Special Edition – The Seven Vices and Virtues of Wargaming

In this past week or so, I have played very few games. In fact I have spent most of my time studying the way gamers act when their games are being played.

“Are they doing well? Are they doing badly? Who’s winning?”

These are always questions you ask yourself with watching a game, and in some cases, you cannot tell just by reading the body language or facial expressions of the gamers involved. However, sometimes it is all too easy to see that a gamer is getting cocky or winning by that smug grin on their face, or that someone has rolled nothing but ones all game by the disinterested look on their face and the slouch to their shoulders.

Signs like this, which are visible to everyone (including your opponent), can aversely affect people’s enjoyment of thegame – and sometimes even the outcome. I wonder how many people have given up hope Turn 3, and then lost? How many of those, if they just kept victory (even a draw!) in sight, could’ve snatched a point or two back from their opponents?

So what I’m going to do now, is list “The Seven Vices and Virtues of Wargaming”, a title shamelessly stolen from a friend of mine, and hopefully they will prove educational to you, and enable you to err on the more positive side rather than descending into the negative next time you play…


The Virtues

1 – Friendliness – We all want our opponents to be friendly, and by and large most wargamers are friendly people whether they’re at a Tournament or not. Nobody wants to play an asshole, and the friendlier you are during your game (so long as you don’t start nuzzling your opponent or anything), the more likely you are to get a decent amount of gamer points and your opponent is more likely to want to play you again.

2 – Sporting -This one’s a no-brainer. People who are sporting, and more prone to help their opponents or gently remind them what a unit can/cannot do are the preferred opponents. Say I forget to shoot a unit, my opponent is not obligated to remind me, but some might regardless of what effect it has on the game. Sporting people want a clean and fair game, and not to win because their opponent forgot something. Sporting people also ALWAYS shake hands after a game, regardless of result.

3 – Willingness to have fun – Another no-brainer, wargaming is a game, and if you aren’t having fun then what’s the point? I added this point because there are people out there who start to lose and get disheartened. However, it’s better for both players if you keep your chin up and keep going and make the best of a bad situation – who knows, the game might come down to some epic ending with a heroic last stand? These are the kinda things you win awards for at events!

4 – Honesty – An honest player is a good player. So many of us have fallen foul of models that move 13″ when their opponent claims they’ve moved 12″. Or models embaraked on a transport where the turn before they were hiding behind a building half the board away. If you’re honest, the game will play out cleanly (well as clean as a wargame gets) and fairly and a good time will be had by all, regardless of who wins and who loses.

5 – Humour – A sense of humour is often required when playing games like this, especially when you’re trying to make light of a bad situation. For example, a long time ago I was playing a Dark Eldar player and Shrike was cut down by Wyches – effectively ending my only chance of clearing an objective. I could’ve just sighed as I removed him, but instead I said “Captain Shrike smothered to death in a Wych’s cleavage…I suppose there are worse ways to go!” which got a giggle from my opponent AND the gamers at the table next to us. The game eventually ended in a loss for me, but the throwing around of random comments like that made the game far more enjoyable. So next time you lose a model you really love, why not make it sound less tragic and more entertaining…especially if he’s been swallowed whole by a Tyranid!

6 – Determination – This one links with several of the others. By determination, I do not necessarily mean to win, but rather to see the game through to the very end. If a player concedes, nobody gets a full game and it’s not fair, especially if someone’s paid £60 to go to the event you’re at (and you get 0 tournament points for conceding!) If the game is going badly, whether it be bad luck or crappy tactics, see it through to the end! I’ve known people to concede because their opponent was cheating, and while I can see why this may seem appealing, it’s also the wrong thing to do. If your opponent is cheating, call him up on it, try and outplay him fairly and squarely, or better yet – call over a member of staff or tournament official and raise a complaint! Remember, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win!”

7 – Creativity – I like creativity when it comes to games, especially when people have created their own characters/chapter/regiment etc. It gives them a sense of ownership over the army, a sense that it’s “theirs”. Sure, we could all play the Cadian 8th or the Ultramarines 2nd Company and use Creed and Sicarius all the time, but where’s the fun in that? Sometimes it’s better to rename an existing character for your own army, or create your own using the rules available! A friend of mine’s Captain, who he created himself, won “Most Infamous Character” at a recent Throne of Skulls. In the event of a draw at ToS, the Best Army List wins, which goes to show that creativity cannot just be fun, it can also win you things!


And now, onto…


The Vices

1 – Overcompetetiveness – First, I’m not sure if that’s a word, but oh well…it is now! Over-competetive people suck, they really do. They suck the fun out of the games, pick holes in your army, point out things that you already knew… These are often people who want to win at all costs, and will probably have a MEGA strop if they lose. Some are actually lovely people off the table-top, others aren’t. Another name for these types of people are “Power Gamers” – using the most powerful lists from the most powerful Codices to get an advantage over everyone else. This is not to say that everyone who uses a cheesy list like Long Fang/Thunderwolf-Spam Space Wolves is a Power Gamer, but they do use lists like it. I find people tend to shy away from facing Power Gamers at the places I play, which cannot be a pleasant feeling for anyone involved as it usually means at least one person doesn’t get a game. Power gaming ruins the game for everyone in the long run, even yourself.

2 – Cocky – Ah yes, the smug grin I mentioned earlier. We all get cocky sometimes, we all have games where we start to completely massacre our opponents, but the moment we let it show on our faces, we become sometime we don’t want to be. Cocky people strut around saying how awesome their lists are, how they’re undefeated, how nothing can stand up to them etc etc. They also like to make excuses when they lose. A good example was recently “My army is so awesome, I only lost because he had tanks.” – Um, okay… That’s like the Germans surrendering after World War Two and saying “You only won because you all speak the English”. Obviously his army WASN’T all that awesome, otherwise surely he’d have won? This isn’t obviously me stating that all cocky gamers are delusional…just most of them…

3 – Anger/Stroppiness – Ah yes, I see this one FAR too often! A game is going badly, your HQ is lying in a corner somewhere squashed by a Carnifex and your hammer-unit has been…well…hammered. Some people take it in their stride, others get a little more…immature. Faces go red, tuts and sighs accompany every roll, dice are thrown in such a way they deliberately hit models or fly off the board…and the game for both people goes to crap. If your opponent is standing there looking like a ripe tomato with steam venting from their ears at the end of Turn 1, would you expect to have fun for the rest of the game? Hell no! Your opponent isn’t having fun so they’re gonna drag you down with them… Behaving like this is almost as bad as giving up on the game completely, as you’re obviously just going to suck the fun out of it for everyone.

4 – Not paying attention – This is a little dim when you consider the ramifications. If you aren’t paying attention to your game, whether you’re chatting while your opponent takes his turn or texting your significant others, you aren’t giving your opponent the respect he or she deserves. You’re also not able to see what he or she is doing. Say you’re chatting to the guy next to you and your opponent rolls 30 dice, you don’t see this, and sudden;y he has 20 hits. Do you make them re-roll? Do you accept their claims? For all you know, they might’ve hit less than they said…or rolled 40 dice instead of 30… This can break the game for everyone and again, means people don’t get a fulfilling experience. So give the game your full attention and don’t  get caught out!

5 – Cheating – This one’s a no-brainer, cheating ruins the game for everyone. Don’t do it! Ignorance isn’t an excuse!

6 – Preconceptions – We all have those games where you see your opponent’s army and think “Aww Crap…” What we try to do though is cover up that feeling of dread that starts to bubble, and consider how to kill the big scary things BEFORE they kill us. Some people, sadly, see an army and give up before the game begins. These people then do not play the game the way they should, they make stupid mistakes, forget to do things, and in several cases I’ve seen recently, cheat.  If you keep a clear head, and focus on the task at hand (playing the game so it’s fun for everyone) then you’ll have a great game, win or lose. If you let yourself be intimidated by your opponent’s list and let it affect your mindset, then you’re destined to fail.

7 – Rudeness – Rude people, like Power Gamers, suck. Whether it’s because a person has had a bad day, or is just an asshole, makes no difference. When you get together for a game of toy soldiers, perhaps over a pint or three, there is absolutely no reason to treat your opponent like crap. Try and be polite regardless of how shitty you feel, and people might like you. Treat people badly because you feel bad and you’re likely to get a smack, or at the very least, asked to leave…


It is the opinion of this wargamer that people should be conscious of their moods and attitudes during their games and should try to mask any negative emotions/feelings in the interests of keeping things fun for everyone!

That being said, it’s a game! If you’re not having fun, don’t ruin it for others, instead take some time away and have a long think! You may find that this hobby is not for you any more, and that by taking some more time away, when you return to the hobby you can do so with a fresher and more positive outlook.


Until tonight, when I write an article on…something!


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