Hobby & Gaming: A Change in Priorities

IntrospectionI routinely find my interests in 40K changing, as do many I’m sure. Maybe it’s my age or maybe it’s just a natural progression in the hobby. When I began playing 40K it was all about the hobby. Everything was new and shiny. I began with Orks who are always a fun army to work on. Every single game, win or loss, was a story and I was having a blast learning the game. A few years later I began going to a game store and participating in tournaments. As expected I was getting my ass handed to me on a platter. I began shifting to a more competitive mindset. I wasn’t playing netlists but I was learning more and more about strategy, tactics and building more efficient lists.

Since then things have changed some but not drastically. For a time I tried being super-competitive. I was absorbing every article I could on winning: the best units, how to deploy Army X vs Army Y, you name it I was reading it. I pretty quickly realized that mindset was not for me. My progress was minimal despite my best efforts and that began making me angry. When a game, something you do for fun, is making you angry and your fun hinges on a win then something is seriously wrong. So, I stepped back a bit. I was still trying to be competitive but I was not hanging my enjoyment of the game on the results.

That is where I’ve been at lately, semi-competitive. On our normal 40K nights at the shop I have been typically bringing in lists to prepare for whatever that month’s tournament is and using those nights to play-test and hone my lists. Maybe that sounds more than semi-competitive to some, and maybe it is, but to me it’s not the same level I had put myself at before when I wasn’t enjoying the game. The play-testing nights have been for fun. I have of course been trying to tweak list for a tournament but enjoying the process and not letting it get to me.

My shift in priorities is stepping back from that semi-competitiveness. There’s a few reasons for this. First and foremost is for my enjoyment of the game I love. Even trying to be semi-competitive with 40K is taking a toll. This game should not feel like work, it’s a hobby and when something alters that perception of mine then changes are needed. Second, there are a lot of models that I really enjoy the look of, models I want to convert and paint but that competitive mind has held me back because they are not competitive choices. Screw that. I’m going to buy the stuff I want because I want to and not because it’s a point efficient choice in a list. Third, with all the new stuff GW has thrown at us I want to see where the game is when the dust settles. Our shop is working through this process now, deciding what we want to allow, disallow and the impact it will have. I’m not going to piss and moan here but there are some things I do not want to see happen and should they then my participation in tournaments will drastically reduce. That feeling would likely be different if I were still in that competitive mindset but I’m not. This doesn’t mean I will no longer participate in the shop’s monthly tournaments, I enjoy spending a Saturday playing 40K, but I will start picking and choosing which I attend instead of outright attending any and all I can. Maybe the ones I miss I will just spend that time working on my armies instead.

All of this has been on my mind for a while and now that the Standish Standoff is over, our big annual 40K tournament, and the holiday season is almost past, I have had the time to just think about what I want out of this hobby and what gives me the biggest enjoyment. Right now that is building my Chaos army up, adding in those units I want to for no other reason than I enjoy them and getting it all painted finally and putting that army on the table and having fun regardless of outcome.

  • TheRhino

    I’m in a bit of a holding pattern right now as well. I took a week-plus off from work over the holidays and actually got some painting done (finished my Genestealers, sans bases, picked away at a drop pod), but it felt directionless.
    The future of my participation in 40K hinges on Escalation. It’s very hard to motivate myself to paint more models that could be removed from the game without a save of any kind due to the weapons of a Superheavy. I’d have to radically alter the way I play if a profusion of Ignores Cover, S7+, AP3+ weapons start showing up on unkillable platforms. My bikes would go into retirement, and I’d be forced into a drop pod and Bastion-camping force.
    Of course, that’s all conjecture based on fears and half-heard truths. The hardest part is the waiting to know what the scene will look like.
    Like you said, maybe the solution is to just paint cool models that I’ve wanted to paint for a while. I’ve got the parts all bagged up for a Biker Chaplain…

    • Yeah, I figure I may as well focus on stuff I enjoy and have put off instead of the shit that annoys me or I’d rather not deal with. I refuse to let something like Escalation suck the fun out of the game for me.

      • khorneinquisitor

        Indeed. I follow a similar mantra: Paint cool stuff. I see it as both as fun to see models that are cool and rarely seen emerge but also I look at it this way; Very few people walk up and say “Wow, you did awesome at stomping everyone with that disgusting army…good job!”. People are impressed with the hobby aspect of the army. Online, in person, at tournaments, on casual nights. It is the impressive, and moreover the unique, armies that really draw attention. I see those as my victories really, the people who say “wow, that’s cool” rather than my battle points. That way I am always seeking to top what I have done previously.

  • Tim

    I think whenever you engage in an activity where the result is held up as the most important, then you’re not going to enjoy the process of getting the result as much. Try focussing more on the game – doing things within the game that you enjoy doing – and forget about the game result.

    • Well said and I completely agree. The problem for a while was realizing that but I do now.

  • Ming

    I think if we map your feelings on a graph, it (for you and Shiny and well, everyone) always goes down this time of year, and we start thinking about campaigns or narrative games. It actually coincides with the greater 40K universe, where winter is not the tournament season. Regardless, my point is….
    I gave up years ago the concept of being competitive (lets face it, being an empty nester with my job I could pay people to buy and assemble and paint the army I’d play if I felt like it), and instead look at the “tournament days” as a chance to see everyone, get three games in, and have fun. It helps make up for the other 4 days of the month that can get missed due to life’s business, and helps me try to stay on track for 36+ games per year. I do track my win and losses, because hey, you gotta maintain some street cred, after all it is a game where someone has to win and someone loses.
    As for the Escalation supplement, I don’t encourage anyone to worry about it. As a gaming group, we can determine what we want for the format for our tournament days. I say basically to ignore it unless we all know in advance it will be allowed for that day. XRDs is like minded. The ONLY thing GW has set is the concept that they believe everything they do (for the points) is “balanced enough” to play in every game. But that falls apart on the easiest comparison of 1500 points of Plague Marines vs 1500 points of Grots. So, as a group, or down to the Tournament Organizer, you set the limits you want. It has always been that way!
    Cheers and Happy New Year!

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