One blog I like to read regularly is Herman van Kradenburg's Trouble in the Border Provinces. A fellow New Zealand gamer he provides some good insight into how WHFB works, game play and lately the future direction of GW. His latest post (link) has, like many blogs at the moment covered the Nagash End of Times releases by GW for Warhammer Fantasy. Reading through this what stood out for me were a couple of comments he made after that post, two in particular
"I have limited time... I game when I can, more often than not against competitive games that play the tournament circuit. For me to have a chance of winning I am forced to buy into the arms race."
"The Wellington area has become extremely competitive, and the gaming community is small. I have had some great fun games when everybody is not (emphasis is mine) preparing for one tournament or another.... I've struggled to find fun games, continually coming up against someone's proven tournament killer list of testing-a-wanna-be-winner-because-I'm-going-to-tournament list takes a great deal of fun out of the game for me."These comments stood out because they reflect the changes that have occurred at my local club over the last 3-4 years. My club is small in WHFB terms just 5-6 regular players over the last few years. Until recently of those 5-6 I was the only one regularly attending tournaments and I did as Herman comments use club nights to practice with my wanna-be-winner lists at various times. But mostly I played for fun not points. In the last 2-3 years all of our club members have become tournament players some like Jeffrey Kent and McCrae Louden very good ones. Consequently, the nature of our games on club nights has changed significantly from fun lets give this model a spin lists to "I have to prepare for XYZ coming up next month" lists. Hence a shift in play style from play for fun to playing for points (while having fun). Every club night seems to be aimed toward this tournament practice meta whether deliberately or sub-consciously.
While I still enjoy playing I have to ask a question based on Herman's comments:
Q. Are WHFB games at your club played for fun or do people play to practice for tournaments?
One new question following a comment from a reader - the intent of my post is about the difference between games where we play just for the fun of playing and games where you have a long-term goal in mind i.e. winning an event. Events are FUN please don't think I am saying they aren't if they weren't I wouldn't attend them. But they do require a different mind set which leads me to a new question?
Q. Do you play just to play or do you play for points i.e. competitively is it just about winning?Adam Richards and I for years played an ongoing series of "War of the Beard" games using the old 5th/6th Ed rules for that historical event pitching my High Elves against his Dwarfs. These involved games ranging in size from 500pts right up to 4000pts+ with the emphasis being on fun. Club nights also regularly involved members bringing along lists that contained their latest models - usually brought because the model looked cool and the player wanted to buy it e.g. my Dragon Mage. The lists were never tournament optimal just full of stuff we wanted to take - although I do still take models/units I want to play at events just not as often as I used to.
Which leads me to one final question for everyone?
Q. How often, at friendly club nights, do you play armies full of fluff and models that you like rather than lists that are fine-tuned death machines aimed at podium finishes?Yes having everyone in my club attending events regularly, and in the case of two players finishing at the top of table regularly, has dramatically improved our individual game play. But it has also caused us to leave (as Herman points out) a lot of models on the shelf unused because they don't fit the meta (Dwarf Slayers and High Elf Spearmen are two great examples - I think HE Spears are awesome but they would get roasted at an event), and like Herman states has seen most of us invest in the arms race acquiring the models we need rather than those we want.
To end things I will put my hand up and admit that I have changed into one of those "lets take a tournament practice list" guys - I can't remember the last time I actually said to a club mate lets have a game rather than "lets have a game because I need to practice for XYZ" my game tonight for example is all about practising for Cracks Call in September not fun. Starting to feel somewhat guilty about that now.
Interested in peoples thoughts on this issue?