soldiers and getting a good nights sleep regardless of what happens on the table!)

Ultimately there is no way you can stop people from wanting to win.  The challenge is how many people from a given scene become focussed on it.  And actually the issue is not the desire to win itself but the behaviours it drives from people.  As you've noted there are players in the scene who are taking unique or different lists and doing well, encouraging people to look at what they've done and learn those lessons is always good.  Ultimately your real problem is dull netlisting (or more specifically dull power build netlisting).
As mentioned the UK scene and the netlisting issue it's probably worth touching on this, Raf responded in the comments about how the UK has diversified a lot in terms of allowing a lot of different comp packs in which helps mix things up.  Even putting that to one side the real question is how much of an issue is rampant netlisting?  Well the obvious place to look is the WoC and DoC lists, in reality that is what people are talking about when they go on about this.  From Sept onwards we've seen a surge in the volume of daemons players, reason being twofold:

1. It takes a while for people to get their new armies painted up and what used to be the power build is now crap with daemons.
2. The German ETC list, suddenly everyone realised that the internet was wrong and there was real power in the daemons book still.
Now with that in mind what have we seen occur with daemons, are the lists all the same?  Having looked at them, I'd say no-ish. There are a few people who have adopted the wall of nurle as it was the early 'power build', but the more it's played the more people have got their heads round it.  Sadly it's main weakness is getting purple sunned off the board so encourages that old favourite of death magic but plenty of people are now rocking that out so the list becomes one of those which is unlikely to win many events as sooner or later you'll hit that large purple sun through your army and lose the game without much effort. So yes the list will be about and wreck a few players weekend but it won't be winning many events. (a problem)
Then there are the lists which have sprung up since Russ started smashing the world.  As it happens I'm also playing a nigh identical list so I'm well placed to comment on it. I started painting mine back in May so would claim it's in no way been influenced by Russ and arrived at independently based upon my own considerations but who knows when I first saw it and how it impacted me.  That list is the speed daemons.
The list has 7 flying/hovering units and basically one unit which doesn't have a 20" threat range (PB block).  The list is hugely flexible due to it's movement and survivability in combination thus very powerful, but doesn't have quite the same negative play experience the nurgle wall so is generally better considered.  It also requires better play to do well consistently which is why Russ has been crushing people with it but few others have had consistent success.
But I’ve played with all sorts of daemons list, not used GUO, crushers or slannesh chariots (all flavours) but otherwise think I’ve used everything in the book and the unusual thing is, it’s all really good.  The play style doesn’t flex that much between builds so I can see how it feels a bit samey to opponents but daemons are just flat out good because they are so reliable.
Warriors are a bit different, they had the netlist developed after about a day of the book being out, they’re a classic example of a dull and very obvious build being popular because it’s incredibly simple to play.  As the book ages though they’re going to drop off in exactly the same way the Ogres did, once you know how to beat that build it just becomes a boring game as you have to do the same process each time or it runs over the top of you.  Hopefully once enough people learn that process the builds will start to switch up and we can all move onto finding more enjoyment in the book.

For myself I’ve played 3 tourneys with Daemons and I’m pretty bored of them, there is pretty much no challenge to them, they just do well at whatever they do and have the ability to press home an advantage pretty easily.  I’d much rather play a game which is a challenge.

And that (finally) is the thing I’m getting to, there are always plenty of players who don’t care less about winning tournaments, instead I want to have as many tactically challenging (and fun) games as possible, I don’t want to stomp my opponent into the ground 20-0 I want it to be tight, back and forth and require me to really think about what I’m doing if I’m going to win a game.  That is the mindset that you want to encourage to get away from WAAC play, sure I could push my daemons forwards and win on the back of army power, but what does that do for me?  “nothing” is the answer I come to, so I’ll go back to my TK, WE or O&G (though less so, current meta and all that) which all make me feel like I’m working for my win rather than knowing from deployment what the outcome will be.

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