It 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.
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.