Beards and Cheese – The Dark Side for New Players


Now, I’m not talking about gamers’ ability to choose their own style of facial hair, nor what lactose based foodstuffs they consume, but rather a more delicate topic for the discerning reader.

Well Internet, I’ve been reading forums for a long time. I read them on various subjects and as the gaming universe is one of my most beloved hobbies I hope it’s obvious that I frequent some based around gaming.

From my perspective there is one issue that I feel can prove detrimental to our hobby. This is the tournament scene and its prevalence in forums. Now, I’m not for on minute saying that tournaments are in and of themselves evil, nor the players that enjoy them somehow the Beelzebub of our hobby. We’re all entitled to enjoy the games we play in any way we like, except perhaps a Rule 34 kind of way

It is almost inevitable that on any gaming forum you frequent there will be at least on place to post army lists. You can throw up a list and expect to receive all kinds of critique to make your lists “better.” This is primarily done in an effort to improve lists that will be taken to tournaments, if you’re playing a friendly game then who actually cares what you bring? For those of us who are experienced players this isn’t an issue. I know what the tournament viable units are for my Dark Eldar and I know what are considered the weaker units. My goal is to make a list that it is possible to win with but no steamroller the opponent or lay down and let itself be steamrolled.

Now I know that some players tend to come in with a win at all costs (WAAC) mentality anyway, luckily I have awesome friends to play with who make tough lists with which I can stretch myself and enjoy the challenge. However, what can we expect from new players into the hobby? I’m old enough to know that I’m no spring chicken anymore and the children of today grow up in a much more media connected world than I did through the 80’s and 90’s. While the Internet was around it wasn’t as prevalent through everyday life, at least not in my household. These days, when the new generation get conned into playing Space Marines from the sales guy at the local GW store, where are they going to turn for advice? Yup, in between watching Ray William Johnson and downloading Hentai they’ll be hitting up the forums for list advice and guess what they’ll find? That’s right, all those netlists for winning tournaments!

So, you end up with a load of the kiddies hitting up Blood Angels or Space Wolves or maybe even Grey Knights trying to make that awesome list that will see all cower before their Google-powered might! Now, to the eyes of this veteran undead buccaneer, these newbies are missing a trick. One of the best parts of our hobby is the diversity of the forces on offer. Sure we all know about stores pushing Space Marines on new players due to the fact that they are a forgiving army to play. There are also a hell of a lot of different flavours of them too! But you miss out on so much if you don’t give the range a look through, find something you like the look of or the background too and then make an army off that.

It’s no fallacy that a lot of new gamers are going to lose to start with. This gets even worse when you know that they’ve downloaded their point and click list off the web and expect to win with it. Beating them with a list they don’t know how to use is not an enjoyable game for you as the opponent and it sure as hell isn’t teaching them anything about the game either. Once you wipe the floor with them you know they’ll be back with another list that won the latest GT, they may not have even bothered to repaint the colour of their power armour either! Now I understand this might seem a little extreme as an example but I see this happening. The games where we just get together and throw-down as friends is altered by newcomers. I think it’s a good thing that we can mentor the new generation of gamers and try to provide them with as much enjoyment from the hobby as we’ve had over the years.

I’ve not yet turned down a game by anybody, nor am I planning too but we all know that some Codex are beefier in terms of their power than others, yes, pretty much anything written by Mat Ward stands out as a shining beacon. I just hope that some of us older gamers can try to temper the WAAC mentality that seems to come with inexperience. The whole reason that newer gamers lose more often is to help them learn the game and their army. Losing is a theatre of experience which means that when you finally do start winning it’s all the sweeter. Some of us even choose hard to play armies so that we can improve how we play.

I’m happy that people enjoy tournaments and I certainly enjoy the Internet, I just happen to be of the opinion that the two together put across an image to newer gamers and I hope we can tutor them out of that. The game should be fun for both players and if we’re playing at home with our friends, sure I might have fun for that one game when you flop out Mephiston the army slayer, you start bringing him every week with all the pimped out tools and I might just take my ball home. I may be an adult but if I’m not having fun getting crushed every week by someone’s busted army list of Mat Wardage then there really is no point in my playing.

I’d just like to point out that this hasn’t happened to me so it’s not sour grapes on my part!

So, step up new players, pick something you like the look of, shake off the shackles of oppressive staff making you look at Marines and see just what happens when you remove that 3+ armour save. You might enjoy it and it might make you a better gamer for it!

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