By that I mean Yu-Gi-Oh wrecked how we play 40k.

From my running the 14th Black Crusade tournament to being present for the gaming nights at the store I work at to being a regular visitor at Bell of Lost Souls,  I’ve caught enough snippets and chatter that I feel my above statement is pretty accurate.  (To be fair, maybe I should say instead that Magic the Gathering killed the Warhammer hobby –but where’s the fun in being on the internet if I can’t take a stab at causing some nerd rage?)

This idea has been forming and stewing in my brain for a bit now, and it has to do with how the hobby has been changing the last few years. I’m sure by posting on my blog how not all change is necessarily good, I’m going to come across as a salty old crusty gamer who is resistant to any and all change. But I don’t think that description quite fits me: I’ve been selling the newest, shiniest most up-to-date versions of Warhammer and allaying customers’ fears and resistance to changing systems since 40k’s  Battle Manual and Vehicle Manual first hit the shelves so many years ago.

I’ve been playing 40k since 1989; over that time, I’ve done more than just played the game. Within 3 years of starting up in 40k, I worked for a couple independent stores selling the game (and doing my best to open peoples’ eyes to 40k and Warhammer). After a few years, I then worked for Games Workshop not just selling the game but running store events to promote the hobby further (I was even part of an ‘inner circle’ meeting at the Canadian HQ to help plan the national events being organised for an upcoming year). After 5 years there, I’m now, once again, working at an independent store selling the game and introducing people to the hobby. Of most relevance, I’ve immersed myself over the last year in running Warhammer tournaments, the 14th Black Crusade being the most recent one I’ve helped create, organise and run.

So what makes me different from all those at Bell of Lost Souls who live, breathe and type about Warhammer more fervently than I do?

I’d say collectible card games.

–Oh I don’t play them. I’ve known for a long time that I’m just not a CCG player.  I’ve tried; man, I’ve tried. I’ve sunk money into Magic the Gathering, Start Trek, Star Wars, Illuminati, Call of Cthulhu, Legend of the Five Rings, 40k and even the City of Heroes CCGs. And none of them took.

But I’ve been up to my neck in the Warhammer hobby since before there were such things as collectable card games and the world wide web (seriously, the internet only came into existence in 1991 in Europe and 1992 in USA –though really the internet didn’t remotely resemble what we have now until 1993 or shorty thereafter). I was working at a hobby store before the launch of Magic the Gathering –more importantly, I was working at a hobby store during and after the launch of Magic and have seen how that game affected the gaming landscape. Having never really stopped working in hobby shops since Magic’s release, I have seen quite a lot.

What have I gained from being exposed to CCGs for such a long time? First off, utter disdain as a consumer for their business model: products that don’t let you know what you’re buying until after you’ve paid your money just rubs me the wrong way. (But as a guy who sees how people will drop serious money on the games $5 at a time, yet scoff at the price of any game that costs more than $20, I can see the value in having a store carry CCGs). I also realised that I find deck building to be tedious in the extreme and that my brain just isn’t wired to play combo-stacking, interrupt-laden card games, collectible or otherwise. (Ask me about how things are going with me and Fantasy Flight Games’ Warhammer: Invasion –even though I do think the game is straight-up awesome, I suck at it).

*This is the point where I’ve realised the length of this post has now gone far beyond a mere rant*

So what do I mean by saying that Yu-Gi-Oh killed 40k? I mean that the way Warhammer players play their game –their hobby— is barely different from how Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic players play their game –their pastime.

Back in the Day

Back in the day –y’know, back when we wore an onion on our belt because it was the fashion– Warhammer players didn’t get CCG players. It’s understandable: how fun could it be constantly putting cards in and taking cards out of plastic card-holding pages; where’s the fun in always re-organising your collection? That aside, where was the fun in dropping money on several packs (more packs than you’d guess) hoping to get that one card that would activate your deck, win you all your games (guarantee success in all future endeavors etc etc).

Likewise, CCG players didn’t ‘get’ Warhammer players. I at least understand where they were coming from: why did there have to be such a delay between buying something and implementing it into your games? Where’s the fun in dropping money on something only to have to wait until it’s been prepped, and painted before you can use it? What if it doesn’t pan out? What a waste that is of your money and time.

More importantly, the two groups tended to not quite glom onto what made the other group’s chosen vice so attractive to them. CCG players, by and large, stuck to their game, and miniatures games players stuck to theirs. The two groups were pretty much mutually exclusive (pretty much). What I faintly remember was that CCG players were left unenthused by miniature war gaming and the collecting of armies; and Warhammer players tended to turn any CCG game into a game where they continuously built up their forces…kind of like playing Risk.

The Big Change

Though I’ve been involved with Warhammer and exposed to CCGs for so long, I was never paying enough attention to the big picture enough to really map out industry changes and the ramifications of said changes. Somewhere between 2000 and 2005, Warhammer players switched gears and began to play their game …differently. Little things began to disappear:

-people no longer painted battle honours on individual figures after games where the miniature miraculously performed beyond its capabilities

-players no longer suffered through having a less-than-optimal squad choice in their army simply because they owned the figures and they were painted

-the painted army was transformed from being what made Warhammer 40,000 AWESOME to a hurdle and, in many peoples’ eyes, what limited the game.

Players’ attitudes have changed as well; beyond the disdain of painted models that is now held by the majority of Warhammer and 40k players, the army list and its components has now become the focus of the game, what makes the game awesome. People put more energy now into reorganising their lists, pulling units out, dropping units in, min-maxing, optimizing, spamming and synergizing their lists. List building is a main component of the game now and is the dominant source of hobby involvement for a growing number of gamers; all we need to figure out now is how to fit our armies in plastic binder pages (to all the doubters, that stinging sensation is the truth).

(What feels like the majority of) players now focus on how to create a “sure thing” with their army lists rather than on how to play with cool models in a myriad of battlefield situations. Seriously, 8th Edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles is gaining some serious opponents just from the new rolling-for-charge-distance rule. Why? Because that new rule removes mathematical, chess-like precision from the game and puts chance back into the game, forcing players to adjust to unforeseen circumstances (just like a real general would, I might add).

What convinces me the most about this “new” attitude is how units are now perceived; all you have to do is read all the angry replies to articles espousing the merits of a foot-Eldar army: the nerd-rage chorus can be summarized as “why would you play an army list that’s effective 85% of the time when there exists a list that’s effective 88% of the time?”  ….which always seems to be the responding chorus to all unorthodox list-building articles you’ll read.

And that’s the huge shift, right there.

Players have switched from focusing on cool models to focusing not just the better units but the best units–and the best combos. Since when have miniatures games been all about building combos, anyway? That makes it feel like the only fundamental difference between Yu-Gi-Oh and 40k is that 40k uses a more contrived play mat (plus it’s quite a bit more 3-D than card games are). Warhammer players now apply the same criteria as CCG players apply to their decks: the list “works” or it doesn’t; the squad stays in the list if it works or it gets replaced if it doesn’t. Simple. Cards get put into a deck and taken out based entirely on whether it makes the deck win and units are treated no differently. I’d like to say this is a trait possessed more by the Win-At-All-Costs players, but this attitude has saturated gaming communities–again, I’ve read enough online and seen enough tournaments and ‘pick up game’ nights at several games stores to know that it’s not just limited to the players at the top tables at tournaments.

Suffice it to say things have changed since the days when we wore onions on our belts.

(So what to do about this? I’m not sure if I know that answer–but that‘s another rant entirely.)

That’s what I’ve decided having read enough chatter on the internet.
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20 Responses to YU-GI-OH KILLED 40K

  1. Overall, I very much enjoyed this unorthodox rant. However, a few things:

    1) I would say the ‘disdain’ you attribute to paintED armies is misplaced. Rather, if disdain is the correct term, it would be for the PROCESS of paintING. Everyone likes to see beautiful armies – it’s just that most of us will never achieve that standard, and so a lot of us give up. For this, I blame the proliferation and expansion of Golden Daemon in large part. Yes, really.

    When I was a kid, I looked at GD winners, and thought one day I could do that. Well, now it IS ‘one day’, and I cannot. I know I am not the only disenfranchised former youth in the community. I still paint my stuff…but it’s rarely fun.

    2) I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was the pre-eminent source of enjoyment, but List Building is indeed a major part of the game. There is a perception in some circles that it has been neglected of too long as a potential facet of the hobby – and I know myself that in some quarters it is still derided, as though we shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy this aspect of the hobby too. Way I see it, I’ve played 40k since I was 8 years old. It very much is my Hobby as much as anyone else’s, and I will enjoy it whatever way I please.

    3) FootDar is NOT successful 85% of the time against actually competitive lists unless the player in question is so far ahead (or ridiculously lucky) of his opponents that army list doesn’t matter a jot. The hatred for this particular sub-par list comes from one gentleman’s assertion that because he wins with it, it must be as good as any other army, and he never loses – yet somehow that doesn’t mean his local opponents are inferior to ANYONE else in the world – they are HIS opponents, therefore they MUST be the greatest, and anyone who says that a weak list going undefeated indicates a weak gaming scene (from a competitive standpoint) is personally insulting him. Had he not made such foolish, self-aggrandizing claims, it would never have become a semi-meme.

    4) Finally – “WAAC players” =/= “players at top tables.” WAAC players are players who cheat. Genuine Competitive players have no interest in cheating, as they wish to win through skill. As a matter of fact, we despise cheaters at least as much as non-Competitive players…and probably MORE, not least because we get accused of being like them when in actual fact the differences are many and varied.

    TKE

    • imaginarywars says:

      Some very good points!

      1) Yeah, I think you’re right. “Disdain” may have been too harsh a word to use. (But maybe not: “disdain (2) to think unworthy of notice, response, etc.; consider beneath oneself.” Hmmmm.)

      I think you’re correct in the assertion that it’s not so much painted armies as the process of painting the armies themselves. BUT, I think that has been evolving; I’ve read enough posts by guys claiming they’re HAPPIER with bare metal and “converted” bare plastic than having anything painted in their armies. (And I’m not saying this is your stance on this matter.) It’s not a majority opinion being expressed out in the internet, but I see it enough that I WILL stick to my guns when I say that painted armies are now viewed as a limiting factor to the game –even to the point that some people hold painted models in contempt (maybe there’s a lot of sour grapes going around?).

      My argument is: how does dry-brushing detract more from your army than leaving it bare metal? How does block-painting and dipping look worse than bare plastic? If you can afford many (MANY) armies, why not pay a painting service to block-paint and dip? (There’s one that does it for ninety-nine cents per model–cheap!!) I’ve thrown those arguments out there and not only have been told my view is wrong but have had people defending the original poster, saying things like “you can’t have your bad paint job be made fun of if you keep everything unprimed.” Feh.

      I DO agree with you on the current Golden Demons. It seems now to be more of a notch to put on your CV when advertising your painting / commission service than what it was oh so many years ago. It used to be contest that inspired people (who knew they’d never be as good as the winners, but they were inspired nonetheless). As I remember it (heh…with my old-man brain and all), the Golden Demons in the 90s were a lot like watching pro hockey –and I guess baseball or basketball could probably be applied to this as well. When watching some NHL, you GOT that you’d never be as good as any of the pro players; but the skill they displayed made you want to go out and be a part of that sport.

      2)I’m not trying to tell you how to enjoy your hobby (…well, maybe I am –but more trying to influence it than control it.) I’ve just seen what happens in my parts as guys put so much energy into optimizing and re-optimizing their lists and always thinking about their lists, that I’m kind of soured on the whole thing. (Could be that I’m just jealous that I’ll never be a great list builder …I’m willing to accept that as a possibility.) One effect of all this focus on list building that I’ve been lucky enough to witness over the last 18 years of working a games store is: Math-hammer.

      Invariably, all this list building leads to people talking to each other about all their lists (not a bad thing), but often enough it devolves into what I can only describe as a “my dad can beat up your dad” argument; you know, the kind that all the neighborhood kids got into when they were, like, 5 or 6. Except this is guys between the ages of 15 and 25. (I’m sure you’ve seen these too, so I’m not going to lengthen my already verbose reply by giving you examples of the kind of arguments being thrown around.) I’ve seen enough of this that I have a lower impression of all those who partake in the activity. Doesn’t mean they should all be rounded up and sent to some island. But it doesn’t mean I have to like either. To each his own (but I SURE am going to piss and moan about it from time to time on my blog!)

      3)AHA! You fell for my trap! What good is having a blog if I can’t make someone irrationally angry over something I’ve said, yet have no vested interest in? Why else would I say 40k has YuGiOh to thank for its current play style instead of the more sound argument that the internet is the source of all crappy-ness in people? 😉

      …Actually I wasn’t trying to say that Foot-dar were great; it was just the first example that came to mind of all the nrrrd rage that issues forth when someone says they’re having some success with a unit / list normally considered less-than-optimal. Maybe not the best example to illustrate my point: that the “crowd” leans towards thinking that anything considered a second-place choice is really a first-place loser choice (if that makes any sense). And I’m lamenting that more people aren’t giving weird and overlooked stuff more of a chance (except Swooping Hawks –I have a DECADE of disappointment behind playing with them; despite my love for the models, I can NEVER accept that they’re worth their points …at least not the way I play with my army.)

      Again, I wasn’t trying to champion Foot-dar so much as I was trying to illustrate how the gaming community reacts to the unorthodox and second / third-best choices for army lists. (I’m a pretty anti-cookie-cutter list person.)

      4)Clarification:
      I wasn’t saying Win-at-All-Costs players and attitudes were at the top tables at tournaments. I meant my writing there to say something more along the lines of:

      “Warhammer players now apply the same criteria as CCG players apply to their decks: the list “works” or it doesn’t; the squad stays in the list if it works or it gets replaced if it doesn’t. Simple. Cards get put into a deck and get taken out based entirely on whether it makes the deck win and units are treated no differently. This attitude has saturated gaming communities–again, I’ve read enough online and seen enough tournaments and ‘pick up game’ nights at several games stores to know that it’s not just limited to the players at the top tables at tournaments.”

      Thanks for all the feed back! I’ve been made to sweat a bit and review the things I wrote –which ultimately is a good thing. (Also, it helped me eliminate a couple minor typos and re-punctuate a thing or two as well –considering how much of a grammar nazi I am, I think it shows poorly of me when I can’t be trusted to post at the same level I wish certain other sites would post at; I’m not going to name names, but it drives me up the wall that articles –not replies, mind you; ARTICLES– are being written where the author displays a complete lack of knowledge regarding the usage of the words THEN and THAN. Come on! This is grade four grammar! Sigh. But that is my struggle, I guess.)

      Thanks for taking the time to read and consider what I wrote!

  2. sonsoftaurus says:

    I think the basic thrust of your point is spot-on, that many mini gamers have eschewed what some old-timers consider the cool parts for the “optimized” approach, but I don’t directly blame CCGs.

    I blame the internet.

    You see the same kind of changes not only in 40K, but in other wide-spread games too where there’s a component of choice, without which there’s not going to be opportunity to optimize. CCGs, point-based mini games, and RPGs all saw an increase of this sort of thing at the same time, as BBSs, listservs, message boards and their ilk became more widely available to players. Before, gamer groups were generally very insular, with their own house rules and ways of doing things. There were magazines and such but they generally focused more on providing additional content and options vs. talking about how to make an army, deck, or character “better”. Some players mixed at a broader scale at conventions and such, seeing what other groups did, but they were a minority.

    Along came the widespread use of the net, and the ability of more and more gamers to interact across the world, and incorporate from others. Instead of feeling their way through with the locals how they want to play the game, there was a move towards more “standards”, and among the more competitive types a focus towards list/deck/character optimization.

    I think the main CCG influence was not the optimization impulse, which IMO would have happened anyways, but the extra push of the complete, pre-packaged nature of the cards – stick it in the deck and play. Treating the cards as impersonal interchangeable cogs spilled over to minis and RPGs and made the mindset of optimization more palatable.

    The ‘net also helped improve the “softer” side for many, so it’s not all negative. For those interested, there’s a lot of inspiration and advice for modeling, painting, and “fun” gaming ideas like custom rules, scenarios, campaigns and so on.

    I think that there’s still a lot of gamers who stay in their own groups, picking what they want from the larger mass that’s spewed out, ignoring the rest, and happily playing away in their own little groups. They usually aren’t as visible as the tourney crowd who plays at more public venues like tournaments and stores, but they’re a significant %, probably even the majority.

    • imaginarywars says:

      The internet: I just mentioned in the reply below (and really, I struggled with where my finger should be pointing the most here). I think the internet has been completely complicit in helping things down this road. But I’m not sure that it’s the cause of players treating their armies like a Mox deck; I think the internet is merely the dirty toilet seat passing on this brand of herpes to the population that visits its stall (I hear it’s not so much a stall as it is a series of tubes).

      But yes, the internet also brings good things to the table: who hasn’t used some sort of painting / modeling tutorial? Who hasn’t google-image searched for ideas and inspiration? Who hasn’t made friends with the same mind set from far away locales? I can only hate the internet so much …and then I remember that I need to check what’s going on at Facebook.

      It would be simplistic of me to decide that we got where we are today just because of one simple thing. Even though I’ve been actively surfing the ‘net since about 1995, I know my knowledge of it doesn’t run very deep, so I can’t really say that you’re wrong. I just think that CCGs were the spark and the trail of gasoline leading back to the service station is the internet.

      (God, how many other terrible metaphors can I thrown down?)

      I agree that min-maxing existed in RPGs before the advent of CCGs…but, in my mind, existence doesn’t equal proliferation. Despite RPGs having the potential for min-maxing, their game play was organic; they had more in common with Soap Operas. In contrast, CCGs and GW’s games had more in common with billiards or chess in that at game’s completion, you’d rack up and go again (with the obvious difference / improvement being that CCGs and GW’s games allowed you to change up the mix of your “pieces” for the next game.)

      I suspect the spill over from CCGs has had more impact on minis games than RPGs for this reason: you’re more likely to suffer through the early stages of a less-than-optimized character in an RPG than you would a crappy deck in a CCG or a clunky list in Warhammer or 40k. (Tho’ I guess I could be wrong about that –I HAVE been out of the loop with my exposure to the full gamut of RPGs these days!)

      And I fully agree that there’s still a lot (a LOT) of gamers who aren’t active ion the internet …or at tournaments …or at game nights at an FLGS (I’m ALL too aware of the last two points!). But, as with voting, it doesn’t matter HOW big the silent majority is if they choose to remain silent and aloof from the community.

  3. Davegeek says:

    Wow, Warhammer gets min-maxers too. If it’s any consolation CCGs have also kicked the hell out of roleplaying in RPGs. Well them and video games. Instead of playing a fun character it seems players increasingly prefer to play a “leet” one. The latest edition of D&D reflects this IMO with every class having some “ultra special move… I mean power” that just reeks of this “win at all costs” mentality. I feel the origins of this lie more in video games than CCGs in that it just smacks of the “look at my high score” mentality from the arcades of yore. Regardless of where the origin lies it’s kind of lame to see any game become more like a CCG. Unless it is a CCG in which case I guess it just makes sense.

    • imaginarywars says:

      I concur: CCGs totally changed the landscape. Again –and not to be too old-fogey about this– I was working in a comic & game store (and in charge of stocking, managing & promoting the games section there) back before there was such a beast as collectible card games. And I continued working there through the first few years of CCGs existing.

      I switched to working at GW just before RPGs crashed (so I DID miss out on that….which is why they weren’t even mentioned in passing in my post).

      Arcades and a high-score mentality? Hmmm. I’m not inclined to agree about that regarding the symptoms I was addressing (but I’m no gaming sociologist, so what do I know?). Perhaps it’s something else that’s propagating this paradigm in gaming. Perhaps CCGs, like 40k, are just displaying symptoms and are not the true cause of this shift in play style?

      For the record, I’d put my chips on CCGs being the cause. To use tubes-of-paint terms, I’d say CCGs are the pigment and the internet is the vehicle.

    • sonsoftaurus says:

      If there’s a video game culprit, I think the main suspect would be Street Fighter 2.

  4. Big Jim says:

    Great Article!

    Ah yes, the days we had onion belts and creativity in our hearts.

    I must say I completely agree with you assessment. The rule of cool has been trumped by most efficient while running the numbers. It is sad really.

    It also seems that a large part of the community needs GW spoon-feeding them everything. Back in the ‘Day’ we didn’t get, have or desire FAQ’s from GW, we were left to our own devices to fix things. I have to be honest things were more fun in those days.

    Imagination oozed out of our games like water out of a fractured pipe. Unfortunately most imagination has been buried by officialdom.

    The story line fades for the tournament, and the fun of your opponent less important than the win.

    Luckily there are beacons of hope out there that can combine the old and new ways and bring balance to the ‘force’ as it were. I really love what y’all have done with the 14th Black crusade. I applaud you guys for running an successful event like this.

    That said, keep doing what you are doing. You are an inspiration to other old salts out there.

    -Jim

    • imaginarywars says:

      Thanks for the kind words! I agree: things WERE more fun back then…albeit a bit more frustrating as well in that it was less likely that you could play against a stranger and both be playing –more or less– with the same understanding as to what the words in the rule books meant.

      I kind of like that there’s FAQs and errata and explanations done (from time to time) now; I just wish players were just as likely now to try new stuff as they were then. I think that’s more what this lament was getting at.

      It seems nowadays there’s little reason to change up an army list unless the squad you’re removing is being traded up. I’m not saying that to “play proper” people should be making bad lists that are in there deliberately to make the army worse; I just wish players would go a little further out of their comfort zones and experiment.

      I see enough gaming to realise that this just isn’t being done as much as it used to. Maybe it’s because back in the day new releases came slowly enough (and there was enough stuff that was waiting just for their initial release) that a lot of people bought EVERY release and tried every release in their lists.

      Maybe they weren’t so much into experimenting as they were desperate to play with something other than 6 of the same squads in their army. That’s something I hadn’t considered when I was writing this up.

  5. Rancor709 says:

    Great rant/lament for the days when Onions were wore and men were men and army lists were a necessary evil instead of high mathematical formulas. The biggest transition that CCGs created was the mentality of optimal builds only. GW has never intentionally built their game to be played for cash prizes. MTG was built from the ground up with the idea people could make a living playing the game in a tournament environment. For all the people want to see 40k and Fantasy as chess its not, its Risk random chance is built into the game an inherently disproportionate amount by using a d6. What is amazing if you as a player stop trying to see the mathematical optimal choices and instead try some units that are just not as optimal I think it makes for a more rewarding game experience. If the net says somethings crap, look at the unit and figure how you could make it better. Sheep are lead to slaughter and the internet gives a voice to all people with a connection so they are not more informed then the loud mouth at the store that gets his butt handed to him every game. The object of collectible card games is to win, if you look at the GW rule book pg 2 you find the object of the game is for both players to have FUN! I play tournaments and enjoy them but at the end of the day I know if I roll more 6″s then I do 1’s the likely hood that I will win the game is greater regardless of anything else that happens. The internet is no substitute for experience

    • imaginarywars says:

      You summarised it better than I think I was able to when you said that CCGs created the mentality of optimal builds being the only option for players. And I heartily agree with your belief that if you try playing with less-than optimal units, you’re likely to have more fun (though I still maintain my Swooping Hawks have worn out their ability to play that card on me anymore!)

      Thanks for the input!

  6. ThatTeriGirl says:

    I hear what you’re saying, but I think there blame lies not with CCGs, but more with how the technology of gaming has changed and changed gaming culture as a whole.

    You talk about CCGs, but you really, truly should be talking about video games. If you want to talk about the perpetuation of the buy-and-play model, you shouldn’t be blaming Magic and Yu-gi-oh, but Starcraft and Dawn of War. I don’t have to tell you how high the audience crossover between those games and GW games are, and how those games impact the way players in the hobby look at the hobby.

    I could go on about how those games are TRULY about optimizing builds, about 85% vs 88% efficacy, and wargaming in a strategic vacuum.

    • imaginarywars says:

      I dunno –maybe you’re right.

      I just have a hard time with that because when Magic first came out, the prevailing video game / console system was, what, the SNES? I’m old enough to remember just how prevalent that gaming system was (yeah, I think it was a big player in helping transform game consoles from nrrd toys to mainstream entertainment systems; but in 1993-94, consoles didn’t rub off on the hobby-store games like CCGs did).

      Again, I’ll TOTALLY agree that the internet (and by extension, video games) have been a vehicle for the change in WFB/40k play style –the proverbial rats on the boat bringing fleas to medieval Europe, as it were– but I think Magic (and then later, Pokemon) were such HUGE game changers on the scene back that all roads still lead back to them. Much like how the board game, ‘Dominion’ has suddenly opened up a completely brand-new, undiscovered board-game mechanic that is quite exciting to see developing as it happens, Magic did the same thing back in the early-mid nineties. (I’d even wager that video-game designers were being inspired by CCGs, that’s how early on the scene Magic was.)

      I don’t doubt that many (most?) players are emulating more of the mad skillz they’ve acquired through playing such-and-such video game when they’re doing some of their super-optimizing of their lists, but I’m trying to point my finger at the ultimate instigator of all this –while being mindful that when I point a finger, there’s three more pointing back at me …and one at God.

      And as I’ve mentioned already, I chose to bring Yu Gi Oh to the table to be a little inflammatory –I mean, how much conversation would have been generated had I titled this post, “Video Games hurt 40k Game Play” and how mundane would any such dialogue be? No, I chose to troll in a way that would (hopefully) get people thinking; plus I really DO believe Magic the Gathering has played such a HUGE role in all of this.

  7. Dave says:

    Wow, so many comments with some great points to an article that really nailed todays gaming landscape as a whole. I’m a varied geek and have friends who fall more into these different categories than others.

    First off, CCGs _began_ the change of the landscape with MtG. That’s the first I can think of of people spending days on end perfecting their lists to the point where you can win before the game starts, nomatter who goes first.

    Following that, Wizards of the Coast, makers of Magic the Gathering, bought TSR, makers of Dungeons and Dragons. Then came DnD 3rd ed – and with it, Feats and Prestige classes that allowed players to start “deck building” their characters. The focus on roleplaying stopped and now creating “winning” characters began. (I’m still not sure how you “win” a game that’s supposed to just be about roleplaying – ultimately your DM can kill any of you at will) A friend of mine scours the internet and all the books for the best character builds and combos.

    (aside: Lets not forget the “Clix” games that are a mutant child of CCGs and Tabletop wargaming)

    I disagree about video games causing this mentality. People don’t get as hardcore over video games as CCGs or Tabletop. They might waste more time, but I don’t think they get into the building nearly as much. And, they don’t invest nearly as much money. (You can’t even argue about WoW – WoW isn’t about questioning what is the right gear – the gear simply scales as you sink more of your life into the game, plain and simple)

    I play 40k, but not tournaments. (my LGS that has tables is a cliquish bunch who are not inviting of new players and shut up and stare at intruders to their store until you buy something and leave) I used to play MtG and still occasionally play DnD. I play to have fun. I play lists and characters I enjoy.

    I must also lay blame WYSIWYG. This completely destroys the concept of new or less experienced players going to a tournament or even friendly play against strangers. And tournaments prefer it that way. They don’t want people who don’t know the rules as well or who take longer to decide their turns and slowing things down.

    WYSIWYG is what applies CCG mentality to 40k because now not only are you sinking money into your models but you’re customizing them for a single spec. So, when you’re planning that spec, you’d better know that that’s what you want. (though some people go to the extent of creating modular characters, this probably doesn’t represent the mass)
    Should people goto the extent of having the proper models? Yes. Wargear? Who cares. WYSIWYG cares, just like CCGs care.

    In this end, this is our competitive nature. “Back in the day” we’d have spent hours talking about our favorite hobby and the better way to do so with our friends. Then stores open and we’d do it there with acquaintances. Now, the internet just extends our communication ability to strangers as well.

    My view on min-maxing 40k is that 40k can be very rock-paper-scissors. (Or maybe that’s because I play Eldar) Strategy is certainly a huge factor, but so is random dice and who your army is up against. Really, you’re not min-maxing the “best” army, you’re trying to create the best general army that’ll work against most other armies that _you’ll face_.
    For and extreme example, the lists are going to be very different if you’re in an area where 9/10 tournament goers play nids for that guy who doesn’t and has to plan specifically to face them. No “winning list” will beat an “anti nid” list in that situation.

  8. david says:

    I played 2nd edition 40k loads i just loved the different combos of gear ya could take and nearly always changed this every game. After awhile i drifted away from the hobby only to return later about half way through 3rd edition run and i was shocked all the wargear had gone and it seemed like it was all slimmed down and to top it all my space wolves were no longer game legal.Half the people just didnt know how play in a fun way it was all about the winning while my own painting skills could still be improved i was disheartend to say so many models just basecoated.Part of the hobby we all love yet drives us mad is the painting yes it’s hard and time consuming and for the most we will never be golden deamon standard we should not give up.Part of the biggest problem now i see is the cost of minis games-workshop is now just a cash cow and really dosent care about its customers i remember when they actually made decent games ie Warhammer Quest,Blood Bowl,Necromunda,Man o War now it just concentrates on its big 3.

  9. Alan says:

    I enjoyed this article, however I find the changes to the industry amusing. Changes to fantasy did create some excitment I went back to fantasy for about 10 games, and fantasy still has issues that will not bring me back untill over half of the codices are reworked. I do play CCG’s once in ahwile because I can socialize with other gamers that do not play my game of choice being 40k.

    I do run a gaming group for 40k. As for Lists the subject comes up a lot with newer players; “What list should I use”? This is the biggest problem with miniature games is the “list”. What most players in miniatues do not understand is it isn’t the list it is the players and tactics that work. One of my players also tell other players that He isn’t playing against you he is playing with you for an end result and he is right players think that they are playing against each other. Footdar have a chance of winning as much as the Mechanized IGaurd army it is all about the tactics and how to execute.

    I do run into players that have to win at all cost. They, in any game make these games not fun. They exist in all circles, they go onto the web and get the “cookie cutter” lists, or ideas of other people and literally plagiarize it and use it extensevily until someone elses idea beats it.

  10. TKE says:

    I am very glad I clicked upon the link in the latest post again – this article was as good a read now as when I first did so.

    I don’t really have anything to add except continued admiration for the way this was expressed, and the clarity of the underlying belief.

  11. […] YU-GI-OH KILLED 40K July 2010 16 comments 2 […]

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