Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm competitive - you're just not my competition

The great gamer divide - competitive vs. non-competitive.  It gets put into other frameworks, like tournament vs. narrative gamers, competitive vs. casual, what have you.  But at the core, it comes down to the idea that one group is competitive, while the other one isn't.

Horse hockey.

We're all competitive.  If we weren't, we wouldn't keep coming back.  There's no way the time, money, and effort involved could persist otherwise.

"No" I hear some of you protest, "I'm really not competitive - I don't care if I win or lose the game."  And maybe you don't.  I say that myself.  I try to win, but I'm not wrapped up in it, and don't feel bad about myself if I lose.  But that's a very different thing than being competitive or not.

And I am competitive.  But what many, especially many players who DO seek out the win and get upset by losses don't understand, is that for me, and for many others, the person across the table isn't who we're competing with.

When we put our models forward for painting competitions, we're not competing with the other painters.

Who am I competing against then?

Myself, of course.  Or, myself in the context of an idea I'm competing against, a challenge I'm seeing if I can overcome.

I don't look at a beautifully painted model and think about if I can do better than that; I think about if I can do better than I currently am.

I don't build lists to be the most efficient; I build stuff I like, and see how well I can do with it.

I want to do well - in games I generally try to win, but that may not be my main goal.  

I'll let that sink in a bit, as it may be a shocking thought to some.

My primary goal may be something else, with winning the game a side effect.  I may have had trouble killing a particular character or unit, and have challenged myself to take it out this time.  Or maybe my goal is to see if I can claim all six objectives.  Perhaps I want to see how a particular unit does, so I focus my attention on that.  Sometimes I'm in an especially cinematic mood and want to see dramatic things happen, like big characters throwing down with each other, or bikers using a wreck as a ramp to assault into another unit, and try to arrange that in-game.

And really, the tournament types are the same way, they just have a different focus.  How many times have you said or heard them say something like, "I want to place this time" or "I went 2-1-1 last time, my goal is to go 3-1 this time" or "My goal is to not make major stupid mistakes"?  It's another way of competing with oneself.  It's setting a challenge for yourself, and seeing if you can overcome it.

So in my mind, there's really no such divide as competitive and non-competitive players.  We all just set different challenges for ourselves.


  1. I like where you are coming from. Setting your own gaming goals is one of the best ways to keep motivated in the hobby. If winning is the only goal to have, you will be disappointed eventually. We both know people who had unbeatable armies that once other players figured out a couter their armies ended up on the shelf or Ebay. I enjoy collecting and fielding something different than the more comom armies. I can field a ringer army and table my opponent by turn three but a game that comes down to the wire is much more enjoyable for me and whomever I play. Another thing is when you field a unit everyone else calls subpar does something unexpected, it can make a game, one you will remember for years.


    1. I'm with you. I enjoy taking units no "competitive" player wants to waste points on and showing them how they can be effective and take them by surprise. I've fielded armies full of units i like against those lists built for pure victory and won -- because it was fun, not calculating.

  2. "I want to do well - in games I generally try to win, but that may not be my main goal."

    That sentiment was at the core of how i used to play. Being a DA player I always had my own agenda and it made it fun to play in the same mindset as my favorite legion. It also made for some fun and unexpected moves that my opponents didn't see coming and made the game quite enjoyable. I miss playing ~sigh~ oh well, back to painting...

    Great post BTW :)

  3. A great post I do it in away that if my army looks better then the other players then I gotten some kind of a win out of the game.

  4. Thank you so very much. I'm over sixty years old. I compete in triathlons. I've been competitive as long as I can remember. I love the 40K hobby. I always try to win, it's my nature. But I like to build and play rosters that intrigue me. If I happen to win a game that's gravy.

    I haven't been to a big tourney in several years largely because the "gotta win" players felt entirely too free to offer their opinions regarding my roster and tactics choices as if I didn't really understand the game (I've been playing since second edition).

    I'd like to think there's room for every kind of player in our hobby.

  5. Great post, we all try to win but some of us do it while making sure the game is fun for everyone involved!

  6. Thanks for the comments folks! Glad it struck a chord with so many.

  7. Nice...

    We are all competative... just depends on where we fall on the competative/noncompetative spectrum (reality), how we tell people we fall on the specturm (how competative we think we are), and where we are perceived to be on the spectrum (where others think we are).

    I'll be in other corners...



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