Playing 40k tourneys is a daunting undertaking, one marred by rumours of WAACS, Neckbeards and people who get no joy out of the game other than winning. In the end you play a game for the fun, for the challenge and obviously the win is a nice bonus but you don’t want to have a bad experience do you? It is a ‘Game’ after all.
With so much bad press and rumour its therefore understandable that people are a bit reticent to play in them. I was one of the many who always said they’d never play a tournament and well, 3 years on a lot of mid table results, a few sportsman awards, a painting award ( obviously the quality was low that day) surprisingly a second on a 1 day event and a lot of new friends, I can say I am glad I took the leap and it isn’t as bad as it is made out to be.
Why did I do it though?
Well, with it becoming somewhat harder to get my general group of friends to play, for one reason or another, (cat herding comes to mind) I was running out of options on what to do If I wanted to play a game.. random people at Element was an alternative but I couldn’t always get someone on the day I was free, on top of this, as I wasn’t playing much my pile of grey plastic shame was growing with no painting being done; I had to think outside the box and tourneys seemed to offer an incentive to paint, along with a weekend of gaming.
But you still had to enter the proverbial lions den and deal with all the Neckbeards right? Well yes and no and here is why:
First up I’m going to give you a list of 7 types of people (though you do get hybrids) you will find at tournaments:
Granted, If you have a middling or fluffy list, you will get annihilated, and very little mercy will be given to you.. to the Moaner (see below) this may epitomise what is wrong with the game / scene and why you should throw your toys out of the pram and stop playing, but they won’t cheat you, they won’t bully you or rush you, they will just play the game to the best of their ability, based on the list they feel is effective and, depending on the list you have, enjoyable games to play and something to learn from.
A frustrating player to play, if on the receiving end of a bubble wrapped flyer that can disembark its units or a charge that seems to be able to lock down all of your units at once, but, to be honest, a good player to know and learn from if you want to make it from mid table results to top tier. Also without people knowing the rules inside out and how to exploit them, then GW wouldn’t be able to fix meta mistakes as quick as they do these days.
Still sound somewhat intimidating? Like its something you don’t want to do? Well let me give you a view from a guy, who never played a tourney to a guy who now plays in 1 every few months.
Pick your tournament wisely – There are loads of tournaments out there, with all kinds of different restrictions, rules and prizes, pick the one that suits you. Don’t just pick one, turn up, get beaten and smoulder with rage for the rest of your gaming life. In the end its your decision and your choice on what type event you attend.
Generally the ones I attend at Element, ran by them or Caledonian are great. You have prizes for best painted (some times top 3) you have best sportsman award, best army in faction, 1st 2nd and 3rd for the tournament and, of course, the wooden spoon. So there is always a good chance of you getting something. It also helps that they are really well run!
If you want a less competitive tourney, they are out there. Some are dedicated to mono lists and good paint jobs, others are for lower point limits; there is a lot of choice.
Don’t be put off by rumour or assumption – Tournaments are not hives of scum and villainy, WAACs are not rampant and you can have a good set of games. Sure, if you aren’t overly bothered about optimisation, or maybe you just cant afford the new big meta toys then you will struggle to reach the top table BUT if your just there to enjoy the games, then granted you may get obliterated in a game or two, depending on the size of the event, but rankings will find you your niche and by the 3rd game at least you will be facing more manageable lists.
If you are new, play to learn and enjoy, don’t play to win- If you turn up to a tourney with the wrong sort of mindset, especially if you are new, you will leave disappointed. A lot of people you will playing will understand the rules very well, will understand their armies very well, and, will also know your army too, so will challenge if you make a mistake.
Just turn up and play the game as best you can, learn how the meta is moving and learn how different armies work. It may mean you lose all your games, or most of them but if you have come into it with the right mindset, you’ll come away understanding the rules more, understanding how your army works more and understanding how other armies work / are played too. This will then give you an idea on what to change for next time, if you care or if that sort of tournament is for you or not.
Trust in the Emperor and GW– Meta lists are a thing and can be frustrating but what I have found is that Games Workshop are being very proactive with neutering meta creep with restrictions on matched play, points increases and rules changes.
There are very hard lists out there, and some players will know their rules inside and out, but, as has been shown around the globe and in different Tournaments, just because you have knights doesn’t mean you’ll win, and just because you have flyer spam, doesn’t mean you will win. Its very much about playing the mission and having something that will be able to score points. you can lose your entire army but as long as you are ahead in points, being tabled doesn’t matter anymore; so don’t live in fear.
There we have it, hopefully this article will have given you an insight into the competitive world of WH40K tournaments and maybe, hopefully, encourage you to give one a try. In the end it is just a game and if you want to play and have something to aim for, be it painting minis or aiming to be the best; the tournament circuit is the best way to do this. it can be a cruel mistress to someone unprepared but once you find your niche, it becomes a great weekend of gaming.
Had a good experience? Had a bad one? Thinking of getting into the tournament scene? Let us know in the comments below.