Evolution of a Gamer

EvolutionIt was almost four years ago that I began playing 40K. Like most I began small and kept building up my army. On average I played once a month, whenever people had a Saturday free, and that’s how I played for the first three years. Games involved list tailoring, drinking beer and spending more time chatting and checking out funny shit on YouTube than it did gaming. I was by all rights a casual gamer and I loved it.

Last September I started going to the LGS on a whim and have been going weekly and attending the monthly tournaments, since. Slowly over the course of playing at the LGS I have found myself becoming more of a competitive gamer. I played my first tournament soon after going to the LGS for the first time and had a blast getting in three games in one day.  That was completely unheard of for me where previously getting in three games would have taken three months. I also started getting hooked on that aspect of human nature that everyone has whether they admit it or not, competitiveness.

In my casual years of playing 40K I was a die-hard casual player. If someone was posting about competitive builds, point efficient units, etc, I never bothered reading it. I once thought that Flash Gitz were an amazing unit <gasp!>. I had my style of play and no competitive gamer was going to change my mind on something. They only play to win games and don’t care about having fun, I thought. 40K Is a hobby and about fun with your friends, that’s the ideal.

Even after my first tournament I stuck to my guns on that. I got thoroughly stomped at that first tournament but I still had a good time. I built my list for that day in about 10 minutes just before grabbing my models and heading out the door for the tournament.

I continued playing at the shop weekly and slowly found myself spending more time on my lists. I’ve always loved writing army lists, it’s a part of the hobby for me, but now I was focusing more on efficiency. Do I really want to put down unit X because it’s a fun unit or should I put down unit Y which will give me more bang for my buck? I kept doing the latter, though I’ve never given up on playing fun units for fun, however they won’t see the field for tournaments.

The next tournament came around and I went down with a thought out list and a better idea of what to expect. That day I went 2-1 where previously I went 1-2. It wasn’t hard to spot the reason for improvement.

The third tournament was the catalyst. I decided to play my Marines and I went 0-3. To say I was crushed is putting it lightly. What a minute…losing games upset me? As a casual gamer I lost far more games than I won but we still had beer! Losing never bothered me previously and that day changed everything. I had spent the month leading up to the tournament practicing with my list, something that was completely alien to me. Play the same list more than once, never! I thought it was the most prepared I’d been but apparently not.

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That’s when the competitive bug bit me in full. I knew I could play better, learn more, create better lists and be more prepared. I may not win a tournament but I damn well won’t go 0-3 again.

No, I won’t bog you down in everything I’ve learned from each tournament. Suffice to say that over the course of a year I’ve become a competitive gamer and learned it’s not a dirty word spoken only to reference those WAAC (win at all costs), people. My view on 40K has broadened but not changed. I still love the hobby and still spend more time on that aspect than any other. I still play friendly games with beer involved and watch childish videos on YouTube. Only now I’ve found I enjoy competition in 40K. I’ve only just found myself on that road but it’s a road I’ll enjoy driving down.

  • I’ve experienced a very similar transformation in my year of playing. I’ve played for many years but recently began visiting my LGS, playing in their tournaments and even coming 3rd place once! Cheers, man, and enjoy the ride! Never let it get you down, but winning and learning how to win can be super rewarding!

    • It definitely is fun. I also think it helps prevent stagnation and boredom that many people find themselves struggling with from time to time. As a casual player I found things changed very little overall. A limited play group meant seeing the same stuff over and over and I had little need to really expand my army beyond my own amusement. Playing competitively means constantly considering options, different units, facing a myriad of opponents, etc. It’s a constantly evolving environment and helps keep interest fresh.

  • Nice article. I think you’ve set out a nice example that people do honestly want it both ways with their gaming – playing friendly fun games where you don’t care who wins and being able to test your skill at a tournament. It speaks to the multifaceted nature of the hobby.

    • Exactly.

      At first I disliked competitive gamers and thought everyone who played at an LGS was lame. I eventually realized it was simply that I was jealous of them, having the time to play every week and getting to play in competitive events and win notoriety as well as prizes. Once I realized that things changed and I’m glad for it.

  • I have to say I see some of this at my FLGS- but our group is casual/fun oriented almost to the extreme. It’s a very odd blend of “I am here to have fun” and “yes, I actually do like winning”. It comes out in tournaments most- the lists get tougher, more thought out and more devious (unless the tournament is a silly one where the point is do the goofiest, most cheesy thing possible). I have seen some of our guys go from just not caring to winning due to forethought and concept over the past year or two. It’s pretty cool.

  • Syko515

    honestly, i tryed to start off as a casual gamer, but my gaming group where a bunch of WAAC gamers. their beyond just competative, and i aknowledge that i’m a better player for it. to survive in that style of play group ment evolving to fit thier play styles and inturn becoming more competative. at this point 40k is the most competative i get about anything.

    • It’s tough to be handed beatings when you start your 40K career, as I’m sure you were in that group, but I do agree it makes you a much better player. The amount of beatings Kamui and Darkh gave me are vast but that was what allowed me to start playing at the shop early on and not get smoked by everyone I faced, people with more experience.

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