Monday, September 29, 2014

7th and I: A Gamer's Lament

Hey guys, BBT back on the blogging horse as I'm struck by a thought during my Communications class. Today, I'm simply going to tell a little story and some reflections. Have no fear, this isn't all doom and gloom, merely a sharing of personal thoughts and feelings.

I remember starting this hobby, in the glorious heyday of 4th, many years ago. As a 23 year old, I can say this was more then half my life ago, when I was too young to truly care about rules, and rulebooks were the neatest things I'd ever seen, and I cared so deeply about the stories, the thoughts and feelings reading about my favourite army (the Greenskins - man was that book fun!) evoked. I didn't look at what build was the most powerful and decide to collect, I saw something really neat, I related, I felt that they best reflected my vision for the army I wanted to wield as a hammer to crush my foes on the far flung galactic battlefields. The rules were neat, I honestly couldn't even tell you about balance or proper book design because I just don't remember, but I will never forget how much fun I had flinging my models at the enemy with heartfelt shouts of Waaaaaagh! that almost never failed to shock my friend's mother into checking on us in the basement. That, to me, was the perfect game, because it was fun, we always had fun, and the little plastic soldiers we treasured so deeply did nothing but enrich our young lives.

Now, I can understand that in large part, that was our youthful acceptance of things simply being as they were. We didn't know any different, so how could we judge the validity of unit statistics and game design? The mentality was simply "let's play a game and enjoy it." That said, I think that what made the game so much more appealing then was that game designers were fans of the universe, and wanted to put things out to evoke emotions and passion.

My next foray came years later, after I fell out of the game by life moving forwards, discovering the oys of girlfriends, partying, and the less enjoyable but fulfilling adventure of employment. I was in my twenties, and I did research into the game. Endless youtube videos of battle reports (a massive shout out to MiniWarGaming and the Beat Matt batreps, if it weren't for you guys I may well have never gotten back to something I love. Thank you guys for your massive efforts and incredible contribution to the community) and blogs and newsfeeds, and a great deal of scouring the used market for cheap, shoddy models later, and I was the proud Norn Queen of a splinterfeet. It was nice to be back, and I loved my army.

All this research and time spent analysing the numbers led to a phenomenal streak of 13 straight wins as I swarmed over the battlefield, and I was hooked. I was in a position of consistent, if unimpressive income, little in the way of expenses, and plenty of spare time, and I could devote much of both to the hobby we know and love. I began to focus more on winning then ever before, in part because of my state of ambition and desire to prove myself in all aspects of life as great and successful, and while it worked, it cost me many opportunities for developing healthy, fun, mutually beneficial gaming relationships. I don't regret it, exactly, but I wish I'd had the clarity of hindsight. I still have not painted a full model, despite several hundred dollars in paints and supplies, and becoming the owner of a compressor and airbrush. This was a very different state of gaming, and I believe this mentality is the source of a great many of the problems faced by the gaming community at large, not just this one lonesome soul. I played many more games, started a Dark Eldar Kabal, won a lot, bought more, and amassed an ever greater collection of models based on stats and performance.

Then came the new Tyranid Codex. This, to me, was the beginning of my shift away from the hobby. I didn't overly like the new book. I found the focus on objectives and playing against the game rather then fighting a battle much like the difference between games like golf and games like tennis. I wanted more focus on the assault phase and wiping out tactically selected units, not more focus on the movement phase and careful deployment of my weaker, unimpressive troops. I loved my Monsters being the focus because of their fearsome ability to destroy my foes, the ability to count on my damage dealers to win games. Alas, this focus on rules and game strategy disheartened me, and with school and work and life all taking up more and more of my time, my lacklustre inclination to game led to making less time for the hobby, and the actual hobbying falling from minimal to nil. The cuts of units from the game, and the clear balancing factor in the design of the new units drove me further into the mentality that was tearing my interest away. Gone, in my mind, was the passion that drove codex writers and the community that read and talked about their work, replaced by cold analysis of numbers and research.

The nail in the coffin was 7th. I have the book, I have the codices, but I have yet to play a game. I don't think it is bad, I don't hate my armies, I simply don't have the passion required to force time into my schedule for games. This is my Lament. I miss the days of simple, unfiltered joy in the game. I miss the casual attitude towards rules, and the focus of game designers and players on balance and a properly competitive environment. The wargaming world has plenty of arenas filled with proper balance and meticulously designed armies focussing on an even footing. I choose warhammer because I own some 80 black library books, and my plastic soldiers have more heart and soul then any other game on the market. I have written thousands of pages of role playing for Dark Heresy, Ascension, Deathwatch and Rogue Trader, even some Black Crusade. I've written background for my Kabal in huge amounts. I didn't need GW to force a narrative, because I forged one for myself far from the gaming table, and I lost the will (or maybe ability? I'm not sure) to bring that narrative to what I see as a colder, detached battlefield. I'm selling off much of my army, and I don't see too much trouble with this, as I'm keeping a great deal, but I do see the lack of will to find time for games as the terminal symptom of the disease of apathy plaguing our community. We deserve the experience I had as a kid. We deserve, as fun, imaginative people, the joy and fulfilment that comes when both players smile, shake hands, and mean it when they say the words "Good game."

On that note, I'll wrap it up. This is no great rallying call, nor is it a condemnation of anyone for participating in the hobby in their chosen way, from game designers to marketing executives, all the way down to the glorious few who own no more then a single tactical squad lovingly assembled and painted. This is simply my experience, and my hope that I can recover from the spiral towards exiting the hobby and recover my joy.

BangBangTequila signing off, with the promise that I will be posting some fluff based articles within the week. May you find your next Good Game soon!


  1. I've played 5th, 6th, and 7th. Never had more fun then with 7th edition. Highly suggestion playing a few maelstrom games before passing judgement on it. The inclusion of those objectives has actually made assault more important then ever before.

    1. I haven't judged it, and to be honest I've been very intrigued by what I've read of 7th so far. I'm just so busy and without the same inspiration I've had in the past I can't find the time. I'm hoping to get a game in within the next two weeks, and I'll put up a battle report if/when I do.