Friday, April 8, 2016

Editorial: Lions & Tigers & GW Organized Play...Oh My!

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Has anybody who has commented on the tidbits of the new GW Organized Play materials actually looked at the stuff?

Let's discuss this "thing" by talking about what it is not and what it is (or at least appears to be).  It seems that for many, any attempt to connect the words Organized Play with Games Workshop is anathema.  Yes - we all know the history.  But if you actually look at what is coming, and who it might be intended for, you will realize this may very well be a product intended to grow the hobby and hence, the community.
What it's not...
  • The ITC.  Really Dan? It took you how long to figure this out?  OK smart guys, then how come people are reacting to the GWOP (there, I created an acronym) materials like they are supposed to be played by power players and those who take competitive play seriously?  Don't get the wrong idea;  the ITC serves the community in great ways.  I mean who else can categorize game play by country, state, faction and players middle names?  They are organized, work to be inclusive and are in touch with the pulse of the hobby.  The LVO, by all accounts, is an amazing experience; definitely gamer bucket list material.  However, this new GWOP is NOT trying to be a place for power gamers to take their competitive, "I'll table you in two turns" armies

  • A place for power/competitive gamers.  Have you actually read the rules for GWOP?  We are talking 500-750 points for the games that I have seen.  There may be "those guys" who will take two Wraithknights to one of these games, but they are not for that.  If you expect someone who can develop lists that are designed to squeeze every iota of point efficiency from a codex, maybe you should look elsewhere.  This also includes the "I want to crush you to show how good a gamer I am" crowd.  From all appearances, the GWOP games seem to be for those who are learning the hobby and just want to glue some stuff together and get to playing.  If you are someone who needs to crush your opponent to build your shakey ego, this probably isn't a place for you.

  • A place for serious hobbyists.  If you are the type of GW gamer who loves to spend hours painting and converting single models in order to provide the rest of us with inspiration and camera fodder, I don't think GWOP will be a place for you.  Unless, of course, you want to mentor newer/casual players who can improve their hobby skills by learning from an experienced hobbyist.  All indications are that GWOP is for someone who wants to buy a model with the "cool" factor, glue, put some paint on, and get to rolling dice. On a related note, this is not Organized Play where you can get "adult" swag.  No cash, trophies, coffee mugs, shot glasses, six-packs of your favorite adult beverage, bags of dice or T-Shirts.  So far, at least, there are paper certificates and cardboard counter sets.
What it is (or appears to be)...
  • A place for new/casual gamers. From the points, swag and general rules, this definitely feels like a place for those entering the hobby. Anyone who buys a Starter Set and a vehicle or two can cut, glue and play.  Is this a bad thing?  Heck no! There is no realistic entry point for new hobbyists into the current competitive gaming scene. Not only from a points perspective, but from the cost point as well. No one who buys the previously mentioned starter set and a couple of vehicles for $300 is going to get past Turn 1 in any competitive gaming venue. Like it or not, the current competitive scene, with rare exception, is an adult playground.  Yes, there is rumour of 1750 point games, but most of what we have seen so far seems to be pointed toward lower points that encourage "quick-start" play.

  • A place to learn the hobby from the ground up.  Given the relatively low number of models that appear to be involved in GWOP, it appears to be an ideal place for new hobbyists to enter the Grimdark.  Good for GW.  People have complained for a while that the price of entry is too steep, and Tank Shock would appear to mitigate this concern.  Also, there is also emphasis on build, paint and play.  I know, some will say that this will encourage bad hobby habits, particularly in the area of painting.  I say get over yourselves.  Don't know about you, but when I look at some of the first models I painted (a few have survived from the last century), I am hopeful my Grimdark friends will never lay eyes on them.  Most of us have taken years to get decent at painting.  Dare I say many have resorted to having others painting for them on commission.  All good. But don't forget you just glue and slapped on a few cool colors of paint at some point yourself.

  • A place for experienced gamers to step up.  "But Dan, I taught myself the game."  Right.  I'm sure there was never a time when someone had to put up with your rookie shenanigans and rules questions.  I for one may very well take the time to sign up for a few of these events, if for no other reason than to get in a quick game and have the chance to teach the hobby to a few newcomers.  Hell, if they buy and paint a Baneblade, I might even take a loss!  Good for the newbies entering the hobby.  Not that I don't enjoy a well earned win today, but those first few were exciting to be sure.  Maybe give some advice on modeling, painting or play.  None of us learned this hobby in a vacuum; why not help along the much needed nex gen?  Finally, many of my friends in the hobby now have their own young families.  I would think that they will be encouraging and patient in teaching their own kids the hobby if they become interested.
After all this being said, GDubs re-entry into the organized play scene may not be what it first appears.  But it would be consistent with other efforts we have seen to bring a next generation into the hobby, and I for one think this is something that is missing in the current organized play scene.  It will not be any type of competition for the plethora of competitive venues that exist, but could very well help both Gamesworkshop and the hobby in general grow.
Would you play in a game of Tank Shock from what you have seen and heard?

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