View Full Version : How competitive is too Competitive?

04-06-2008, 15:05
I went to a new club a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't played 40k for years mainly because I took up WHFB and became a dad (don't know if there linked but something to think about:D). So I took my DA along, it's a Treadheads dream army,1.5k all mech with lots of TLLC's with some close combat squads but no PF's (just can't get my head round them). So I was lucky enough to get two games in and really enjoyed them, but the results were wildly different.
The first game was against a bit of a thrown together marine list with LR, WW and combat vet in rhino of doom. After the first two turns my armour blew his armour a new a***-hole. The game then became a bit of a mop up for me. Great ,you would think but, I felt very guilty that I'd butchered this guy army in no amount of time.
So the second game was against an IG grenadier list with two Domolishers and one russ, five squads of Stormtroopers and a las-cannon squad. I was using the same list as before. This was a completely different game,it was a great tank battle, in first three turns most of the tanks on the table ended up burning terrain or cover. The later turns saw great short range fire fights with his stormtroopers, which were DSing in to finish off my Tanks, these and a demo charge managed to wipe out most of mine and his infantry. It ended in a hard fought draw with very little left moving on the table. This was a great tank battle and I think both sides really enjoyed it.
So heres my problem in both games I had the same list but the enjoyment levels were completely different. In the first felt that I should almost apologise for winning and thinking maybe I should change my list or tone it down. The second we both enjoyed a hard fought draw, leaving me unrepentent about my six tank list. The two games left me none the wiser as what level I should pitch my list or for want of a better phrase my competitiveness when against the wider 40k community.
Your thoughts or experience on this will always inform, if not dirrectly help.


04-06-2008, 15:15
I think it depends on the people your against, if i end up playing somewhere new, I'll take a list thats competitive, but not OTT, it's better imho to have a list that'll make your oponent work hard but not wipe them out completely

04-06-2008, 15:17
The closer the game, the higher the number of turns when both sides could still win (usually). Games tend to be the most fun if both sides have a chance to win and as soon as one side doesn't see that anymore, and the conclusion is forgone, games start becoming less fun to me.

Sometimes your army just ends up doing nasty things to the opponent in the first few turns, either through luck, perfect matching up of relative strenghts and weaknesses or a few simple mistakes on the opponents part. If he cannot recover from that (for whatever reason), games tend to become 'mop ups' as you say. It can happen when waac armies hit the table, but also in many other cases. That perfect game that's only decided in the last turn is not always easy to get, but boy is it fun if you do.

Try the army a few more times, possibly against other opponents and also ask them what they think. You seem to have a heavy focus on mechanised. That can mean an instant advantage over some other things, but any heavy focus should also mean a disadvantage against many different other things.

If nothing else try to diversify the weapons loadout away from all LC.

Son of Makuta
04-06-2008, 15:32
I think it may have something to do with the 'level' of the lists you played against. The first list, like you said, was a bit thrown-together and Rhinos are easy prey to any number of twin linked lascannons; whereas the IG list is quite a competitive one (by IG standards). Could that be it?

Also, how many Land Raiders did you have? 'Cos they're damn hard to deal with, imo. A Monolith or LR can throw a game to some degree, the difference being that Necrons kind of need their Monoliths, whereas Land Raiders are additions to an already well-endowed army.

I personally think they're slightly cheesy, mainly because of the Land Raider Crusader, because it's an unkillable AV14 hill that rushes up and delivers stupid Space Wolves with stupid runesmiths into my army... Although I later found out he'd been using the old rules, the move 12" and fire thing, illegally. I was not happy. Anyway, I play Nids so I have a lot of trouble killing Land Raiders, whereas a Guard army would most likely see it as just another terrain piece...

04-06-2008, 15:57
@Reaver Thats sort of where I'm pitching this, whats OTT.

@ehlijen I agree the closer, can in 40k, mean better but why was the first so different to the second? In the first I look like a WAAC in the second I look like a Fun At All Costs type of player. What i'll probably do is change around weapon loadouts.

@Makuta There was no LR in my list. And what you say about LR's I hear you if your not prepared for them they can change the whole dynamic of the game from whatever to 'must kill the metal thing'.

04-06-2008, 16:16
I've had this happen to me before too... with my tomb kings once against high elves (back in 6th edition).. the other guy made a couple of first turn mistakes. He had all of his characters out of his units for some high-elfy reason. I went first, in my magic phase I opened up my casket and instead of using a scroll he tried rolling to dispell and failed. His whole army was looking right at it, before he even got to move he lost all his characters and a good 25% of each unit.

I felt pretty bad, even asked if he wanted to start over, but we just played it out. Needless to say it was a quick game. But, using the same exact list against some beastmen, I had a hard-fought minor loss where it was a loss by like 10 points away from being a draw. Every game is different. I bet if you played that guy that you wiped out again, things will go differently, he might even win. A lot of it depends on the dice, sometimes the dice gods are with you, sometimes they're not. Even the best mathammer list in the world lead by the best general who won 37 GTs in a row still has to go up against a block of dice and can still suffer an agonizing defeat all because he kept rolling too many 1's :)

04-06-2008, 17:18
Going to a new club is always a bit difficult, mainly because you don't know the skill level of the players. The first couple of games you play there are basically like a scouting mission :). Once you figure out the local scene: ie. do they all play nidzilla and tri-falcon or pure grey knights :) you can adjust your army lists to make every game interesting.

Some friends of mine end up rating armies and we have what we consider to be our A,B,C,D etc. armies. Sometimes it's because of the list itself or because of self imposed restrictions because of an army we were trying to theme. Bring's a new definition to A game :). Anyways when going down to the local club for a game I will try to bring a few different versions or tiers of lists so that depending on who I end up playing it will be a fun game.

04-06-2008, 17:32
In my opinion, an army is OTT when it relies on stratagies that not all armies can counter (ex. double Lash against Tau since they cannot counter the ability) or they rely on convoluted rules interpretations. Anything against the spirit of the game or which cannot be supported by a simple rules interpretation is something that I will not include in my own army. I also like to play balanced, fluffy lists, so this helps prevent my own lists from being OTT.

04-06-2008, 17:39
The two games left me none the wiser as what level I should pitch my list or for want of a better phrase my competitiveness when against the wider 40k community.
Your thoughts or experience on this will always inform, if not dirrectly help.

My thoughts on this?

You got it completely wrong :)

Sorry, j/k. But seriously though, this doesn't really have to do with competitiveness, but rather with SKILL, TALENT and EXPERIENCE.

Playing W40K is actually a skill, in so far that it is something that can be learned, that can be improved with practice, and that some people have a natural talent or insight for while others struggle with it.

Set a veteran up against a new player, and the veteran will be able to wipe the new player from the table with almost any list (unless it's specifically build to have glaring weaknesses in it, see further). Put a new player up against a veteran player and give him the greatest list ever build, and the new player will still lose the game (and usually quite badly).

In your case, your first opponent was simply someone who might have lacked the experience, the insight, or even the motivation to learn to play the game well. (The "I don't care how good it is, I just want to put this and this and this model on the table"-approach). Whereas you, with your previous experience in 40k and WHFB had a far better understanding of game mechanics and unit synergies. And yes, the list is a part of this, but its just one part, and not even that big one.

In the second game, you found someone closer to your own level (or someone above your level who knew how to adapt, again, see further).

So how do you deal with this? Well, that's actually where the win at all cost mentality comes in. If you have it, there's a good chance you won't care. You'll just happily trounce on those with a lower skill level then yourself, and have pleasurable games.

If you're a bit more moderate (and luckily almost all of us are), you'll probably want to adapt your game to make it more exciting and close fought. There's a myriad ways to do this. I'll give several examples:

a) With very new players, it can help to give them your army list in advance, before they build theirs, so they know what to expect and what they'll be dealing with.

b) Explain your army in advance! Not just the rules, explain how it operates, what it does. Explain what's dangerous in hand to hand, explain what to watch out for in the shooting phase, explain how far it can assault, how mobile it is.

c) Theme your lists, challenge yourself. It can be fun to try and 'outshoot' the tau rather then assault them, 'out-assault the nids rather then shoot them'. Maybe knowing that your opponents loves his anti-tank devestators, you might decide to see if you can make a good enough tank rush to get through regardless. In short, don't find his weakest spot and exploit it, but rather find a strategy to try and make it a challenging find.

d) Let your opponent chose the mission. Some missions play completely different, and some opponents have it easier with certain missions then others. Take and hold is easier for a newer player then cleanse, because it has only one objective rather then three (which aren't even symmetrical in points value). Rules of engagement is far more difficult then seek and control, because your opponent often has a different mission then you and suddenly you have to hold two (or actually four) sets of objectives in mind.

e) That said, play missions. Seriously, don't play 'kill or be killed'. The game's dynamic wasn't build for that!

f) Help your opponent where possible. But do it tactfully. Don't play the game for him, let him make his mistakes, but give advice when asked for, help to remind him if he forgets something, point out how you were worried things might have turned different ("Yeah, I was quite worried about those assault marines you held in reserves. If they'd joined the fight in turn 3, they could've probably broken the core of my army.) Again, do it tactfully though, having your opponent point out all your mistakes to you can often be very disconcerning and confrontational too.

g) Alter missions or make custom missions that might not always be entirely balanced (how about a take and hold where the objective is in the enemy deployment zone?). Make sure your opponent gets the better end of the deal (even if he doesn't know it :)).

Etc etc.

Just like playing W40k is a skill, learning how to adapt to your opponent's skill level is a skill in its own way. Ofcourse, the first time you play someone it's very hard. And sometimes, you just get it wrong or it just don't work, all the same. But with a bit of creative thinking, you can usually create quite exciting battles that don't require you to hold back neither, despite you and your opponent having different skill levels.

Just my 2 cents,


04-06-2008, 17:40
How competitive is too Competitive? I think the line is drawn when the shivs are.

04-06-2008, 20:10
I also just started at a new club thats doing a map campaign, The first week I was there was 500 pt standard FOC and there you could really tell who was pushing the limit of competitiveness.

I was a bit dismayed by the main elder player of the group, however, (he seems to strongly represent the eldar as a cheasy army) my teammate came over and talked to us while we were playing because the eldar player had to make up his list after he knew who he was playing and what the mission was. He also seems to have made the comment on that eldar are countered by the fact that its so expensive to put an army together. Too me this seems too competitive.
Of course I may also be viewed as too competitive as I've won all my games, but I don't as I've squeaked by on objectives for all of them.

04-06-2008, 20:35
When models are converted to be more effective in a game (eg crouching MC's).

I find that if you use fixed lists there tends to be more even games and even those with relatively small collections can put together a functioning army without fear of facing a list made for beating you.

04-06-2008, 22:00
Thanks to all those who've posted I've learnt alot.
@RT i'm envious of the group you play in.
@culven I thought as much and agree with you.
@Necros Thats the very same as my experience.
@Red river I'm going to take on board as much as I can of what you said. I've got to say I've got reservations about changing my list per game let alone to fit a player. I just see this as or better still could be percieved as beardy/cheesie.
@X- I know where your coming from. One club I played WHFB at was very competitive and there was no talk of cheese just take it or leave it. It wasn't top fun but it just worked.
@Zoodog Yeah changing a list to fit the fight cries cheese to me but as Redriver said maybe I should consider it.
@Freakiq That just is the limit. I surpose if I had to play against someone who had done that to me I would probably laugh alot and it would be a great story for the Pub, but that could just be me.


05-06-2008, 00:21
My rule of the thumb is to always remember that the point of the game is to have fun. For both players.

So, as long as both players are having fun, there's no limit to being too competitive.

In life, of course, it's never as easy as that. After all, it's rarely much fun being massacred, nor is it completely massacring one's opponent. Also, throwing a game on purpose to avoid absolutely smashing the opponent isn't fun either. So, there you are. :p

Now, if I find myself in a situation where I'm in every aspect superiour to my opponent (doesn't happen too often, though) and there's no doubt as to me winning the game, I try to set a few additional objectives for myself to add at least some excitement. Examples range from taking our his tooled up footslogging HQ instead of ignoring it as I should be doing, pulling some nifty looking flank maneuvers etc.

06-06-2008, 00:29
Please read.


Plastic Rat
06-06-2008, 03:56
Please read.


Sorry, but I really, REALLY disagree with the above article.

At its core, 40K is a competitive game. This isn’t Dungeons and Dragons, where we all roll up characters and work together to beat the bad guys, folks. When you get down to it, 40K is not much different from chess or checkers: two guys compete, one guy wins, and the other loses. Lots of people like to focus on other aspects of the game, like painting and converting and socializing and writing “fluff” and designing interesting scenarios, but you can’t get past the fact that in the end, you count up Victory Points and someone walks away smiling.

40k Is VERY different from chess or checkers. 40k has hordes of extra rules offering more choices to the player. Chess and checkers don't let you choose a different army or army composition to your opponent, they don't allow gear to be changed and they certainly don't allow you to change the terrain.

Chess and checkers offer both players the most fair chance at winning using extremely abstract rules. 40k is aimed at doing something entirely different. It offers immersion. It offers a story. If the models are just playing pieces or tokens, why do we model wargear on them? Why don't we just write it on cards?

With regard to the OP. Your army sounds fun and interesting. It's a treadhead army. It has a theme and sounds like you didn't build it purely to win. I'd love to play against something like that, whether I won or lost.

With regard to your first game, it's really hard to build a pickup game list that is fair to everybody. You never know what you're going to face. Which is why I tend to enjoy games much more with players I have an understanding with, in a themed or campaign environment.

I'd also find myself feeling a little bad about thrashing the first guy. Neither person's fault really though. It's just natural for decent players to want their opponent to also have as much fun as they do in the game. Afterwards though I'd look at what caused him to lose so badly, see if we could come up with some tweaks and try it again.

The whole point of 'competition' in the game changes when you stop looking at 40k as a 'tactical' wargame or a sport.

06-06-2008, 05:14
I play in two modes: Fun and Kill.

In fun mode I'm there to have a good time by simply playing the game and collecting amusing moments.

In kill mode I'm there to win, I'll be sportman-like about it but I'm ultimately there to take no prisoners. I reserve this mode for tournaments and mega-battles.

06-06-2008, 09:59
@Dexter I think that piece covered alot of ground I can't argue against any of it, it was in my opinion, an intelligent look at how people want different outcomes when they play 40k. And I surpose like Plasticrat I just want a little bit more then competitive play but then in the past (and probably in the future) i have played just competitivily. I think in some ways you are right when you say, it's not your job to make sure the other player has fun, but to show good sportsmanship does help the opposition have fun. And I'd argue that should be enough.
@plasticrat Have table and fridge in Birmingham,UK would love a game if thats not mad?
I think it's the dream of the club player to create an alcomers list, although it might not be balanced list GW push.
I think if you remove the competition from your games they would become just storytelling which is great as along as you are 'both' telling the same story.
@Eldramesha I think I would be firmly stuck in fun mode, but I still try to play to win I think I play in a DA army stylily, if you know I mean. I do what I think the DA Masters would do whether it is tactially right or not.
I think now we've hit upon many of the problems I've been mulling over sence joining Warseer. Is it wrong to want to win?
Should my army selection be toned down if my opponent can't deal with?
Is it wrong to change lists per opponent or should I keep them the same for every opponent?
And the big one:
Who defines what is a cheesie army and what is not?

Very happy with all the replies so far, if you've read this thread and you want to post don't hold back you can always help.


Plastic Rat
06-06-2008, 10:20
@plasticrat Have table and fridge in Birmingham,UK would love a game if thats not mad?
I think it's the dream of the club player to create an alcomers list, although it might not be balanced list GW push.
I think if you remove the competition from your games they would become just storytelling which is great as along as you are 'both' telling the same story.

Heh, thanks for the game invite, but I live in Taiwan, so not much chance of passing through. ;)

I think people often misunderstand when I talk about removing competition and increasing storytelling. There has to be competition to drive the game. You ARE still both trying to win. You just keep in mind that it's playing the game that's fun, not necessarily just the winning part.

As an example. Most novels/movies/tv-series have some sort of conflict in them. They all need conflict to drive the story in some way. Without it, there would rarely be any form of story.

We don't however read/watch the story just for the conflict. It's not out of a sense of 'schadenfreude' that we enjoy stories (or at least I hope it's not the case). We enjoy stories to see how the conflict is handled and what the outcome is. The actual conflict is in most cases no more (or less) important than the characters involved or the situation involved.

At least that's how I see it.

06-06-2008, 10:47
@ plasticrat So like Eldramesha (playing for fun) you looking for impressive moments to talk/laugh or enjoy within the conflict of the game. I think most people I play against do exactly the same althongh most of my amusing stories involve me rolling lots of one's for a comedy effect:D.
Keep your diary open you never know what might happen, we might just get that game in one day.


06-06-2008, 14:41
This totally depends upon your opponent. I sometimes bring two lists with one being competitive and one being toned down if I know I'm going to play someone new.

06-06-2008, 16:09
After some thought, I have come to the hypothesis that most players are interested in more than just the win. If all they wanted was the win, then a simple D6 roll-off would suffice to determine the winner. If this isn't enough for a player, then at some level they are interested in the playing of the game. Whether it is the story, the challenge, or whatever, there is an aspect other than the win that drives them to play. Granted, some players want the Massacre, the challenge to them being to utterly annihilate their opponent's force. These players may be called "power gamers", but the important part is that they are still "gamers".

If this hypothesis is true, then one way to ruin a win-at-all-costs power gamer's game it to simply concede before the first turn. Eventually, the gaming environment will reach an equillibrium at which most or all players feel the armies used are not OTT and the players will learn what is expected of them as good sportmen. It is when something upsets this equillibrium (such as a new player or a player entering another environment) that the problems arise. This is when the values of one playing environment will clash with that of another, with the players involved judging the standards of the foreign environment against their own group's standards of "fair play". Inevitably, one group will be seen as more "power-gamey" than the other, and there will be tension between the players until a new equillibrium can be reached.

In clubs, the group will be together for a while and will reach this equillibrium over time. In a tournament setting, there will not be time to balance the environment. Players must understand that this will happen and learn to accept it. So, the determination of what is OTT will also depend upon the environment in which the game is played.

Appologies for the rambling thoughts. It was just something that I had been pondering for some time and I wnted to see what others tought of it in the context of this thread.

06-06-2008, 16:16
40k is not a cardgame.
the purpose of the game is not to win through a better cards set.
it is to win as a better general/secretary of defense.
when you play 40k with someone, you subconsciously agree the following:
"-Wouldn't it be cool to be a general in such an army?
-Yeah, man, way cool.
-and equip it how you want, like a secretary of defense, for added fun?
-whoah...truly great."

you have no right to NOT play an army but an adventuring party because that breaks the deal.minimizing troops to buy single characters and tanks turns this into a "i play this card it attacks your card" game.this is not pokemon;this is not D n D;this in general is not a role playing game;not an action game;this is futuristic warfare simulation game.

that's what the "minimum 2 troops"is all about.you have to USE your troops.you have to have an army, not buy 10x150-pts chaplains.
why MUST people see the game this way?because there are card games for people that don't want to play an army but a competition.and there are STRATEGY/WARFARE games for people that want such a thing. do not invade our hobby.this is wargaming, you know.

would imperial guard send an army of 2x5 stormtroopers and 1 cheap JO-command squad accompanied by 3 demolishers and 3 hellhounds?and would Creed go with them, so that they play first?hell no.would the ultramarines send an army of 2x5 scouts, 3dreadnoughts,
and gazillion multimelta bikes? and a master of sanctity to lead them?hell no.would a faction send a buttload of heavy weaponry, vehicles, and equipment, to accompany useless, neglectable, non-existing infantry?these are not army lists, these are DnD adventuring parties that simply brought some idiotic random NPCs to be glorified. and this is NOT warfare simulation.if you dont want to play warfare simulation, play something different than 40k.

06-06-2008, 16:23
My experience of being over-competitive came in my one and only tournament experience, Empty Shells, run by my good buddy Chunk.

The player was an ex-store manager, who had with him a Necron army that he'd 'painted in a night'. I had a look at his army, and his first remark was 'I expect to get hammered, I've never played with Necrons'. I thought that was a load of tosh.

Anyway, his army, had two lords, both res orbs, one on a destroyer body, loads of warriors, immortals and destroyers. In short, everything stayed close to a lord so they could regenerate. This guys list was geared all out to win in a tournament organised for charitable purposes.

My friend Ben (Fleafa) had his army called 'cheese' because it contained 3 x Fire Prisms. When I played his army prior to the tournament, I wiped out everything but those Prism's. His army has a weakness in that apart from the Prism's, it's built up out of Guardians.

Again, there was a chap who had a Squats-counts as-SoB army. From what I gather, this guy was going all out to win too. I didn't play him, but I did play the necron player. I guess it's a mentality that some people get where they feel they -have- to win.

06-06-2008, 18:07
I most agree with Pyriel, except ...

would imperial guard send an army of 2x5 stormtroopers and 1 cheap JO-command squad accompanied by 3 demolishers and 3 hellhounds?

Well, they might; if, the point was to breach and destory a lightly-guarded, - fortified position (like say an ammo dump) that was off the main line of advance. This could even make for a great narrative when they IG find out that the position isn't so lightly guarded afterall....

and would Creed go with them, so that they play first?

well, no obviously not. :angel: But this is more a function of the fact that in the gamethe Guard don't have any useful middle leadership characters, you're stuck with selecting either "cheap" officers or hero's of the Imperium....

and this is NOT warfare simulation.if you dont want to play warfare simulation, play something different than 40k.

no, it's a game based on warfare which means it should at least in some form ressemble the way warfare really works.....

06-06-2008, 20:12
@ Senor your not only, others have suggested this solution so it must be a good one.
@ Culven thanks for your rambling I know what you mean, when you feel your in the wrong and its all going wrong it becomes easy to cry foul.
@ Pyriel It's crap when people just min/max an army. Although I would steer clear of crititizing an opponent just because of selection. There may be a reason, doesn't normally play standard mission, see the force as a more specialist force. I hope 5th should solve that kind of min/maxing.
@Grindgod I personally don't do tourney but I think there is a place for it. It sounds like you had a bad time, i think with the kind of 'gamesmenship' (sh*tiness) you can recieve at them I think you have to be thick skinned and very confident in your abilities and list. Maybe one day.

@ Electricblooz I agree changing the standard mission FOC is a good way of mixing the game up and getting a narrative story in.

06-06-2008, 21:15
Hi all.
IMO this is a case of another disjoint between gamer /game development.

The GW dev seem to play the lighthearted narative stylee game.They just list what they belive like minded folks to pick a 'Kewl' force from.

BUT as they feel inclined to atribute PV to units and items , this leads some gamers to see the game as suitably ballanced for competative play.

Which it isnt.

(Do you brag about winning a game of Cludo/Monopoly?Well its the same level on the achivement stakes.)


Seriously , if GW want to allocate PV , why not allocate the apropriate time and resources to do it properly.

Or not bother allocating PV, just let players make up and play KEWL senarios?