Tournament players are all hard core?!?

Tournament players are all hard core and who would want to play in tournaments? (by a non-tournament player)

When I hear the same thing over and over again I start to think ‘hey maybe someone needs to address this’ I sit and wait for about half an hour and if no one has done anything in that time then I think ‘well I guess it is going to be me’ so here we go.


I keep hearing that all tournament players are hard core, they all bring their hard core armies, it isn’t a fun experience, it’s about bringing the biggest, nastiest toys that they have available and seeing how hard they can pummel the opponent and who will start to cry first. I just heard that some of the Albany club members are worried about attending the Albany event that Ob Sec is running down there because the Perth boys are going to come down, what armies they will bring, what kind of hard core gaming ethos they will bring etc. I have to admit, the way I keep hearing tournaments described, they make it sound pretty appealing. I mean who wouldn’t want to play in those conditions right? Well just about every tournament player I have ever met (with the exception of 3 – you know who you are!) wouldn’t want to play in those conditions, which is why they don’t.

When I have looked into it more (which I’ll admit was not a scholarly lit review, it comprised of talking to a few guys) it seems like this idea of hard core tournament players comes from reading USA based forums where the general consensus is that you take your most hard core army. I have no idea if that is how they play in the USA. I’ve never been to a USA tournament (although we are hoping to get over for LVA in 2018) so I can’t comment on what I haven’t experienced but what I can comment on is the tournaments that Ob Sec run, although my comments are based as an outside observer, not as a player.

Before I even start to describe a tournament I’ll just touch on the players pack. The players’ packs are written so that players can’t bring their hard core, biggest, nastiest armies along. Occasionally someone tries to get one in and they get politely asked to please review it as the army list isn’t in the spirit of the event. It isn’t made to be a big deal, just a ‘can you review this please’. You can bring a hard army, just not hard core and if you don’t know the difference I’m happy to chat to you about that.


When I am at an Ob Sec tournament the first thing I notice is that there are groups of people who know each other. When I arrived to set up for First Blood I arrived 5 or so minutes after M and he was standing on the steps surrounded by guys who had come early to help set up. I had a split second thought of ‘please don’t let anyone new arrive until the doors open, it would be so hard to approach this big group of men who all know each other and who seem to have this clique happening’ (the key word there is seem to have a clique). I jumped out of the car and despite having only met most of them a couple of times they all said hello and those I hadn’t met came and introduced themselves to me. It was then that I realised that I had become part of their community, despite the fact that I have never picked up a model and have never played a game let alone a tournament, I was accepted. So we went inside and everyone pitched in to help and I watched some of the faces of guys who weren’t there for the Ob Sec tournament seem shocked to see everyone helping. It is obviously not what they are used to.

More people arrive and it is loud, the volume goes up and up and up until we get all the players to listen in for the run-down of the day. This is the hardest part of the day for players who have never played in a tournament before because often they have come on their own and don’t know anyone else and you can see they don’t know what they are getting themselves in for.

The first match ups are announced and before we are even finished the volume in the hall has risen again (so much so that we normally have to re-announce the last 5 or so match ups). Players find their table and they all shake hands and wish each other a good game. These are often people that don’t know each other, or at the very least have never played each other before. The apprehension for the new players is still evident. By midway through the first game the noise is growing louder and louder. There is laugher, there is good natured roaring (the kind that is normally reserved for bar scenes in movies), there is audible ‘ahhhhhh’ when things don’t go the way the player wanted. Then there are other tables that are quiet, the laughter and chatter is still there but it is at a lower decibel level. The thing is by mid-way through the first game, I can’t see who the newbies are any more. Not because they have all run out and left in fear, rather, I can’t tell who has never played in a tournament before because this is just like when they play in a store or just like when they play against a mate in the garage and actually no one here is out to ‘smash the opponent regardless of the cost’. Everyone has come to have a fun day or a fun weekend playing games with like-minded people.

At the end of each game there is a winner and a loser (although I guess a fair few do still end in a draw), and as much as I have heard the horror stories of people throwing a tantrum, packing up and storming out I have never once actually witnessed one. The games end the same way they started, a handshake and ‘good game’ which is normally followed by ‘I almost had you on turn 3, if that whatever had managed to do that thing that he does, I’d have had it hahahaha’ (Yeah so my total lack of gaming knowledge show in that sentence but you get what I mean).  By lunchtime everyone is mingling and looking at each other’s armies, discussing games, dissecting the games, and buying each other a beer.

The end of the day or weekend everyone chips in and helps pack up while the last of the games are finishing up and the scores are being worked out. I have never seen anyone leave at the end of the last game because s/he knew they didn’t win so they weren’t going to bother hanging around for the prize giving. Everyone waits for the results. Everyone is genuinely happy for the winners. Those seem to be cliques that were there at the beginning of the day are no-where to be seen, people still naturally gravitate to those they know but no one is left out on their own.

So at the end of this long post, do I actually have a point? Yes. My point is, if you have the opportunity to play in a tournament do it. It is great fun to be a part of the tournaments, even for me when I’m not playing just selling drinks and doing the scoring. Don’t not play because you’ve never played in one before, there was a time you’d never walked before and look how well that turned out for you, don’t not play because you’re not ready, if you wait until you are ready you’ll never do it, and most importantly, don’t not play because the tournament scene is not for you. If this is what cut throat gaming looks like then I think we are doing ok!

2 thoughts on “Tournament players are all hard core?!?

  1. Great article!
    It helped me a lot to stop reading after the second paragraph to check who was writting it, read your previous article and then continue =)

    I’ve never participated in a 40K tournament here in Argentina (I’ve never managed to get my army fully painted =( ), but I’ve do participated in other games tournaments and they were similar to what you have described here.

    I believe the best thing from tournaments is playing against new people. You can learn new tricks, and you don’t know what to expect from the other side of the table.


  2. I help run local tournaments here at the local game store and I have been (as an observer) to a few of the states larger tournments and it really is a mix bag of what you will see. Some people bring the hardest of the hard armies they can science together, while others keep it at a Combined arms detachment and maybe some allies. You get the full on fluff armies as well as the hodge podge unbound lists that have a technical point in mind to win games. Tournaments bring out a range of mindsets.

    Speaking personally, our events change from one to the next. The players pack, simple as it is, outlines all of the necessary prereqs for army building. This does include things that are out right banned. This changes between events and tries to create a specific atmosphere at each event. Our first event of the year tends to be simple. No superheavies/gargantuans and must be a bound. As the year progresses, we mix it up so people can bring their big toys or team up for more advanced play. This has had mixed reception as the more “hardcore” of the bunch don’t see why they can’t just do what they want. The less experienced players, on the other hand, sometimes don’t even know what the TO’s have saved them from!

    As time goes by, and this game progresses, I’ve found it harder to run events that keep the masses happy. My team of TO’s have shared this same frustration and we tend to go the easy route now by following the rules set by the biggest tourney in the state, the NOVA Open. This doesn’t appease the masses, but at least we have a good argument. I’ve been soured in playing these events because I tend not to play towards the meta. And, ironically, when I do bring something that is hard core, I tend to get berated for the cheese. The player mentality seems to have created a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” certainty.

    40k has become a nightmare to judge and control on any level for balance, and to a point, that is ok. It has created the most dynamic and intense version of the game that I’ve seen. But it has created so many combinations that there are thousands of unknowns that you can’t account for. My opinion is that if a player WANTS to break the game, they are capable. It is the skilled players that CHOOSE not to and play the game for the journey, not necessarily for the destination of win or loss.

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