Monday, July 13, 2015

How to use Artillery to get the girl and make friends.

This past year has been a blur, and I am sorry to say I have been incredibly lax on updating my blog.
Over the past two weeks I been in some great Flames of War tournaments and I thought I could ease back into blogging with talking about these events and my musing on tournaments in general.
The term Tournament is a loaded word in the gaming community, and it changes from player to player.  Some players hate anything labeled a tournament or competitive play and some only play games in such settings. While still others, like myself find both tournament and casual games fun.

I used to be a tournament focused player*, using my casual games as practice for the “bigger and better games” in tournaments. Though I still play practice games for tournaments, my mindset of what a tournament is has changed dramatically over the past 6 years.

I was so focused on tournament play that I was missing the basic fun you can have from just playing a game. By the time I moved to Arizona I was a casual gamer who like playing in tournaments for a bit of a challenge from time to time.  I meet up with my local friends and we played every game Imperial Outpost (our awesome local game store) had to offer (or vary nearly) and we loved them all. We played just for the fun of it, and it was revolutionary for me. I still played games to win but that was no longer why I played games, I played them to have epic things happen. To tell a story or just to try silly things out in games.

After moving to New Zealand I find my viewpoint once again changing. One major difference down here is that the game stores are tiny, and not at all suited to the amount of gaming I was used to. I now played at T.C.O.W. a gaming club that meet every other week and I normally got one or two games in each time. I immediately missed playing 3-5 games with Nate at imperial outpost every week and strived to get more games in.
One way to do that is attend tournaments, it’s the only way you can get lots a games in a day or weekend. So now I attend tournaments not just to play well and win but to get mutable games in.

So for me tournaments are no longer just about challenging myself.
Playing tournaments as mere a casual gaming event is not that easy, first off I had to be prepared to expect that my opponent will not see our games this way. Being a competitive player in the past, for me, it is not that hard to switch that part of my brain on when my opponent turns out to be a "win at any costs" type of fellow. At heart I am an instinctual player, I don't have grand schemes, I just make the decisions on the fly and they tend to work out for me. I am also very adaptable, and build my armies to be the same.

If I play against a laid back player who just wants to have a fun game, then I can easily switch off my competitive brain and just play a game. I just let my opponents attitude set the stage for what sort of game we will play. I hope for the laid back player but am ready to switch to competitive player.
At first I thought this attitude would mean that I would not rank high in tournaments, or that my opponents will see this mindset as a weakness and try to exploit it. Neither, as it turns out, is the case.
I put this idea to the test, at Wolfcry, a two day event where you play two different lists each day one from each of the major fronts of the war. I was not really wanting to play infantry my favorite type of lists so I switched to a heavy tank list, thought less models would mean quicker games and faster clean up. Had loads of fun, was completive with players who were and laid back with ones that were not. In the end I won third of the first day and second on the second day of wolf cry. My list was quite good for these events.

My next event was Panzershreck, this is a team tournament. My brother Michael and I teamed up as Allied players. This year we took just what we wanted to play, and we did not really care about its competitiveness in fact we went in expecting to lose most of our games. We both went in wanted fun memorable games.
Michael took IS-2 heavy tanks that are great in assaults but lack the rate of fire to really scare tank heavy lists and with only Anti-Tank of 15 they really could not hurt the kingtigers or jadgtigers armies. But it’s what he wanted to paint and play so that’s what he ran.
I chose Romanians for the same reasons. They are in fact my favorite army to play, there random motivation and skill add a bit of a gamble into games and since I am an instinctual player I find adding a bit of a random element to my games adds a bit of fun and a challenge to my opponents who never quite know what he is facing until I start rolling dice.

We played five games with this odd couple of a list and it worked, we played competitively with the competitive players and we were laid back with the players who were also laid back. During the tournament I never felt like I was competing more just playing a game and having fun. I thought we were not doing that great in our games but we were winning, a 5/2 here and a 4/3 there. We ended up losing only one game at a 3/4 but we had fun going down and it was a close game.
What neither Michael and I realized is that we were actually doing good. In our last game our opponents were playing competitively and were really thinking every move through, Michael and I followed their cue and did the same, it was a close thing, Michael was down to 2 tanks when we won the game.
The weekend was a blast and we got to play five games as a team with a list we thought was going to go down in flames vs any German heavy tank force (like the one I ran in wolfcry), but in the end we never had to play against them.

We were both surprised when we took first. I didn’t even know we were in contention. I think I could have figured it out if I paid attention to the posted scores and match pairings, but I didn't even look. It never really registered that we had a chance at the prize.

But that's just it, we went to a tournament just to have fun, we built lists that we felt like playing Meta be damned, and we just played the game.
Thanks to all players who made the weekend awesome and for putting up with my really bad puns over the weekend. Had loads of fun and am looking forward to next year!

Here is some more photos from both the tournaments

When I say competitive I don’t really mean players who are trying to win, I mean those who take winning a game to a whole new level. The type of player who will place his tank so that the only target they can hit is your only bazooka in a unit, or run the numbers to the point that they know the statistics of every roll before they roll them and so on. The type of player who is intent on proving they have a better understanding of the rules and will use them as a weapon to snipe, over think and exploit every loop hole or questionable action remarking it’s in the rules so it’s all good. This is not necessary a bad player but one that normally takes me out of my laid back lets have fun playing a game mode and into a “well if you want to play this game...” mode.

In the end we each play the games we play for differing reasons, just remember that in the end this is a game, and it’s about enjoying yourself and having fun, if you are not having fun try mixing things up.