Sunday, February 8, 2015

What Kind of Gamer Are You?

Like many of you, my 40K gaming life has changed quite a bit over the years.  The world, and our "other" lives, change, even if our love of the hobby does not.  With that in mind, here's a question...what kind of gamer/hobbyist are you?

It will seem arbitrary, but just go with me here.  I am breaking us toy soldier people into four categories; Tournament, Casual (regular), Casual (occasional) and Hobbyist.  The terms competitive and non-competitive will not be used here.  I do not know a single 40K player who is not, fiercely at times, competitive.  We all play to win.  Also, I acknowledge beforehand that my comments here are largely anecdotal and based on my personal experience in the hobby; my own armies, electronic media (podcasts in particular), blogging, etc.

Tournament:  In my view, those of you who fall into this category are die hard players who make insane power lists that push every limit.  You are rules hounds that take even the smallest infraction as a personal attack on your honour and race to the TO for arbitration.  When new models come out, you are optimizing your lists to create the most spam filled, 1850 point lists imaginable.  It is hilarious to listen to podcasters who are Tournament players spout off their latest creation.  Serpent spam, Knight spam, Star this and Star that spam.  Can I fit a 7th Wave Serpent into that list?  How about a 7th Knight?  Or how about that formation that allows me to drop pod in Death Company and triangulate so they can assault when they arrive?  Such a will to win at any price, and so little time!   All that being said, I know that those who rise to the top of well known tournament scenes are well respected by most of the community.  There are those who say that the people who are hyper-competitive are obnoxious and arrogant.  I strongly disagree.  The few that I have met, and many of those I hear speak, have great senses of humour, drink heavily (mostly after their games) and love the hobby as much as anyone.  They just have the will, the means and the time to focus on becoming the best at our game.  Finally, this group of gamers, in general, own lots of different models from lots of different armies.  Not 8-10,000 points worth, but enough to play with at tournaments and bring the stink.

Casual (regular):  This is where I started my 40K experience, and I played in this category until about two years ago.  We had a local store in Milwaukee called Napoleans.  It was owned my a gentleman named Fritz who was an historical minatures fan.  In the basement of the store, he had some of the most amazing gaming tables I have ever seen.  My God, you could probably have driven a tank over one and it would not have collapsed! He even had lockers where many gamers stored their armies.   Every Tuesday, we would gather and play until we felt like quitting.  He gave us a key when he closed the store, and we pushed the key under the door when we locked up at 1AM.  I met players who I still consider good friends in those days...that was almost 14 years ago!  My point with this gamer type is that you play regularly, at least a couple of times a month, if not weekly.  You are not  part of the tournament scene.  However, you are a dedicated modeler and a successful and competitive player.   You do not spend your time coming up with the most powered up, spam filled lists that the hobby has seen, but you do build lists that are enjoyable to play against and creative.  You have a close group of friends that you talk to about models, backstory and rules whenever you get a chance.   Importantly, most of these gamers are in groups of close friends who drink (before, during and after their games) at least as much as they play.   Most people in this group own a couple of large armies (8-10,000 points +).  I think this group of gamers makes up the majority of the 40K gaming community (in terms of

Casual (occasional): This is where I am now.  This group are gamers who have had major changes in their real lives or have just migrated to other interests in addition to 40K.  Several of the friends in my own group own businesses, have gotten married and had children, have moved significant distances (the West Coast and Canada) or some other life changes.   For those players, it is a matter of changing priorities as well as changing resources.  Most of those I know who are here now were once, as myself, a part of the Casual (regular) crowd.  Moreover, other interest may intrude.  For me, I am an avid board gamer and PC gamer (strategy...real-time and turn-based).  My board gaming has really pushed my 40K gaming to the side, as I spend much more time at Meet-Ups and other informal gaming events.  I have even started a board game club at my high school.

This being the case, there are still two annual events that are inviolate.  The first is in the fall.  Formerly known as RockCon (now What-Khan), is a weekend gaming convention held in Rockford, IL.  Most of the gamers in my local group (D-Company) attend as well.  There are usually about a dozen of us who show up for some or all of the weekend to throw down pick up games of 40K all weekend.  I usual get two games of 40K in these days; the rest of my time is spent hunting around for interesting board games that abound.  In the evenings we retire to a meeting room at our hotel and play Munchkin or Chez Geek until 3AM, drink way too much and have way too much bad food.  The mornings after are never pretty!

The second inviolate event is D-Company's annual Big Game, held late February/early March.  Check out their website at  This event brings about 100-120,000 points and 15-20 gamers to an impossibly large table...we fill a large conference room at a local hotel.  To be one of our group who designs and runs this event is a singular honour; one I was privledged to share two years ago when I ran the 2013 Big Game.  It is an entire weekend of 40K gaming.  We start Friday with informal gaming all day, and Saturday is the big event, which usually runs between 10-12 hours.  Sunday is recovery and clean up.  Even though I now consider myself a Casual (occasional) gamer, I would not miss this weekend for anything.  One of our group who moved to Washington state even ships his excessively large Guard army in for this.  Occasional gamers yes, but man do we do it right!

Finally, there is the Hobbyist.  These lads/ladies do not actively game.  They are dedicated model builders, who are inspired by and enjoy the plethora of backstory materials offered by Black Library, e.g.  They are content to patiently build and paint the endless number of models available.  Some of them even go to major events and showcase their work, much to the amazement of those of us who otherwise consider ourselves excellent converters and painters.  I recall a diorama that absolutely stunned me a while ago.  It was Blood Angels atop a pile of Tyranids.  This exquisite creation must have included hundreds of individual models.  Even though I don't perceive that its creator was an active gamer, I certainly felt that he understood our world.

To close this out, I would like to point to the things that all of these groups of hobbyists have in common.  They are drawn to the 40K universe, for whatever reason.  Most enjoy the company of fellow gamers/hobbyists.  Most have dedicated a great deal (and I mean a great deal) of time and money to this world.  Many have been 40K followers for several years.  Most enjoy commiserating about Games Workshop; whether it be rules, models, playtesting, release schedules, whatever.  Many are dangerously heavy drinkers...fortunately, most are happy drunks.

So this is our world.  May it provide each of us, no matter where we are in the gaming spectrum, with many more days of entertainment.

Create, Grow, Feed, Adapt


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