Wednesday, November 23, 2011

40K: The Game We Are Thankful For

Thanksgiving reminds me of all the things that are good about family.  But I am also thankful that I found this hobby.

Before I began as a player, I was NOT the sportsman I am now and I was NOT possessed of the sense of community I now really enjoy about this game.  Painting an army for any reason would have been out of the question and I had no time for forums at all.  This game changed a LOT about how I spend my free time!

I am an ultra competitive person at heart.  I don’t hate the losing so much, like some model throwing players do.  I just exalt in the winning.  It legitimizes me on some level, as it does for all generals, or really anyone who takes pride in any pursuit.  In fact I viewed this game in the same way I viewed ALL sports and competitive events.

I lost the first eight games I played which fueled the fire in me.  I determined at that point that losing was no longer an option.  I hunkered down, put in the work of reading the rules closely, reading every Tau wargear entry and even pulling the models out to visualize and Dicehammer certain “Plays” I could make.  I pulled out the Calculator and started doing some hard figuring.  I probably took a month off the hobby just trying to perfect my technique.

The next game I played was an actual tournament, my first with an 0-8 record going in.  I went 2-0-1.  The practice paid off.  I was so incredibly proud of that performance that I went on to reel off five more losses.  Lol.  Humility is a hard thing.

What it taught me was that this game IS harder than it looks given the huge number of terrain, opponents, codex specific differences, synergies and list variables.  I learned that the competition is worthy of my respect.  Once I started respecting my opponents, and started building lists and strategies that acted on the basic principle that my opponent KNEW WHAT TO DO about me, I became sharper, because my pride made way for actual tactical thinking.  My record of wins and losses which I have always kept, grew far more respectable until I can expect now to win the majority of my games, while still enjoying the humbleness of defeat and a battle well fought but lost.  Those losses are sometimes better than wins because they remind you to be more humble than you were the day before.

I am the same competitive guy I was then.  I don’t shy away from taking credit for my success.  The difference in my game demeanor and in general is considerable however.  I really am thankful for the lessons in humility, and also the clarity of motivation I now go into games with.  I have ten Best Sportsman Awards to show for it, which would have been impossible when I first started.  I look forward to more growth in that area for my own good and that of my opponents.  To my opponents, thanks for putting up with me and giving me the chance to learn from my mistakes past and future.

There may not be a more contentious, yet more ravenously interested subculture than that of this hobby.  We are PASSIONATE about our sport and we love all its intricacies and its possibilities.  That leads us to be tight knit on one hand, for it is very important to be able to find an opponent, but at the same time we argue like brothers and sisters over the details.  Those arguments tie us together at times almost as much as the love of the game!

People take things personally at times and they GET personal too on the many forums, blogs and other outlets I am on.  Despite that, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I enjoy it when there’s a good debate (and not argument).  I think it’s healthy to talk about it, to mull it over and to consider things from a fresh perspective, but you have to fight sometimes to get the best reasoning out of your sparring partner, and to really make sure their point is true or that yours is not.  I wonder if we would ever try new armies and new things if not for the many interesting tactical advice, list dumps and spirited rules debates that are spawned in the community.  I won’t pretend they are all fun, but what relationship is ever perfect?  The point is we are a community and at the end of the day there’s a lot of well meaning people in it who just want the best for the hobby and I appreciate that if nothing else in them.

Happy Thanksgiving

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