22 August 2007

No Real Desire to Play

I have this feeling off and on, and I wonder how common it is. Sometimes I think I'd really rather stay home and paint than go out and play a game. In theory I could make time once a week or so to find a Warhammer opponent and play. In fact, there is a campaign being set up in the area right now with two-week intervals between turns. But I have no real desire to go out and play a game. I've been considering my reasons for feeling that way and I've come up with a few so far.
The first reason is my general lack of social skills and really, my lack of need for companionship outside of my own little world. I am extremely self-contained as far as my ability to entertain myself as long as I've got my hobbies and internet connection.
Secondly, I don't really feel much camaraderie with the local crowd of gamers. There is a lot of emphasis on power-gaming and killer combos, which is fine if you're into that sort of thing. I'm not into that sort of thing. I ran into the same problem with the Heroclix crowd when I was buying Heroclix and playing in the weekly tournaments. I liked to put together themed teams (Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and his allies, X-Men, Animal-themed superheroes, etc.) and the other guys brought various versions of the latest power-combo team with no goal other than to win the Limited Edition figure. There wasn't much in the way of banter or commentary, just a strong focus on winning. Playing to win isn't a bad thing, but without any sort of social benefit I might as well be playing chess against a computer. So far I've experienced a similar feel to the Warhammer group.
There seems to be a very visible divide between the "old-timers" and the new guys, sort of an attitude of, "You noobs play each other and someday you can come play with the real men." No one seems to care about anything but Victory Points and building the strongest army list possible.
There is also an overabundance of Chaos armies. I can't stand Chaos armies. I don't understand the fixation on all of the intestines, mutations, and weird colors. That's just personal preference, but Chaos armies bother me on an aesthetic level.
I didn't think I would be bothered by playing against unpainted armies, but it's difficult for me to get excited about playing an unpainted (and often only partially assembled) force. I guess it goes back to focusing on the mechanics of the game rather than the aesthetics of the game. So far I have not seen a single fully painted army besides my own. Even worse is playing against units that are half bare-metal figures and half empty bases representing more figures in the unit. And these are the same guys who spend all their time on the message board bragging about how they've got four armies of 3000+ points each. Ten blocks of empty slotta-bases do not add up to many points at all in my book.
I am also concerned that if I post a challenge to the message board that the local Dwarf player will answer it. He matches much of the profiles above, but there are other reasons I am loathe to play him.
First, in every game I've ever heard of him playing, he sets up his army in the exact same way. He places all of his infantry as far back behind cover as he can and leaves them there for the duration of the game. He places all of his shooting stuff on a hill, preferably one with a cliff facing his opponent so infantry cannot get up to fight his ranged fighters. The opposing army has to move all the way across the table to the corner where his infantry is, all the while being shot at by the firing line. None of his figures ever moves. It is effective, but it is incredibly boring to play against.
Second, he is a fellow veteran in the Idaho National Guard. While we were overseas he served in the Engineer Battalion under my father in some capacity. When we played against each other, he recognized my name and couldn't wait to tell me all about the blog he wrote while he was overseas in which he personally badmouthed my dad and the other people in the Engineer Battalion's command group. I guess he was unhappy with the internet usage policy and some other policies that were in place. He then wanted to know if I'd had internet access overseas and if my dad knew about it. I told him that it was really irrelevant as we were in entirely different command chains with different policies. I don't know why he felt the need to share all of that with me. Maybe I'm socially backwards, but I don't usually start relationships by mentioning that I dislike someone's father and all of his friends.
I suppose I have been spoiled by tales on the internets of various gaming groups that get together and play games for the fun of the story and the spectacle of a table covered in fully-painted miniatures. Playing to win is important, but I don't think the win-loss column should be the main reason to get together and roll some dice. I hope that at some point I will have the opportunity to live in an area with a strong gaming group made up of like-minded individuals, whether they play Historical, Fantasy, Science Fiction, or some mix of all three with a little Pulp thrown in for good measure.
That was a bit of a rant. I probably came off a bit more harsh and judgemental than I really feel, but the power-gaming mentality really gets to me sometimes and I wanted to highlight the things that I think are important as opposed to what seems to be the emphasis locally. Aside from the dude who doesn't like my dad I tried to avoid mentioning names as I don't know these guys very well outside of their message board posts. Until I find it in my dark heart to look for a game I've got plenty of bare plastic and lead to paint, and many many armies to plan.

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