Hobby scoring has been with us, in one form another, pretty much since tournament play existed in 40K. Is it good for the scene, or not?
Recognizing players for the time they have invested in building, converting and painting their armies in organized, competitive play has been a part of 40K for a long time. In almost every type of tournament venue, whether it be at a FLGS or a major event, players can proudly show off their amazing work. Moreover, not only a chance to show off their efforts to their gaming peers, but the opportunity to get a bit of credit as they progress through the brackets. As someone pointed out in a recent podcast, most of us spend many more hours building, converting and painting than we do playing. Even when we think we have finally put brush to the last addition to our favorite collection of plastic crack, something new comes along and it’s back to the workbench. From that perspective then, I think hobby scoring is a great way to recognize the work we do to prepare our little dudes for battle.
Hobby scoring takes many forms, about as many as there are venues. Hobby scoring has also surged and ebbed in the major tournament scene. At the local level, I think it has always been there. Local TOs have recognized the value of including points toward overall scores from the start. Depending on the folks running an event, how much of the overall score was hobby scoring is as unique as the people involved. But for the most part, even those who did not do well from a game play perspective, still receive satisfaction knowing their fellow gamers appreciate the effort and skill involved in producing the many fine armies that exist.
In terms of major venues, hobby scoring has had a more troubled past. It was originally part of the tournament scene, then, as editions changed and GW dropped out of the pictures, win-loss became king. Some folks have always showed up with their models meeting the minimum requirements, but with win-loss the only thing that mattered, why should the power players show up having put in more than the minimum effort? Because the other players would be critical? If you win the tournament, who cares if some loser git didn’t like the way the winners models looked? Of course, the major tournaments have their own community and regulars, so in some ways they do police themselves.
Lately, there has been more discussion on the pod-a-sphere about restoring hobby a more prominent role to hobby scoring, along with a “citizenship” component to the overall score. I support this movement towards a more balanced approach to determining the winner of major events. Not that win-loss should not remain the primary focus; it’s why folks show up in the first place. However, since tournament play is as much about the experience as well as game play, it benefits everyone to discourage the occasional obnoxious fool that shows up from being himself.
My main concern regarding hobby scoring is the proliferation of commissioned armies. On one hand, I am strongly supportive of the very talented modelers and painters who turn out truly amazing work. Their efforts certainly enrich the gaming experience when models they have painted hit the table. Conversely, it seems totally mercenary that someone who can afford to have someone else paint their army should received hobby scoring credit for an army they had nothing to do with creating. Is it OK to buy your hobby score, particularly at higher levels of competition, where overall scores could be very close, and the outcome determined by the hobby score component? At a local level, this would not be a problem, since most players know each other; although the occasionally outsider may slip in. But at larger events, where there is a geographical diverse collection of players, this could be a serious issue. In a local Infinity group that I used to play in, most folks had their models painted by a very talented artist. The work was amazing. So now a number of members of this player group go to a regional ITS tournament which includes hobby scoring. Why should any of the players who did not paint their own models receive a single point of credit for hobby? The same applies to 40K. Whether or not someone receives hobby credit for work they did not do themselves depends entirely on an honor system and/or familiarity with a particular player.
If and how hobby scoring will be included in the 40K competitive world will most likely remain a topic of discussion for some time, and its inclusion will be determined largely based on individual TO preference.
Has hobby scoring been an issue in your local 40K community?