View Full Version : Why are "bad" choices the same as "fun" choices?

19-07-2012, 18:01
Hello, I'd like to pose a question to the warseer community. Why are bad choices the same as "fun" choices?

It seems like in every tactic thread and army discussion there will be people suggesting "fun" choices and armies. However most of the time the classification of fun seems to be uncompetitive. Now I understand that if theoretically the best army would be one big super unit and nothing else then worse lists with more variety would be more fun. But a lot of the time I see units that are quite frankly bad be classified as "fun" choices. But I must say I really don't understand why. Why is it more fun to field something that's so bad that it doesn't see combat for example. A lot of the choices that are deemed "fun" I seem to place on the table only to take them off before they do anything. Now this may be my play but I think the more common explanation would be that your opponent wants to win. He will take advantage of the weaknesses in your army and get points from the more vulnerable parts of your army. For example I've been trying to field a more "fun" list by including Ushabti for instance. Yet it hasn't been fun for me because all I do is place them on the table and watch them vanish before I get to play with them.

So why is it that a lot of people deem these weaker choices to be more fun? I mean sure if you want to make it easier on your opponent but I don't see how it's more fun to play with models that don't do anything in the game. Surely it would be considered more fun for the player to play with choices that they actually get to use?

And no I'm not saying I think that it would be fun to only play with massive death stars and smash them together. I'm assuming some restraint in the rest of the armies.

19-07-2012, 18:19
It's an interesting question, and I imagine it depends on the circumstances:

Some bad units have rules which make them entertaining to use. I'm not very familiar with the O&G army book, but I'd imagine there are at least a couple of examples in there.

Some bad units might be more entertaining because they fit a particular theme.

In terms of the power level you could argue that, from most opponents' points of view, any bad units you use are fun because of not being overpowered etc. So, if you can find a good reason to use one, then you're both happy. :D

Anyway, just a few thoughts.

19-07-2012, 18:25
If "bad" means unoptimal then simply put, it could be fun if the unit is fun to field. An unoptimal unit could also be not fun to field. Fun is in the eye of the beholder.

In 7th edition I fielded a full infantry squad of chaos warriors. That was considered "bad" and many lulz were had (my last tournament was in 2007 and I fielded that list and also trolls, another "bad" unit and my opponent was geared out and asked why I'd come to a tournament with such a crap list... I ended up beating him badly and its one of my fondest memories lol)

So basically they don't always equal fun... but I fielded infantry squads in 7th because that was fun for me, and still is, because the fun came in the aesthetic for me. Even though it was unoptimal and "bad" and "not competitive".

19-07-2012, 18:46
I'm going to interject my hero into this. Mark Rosewater. He has been the lead designer for Magic: the gathering for over the past Decade. If you really want to learn game design, you can learn alot from reading his weekly article on wizards website every Monday. (I do).

So something Rosewater has done, is psycographed Magic's audiance. Which is to say, they have profiled the type of people who enjoy playing and buying thier game. They have about 7 profiles, but have found 3 are the most important to market towards.

These players are designate, on why they enjoy the game. These groups I feel cross over into Warhammer very well.

I'll start with the easiest to identify

SPIKE - Spike needs to prove something. Prove he is the best. Winning is how Spike enjoys the game, very little else matters.

JOHNNY- Johnny needs to create something. Create something his own. To figure out. Johny enjoys the game by make something work, or coming up with a combination other would over look. He may even find it a great challenge to find a good use of a unit other dismiss as horrible.

TIMMY - Timmy needs to experience something. Experience something in a big way, win big. Timmy loves big and Powerful units (powerful unit does not mean efficient, just cool rules) or huge hoards. He wants to win gloriously, not just barely.

Johnny and Timmy can find fun, with "sub-par units" because those units can be unique outlets to winning or be something with big table presence.

The point is, unlike the original poster who is easily identified as Spike, other players can enjoy the game for reasons other then winning and proving your Tactical superiority.

Its safe to say Warhammer has other psychographs then these 3. And a person can belong impart to more then one group.

19-07-2012, 19:27
Because fun is about taking risks - why do we climb onto the roller coaster rides? We enjoy overcoming fear!!

Point in case - was MASHING a Dwarf player - something horrible - and he had ZERO chance of winning by end of Turn 5 - his army was destroyed, he had just his big block of Iron Breakers with lord, BSB, Runesmith - but his entire army was pretty much dead or dying. I had my final turn after him - he went 1st you see - and all I had to do...sit there! Not move, not shoot, no magic - and I win by about 500vps - BUT that's boring

The fun thing was to front charge him with Night Goblins, rear charge him with common goblins, and flank him with 9 Squig Herders (all squigs were dead)

I lost combat horribly - despite numbers, bonus for charge/rear/flank, the combat was dominated by his vastly better troops smashing me apart! He killed my level 4, my BSB, and my General - who was shouting a challenge as he charged!

Now take a 65pt Goblin Warboss with a 4+ ward and a great axe compared to a Dwarf Lord with 1+ armour, re-rollable, ward save, a great axe, and hatred....


But it wouldn't have been heroic otherwise! My Goblin Warboss thinks he's an Orc so he doesn't back down from a fight!!!

So yes - I agree, the fun decisions are quite often the bad choices to make in a game as it involves huuuugeeee risk - but this is how the Casinos make their money - they make a REALLY bad choice look like fun!

19-07-2012, 19:29
Oh oh!!!

I'm a Johnny!!!!

With a bit of Timmy thrown in for good measure!!


19-07-2012, 19:29
Some units are bad, but fun to play. They can also be capable in the right hands and/or with the right army built around them. Some units are just bad and no amount of work can make them playable or fun. I consider things like Giants to be in the former catagory and things like Spawn in the latter, but the line is not clear cut. Sometimes playing a really terrible army can be fun, if it is following a theme or being played specifically to challenge the person using it. I also like to bring sub-par units specifically because people often do not know exactly how to deal with them, either overcommiting or overlooking them.

Now, I won't bring crap just for craps sake, personally, but I do occasionally like to bring things people think are terrible and use them in a themed list in a manner people are not used to, so I guess I am a Johnny half the time and sort of a Spike the rest of the time.

19-07-2012, 19:30
For some people, winning is the only fun. To do something like what you did which would be seen as losing intentionally, is unfathomable.

19-07-2012, 19:32
For events, I like to classify army lists to help get people an idea of what power level we are playing.

"D" lists - horrible lists. Random mish mash with no rhyme or reason.
"C" lists - mostly themed lists consisting of troops that are suboptimal.
"B" lists - also mostly themed lists but the troops involved are a mix of suboptimal and some hard units.
"A" lists - competitive bottom tier. mostly hard units with a suboptimal choice thrown in for whatever reason.
"A+" lists - ard boyz anything goes min/max nothing but insanely hard optimal choices.

I prefer "A" lists these days. I like hard lists but a step down from breaking the game hard lists.

19-07-2012, 19:37
The the OP, your question really depends upon the subjective nature of which units people deem 'fun' to play with. If the optimal list for the particular army incorporates some of the units that are among the most powerful in the army (something that books in 8th are attempting to eliminate in terms of becoming more balanced) then fun and 'winning' don't have to be mutually exclusive by any means. From a personal standpoint, all of the armies that i'm collecting (atm i'm concentrating on Wood Elves, Vamps and Ogres) have no units that I would not consider 'fun'. Therefore, producing a more powerful list would still be 'fun', although I agree not as fun as if i could use all my favourite units in a Wood Elf army.

19-07-2012, 19:51
I seem to have had this conversation recently, but it was about the use of allies in 40k...

Anyway, fun is in the eye of the beholder and it's how you approach the game. If your only goal is to groin stomp your opponent into oblivion and everything else be damned then "unoptimal" units are "unfun". Others just want some fluffly list and any list that isn't 100% according to the fluff in the 4th edition armybook on page 45, paragraph 3 line 4 is unfun to play or play against. Meanwhile most people sit somewhere in the middle. Personally, when I play most games in a casual setting. I want a challenging game, but don't want to have to play against some tourney geared min/max list. If you can beat someone with some a list that isn't geared to crush your opponent's will to play as fast as possible, why not try it sometimes? Not all the time, but every once and while.

19-07-2012, 20:01
If I'm not playing to win I'm playing for fun.

By simply taking a weaker army by taking weak units I now have an excuse if I lose (I only lost because I had a weak list) and with that in mind I can feel free to go nuts and do whatever I want (aka have fun).

19-07-2012, 20:15
first rule of warhammer, BOTH players are supposed to have fun. If you play a WAAC lsit against a player that don't then you're not playing the game right.in fact you're not playign the same game.

19-07-2012, 20:22
Oh oh!!!

I'm a Johnny!!!!

With a bit of Timmy thrown in for good measure!!

Same here. Plus I like the challenge, I don't get the fun of trying to find the list that can't lose. Well, finding the list, maybe. But playing it? Dull.

19-07-2012, 20:31
I've of the opinion that bad units can be both 'fun' and 'boring'. Take, for example, Yhetees and Gorgers, both fairly sub-optimal choices. Yhetees, for me, are fairly boring. They're fast and have a somewhat interesting rule in their Aura of Frost, but asides from that they don't hit particularly hard and die rather easily, so in most cases they don't do much more than run forwards and usually die or run away. Gorgers on the other hand, which are unreliable and outclassed in their warmachine-hunting role by Sabretusks and Ironblasters, are still tough, unbreakable monsters which can have a good time stomping around the backfield accompanied by noises like 'ARGH!', 'SQUELCH!' and 'CHOMP!'.

19-07-2012, 22:19
I disagree

Most of us have a unit that we defend even though most others rule it sub-par.

Maybe one falls in love with the model, like the concept or whatever. Most ridden monsters struggle to be worth their points, but are so cool that you wanna struggle to make them work.

Im for instance guilty of using:

Sword N'Board Grave Guard
MSU Empire

That I'm willing to defend these options even if mathhammer tells me other options are likely to be better doesnt mean I'll begin to use other poor options if I dont feel for them.

I'm not going to run a Black Coach for instance
Nor am I gonna throw points away by using mortars or pistoliers.

There's a reason why we'e playing whatever army we've chosen. If a sub-par unit despite its shortcomings is part of that reason...well then it aint sub-par now is it?

19-07-2012, 22:36
I play games to have fun. When i play my army right and get a good win its satisfying to know i can play the game well enough to win. I can win and personally contribute nothing to the victory as the opponent rolled some really bad miscast/armor save/warchamine rolls and compeltely swing a game and it had little to do with how well i played or my dice where just stupid good (12 saves on my savage orcs you say? look there 10 saves made well thats just silly). This is less satisfying but it can create memorable gaming moments, hilarious stuff like when all 4 of my spear chukkas blew themselves up in the 2nd turn of shooting. Lame as hell but funny). Ive been trounced more than i would care to share and can enjoy the game if i do as long as the guiy isnt unpleasent about it. I paly with units that are the better options because it isn't fun for me to have a part of my army just fail to be useful in any way. Best example i have is my giant spider. Its base 290 pts and if the other player has cannons and other powerful warmachines he just gets wasted. I want this unit to be good and i still play with him from time to time because the model itself is awesome and it was expensive to purchase but he wont go to a tournament ever again. The problem is people who can't have fun if they lose or are snide pricks if they win. /they arent mutually exclusive either. Good buddy of mine is such a mopey bitch when he loses a game but is a good sport about a win. Another fella i used to paly when i lived in texas just had to rub in all your mistakes when you would lose like I was an idiot but was humble in his defeat. Of course there is a guy who is a dick to just play against at all and i avoid him unless i get paired with him at a torunament.

TL:DR you're either a good sport or you arent, has nothing to do with what models you play with.

19-07-2012, 23:07
I find that most "bad" units, while suiting a certain strategic purpose and can be used quite well, suffer from a major downfall.. Randomness. We play a random game of dice. We have all been on both ends of the dice winning and losing games for us.. I find that the "hard" lists have been strategically put together to minimize the randomness of the game.. whereas the "fun" lists or units have been designed for other more elaborate strategies that are at the mercy of the random nature of the game.. Taking a "sub par" or "fun" unit or list doesn't mean you have less strategy, in fact they often require quite a bit more strategy to suit their purpose. They get no web love because they aren't bulletproof choices that work everytime..

Seprechul stalkers are a perfect example.. I love these guys, they have won me many games, however, sometimes they don't show up or I can't roll my 6's.. Winning becomes more of a dice roll than a precalculated thing..

While I do find a lot of satisfaction in winning, as I am very competitive, I find more joy in experimenting with those "fun" but never used units to try and make themed armies work.. Winning is great, winning through an abstract strategy is even better..

19-07-2012, 23:15
Don't forget that there is a hidden bias towards "bad" units having to be defended where as "good" units speak for them selves. As Scammel said gorgers are not optomised but "fun" Mornfangs are also fun but you don't have to defend your choice to unclude them in your list so it dosn't come up.

20-07-2012, 04:35
I'm going to be rather blunt here. In many cases "fun" is used as a euphemism, because people don't want to state they continually perform poorly. So "I lost because I'm not very good at tactics (or some other aspect)," becomes, "I lost because I play fun lists." Likewise tactical players often get lumped into WAAC. Both are defense mechnisms. Ideally we should all have fun when we play, but Good or average players rarely attribute their victories to "playing fun lists" while plenty of less skilled playes are quick to cite it as a justification for losses.

I should add that this works somewhat in the other direction. Players are less likely to claim they play good units because they are fun because such claims aren't that believable. After all, who are you likely to believe, the guy who runs squig hoppers beause they are fun, or the guy who always takes a chosen star with the 3+ ward because it's a fun unit.

20-07-2012, 07:51
I would turn the coin and say that I think a lot of units are classified as fun because they are bad! If fewer people use them, they become more original and therefore the "fun" in including them in your list will increase.

Strange thought?

(I just realised I only ever play B lists, no wonder I never win, (I haven't won a fantasy battle in 6 years, played maybe 20 matches). I got to step up the game.)

20-07-2012, 08:17
B lists too. I can hardly think of a C list to be honest. What kind of theme is made up only of bad elements? I mean, my gobs aren't stellar, but there's quite a few choices in there that are nasty nonetheless, for instance. I don't consider my goblins weak in 8th ed, regardless of whether I take "optimal" savage orcs or not :rolleyes:

20-07-2012, 08:20
Its not just the games themselves either. I love the modeling side of the hobby as much as the Gaming side. I'm currently in the middle of making a scratch built Grail relique for my brets from spare bret parts and an old skele sprue and a box of flagellants and men@arms. I cant wait to get them painted and deployed onto the table even though i have a feeling they wont last too long against my main opponents daemons or WoC. For me seeing something ive put alot of effort into making and painting sitting there ready to get stuck in, is just as much fun.

20-07-2012, 08:23
Fun is entirely subjective.

20-07-2012, 08:33
I think it is entirely unfair to categories the OP as a sPIKE/WAAC player. It's all in the nature of the unit. Units of Ushabti are easily outmanoeuvred or shot to death. They look good, and then they die. Is that fun? A "fun" unit in TK would be Apophas, who can't be trusted to achieve anything, but at least is very far from a sitting duck (unless he fails to arrive on the battlefield).

I think fun an competitive are two axes that are not necessarily orthogonal. A fun unit would be "often large but unpredictable impact on the game", or "large presence on the field, a threat" or "underdog - cheap nasty surprise", etc. Competitive is "performs it's role in most games for the lowest possible cost". The Hellpit would be a fun choice that is also competitive - it's a centerpiece, it's random in a "exactly how is it going to devour the opponent this time" way, and it will often win or die spectacularly. Sometimes being uncompetitive is no fun, for example threats that are too easily dealt with. Some monsters without ward saves or regeneration are in this category - they become less fun when your opponent can remove the from the table in turn 1 or 2 without breaking a sweat.

The way competitive is the opposite of fun is that a competitive unit should be reliable and direct. March - charge with a superior unit. Fire two cannons at the monster. Charge and cast Mindrazor with irresistible force. Fly 20", cast purple sun. Charge cavalry through a weak spot in the line. Keep your stuff within BSB and general range so you don't risk failing a Ld test. Field large units to for victory point denial. Many of the more fun things that happen a because a string of not-so-likely events. When making a competitive list, it is often the goal to avoid such things happening.

20-07-2012, 08:57
I disagree with the premise.

"Bad" and "Fun" are not synonyms in anyone's mind.

For example, the O&G mangler. It provides a somewhat unique effect, and is therefore 'fun', whilst also being the possibly strongest choice in that book.

Another example - the Ogre Ironblaster. It does movement, shooting, and some combat (being a fat chariot) and is a nice model to boot - so, prerequsites for 'fun' are all there. Its also the strongest option in the book.

20-07-2012, 12:14
This reminds me of the Stormwind Fallacy that crops up in roleplaying (the pen and paper variant) which says (basically) that powergaming (=WAAC) and roleplaying (=having fun/the point) cannot coexist. It is just as fallacious in this context. Whether I am playing with good choices or bad choices, whether I am hanging out with friends and narrating the battle or playing in a cut-throat tournament, all of it is done in the pursuit of having fun. Who intentionally spends money and time to invest in this game without enjoying it?

20-07-2012, 13:04
the thing is that there are usually more 'bad' choices than 'good' ones and so the 'bad' choices offer you the chance to pick more diverse armies than just sticking to the best choices. and diversity is fun.

20-07-2012, 13:19
A "C" list -> an empire army consisting of all state troops and maybe a cannon led by a warrior priest or captain. No real hard elements.

20-07-2012, 13:31
I don't think bad and fun necessarily go hand-in-hand; there are plenty of units that are currently poor choices and are also fairly boring rules-wise.
On the other hand there are units that are potentially quite powerful but are much more prone toward going horribly wrong. This can be entertaining, but if you were going into a tournament you wouldn't really want to rely on something that might work. These aren't necessarily bad; some are even bargains, but just aren't reliably going to do what you need them to.

There are also plenty of things that are just overpriced at the moment; a lot of Wood Elf units have fun rules, and can be good, but in a general purpose list they're currently not very good choices to include for the points. Wardancers and Waywatchers spring to mind as both are cool units, and have fairly fun rules, but they're both massively overpriced for what they can actually do in 8th edition.

Other examples include Slayers; I love them as a unit, and their rules are kind of fun (if not quite representative of what they're supposed to be), but you can currently get more mileage overall out of regular warriors or other special units, as the lack of any save really does hurt Slayers. They're maybe a less pronounced case as they're not that overpriced for what they can do, but a lot of lists won't include them because they're a 'bad' choice.

20-07-2012, 13:40
the thing is that there are usually more 'bad' choices than 'good' ones and so the 'bad' choices offer you the chance to pick more diverse armies than just sticking to the best choices. and diversity is fun.

New books are fixing that up pretty reasonably though. I think I've seen most unit choices at tournaments.

20-07-2012, 14:18
Part of the problem is that different people, as stated in the earlier posts, want different things out of playing a battle (note I said playing a battle and not fighting a battle - this is a game after all), and when you get a bad match between players who want different things, this is when people stop having fun.

The other thing to consider is that what makes a bad unit depends on which army you are using, and what you are playing against. Some units are fine against one army, and awful against others. If your gaming group has a limited selection of armies available, then you might only be seeing one side of this element.

I wonder whether a good general isn't one that has pretty much free reign to choose and deploy their army, but rather the one that can still triumph when he isn't in control of what forces he has available, but directs them to the best of his ability.

Remember, it's just a game.

20-07-2012, 15:15
everyone tries to win a battle once on the board the difference is if you have it in mind when building the army. if there isnt to large gaps in internal balance then strategy becomes more important than what units you chose.