Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fun vs Competition - WTF is this s#!t?

A comment to Stelek's response to my Skrag ramblings in this post caught my eye and I wanted to respond in kind. (Stelek has since posted this comment as its own post here as well)

Endre Enyedy wrote:
As the one who originated the Skragg topic, I just have to chime in at this point. I've been reading the debate back and forth, and is great - helps me understand Skragg and the army all the better. But there's something that just doesn't sit well with me:

"I think for the most part we agree on things, especially trying to make a "competitive" list for Ogres. But I love my fatties (my first army and lucky for me I don't really give a crap about winning. If I want to win I just play my Vampire Counts. :D Besides where is the challenge or fun in playing one of the "broken"and "competitive" lists? Seems boring to me ..."

What? So let me get this straight, I spend hundreds of dollars and man hours putting together an army, so then I can get the real fun of losing all the time? How is that fun? Not only that, but look at the entire tone of the paragraph. I love my cutesy wootsie fatties, they're so silly and fun! They're the army I play when I just want to have a laugh!

In the words of Sarah Silverman: What the fuck is that shit?

I get it, GW has a sense of dark humor spread in its armies. But what am I, as a consumer, supposed to take out of this? I like Ogres because they're a pretty dark army, brutal monsters who will eat you as easily as help you, with a very dark, blood splattered imagery that's straight out of horror movies, tempered by the amusing wickedness of the Gnoblars. The models can be amazing, they're full of detail thanks to their scale and beg for rust, blood, and other weathering effects to make them realistic and grungy. For god's sakes, we're discussing a crazed giant carrying around a cauldron full of corpses and offal, who cut off his own hands and attached knives to the stumps!

I hate that people justify the fact that the army book is crap by making it seem like it's ok, as if GW purposedly created them to have floppy shoes, a red nose, and go around making people go "yuk yuk". Like somehow there's something noble about not playing the game for real, but rather you're there to be the class clown and make people crack up when they play you.

Well, I'm sorry, I'm not a teenager any more, I don't get fulfillment out of that. I don't want to show up to a tournament and say "Hey guys, look at me, woooo". I don't want to play a campaign where I'm basically free land for my neighbors. My game store charges for use of their tables. Why would I pay for my opponent to dance on my army?

I want to think my army is cool. I want to look at my models, read the fluff, then turn around on the battlefield and enjoy what I'm doing. I don't want to find the "fun" in getting reamed. I want to feel like a have a chance, I want to know that if I fail it's because *I* failed as a general, not because I showed up to the knife fight with a bag of cotton swabs.

I'm sorry Randall, I don't mean to attack you, I'm just venting my frustration at this bullshit "losing is its own kind of winning if you make them laugh!" attitude I see all over forums when it comes to Ogres.

I play 40k Necrons, which are just as much ass right now, but you know what? Nobody ever denigrates the army the way people denigrate Ogres...and it's usually the Ogre players while defending it! Orks and Orcs, they have a lot of silliness and humor, but in the end people respect them as armies, people find the models really cool, and people take them seriously. Nobody says "I want to play Orcs because they're so silly, ha! I want to have fun!"

Look at Stelek on his Goblins: "I enjoy my goblin army very much. They are much maligned but I've done well with them." He doesn't say "I enjoy my goblin army very much. I lose all the time, but damn it's funny when all my stone throwers misfire! I never win, but damn if it isn't satisfying to roll all those animosity dice!"

So yeah. Just had to get that out there. I like the tactical discussions and the back and forth, I like the ideas to make them work. Just don't undermine any serious tactical discussion stating that they're for "fun", and if you want to actually win a game you play another army. Because that's just a kick in the nuts to those of us without that other army.
First - thanks for commenting Endre I appreciate it.

Second - my comment that you took offense with was made in jest, a bad joke. I haven't even finished my Vampire Counts army so there is no way I could "win" with them!

My apologies if my off-the-cuff comment upset you (they certainly seem to have struck a nerve) but the fact of the matter is I play WHFB for fun (shit I hope we all do). I don't think of the Ogre Kingdoms army as a "just for fun" or "laughs and yucks" type list, but at the same time I don't consider myself to be a "competitive" gamer - it simply isn't my focus. I haven't been playing long enough to consider myself "good" and honestly I dislike the majority of the tournament scene and most of the people involved (Stelek does a good job of outlining those issues on his blog so I won't go into it here).

I chose Ogre Kingdoms as my first Fantasy army for almost all the reasons you state in your comment. The giant flesh eating monsters, covered in blood, living in caves, fighting and drinking their short lives away. That was the army I wanted to collect, model, paint, and play on the tabletop. I knew going into it that the army wasn't considered "top tier" or "competitive" among most WHFB vets but I never worried about that. You win some you lose some right?

Shortly after playing my first few matches I grew discouraged. The army I had set out to collect and play was not living up to my expectations on the tabletop. I was frustrated but never considered dropping the army, by that time I had grown to love the look of the models even more.

Over time, with plenty of practice and patience, I have learned how to play my OK force. One of the biggest helps for me was connecting with other Ogre players at the Ogre Stronghold - a must view for any serious Ogre general. I've been reading and posting on the Stronghold forum every day since I found it and even now I still learn a thing or two about playing Ogres.

Am I happy about the situation that GW has put the army in? Hell no. But what can be done about it at the moment? With next to nothing in way of fan-support or outreach how is a frustrated customer to get their view into the "right" hands? All I can hope is GW is planning on releasing an updated book that fixes the major problems they created with the OK list when it was released. Removing all of the seemingly arbitrary restrictions would be a great start (I dare you to find another army book with more restrictions).

I don't expect massive change though. Looking at the Chaos Ogres in the new WoC book gives me an idea of what to expect and it is nothing to write home about. Sadly, I could still make a better Ogre army list out of the WoC book if I wanted to.

So I do what I can; I keep playing my Ogres, constantly trying out new combinations and army lists, hoping to find something that "works" in the competitive scene. I try and keep track of my wins and losses, what did I do right and what could I have done better?

If I had it to do over would I still start my Ogre Kingdoms army? Absolutely. I love my fatties, they are a blast to play with (even when they are frustrating the hell out of me) and I don't think I would be half the Fantasy general I am now without the experience of playing with a "low tier" army.

So in closing - Endre I understand where you are coming from. It is frustrating and I don't really have great advice for dealing with the whole situation aside from "try not to take it so seriously". Join the ranks of Ogre generals trying to find a way to "make it work" and banging their heads against the OK Army Book. Talk tactics, what works and what doesn't. Experiment and play the "stupid" or "worthless" things - nothing is off limits.

I'll be here doing the same thing and hopefully winning a game or two in the process.



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