I was recently reminded of an article I had prepped for the 'Northern Wastes' blog, during the production of the next post, and to be honest the next one is taking rather a long time to process. So in the meantime I thought I would have a little rant here regarding the perception of tournament players.
Now for some context, this was around about Adepticon when Nick Nanavati won it with his Flying Monstrous Creature list. An article detailing this appeared on Bell of Lost Souls and of course this was advertised on Facebook. This post was then commented on by one of my friends and Welsh ETC player Mr Mike Collins so - ever interested in the American meta and their circuit - I decided to take a look.
Now I am well aware of the infamous commentors over there known as the 'BoLS Trolls', but to be honest I feel that no matter whether they are trolling or not, this is an opinion shared by a large chunk of the community, especially online. But to be perfectly honest, this was just in the Facebook comments, not even on the main sight.
The general sentiment given was that Nick is a prick (that exact word was used) and a WAAC douchebag for taking such a bent list and winning a tournament with it, and that a chimp could win a tournament with it. And I have a few problems with this.
Now I'm not here to defend Nick personally, hell I've heard stories that he's a pretty cool guy but I've never met him and I only heard the stories after my initial disappointment with the community so it had no impact whatsoever.
Firstly, it is worth pointing out that the expectations of what you're going to face at a tournament and what you're going to face at your local store or - if you are commenting with such tripe on a public space - in your mum's basement, are completely different. At tournaments, the fun is in going up against the best players with the best lists and giving them a tough game, the fun is in the puzzle of how to win the game and working out the best strategy and tactics for each scenario, not in turning up, sitting around for 40 minutes carelessly removing your beautifully painted models from a table courtesy of the titan in the apocalypse game, before spending another 40 minutes doing the same to your opponent. If you want to get pissed and throw dice around, to each their own, but you have no right to impose how you enjoy to play the game and your expectations of what you should face on others.
Therefore, you can guarantee that the vast majority of the 256 people in the room will also have attempted to bring the strongest list they can. Sure, if you're going to compare one optimally efficient list with your 'little bit of everything' Tyranid list, it's probably going to be an unbalanced game because the tournament list is clearly the more efficient. But then when you compare it with a list built for a similar purpose, suddenly it's a bit closer, and that's the entire point. You are all striving for the same goal of winning the tournament and that's the fun of it.
So when you have a room full of 256 armies all built to be as strong as possible, how can you possibly say that you could take the same list and win the tournament 100% guaranteed without being a crazy good player. In my opinion, I don't think that there is anyone in North America that could say that, and I even think that in Europe it's a stretch (if you want to compare NA with EU in 40k I have tonnes of ammunition to say that EU players are stronger, I don't think it's even a discussion). The fact that you would even believe such a thing shows how much exposure you have to tournament play, and that is absolutely zero. You don't understand the concept of relative balance and you don't understand the fact that beating up random 12 year olds on vassal with the curtains closed does not make you an ETC calibre player. It just makes you a borderline paedophile with a messiah complex.
This brings me to my point regarding WAAC players and tournaments. Anyone reading this who has ever made a comment relating to tournament players being dicks, I urge you. Go to a tournament. I don't even mean a local one where you might know some of the guys, I mean a big tournament, with loads of strangers, and tell me that you had a bad time. Yeah, occasionally you might get the one insecure guy pretending to be good who is kind of an arsehole but no more than 1 a tournament. I have been going to these things since 2012, and I have only run into one individual who I would truely call a hateful human being.
Sure, tournament players are trying to win their games, but the at all costs bit is extremely steep. There is no point winning unless you can do it fairly, otherwise you are just proving the point that you do not believe you can beat the opposing player without cheating your way to it or sapping all of the fun out of the game. And that's what this hobby is about at the end of the day, fun. We have recently had the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in France, something that has hit me as it is in an industry that I will work in in 4 months time. The entire point of that is down to freedom of speech, and that by extension means freedom of political, religious (or lack thereof) and philosophical views provided they do not mean the taking of human life.
This is a vast hobby, with multiple avenues to explore, so please, make sure you educate yourself on a topic before you judge it.