Thursday, 24 November 2016

Competitive side

I wanted to talk about a side of the game I don't usually mention, competition. Usually my posts are either all building community focused or straight up shouting at squirrels rants so this time I'm going to try and find a balance between the two. 

Now anyone who has played me knows I'm far from competitive, I take fluffy, pretty, and sometimes stupid lists because it's fun. I like to win games when I can but I don't put too much energy into that side of things. This doesn't mean I have any problem with other people being competitive and putting their time into playing the best game they can. 

Malifaux is a competitive game, there will always be a winner and a loser (ignore draws, draws are bullshit ask any TO who has had to fill in a spreadsheet) No matter how you approach the game mentally the aim is to score more VP than your opponent. And it is the competitive element that drives a gaming community, tournaments are put on test people and see who is best (yes I know that's not the only reason but it is a huge reason for tournaments)

A game like Malifaux is all about answering questions. There strategy asks a question, the schemes ask, the board asks, and most importantly your opponent asks. You answer these questions with the crew you pick and the way you play. The more answers you have the more competitive you are. And the more questions you get asked the more you learn, but also the more we as a community learn about the game. 

When a question comes up that appears to have no answer, be it a combination of models, a particular set up, or even a particular play style. It is the competition that brings these questions up and very offer provides the answer. Or if there is actually no answer to something it's time to plead with Wyrd to fix it, for the love of December, fix it.

We're fortunate as the UK tournament scene as a whole is remarkably dynamic for its size, the majority of the community moves and adapts with swings in the meta incredibly quickly. And this is fuelled by the competitive players amongst us. New ideas and models are tried to breaking, answered, and then adapted on a constant cycle.

I'm lucky enough to get to play in quite a few events each year and I normally manage a casual game each week. This means I play a decent amount of different players, including some of the best players in the country (you can all guess how those games ended right?). These games while challenging and and a bit scary for my sensitive mind, were great in that they showed me the biggest flaws in my game. The questions asked by very good players are clearer and more focused. A good player will see the weakness in your crew and exploit it, which means (if you're paying attention) next time you can address that weakness and get better.

Now this is the point in a normal post where things would get summed up and points would be made but that's never really been my style (HA, style there's a joke) so I'll just sum up by saying competition is good for not just the community and the game, but also it's good for the players as well.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I myself am a very competitive player, in the fact that I appreciate a very good game between players of high skill. There's a stigma in the gaming community about competitive players (and the dreaded WAAC player) in that the spirit of a game disappears but like you've said in the post it's essentially different flavors of games. For me things like theme and fluff tend to disappear from my mind in a game and all I see are stats, and this can turn off players when it's brought up. But in the same vein it is an entirely different type of "fluff" to me - Sue and Johan are such badasses that it permeates their play and translates right into the table, as it should. Both fluff and competitive players become deflated when a model doesn't perform the way it feels like it should, and stats tend to translate this better than fluff. Essentially though, I believe that competitive players are misunderstood because a mismatch of expectations - sometimes a less competitive player expects a fun match with the idea that fun isn't an extremely efficient list and is disappointed when they are steamrolled. Their frustration may sometimes become misinterpreted toward the player rather than their expectation and the response becomes an oversimplified version of "WAAC" or something. The more competitive player expects a game where both players do their absolute best before and during the game to win and does so. The difference between their expectations is that one wins and the other doesn't, usually favoring the side of the competitive player. I think this is why you always hear from the community about "WAAC" players - sometimes telling them they're playing the game without spirit - while the other side isn't as vocal about their opposing players. I'm never one to tell someone how they should play their game, but I have heard it from both sides.

    Anyway, aside from the long tangent, I appreciate competitiveness as it drives me to be a better player both technically and socially. Nothing makes me love a game more than finding players who absolutely cream me, knowing that one day if I work hard enough at it I will eventually beat them right back. The essential ingredient to any play preference is its friendliness, and that's something every gaming community will need more of (luckily Malifaux is actually one of its shining examples).