Friday, 16 March 2012

When a Win Doesn't Feel Like It

Pretty much every Thursday evening I have a regular game of Warhammer with my chum. Sometimes we play a campaign, sometimes other people are involved, quite often we just play "2k using the book scenarios". We've known each other for a long time and played lots of games. He's better at Warhammer than me (he reads and understands the rules - or cheating as I like to think of it) and as a result victories are probably 2:1 or more in his favour. That's fine, we drink beer, moan about wives (our own, rather than other peoples) and jobs and have a laugh. Currently I'm on something of a roll in our one on one games, a fact I attribute to the arrival of the new Ogres book rather than a sudden upswing in tactical awareness on my part. I don't do anything particularly snazzy with them, just push them forward and let impact hits and stomps do the rest, but he's been struggling with how to counter them, particularly with his fledgling Empire army. A couple of years ago we went through a similar phase when my Slaaneshi Daemons consistently trumped his Bretonnians. This was the same Slaaneshi list that finished in the bottom two at a subsequent Throne of Skulls event (with his Brets finishing respectably mid-table), so it wasn't just the frisky Daemon Army Book that was gifting me success.
Anyway tonight we went with 2k, and decided to use the diagonal deployment scenario. Rather than strictly follow the rulebook we used my screen to conceal our deployment. We'd both swapped our armies around, with me dusting off the Dwarfs and him opting for VC. I'd also gone experimental with my list using a Dwarf horde for the first time in 8th and taking an anvil and Runelord for the first time too.
The game unfolded with me castled in one corner and the hordes of undead shambling towards me. I duly attempted to "snipe" his Vampire lord with my cannon. I know it's a bit gamey, but I also know it's what he'd do and I wanted to give a game, not "go easy". Turn one and he passes his "look out sir". Turn two, however he fails both LOS and his 4+ ward. One dead Vamp.
Even though the new crumble rules are not as devastating as they were he was facing a big uphill struggle from then on, and when his other Vamp crumbled in combat against the Dwarf horde in turn four it was all over. Less than an hour start to finish.
So I chalked up another win, but it wasn't a very satisfactory one. I play WFB for the pleasure of pushing soldiers around with my mates. This felt a bit like playing the rules to get a win. In fact I felt like I'd cheated myself of the pleasure of the game. Fortunately I'm pretty sure normal service will be resumed shortly, but it was a salutory reminder that this hobby really isn't about winning games at all.


  1. Well said. Moving the boys around the table is what it's all about.

  2. If the rules let you do it, then you're within your rights to do so.

  3. Just because you *can* do something doesn't necessarily mean you *should* do it.

    I'm not questioning the legitimacy of my actions, as I said if positions were reversed he'd have done the same and I'd have sucked it up just the same as he did.

    I'm also not trying to claim any sort of moral high ground. I was just observing that, I didn't enjoy the game as a whole, despite winning. I think (for me) how you play is as important as the result (and how I choose to play, is a personal choice, not one I'm suggesting everyone must follow), and maybe I'd forgotten that and this was a good reminder.

    But I also understand this is a personal preference and I'm not claiming how I feel about it is right, or superior in any way - it's just how I felt last night.

  4. Sorry, re-reading that comes over very defensive. No offence intended to anyone.