Hello everyone! Alex here again to talk to you about tournaments and the massive role they play in our hobby. This topic has been on my mind for a while, and I’m sure you feel the same. I miss tournaments so much! For this article, I’ll explore how this quarantine highlights its necessity and may give a gentle invitation to those who haven’t taken the dive yet.
WHAT I MISS THE MOST
Surprisingly, it’s not actually the competition that I miss the most. It turns out it’s all of you beautiful people! Cheesiness aside, the number one reason to go to tournaments is the social aspect. Most of my long-term friends are other players. Some of the best people I know I met at events, while other friendships developed by traveling and attending events together. The road trip, the hotel room, and the drinks. Smashing the chronic snorer with your pillow at 3am just so you can sleep. Hazarding the poor destroyed hotel bathroom if you are the last to shower in the morning. Sharing a mediocre, queen-sized bed with your 6’9″ friend hoping not to end up being the little spoon halfway through the night. These experiences are far more important than your tournament record, and unless it’s you winning SoCal, those memories will last far longer.
If you are part of the tournament scene, you aren’t just getting five games in over a weekend; you are actually joining a club that is 15,000 people strong. People all over the world are looking for great clubs and common interests. Book clubs, car meets, and any other club you can think of. The best part of Warhammer is that it’s in person. You get to meet all the club members over time. A lot of us have turned to Tabletop Simulator to still get in games, but I’m sure you all realize how hollow it can feel. No handshakes, no seeing your opponent begrudgingly crack a smile at your mediocre jokes. No physically picking up models and rolling that good dice feel. For those of us that are a little older, Warhammer fills that split-screen multiplayer void. Remember gaming in person when you can cheat by just turning and throwing a haymaker at their arm? “That’s for playing Oddjob, dickhead.”
Some are put off by tournaments after hearing stories of the “win at all cost” players or thinking that tournament players are a bunch of try-hards, but I have found that nothing could be further from the truth. Most tournament players have the understanding that after six rounds, there will only be one winner and, therefore, expect to lose a few games. This is a healthy mentality when attending an event. I will lose sometimes, and that’s fine, but I still hope for the best in each game. If you don’t go to tournaments, you’re missing out on meeting all these great people in the game. Why would you want to exclude yourself from a huge portion of the club you have joined? Playing 40k and not going to events is like having a speedboat and then getting around with a canoe paddle. Sure, it’s still a boat, and you get to be out in the water, but there is a better way to get around.
With no tournaments, what’s the meta? Where is the progression of the game coming from? The Art of War team in Florida is doing the best it can, but let’s be honest, it’s not the same as having thousands of recorded games a weekend. I miss being able to see new lists crop up and listen to the tournament winners’ thoughts. The game is the most exciting when there is a little uncertainty as to what is best. Right now, we don’t even have an opportunity to prove anything right or wrong.
We can see how much say we players have in GW’s design process. No games being played has led to no spring FAQ this year. What needs to change when no one is playing? Also, I’m worried that we are missing out on finding the broken things in the current game. Everything in the game that has had a negative impact in the past has been found because of tournaments. Rule of three, flyer spam, 1st turn deepstrike, moving after deepstrike, 40″ move Kraken stealers, command point farms, broken mechanics, IRON HANDS. All these errors have been highlighted at events and removed eventually. Without tournaments, these egregious problems would still be found and exist, but there would never be enough of a body of proof to demand answers. The tournament scene and the great efforts of 40k stats center are probably the greatest influence on balance in the edition. Even if you don’t attend events, there is probably a game mechanic or rule that you hated that is no longer allowed, and it’s the tournament scene to thank.
Regardless of overall progression of the game, it also just leaves a void of reading and content. If you’re like me and pay attention to sports, part of the engagement is paying attention to the little stories. Player stats, team trading, hot streaks, and maybe a bit of light betting. Events give the best stories. Unexpected players making deep runs. Cinderella stories of off-meta armies going the distance. The drama, good and bad, adds color and discussion topics to the hobby.
In my experience, tournaments are also how I stay motivated in general within the hobby. It’s why I paint, it keeps me reading and up to date on armies that aren’t Tyranids, and it gives me things to write about for this very site. There’s currently a slow down in the hive, and I’m feeling lethargic. I want to plan trips, buy plane tickets, and travel to play Warhammer in new cities and get taxied around with new friends. You might think that now is the perfect time to paint with nothing else to do, but what am I painting for? I don’t even get to play with these models I’m painting. I don’t have to be looking into new releases since I know they won’t be affecting me for months, and who knows if it will even be relevant by then? When you go out and put these rules to use and have new things used against you, it keeps you going, and it’s exciting to think up new strategies to go up against the new contenders. Without events, there is nothing to drive the arms race forward and keep us learning. Even as I write this now, I realize just how much the competitive scene is the lifeblood of the hobby for me. We can all dip into the tournament scene as much or as little as we want, but I urge you to at least experience it a little. Don’t just write it off without at least giving it a chance. As far as I can tell, it really is the most fun you can have playing the game.
Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir considering you’ve already found this site, but I hope this is will also make it to people that may have been on the fence about getting into competing. If you are already into the game, you won’t find a better way to spend a weekend, and I really can’t overstate the number of friends you will make along the way. This is also a good reminder of how great the sportsmanship is in this community. The fact that so many of us are craving to get back to tournaments is a testament to the great impression we leave on each other. Hopefully, we get to be back at it soon, and we all can appreciate it that much more!