Tournaments – The Bad Side……

When I talk about tournaments to people who don’t go to them I quite often get the same two statements thrown at me…..

1) I only play for fun


2) I had a bad experience at ‘insert name here’ and It put me off.

The first one I’m going to completely ignore as I actually enjoy playing competitively so am most likely going to be having fun anyway…..however the second statement deserves some consideration…..

First we need to be honest with ourselves. Any event where a number of people are endeavouring to prove themselves superior to another group of people is going to attract the odd fuckwit. There are many people who validate themselves based on making other people miserable or who’s sense of self worth is directly proportional to their own successes regardless of if these are at the expense of others…..if this wasn’t true then there would never be anybody who wanted to go into politics or become a traffic warden…..

The first ‘major’ tournament me and my friends went to was a ‘Throne of Skull’ tournament, though this was back in the days before Jervis fucked it up with the current bullshit set of ‘have fun my way or fuck off’ rules. We jokingly tried to estimate how many arseholes we’d end up playing and decided to keep track between us…..

For those of you who care it turned out to a ratio of 1 in 6. Some of us escaped without playing a prick at all and a couple of us got two or three but generally we’ve found that the ratio has been fairly consistent from that point onwards in pretty much every event we’ve gone to. Now having to put up with a single gobshite in a six game event isn’t really that bad but if every 6th person you met in the real world was a cunt then that would be considered an unfortunate day out now wouldn’t it?

I am not a patient person, nor do I have a particularly high tolerance for bullies which is to all intents and purposes what these sorts of people are. I am however there to have fun and having to constantly debate with your opponent about every single fucking dice roll you make isn’t fun.

However ‘Forewarned is forearmed’ as they say, so I’m going to talk about some of the things that you may come across and how to avoid them. Now I’m not going to bother with all the basic things that we know happen such as over-moving and the like as I already covered that a long time ago and to be honest what I said back then still holds true. I’m instead going to cover some of the other tactics that these idiots utilise in order to make themselves feel like real men because their plastic toys kicked your plastic toys heads in…..

Lets start at the beginning then,

The Silent Treatment.

Now lets first mention that this isn’t always because your opponent is an ass. Not everybody has the confidence to start an in depth conversation with somebody they’ve only met five seconds ago, it is however a common enough tactic of the WAAC gamer I’m afraid.

The psychology of this is fairly simple. Most people want other people to like them or at the very least would rather get on with somebody than not. When you encounter somebody whom your forced by circumstances to interact with who gets his kicks from making you feel bad it’s natural to want to turn that person into your friend. When the person your going to be spending the next two hours of your life four feet away from looks at you like something smelly he’s scraped off his boot that’s not a nice feeling and can be off putting to say the least. I’ve encountered several opponents like this and it can be countered easily enough.

1) Don’t care. 
Probably easier said than done but once you’ve made the usual “Hi I’m ‘insert cool name here’ how are you?” attempts at interaction only to find that your opponent is a dick just get on with the game. He’s relying on you being put off by his attitude and the best way of fucking him over is to not be bothered at all. Play the game as you intended to play it safe in the knowledge that your lack of concern is annoying him far more than having a go at him would (completely the opposite in fact as the very fact that you reacted means he’s getting to you).

2) Talk constantly.
You need a fair bit of self confidence for this one but if you can pull it off it’s most satisfying. I once watched a game between two guys where the one was using the ‘silent’ tactic and his opponent countered by talking enough for both of them, answering his own questions on the other guys behalf and generally acting like he was having the time of his life. It may rank as one of the funniest games I’ve ever watched as ‘Mr Quiet’ got so irritated that he started to make some stupid mistakes as his tactic crumbled before his opponents onslaught of  unstoppable cheerfulness…..

‘List’ Intimidation.

In the dim and distant past I went to a tournament called ‘The Great Devourer’ that sticks in my mind for two reasons. Firstly it had the smallest amount of terrain per table that I’ve ever encountered and secondly it was my first experience of an opponent trying to put me off via what I now affectionately refer to as ‘List Intimidation’. This is the tactic of announcing some aspect of your army that you believe is going to make it an ‘auto-win’ button of epic proportions. In this first case it was my opponent announcing that everything in his army was Toughness 5 and then extolling the virtues of his extremely expensive Nurgle Biker unit that was…..wait for it…..Toughness 6…..and had a Toughness 6 Chaos Lord in it…..

I may have been impressed if it wasn’t for the fact that my Three Dreadnoughts are generally quite unimpressed with 750 point Death Stars without Meltaguns or Power Fists and Toughness 6 is less impressive than strength 10 😉

Of course this is an experience your going to have outside of tournaments as well. There’s always somebody who thinks they’ve come up with some unstoppable combination of unit, units or special items that when combined are going to take over the world. However there is a fundamental and profound flaw with this line of reasoning…..

…..It’s Bollocks…..

The counter to this tactic is simple and comes in two important parts,

1) Take a balanced list.
Though there are many ‘flavour of the month’ combinations that the less intelligent members of our community will extol the virtues of there’s no replacement for a balanced list. If you have sufficient numbers of scoring units, a mix of heavy, medium and light anti-tank and a decent spread of anti-infantry weaponry then you can beat anything given sifficient experience with your army. That brings us nicely onto point two…..

2) Practice Makes Perfect.
I wouldn’t recommend leaping into the competitive environment without having first play-tested your army sufficiently. As long as you’ve adequately prepared yourself for the event with practice games against a variety of opponents and army types and you combine this with the aforementioned ‘Balanced’ list then you should have the tools to deal with anything that is deployed across from you.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that some clever opponents might use this tactic to focus your attention on a piece of his army that he wants you to be concentrating on in order to enable another portion of his army to go about it’s business undisturbed. A variation of this is when your opponent takes the piss out of one of your units and you suddenly feel the need to prove it’s worth in order to prove him wrong but always remember that ‘Target Priority’ is up to you, not your opponent 😉

Actual Intimidation.
I almost didn’t mention this one for fear of putting people off tournaments completely, however…..

There’s no excuse for ‘Actual’ intimidation at all. Ranging from the relatively minor method of saying the same thing over and over again in an aggressive tone until you concede or the far more serious matter of implied threats of violence this is thankfully rare in the extreme. Ask him politely to calm down and if that doesn’t work complain to a judge immediately. In 5 years of regular tournament attendance I’ve never been threatened by anybody so I can only hope that such tales are ‘urban legends’.

Those are the ‘psychological’ ones but there’s also another issue that I’ve been noticing more and more lately.

Maybe I didn’t notice it before but I’ve seen it at the last few tournaments I’ve been to so I’m going to have to mention it I suppose.

List ‘additions’.

…..and I’ve got another two of these units to deploy…..

All decently organised tournaments will require you to give a copy of your army list to the judges which they then (allegedly) check to make sure that the list is both legal and within the point limits.

However just because the list adds up doesn’t mean that the army deployed on the table matches it. After a recent game a friend of mine was playing we had the discussion about the game afterwards and realised that most of the special weapons on his opponents units hadn’t actually been paid for with points on the army list. To all intents and purposes my friend had been playing against a 2000 point army with a 1750 one which ironically made the fact that he still won all the more satisfying. Now I’m sure there has been occasions where somebody has changed a unit during testing and is that used to using it with a Sergeant with Meltabombs (for example) that he mistakenly used the non existent item to blow up your 250 point Land Raider in a perfectly honest mistake……However…..Subtle differences between army and list may go unnoticed but it’s always worth checking your opponents army list (which you should ALWAYS ask to see by the way) against the units he’s deploying.

This sort of thing is (I’m afraid) why some people are put off tournaments but if were still being honest with ourselves then don’t these things happen in your FLGS as well?

Always end on a positive.
Up until my recent financial constraints I probably went to a tournament of some description every couple of months and almost always enjoyed every game. Most people are there ‘just to have fun’ even if they get their fun by crushing all before them… long as your a good winner as well as a good loser then that should be just fine 😉

As usual your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

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