Friday, May 4, 2012

Negativity....leave me be.

Odd title for a wargame post but let me get it off my chest. My recent wargaming in the last few years has actually become more and more enjoyable. As life becomes busier, work expectations increase etc, etc, wargaming has become a great escape and something I enjoy and don't take too seriously. Really, how can you take pushing resin and metal toys around a table too seriously. I like to have a laugh and relax but often be challenged to think. But, perhaps some people take it too seriously.
I have had some short discussions around gamer rage and negative aspects recently between games as well. In these talks with fellow mature gamers we tend to agree that we have all heard this..."This list/rules/army is broken!". Typically when things go really bad for one player. Like they get totally wiped in a massive defeat. An aspect we discussed is that this assessment is often made after one or very few games. My instinctive response is that the player should gather more data (play more games). A point I would like to make as well is that often the very same gamer who goes into "it's clearly broken" mode they often stoop to "you won because my dice rolls sucked". Without meaning to, they just told you that, you winning had nothing to do with being outplayed by you making better choices. I don't win games all the time. My recent record is 5 games lost in the last 6 I played. All down to my choices I made. If my dice rolls sucked it was because I didn't make choices during the game to ensure that I didn't need a 1 in 6 chance (or even a 2 in 6 chance) to get a hit on something with very few dice. I didn't set up situations to make conditions more favourable for me like getting more dice with a better chance like 4+ (3 in 6 chance) to be effective towards a victory. Yep sometimes even under these circumstances the luck gods can turn their backs on you. So what! Have a laugh at the bad luck of the rubber bullet ammo being fired by your toy Tank/Battleship/Space Ship/Whatever. Suck it up! Play enough games and the chances are that this will be the other player at times.
Another expression that comes to mind is this little gem "win at all costs attitude". It has been thrown around very casually at times and it is worth 5 minutes to think a little deeper about what it is saying. Win at all costs....does it mean like Monty at Al Alamein when he tasked the British tanks attached to New Zealand 2nd Division that yes he was prepared to take 100% casualties to achieve the objective. The objective of each player in a game is to win. It seems reasonable to me to try and achieve this by a combination of methods.
Building a list of toys that support a certain tactic. Connects with the players preferred playing style (aggressive, defensive).
Being prepared to get lots of toys taken off the table and winning by a narrow points margin.  
Perhaps when some one makes that statement they actually mean something else. "I wasn't prepared to face that list/combo/toy type". Well they just learned that they need to be flexible and consider more possibilities. Experience is a wonderful thing. Another idea is to consider full list disclosure and get into a discussion prior to the game. With email, Facebook, telephones, forums this is all too easy to do. But some players may still rock up cold at a club hoping for a game.
Perhaps what they should also consider beyond 'win at all costs' accusations is recognising a player who sucks the fun from gaming by raising a voice over rules disagreements, can't crack a smile when it goes bad for them, is a general stooge. Use common sense and consider not playing them again ever. Seek out more relaxed and mature gamers to play.
Expectation was another topic that came up in recent discussion. Players can build a list, collect a force and expect it to dominate but get frustrated when it doesn't. Perhaps lowering expectation and focus on how much fun it is to participate. Yes you can become a student of the game and learn how to make things work but this comes with time and experience. Thinking a little deeper and less knee jerk reactions. I know what it is like to get frustrated when you seemingly never get a win for an entire Ice Age. But I also know what it is like to think deeply about why that is. Sooner or later gaps in knowledge get filled and table top skills increase with a deeper understanding of the rules/force and how they function together.

Why do we win all or most of the time...or to have fun.
Me, I like to have fun and build and paint stuff and roll dice.
Rant over. Not an area I typically dwell on so hopefully I don't repeat this.

Cheers from Brendon (The Kiwi)


  1. I hope you do repeat it, it was a good post. I play a lot of ASL and this is known to be rules heavy but the main comment you get from players is you had hot dice I had cold. Not the majority of players but enough that you hear it a lot. The fact that the hot player put you in a position where you started to rely on luck seems not to occur to them.

    You sum that up well in the post, the thing is we always remember the bad rolls not the good ones


  2. Good post and I mostly agree. However, I think those who blame their losses on dice/lists/the weather/the stars...always will. I think I once used to be something like this, but eventually you have to man-up and take responsibility for your actions, whether in real life or in a game, same thing really.

    One cannot learn if one constantly defaults to excuses. While I don't take gaming that seriously, I do realise this applies to learning games as well as anything else.


  3. Thanks guys. Re-reading this a few hours later I think I may have articulated some things differently. But I think when you are beaten we need to give respect to each other. But perhaps a Zebra can't change his stripes.
    Sometimes it is he who makes the least mistakes. Having an excellent working knowledge of rules and unit functionality in a game can give you an edge. But the wonderful thing about gaming is how will the other player respond? The great unpredictable element. Hopefully it's a great game and each player enjoys the experience and have genuine crack at trying to best each other.

  4. Well written and thought provoking. Because we all come with egos attached, losing is tough. I think the trick is at least twofold. Be a graceful loser and also a graceful winner! If being a graceful winner doesn't work and a player's tableside manners are truly atrocious, I'm going to avoid playing them.

  5. I was totally put off tabletop wargaming after falling out with fellow opponents getting wound up like you described. I remember 1 guy accusing me of setting up a table just to ensure I could ambush his tanks in a particular way. That's when I switched over to PC wargaming where the software could take he strain. There was never any room for inerpretations of rules. Just experience of how the software played. When I was tempted to return to tabletop gaming, I attneded a club to learn how to play FoW. It was a shocking experience with half the time taken up with some gamers arguing about the rules and the other making snide remarks about painting standards. After a couple of visits, I stopped going. Finding a group of like minded gamers is difficult, but it the ideal as you say.

  6. Excellent post I fully agree... even though I may have been guilty of spitting the dummy occaisionally, in the past ;-).

    My gaming now is certainly centred on fun, over win at all costs, and I try to play games with folks of a similar mindset.

  7. Justin...that is a very bad experience.
    Scott...good for you fella.
    looks like many of us came to the same conclusion. As individuals we need to improve the experience for all of us.
    Happy gaming.