Soft scoring in tournaments irritates me.
There I’ve said it – shoot me down. What particularly annoys me is when “sportsmanship” scores are used to determine overall ranking.
Now I need to “declare an interest”. I’ve attended 2 tournaments this year so far where I would have been top Tau Player, but for sportsmanship scores. I’m not complaining about those tournaments. I knew sports scoring was included before I went. I paid my money and made my choice. What I’m complaining about is sports scoring generally. The “principal” of the thing if you will.
The whole point of sports scoring is (I assume) that it encourages sporting behaviour. Well let’s think about that for a moment. As far as I can see there are broadly 2 elements to “sporting behaviour” - how much “fun” you had playing your opponent and sticking by the rules. My contention is that sports scoring is irrelevant in both cases.
Take having fun. It’s a tournament. By definition a competitive setting. Sure you go to have fun, but is it really something which should determine who wins the tournament? Shouldn’t the best general, with the best list win rather than the best at improvised comedy?
And why is somebody’s definition of fun more valid than mine? Personally I hate the overly loud gamer who shouts “Waggha” at the top of their voice, and tries to turn the game into some sort of weird roll playing experience. Other people love that. I love to play tight games strictly by the rules where both players are trying to use every trick in the book to crush their opponent. Fluff be damned. Other people would hate that. Neither position is right or wrong, it’s just different. The problem is, if I get to vote for best sporting player or best game or some such nonsense, my view is imposed on everybody!
I guess the point is that votes for best game, or most sporting player is too subjective. It imposes on everybody your view of what is good about the hobby. And your view isn’t right, it’s just different.
And that’s even before we get anywhere near people agreeing to vote for each other to boost ranking. I have never personally come across this, but it must happen. But even if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be allowed an opportunity to happen. Sports scoring – or “favourite opponent” voting allows it to happen, whether it actually happens or not.
Next take “playing by the rules”. The big problem here is that I think sports scoring, or best game scoring actually stops people objecting to bad play (to use a neutral term rather than “cheating” which is not really what I mean).
Let me explain. I once played a game against Tyranids. A genestealer army. He outflanked his genestealers. I made sure my Kroot wall was 18.5” inches from the board edge, so even with a 6” fleet roll he couldn’t get me when he came on, giving my Deathrain Flamer suits a chance to hose the ‘stealers. He came on, moved 6, rolled 5 for his fleet roll and made it into combat!
Now, I’m a pretty easy going sort of chap. I think (hope) most people enjoy playing me, but I just can not let this sort of thing go (it’s a personality thing I’m afraid. I’m a lawyer by profession, and I just can’t abide not following the rules…a bit sad I know, but there it is). I always, always call people on rules issues, Now I’m not always right, but I always check, and if I’m wrong I apologise profusely and move on.
So, in this tourni there was no sports scoring and I didn’t think twice about pointing out the mathematical impossibility of that assault. To be fair the guy hadn’t done it deliberately, he was just a bit sloppy, and a bit casual with his measuring. He apologized, and moved the ‘stealers back.
But what would I have done if there was a chance he might vote for me as his best game? Or worse, vote against me as unsporting. Would I be so ready to call him on the sloppy movement? Perhaps not.
I think the risk that somebody will hit your sportsmanship score might discourage people from calling their opponent on rules queries. If that’s right it just makes things worse.
So what do you do about TFG? Nothing. You just play the guy, call him on all his nonsense, call over judges if you need to, and if not just move on. Never lose your temper, never be sarcastic, always be polite, but don’t be intimidated. As you move through life you meet idiots. The world is sadly full of them. But you can’t avoid them and hoping that sports scoring in tournaments will stop idiots being idiots is silly. The only thing that stops idiots being idiots is somebody saying to them – “mate you’re an idiot, stop it”.
Now sometimes it’s hard. I’ve had people swear at me, throw things at me, walk away from a game and not come back, accuse me of bringing an overpowered army (Tau!), and all sorts of silly stuff. But you can’t let that phase you. The rules are the rules and if you do not play by them you might as well be 4 again lining up toy soldiers and pinging rubber bands at them (… actually that sounds kinda fun!). And you can’t let the bad guys get away with it.
And I know it’s just toy soldiers and I’m taking this way to seriously….but think of it as a metaphor for life in general. You really can’t let the bad guys get away with it…..!