These tournaments have really brought it home to be how imbalanced 40k is. How, list building and rules exploits take away from the challenge of winning on the table, and more importantly (for me) are sucking a lot of the fun out of the game.
I had a long ranting post written bemoaning the state of competitive 40k, raging about Screamer Stars and Jet Bike Seer Councils, but I’ve deleted it. It was pointless. As I've said before, Warhammer 40k is not a competitive game. It is horribly imbalanced and can produce some real “Hobby Killer” lists, but it is what it is – it is not, and never was designed to be balanced (cynically, its designed to sell models!). And the problem is, I take it too seriously and try and make it into a competitive game, and get frustrated when I can’t fit that round peg into that square hole.
Now I know some will disagree, and they might be right. There are counters to all the Hobby Killer lists, and some of them are dependant on getting the “right” psychic powers, and are accordingly unreliable. And if you play against them a lot I’m sure you can counter them. In fact I can see how, on the top tables, match ups like that can produce intensely tactical games. But it requires a huge investment in time and energy (not to mention cash). And it often results in playing the game in a way that's not a lot of fun, or taking a list that you don’t want to take, just to"keep up".
With the result that, for the majority of players who inhabit the middle tables (and I include myself here), it's not a lot of fun if you're playing the "Hobby Killers".
So here’s my problem – I don't have the time or energy to devote to playing more, nor do I really have the play group of hard core gamers that would allow me to “prep” intensively for tournament play (no criticism, it’s just not why they play ). Nor do I really want to play a list that I don’t find fun, just so I have a chance of beating the Hobby Killers. However, I have a character flaw when it comes to losing… I hate it, and I particularly hate it when I don’t feel I’ve been outplayed, but rather I’ve been “out list built” or "out rules exploited".
So I don’t have the time or inclination to do what I need to do to compete with the Hobby Killer lists, but at the same time I find losing to them intensely irritating. What to do!
I’ve been reflecting on this during the course of the week, and been chatting it through with some friends. I’ve come to the decision that I’m going to step away from competitive 40k for a while (probably not for ever, but for the foreseeable future). I’ve pulled out of the Caledonian Uprising (although I’ll be watching the “Highlander” idea that Tim’s come up with – that sounds fun), I’ve pulled out of the GT, and I've pulled out of the Team Scotland ETC Ranking System. I’ll still go to Tournaments, but they'll be more local and I’ll be steering clear of the bigger events.
But more than anything else, I wont be taking super optimised lists, and I won’t be agonising over list building. When I look back to the tournaments I’ve enjoyed most, it’s been the ones to which I’ve taken “silly” lists, that are a long way from optimised, but are a lot of fun to play. The one that sticks in my mind is the Throne of Skulls where I took 3 Storm Ravens (at 1500pts) towards the end of 5th edition. Here’s the battle reports http://apostatesanonymous.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/throne-of-skulls-battle-reports.html.
Is it just me or are these reports more enthused with the joy of the game than the more recent ones from the Warrington GT?
So my next tournament is on 10th November in Stirling, and I think I’ve come up with something that will be fun, I’ll post it up later.