Friday, 1 November 2013

Hobby Killers

The observant will see that I haven't posted up my report from Rapid Fire (brief summary I went 3-1-2 and came 10th out of about 30 people). Well, I'm not going to post up detailed reports, rather I'm going to post up some thoughts which have crystallised as a result of going to that tournament, and the Warrington GT.

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

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.



  1. I think you've reached the same point I was at about a year ago. Thing is after trying some new games (Malifaux is the one that has really stuck) I don't feel the need to pick 40k back up again.

  2. As I kinda said to you on the Scotland Forums, I totally get where you are coming from; 6th Ed has become even more unbalanced than any edition previous with Tau, Eldar and Daemons (I have been playing for 20 years next month).

    This is why I am counting myself lucky living in Sweden, as over here pretty much all the tournaments are heavily comped with a comp that works and is both well thought out and constantly evolving through player feedback. What that means is the game is balanced much better and tournament play is both fun and challenging, whilst you always have a real chance of winning games. Which is the total opposite to everything I have been hearing about the UK scene over the past 12 months since I moved.

    So in short the UK 40K tournament community needs to embrace comp, just like the WFB community did once they finally realised how unbalanced 8th Edition WFB was.

  3. Neil - is there an English version of the comp system somewhere?

  4. I'm another one that is in the same place as you.
    As soon as 6th was released I thought 6th edition as a competitive game was terrible. There are numerous reasons for this, but what it all boils down to in the end is that the game mechanics have become convoluted and it is too easy to break the game. However as a 'beer and pretzels' game I think 6th is the best version of 40k GW have ever done providing you're prepared to embrace your inner geek (sorry, couldn't resist).

    Like you, I've been around the block, I've played at the ETC and I've won a few tournaments. Over the last twelve months I can count on one hand how many events I've been to, whereas in 5th, I'd have to take my shoes and socks off to count them in a 12 month period. I loved my Witch Hunters and finished 5th playing Saim Hann because very few people used Eldar then.
    Alas, all things change and my Sisters of Battle have been hit with the bland stick and Eldar are so overpowered (and popular) that I'd be embarrassed to use them. So I've gone back to my first love, Slaanesh Chaos Marines. The army itself is very under powered, but it does a bit of everything and if I manage to win with it then it's usually only a small win.
    This year I've been much more selective with which tournaments I've attended, dropping out of the UKGT's and Caledonian and aiming for more laidback events. I've been championing a 'Highlander' event all year (glad to see Tim take it on board, which is why I'll be attending next years Caledonian) and I attended the Warrior Abroad this year. I highly recommend it, it's possible to still take competitive armies but it greatly increases the variety of units taken. I've also being trying my hand at blogging on the Cold Steel Mercenary site focusing on campaign play and modelling/painting and that has been giving me my 40k fix more than the tournament scene has.

    I think tournaments are in a state of flux at the moment, Escalation, Stronghold Assault, Dataslates and Forgeworld are all muddying the waters somewhat, so I think that it is inevitable that Comp will become part and parcel of the game sooner rather than later.