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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Competitive vs. Hyper-Competitive Gaming Styles

To me this image captures a WACC Hyper-competitive player to the letter.

This again is another sore subject with some people but it does bear honest thought on the topic. All of my games were Competitive and two was what I consider Hyper-Competitive. What is the difference?

Competitive: A balanced and good list, built on the ideal of fair play and a challenge for both the player and the opponent to use. The list does not carry the player (as a crutch to win) but rather relies on the player being a good general and the luck of the dice.

Hyper-Competitive: This is a clear case of min/max design, death star units, using Forge World that is there to give you a clear advantage, modeling to advantage and trick pony lists as I call them (where you take X, Y and Z to do this result, a good example here would be taking the Doom from the Nids list and giving them the psychic power that mimics his own ability so you can “double doom” an opponent. Legal in the rules but exploitive) to name a few. These lists are clearly  heavy handed and intended to be very Win At All Costs (WAAC as it is called) and takes very little skill to use. A good example would be this: Two guys are to dig a large hole. One has a shovel and the other has a backhoe digging machine. The guy with the shovel will take longer, will have a workout and have a sense of accomplishment when finished for doing a hard day’s job. The other guy with the backhoe will spend a ton of money to achieve his goal quickly and will have little care about the accomplishment of the task as there was no challenge to the activity other than the fact he is already done and inside the house drinking a beer and watching TV.

Out of my 6 singles games, 4 armies were highly competitive and gave me a strong challenge and forced me to think. None of these lists was lightweights either: Space Wolves/Grey Knights, 2 Tyranids (with large bug lists, Doom, heavy psychic, etc) and a damm good well build Slaanesh Chaos list that was stunning to look at as well as very well balanced and thought out with zero Forge World in any of the four armies. There was some doubling in the list which is fine, redundancy is ok but cut and paste armies is just again a sign of min/maxing. Every one of these generals offered a strong sense of game play and was a joy to play. I won only one of these with a full score of 20 against the Chaos player, the next was 14 solid points against the Space Wolf/Grey Knights player, the last two was slight margins (one win and one loss) with 9 to 11 (9 being my score) and 7 to 2 (7 being my score). These games tell me we were level and were a solid game.

One of my worst games was against the Eldar player that took first place, looking at his scores he pretty much with a record of three scores of 20 (max points), one score of 2 with the remaining two a 11 and 18. This list had a mix of Dark Eldar and Eldar with the Baron with a unit of Wraith Guard to give a cover bonus with Eldrad in tow. Throw in 3 War Walkers with multi-shot guns with a psychic power for rerolls made them pretty damm effective. Slip in a Warp Hunter Forge World vehicle with a large high AP blast and a Hellhound style torrent shot as well. Sprinkle in some cheap scoring units with some Fire Warriors with the Exarch manning a defense gun at an Aegis line. The mission was tough against me as it was Hammer and Anvil and my dice did play against me but I was just steamrolled by the rerolls, twin linked and high AP and all the other tricks this list had packed in it. After a point it wasn’t even a game, it was a slaughter. To me a win isn’t enjoyable if the other guy didn’t have a good time also and I steamroll them with little effort.

The other game was pretty much the same, again with two Forge World stalkers, two large units of Wraiths with a Lord in Destroyer body with 4 squads of 5 Warriors with transports that fly. This was a simple list, tie up the opponent with the monstrous creatures that was modeled flat (so they could get cover, bad form also IMO, what part of monstrous creature was missed?), and then use the Wraiths to finish off your opponent with the Lords giving Preferred Enemy. Drop Warriors late in the game to grab objectives. Again the dice was against me but even good tactics can’t hold out against a steamroller designed army. Again, I found this not very fun to play against as this was a clear min/max list with FW and tricks to carry it again. This army again had a nice 20-18-18-4-2 record. I know that the 2 was from the Eldar player I spoke about above, at that point those two lists was two bricks thrown against one another for the final round.

Again, please note I am talking about the player’s list, not the player of either of the above lists. Both were great guys and we didn’t have any real issues in the game. This is strictly an analysis of the games and the composition of the armies I faced. I am old school for tournaments with balance and comp are things to me that are important for a solid and balanced list, neither of these would have passed under the old system and feel this is a failing weakness of competitive gaming allowing anything goes for lists as it encourages these crutch lists.

Nobody likes to get hit in the nuts. Keep it above the belt and fair play to all!


  1. Yeah, that's an important distinction between the game being hyper-competitive and the player being a hyper-competitive person. One is fun and challenging, the other is a problem.

    1. I agree, games should be competitive as should players, but moderation is what keeps it fun and balanced.


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