40K: Everyone Is A Powergamer

Hey all you Fluff-Bunnies and WAAC players, I have a secret for you: Everyone is a Powergamer – even YOU!

Powergamers. The word alone can make folks shutter. But what does it mean? And what’s so terrible about Powergamers anyways? Am I part of the problem and what’s the solution? I have so many questions!!!

What The Heck Is A Powergamer?

To have a reasonable discussion about this topic, we have to define our terms. So what does Powergamer even mean? It’s actually a pretty ambiguous term if you think about it. We know what “power” means. Google defines it as:

the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.

And Gamers can be defined as:

a person who plays video games or participates in role-playing games.

Obviously, in our hobby we can swap out video games with Tabletop Game/Card Games/Board Games/Warhammer 40k/etc… You get the idea. So is a Powergamer just someone who plays a game “in a particular way” and if so, what is that “particular” way? Well, seeing as how Powergamer is typically used in a negative way I’m guessing that means Powergames must cheat or do something against the rules, right? No. Those folks are called something else: A Cheater. Powergamers are not cheaters. Cheaters are a whole OTHER issue which we won’t go over here…that’s another topic/rant.

Cheaters are CHEATERS – not Powergamers

Maybe a Powergamer uses the rules to their advantage and they read into ambiguities and bend them to fit their view point. Perhaps there is a bit of that going on, but we have a name for those folks: Rules Lawyers. We all know one – or heck, you might BE one. Rules Lawyers have their usefulness but even they are different from Powergamers in my mind. They are similar, but not the same.

So what then is this “particular” way that the definitions keep getting back to? I have a theory – I think that “particular” way just means that they play to win the game. And it that is true, then aren’t we all just Powergamers who are trying to win when we play games?

I’m a Powergamer?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Why is playing to win considered a negative thing? Cheating to win is obviously bad. Rules Lawyering is bad because you feel cheated when they whip out the rule book and start trying to bend the rules. But Rules Lawyers at least try to plead a case and have evidence. They at least are trying to stay within the rules. Plus they at least have the benefit of known the actual rules (even if they can be weasely about it). But Powergamers are somehow “doing it wrong” for trying to win? Okay so it’s not the WHAT they do, then it’s got to be the HOW they do it that’s the problem.

Powergaming Is Bad, Right?

If it’s the HOW, lets look at some actions we would associate with Powergamers. I think we can agree that when we think of a Powergamer they probably do the following:

  • Build “Mean” Lists
  • Are “Tough” Opponents
  • Run The Numbers
  • Are No “Fun” To Play

I’m sure there are more things but let’s just start with those 4 and break them down a bit more.

He’s no wizard – but he is a Powergamer

They Build “Mean” Lists

First off, I put “mean” in quotes because that’s a subjective term. What is “mean” to me might be totally appropriate in a different setting. In fact, building a list that is good for the setting you’re going to play in seem like a very reasonable strategy. I know when I sit down to build a list I don’t set out to make a terrible list to play. If you consider yourself a Fluff-bunny, even you build lists with a goal in mind. You might try and build a list that is true to the lore, but you don’t want it to be something you can’t win with.

Heck, you can build some pretty BONKERS lists and they can be entirely “fluffy” and true to the lore. Does that make you a Powergame? To some people, definitely! But if building lists that are optimal and efficient is somehow “mean” then I’m pretty sure that everyone who’s ever set out to build a list with the intention of winning falls into that category of player.

They Are “Tough” Opponents

Notice I used those quotes again. Tough also doesn’t mean “they cheat” in this instance. No, they are difficult to beat. They stick to their game plan. They know their rules (and probably yours, too). They play to the mission objectives. They make wise tactical decisions. And they win games.

Those are all things every gamer tries to do when they play. Why are those bad things? Do you want your opponents to just throw games and lose on purpose? Or do you want your opponents to play the game and try to win? For most people who play 40k, they enjoy close, hard fought losses more than easy wins. I know I do! Iron sharpens Iron…

They Run Then Numbers

Running the numbers simply means they know the odds of success and they know how to manage risks. Maybe this is part of the “making wise tactical decisions” but it’s larger than that. I would say a Powergamer also does as a risk assessment and can number crunch at every level of the game. From list building, deployment, to every phase of a game turn, and beyond. I know some folks who would do this with their purchases!

Numbers. Definitely Numbers…

Why are those considered the domain of the Powergamer? Shouldn’t every know, maybe even innately, that if a unit of 30 Ork Boys get the charge off, it’s going to suck for your 10 man Tactical Squad? Doesn’t everyone look at their list and try to figure out how to squeeze the most out of it during a game? Don’t you take advantage of terrain in your deployment zone so you don’t get shot off the board turn 1? If you said yes to any of those, you might be a Powergamer…

They Are No “Fun” To Play

Okay – this one is entirely subjective. I’ve had really good friends play games with me and it was like playing with a complete stranger. They were quiet and focused. They were trying to make smart plays. They were *GASP* trying beat me! Does that make them Powergamers?

The silence is deafening

Some folks want to sit and chat while they play. They don’t mind shooting the breeze or showing you pictures of their kids and having a few drinks while they play. Other people prefer to get down to business and just play the game. These two types of folks can drive the other nuts. That’s a personality thing and depending on how you view it both could be Powergamers. How? Has one of these ever happened to you:

  • “Oh man, he was slow playing me that whole game! I can’t believe he had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the game. And they asked if I wanted a drink! Sure, stall for time…I know your tricks…”
  • “That guy was so quiet during our game. Very non-personable. I was bored out of my mind the whole game – I don’t think they looked up the entire time! Such a bad sport.”

Yeah – both of those types of players are on the extreme end, but you get the idea.

Hi – I’m A Powergamer And I’m Part Of The Problem

If we’re all honest with ourselves, at some level, we are all Powergamers. No one actually likes to lose games and we all play to win. If you’re not playing to win the game you might even be doing your opponent a disservice. Now, there are extremes for sure. If you rushed out and bought 6 Stormravens because they were the new hotness for a couple weeks – you’re definitely a Powergamer and probably one that folks might not like too much. the good news is that you can be a Powergamer and NOT a Jerk.

I feel like there is a saying that come to mind… (Photo by: Matt Hoover/Syfy)

How can you stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution? Well, once you confront the truth that you are a Powergamer, the next step is to talk to your gaming group and figure out how you can all play together. Are you more on the tournament side of things – ask around and see who’s with you. Are you more of Fluff-bunny and you want to build tougher lists with a narrative slant? Good news – there are LOTS of events and players out there for you, too.

If you find yourself in a game with a talker and you’re not, my advice is just to smile and at least acknowledge they exist – that can go a long way. If you’re in a game with some that is super focused, give them the benefit of the doubt – they probably aren’t trying to be a jerk, they are just really into the game. I have a feeling most players are somewhere in the middle – so just relax and treat the other player how you want to be treated. It’s pretty common sense, right?

We’ve all had an experience playing with or against a Powergamer. It could have been that game of POGs back in the day, or it could have been your last tournament outing. It could have been yesterday at board game night! But we’re all playing to win and we’re all human. Sometimes that competitive side gets the better of us – it happens. So keep that in mind when you find yourself up against a fellow Powergamer – we’ve all been there before.


Do you enjoy the Powergamer life? Do you dread it? How would you define the line between an acceptable level of Powergamer and “They’ve gone too far?”

  • SilentPony

    Here’s a good example of a ‘powergamer-but-its-just-a-game’ list.
    Battalion Det.
    -Plague Caster
    -Plague Caster

    Total is 340, repeat 5 times
    1700 pts, with 18 command points.

    Wouldn’t that just be SO much fun to play?!

    • Guy

      At 1001-2000 points the suggested limit is 3 detachments.

      Just an fyi in case you ever run into anything like this in real life.

    • Stephen Henry IV

      Here’s a crazy thought, don’t play against them. If you see a list that doesn’t look enjoyable then no one is forcing you to play against it.

      If it’s at a tournament then you should A) realize it’s a tournament and people are there to win, people are going to be bringing their best stuff B) if this style list bothers you and you realize people do this in your local tournament scene then maybe just don’t go if it’ll only give you headaches.

      If this person’s list bugs you then talk to him/her and work something out, you’ll be surprised how often they might just change there list.

      Either way complaining about a problem doesn’t eliminate it, talking to your opponent and having an understanding would be more productive.

      Not trying to come across as condescending, only trying to help. 🙂

    • rui valadares

      It’s the typical “has no friends” army list. Unless you’re using that on a tournament, it’s probably the list that will score you zero games to play.

    • Drpx

      If they painted them all with at least 3 colors, I wouldn’t say anything.

    • Charon

      Run the same list with conscripts and Psykers and the same people who accused you of powergameing suddenly label it as a fluffy guard list.
      As long as people consider your abomination list “fluffy” they dont care if they get tabled turn 1 or the actual power level of that list… as long as they consider it “fluffy”.
      This behaviour makes it incredibly hard to sort these issues as the exact same list will be judged differently.

  • Powergaming is a playstyle. Period. Powergaming is taking the best out of your choices, cherry picking them, and never using anything that is “sub optimal”.

    It is not bad, it is not good, it is a playstyle that some enjoy and others do not.

    I know a ton of people that are NOT powergamers. They got out of the hobby because they don’t enjoy playing with powergamers (in wargames or RPGs)

    • Agent of Change

      This is more or less the truth. I can get at the point the author is trying to make, but he manages to miss the mark with a bit of false equivalency wallpapering.

      The four elements listed are a good standard:
      Build “Mean” Lists
      Are “Tough” Opponents
      Run The Numbers
      Are No “Fun” To Play

      But what is boils down to in all games is that the “Power Gamer” doesn’t just want to win or play to win they NEED to win and more than that they cannot countenance any perceived weakness in how they win. The only way they can acceptably lose is if the loss is out of their control, so their control must be perfect. Rigid adherence to that unreasonable standard will both make you a very effective competitive player, but also make you toxic to anyone not in that head space. They will reject anything they believe is suboptimal, they will unfailingly check and double check their work, they will try to win the game in every possible way before ever even sitting down to play. you can see how that will lead to someone hitting all four of those elements hard.

      This is where the authors premise falls on his face, he is absolutely right about everything except the fact that he failed to properly and reasonably define teh dcommonly used term “power gamer”. Specifically the definition of “power” he decided to apply is out of context and cringingly forced to support what i believe was the predetermined conclusion. What the community tends to agree about “power gamers” isn’t that they meet some or most of the elements it’s that they hyper-focus on those elements largely to the exclusion of all else, especially fun or the enjoyment of their opponent. That is a major distinction with a difference that matters when talking about a mindset that out side of it’s proper and useful place (true competitive play) is toxic to the community at large.

      • Powergamers usually love playing other powergamers. The conflict arises when they try to push into non-powergamers.

        Both sides get angry about that.

        • EmperorOfMankind

          no they love to play non powergamers, so long as they don’t complain.

          • tfkimmortal

            Seconded, all the ones I know smile more when they know they won’t lose. It’s like lambs to the slaughter to them. What’s that? I wiped out your force on turn two? Good game, here shake my hand while I smile down at you. Lol

          • Muninwing

            some do — because it strokes their ego to trounce other people.

            it reminds me of an old monty python skit about a boxer punching a schoolgirl in the face. i’m not sure how some people think that’s fun.

      • AEZ

        You are close I think.. but it’s not needing to win. I try to get optimal armies with the models I have (and I never go on a buying spree or start a new army so I’m not really a powergamer in that way) but I don’t need to win… I want to try and get the best result… but if I have a great opponent with also an optimized list.. I don’t mind loosing and I think that goes for a lot of real powergamers too (so I’m with Auticus on this).

        • Agent of Change

          I can see where you are coming from as well. but the underlying motivation is always about providing the best chance for victory. Granted as in all things there is a variance in degree of severity, but one doesn’t agonize over optimal/suboptimal choices to the degree of being accused of Power gaming unless one cares more about winning than other considerations on some level.

          • AEZ

            Still not sure if I agree.. maybe I’m just not a powergamer or not enough.. but I like to bring what is best (within the limitations of what my cash allows.. or at least the cash I put aside for this hobby) unless I’m specifically playing a game against a new player I just want to bring the best to get the best result (and I assume the other guy does the same.. and the game is balanced – I know both not the truth perse) so I can better measure my own performance. Loosing when I’ve not brought my best…. well that seems just stupid to me. Sure it’d be a greater accomplishment but I’d just prefer to think that if both players bring the best army there is then it’s a better comparison of skills and thus a more fun game. Sure I’ll have a bit more fun if I win.. but if I loose in such a game I don’t mind and will still have had a nice evening.

      • Jabberwokk

        My problem with your response is the two instances of attributing motive.

        1: “they NEED to win”

        and 2: “forced to support what i believe was teh predetermined conclusion”

        Apparently we’re psychic now.

        heck your second attribution could be used against you saying I’m not taking your response seriously because I believe your counter argument was made in such a way to be forced to support what i believe was teh predetermined conclusion.

        See how I can side step the good points you have made? If you want to disagree with the judgement used fine(as you did) but once you judge the motive were entering moral judgements and not logical/tactical ones.

        • Agent of Change

          the second attribution was opinion, As you’ll note by the phrase “what i believe”. Didn’t state it as fact didn’t say it was teh case, just what i suspect based on context.

          Also you’ll note i did not take away his good points, I even acknowledged them, but pointed out the ultimate conclusion as flawed based on what seems to be a flawed foundation of a faulty definition.

          As for the first point of attribution. I speak as one of the offending parties. I could easily replace every reference to “Power gamers” as I and We as it is a tendency I know myself to be guilty of and after several damaged friendships and gaming circles and a significant amount of introspection I KNOW what drives teh behaviour in me. Having determined that I’ve discussed it with others and there’s enough of a trend to knwo that the most competitive folks, the ones who will draw unanimous accusations of power gaming almost universally share a single minded drive to win. I can frame it thusly, Not all WAAC player are power gamers but most if not all “Power gamers” worth calling the name are WAAC.

          I’ve seen the effects it has so the article hit close to home, it is also something i have been working hard to temper outside of the competitive arena.

          • “it is also something I have been working hard to temper outside of the competitive arena.”

            You and me both. Its been several years long and full of heated gamer-politics too lol.

          • Agent of Change

            It’s funny how easy it is to just slide into hyper-competitiveness and not realize it until the moment your are standing there realizing… “I’m the dick in this situation.”

          • Jabberwokk

            Good point thanks for sharing.

            As for Toxic. Honestly I don’t see legislating behavior as a viable solution. I prefer GW’s three modes of play. If you don’t like the fact that people generally play to win play narrative or w/e but if you play match play git gud. I’ve been playing competitive games of all stripes and this has been a truism I’ve come across. Brutal but none the less true.

            These days If people disagree with me, these days I just shrug my shoulders and move on. I do think one thing that is not discussed is everyone’ tendency to place their value of their performance in game to their value as a human being. Now that’s toxic and generally self inflicted. If you suck at something ok you suck at it. That’s ok. You’re probably baller at something the other guy is, just not this. That doesn’t make you any less valuable of a human being one way or the other.

          • Agent of Change

            Agree with most of that pretty strongly.

            The problem with the behaviour in question is it’s like many sorts of behaviour that in the right specific circumstance it’s not only justified but required to thrive, but out side of that circumstance it is likely damaging.

            “Legislating behaviour” is a loaded phrase though, because it implies there is a universal standard people need to adhere to. Really any group self regulates and it’s teh folks that don’t adapt to the groups values that end up causing problems. Now i’m not advocating just agreeing with the group for the sake of agreeing with the group, but a community only works if it’s members adhere to some acceptable band of behaviour for that group. the truth is a behaviour becomes toxic when it damages the group ability to function and in a gaming group that isn’t trying to be hyper-competitive that means not being fun to play games with. SO on the one hand I agree but on the other every group in any context “legislates behavior” to some degree or another as a matter of survival. Mostly that’s just requesting adherence to the social contract implicit to that group.

          • Jabberwokk

            Yeah it probably is. Fortunately , through the miracle of borders such as open/matched/narrative play we can include everyone. The Tigers go in their place and the Deer go in theirs.

            At the end of the day the only behavior I can truly control is my own. doesn’t mean I need change the group to suit my own, doesn’t mean I need to kneel before the group either. Personally, I am fiercely my own and I don’t do ‘social contracts’ which I have found to be tantamount to legitimizing group think. For the sake of civility let’s agree not go their.

            Instead how about we just respect that that their are time and places for both mindsets instead?

      • BrianDavion

        I find one of the top ten signs of a pwoer gamer is if they’ll run a list that’s blatently opposed to the SPIRIT of the game and the setting, but perfectly legal. the various incantations of IoM superfriends lists where a good example of that

    • Apocryphus

      I would argue that everyone cherry picks the best choices. Nobody builds a list and puts a unit in thinking, “Hm, this unit is hot garbage, I’m going to take 6.” Everyone builds a list with units they think have value, and learning how to win with that list is a valuable part of the game.

      • You would be wrong about how everyone cherry picks the best choices. Everyone that is involved in competitive tournament/league style playing absolutely. Everyone beyond that? Not so much. Unfortunately the players that don’t want to feel compelled to do the cherry picking have either dumped the hobby like hot garbage… or stick with historicals where you are forced to not get to have everything you want at all times.

        Part of what used to be a skill in wargaming was having a limited choice of the cherry picked units of today and learning how to do well with it.

        Today its all about listbuilding and getting your cake and eating it too.

        Kind of like if we’re going to play Madden and everyone gets to be the Patriots or the Packers or whatever.

        • Apocryphus

          Haha, well, I don’t know about all that sportsball stuff, but I suppose we will just have to disagree. No player builds lists that are intentionally bad, and if they do, they should stop. Everyone finds the units that they think work best, and I would call that cherry picking. I certainly only use the units I think are strong and avoid any that have no value in my lists or playstyle. I personally think Flayed Ones are bad, and I think Lychguard are great. I choose Lychguard over Flayed Ones everytime, that doesn’t make me a “power gamer” it’s just what I like and think is good.

          • SYSTem050

            I build bad lists deliberately with a reasonable degree of regularity. Usually because I like the models. Case in point my CSM armies are usually raptors and possessed I am fully aware they are both sub par and over costed but I love the models and I have them painted. Generally I lose these games sometime I win but that will be against my mates nids as he also builds bad lists as he like nids being all hand to hand. Both of us still enjoy the game

            Tldr your experience =/= everyone’s else’s

          • Apocryphus

            I think that’s a fair statement to make of all the comments and this article as well, I concede to your point.

          • There is a mountain of difference between building a “bad list” and building a list that isn’t tournament-optimal.

            Also if you are only taking the strongest units, you are by definition a power-gamer.

      • I cherrypick the “best choices”, of course. What’s “best” is pretty subjective, though. Bang for the buck in terms of stats vs points is rarely a factor. I wouldn’t pack a unit that doesn’t appeal in the lore or design (which means I’ll never field stuff like Centurions, for example), no matter how broken it could be on the tabletop.

        The value I assign as a lore and fluff focused player is far different from that a WAAC/powergamer will see in things. They see stats, I see background and aesthetics.

        • Apocryphus

          I like to play around a theme or story as well, it’s what I like best about 40k. I tend to look at both aesthetic and stats when I fit something into a list. Is it cool? I want to use it, but I want it to perform to that same level of coolness on the table. I want to do well and look good doing it, so I optimize within the self assigned boundries I have placed and make my list strong enough to stand up to say, 8 Nurgle Daemon Princes, but also be fun and thematic.

          Ultimately I guess what I’m trying to say is, just because someone builds a list with the intention of maximizing strengths doesn’t mean it can’t also be built with theme and backstory taken into consideration.

        • LankTank

          BUt taking the best or ONLY the best of the best repeatedly?
          I try t maximise my points, not taking upgrades I think are not worth it for example BUT I never take more than one of any unit other than troops. So only one helbrute, one predator, one heldrake, one unit of combi termi’s etc

      • LankTank

        I think you mentioned what actually clarifies a “power gamer” in the negative sense as opposed to a player who makes judicious list choices. A normal player would go “this unit is good, I may take one or 2 then a few different units to flesh the army out”. A power gamer goes “I will take 6, no… 8!”
        There is a difference between the chaos player who thinks a Heldrake is a good unit so may take 2 to the one who takes 8 alongside 6 10 man cultists units, 2 warp-smiths and 2 lords.
        While this list is not necessarily unbeatable, it was taken purely on the concept of “this unit is the best I can take so I only take it”

    • BrianDavion

      agreed. this is a horriable article, over all the entire premise is “let’s redefine power gaming in a horriabl inaccurate way utterly opposed to how EVERYONE ELSE defines it, and then argue everyone’s a power gamer anyway so I don’t need to feel guilty about all the people who applied the label to me”

  • Anthony Ellison

    Pointless article that added zero value. Try again.

    • Snord

      Agreed 100%. It reads like a million similar posts from the last 15 years or so. And adds nothing.

  • Talos2

    No. I build armies based on the models I like and or to an ideal theme or sometimes (though less these days) if the name or rule seems quite funny. I try to win, but I don’t build armies to do it.

  • I_am_Alpharius


    What a load of cobswallop. I know plenty, if not most, of hobbyist, including myself, who design armies based on themes and/or the models they really like. They then play those armies and work out how to win. If they lose all the time they don’t care.

    As for Rules Lawyering. First. I loathe that term, it has immense negative connotations. Second. There is nothing wrong with knowing the rules and playing those rules correctly. Equally there is nothing wrong with helping other players also play the rules correctly. Now of course there is harsh/impolite way to go about that, which of course is not good; but, when done politely and with reason, it’s a non issue.

    • Jabberwokk
    • Sleeplessknight

      If you feel such a strong need to defend yourself against such accusations, chances are you probably are guilty of what you’re being accused of.

      • I_am_Alpharius

        Ah…the “you’d don’t agree” so you “must be one” argument. Great logic. Full applause needed…

        Really, not sure how I’ve been “accused” of something, when all I was pointing out, as many other posters also have, that it is a silly notion to assert that “everyone’s a power gamer”.


      • LankTank

        I think IAmAlpharius was stating the article, which seems to be written by someone trying to either a) inflame an argument for clicks or b) justify his own power gaming stance, is completely off base which it is. I have his exact same opinion but am definitely not a power gamer as I never repeat a unit and constantly give my opponents and extra inch on the charge or decide to charge 5 grots with a Plague Hulk and Helbrute because it’s funny/awesome. Admittedly I usually do this when I am winning but still…

    • lmn118

      Not sure you understand the definition there, its absolutely fine knowing the rules and playing the them correctly you are correct there. My understanding of “rule lawyers” is that they take a rule, and rather than use it to its logical sense twist it to suit them.

      In most cases, ambiguous rules are easy to work out what the actual intention is.

      • Charon

        Sure. That is why we have dozends of arguments about rules interactions. Even if the rules are clear cut. How many people here claimed that “rerolls before modifiers” is not intended?

      • I_am_Alpharius

        They would be cheaters not rules lawyers…

        • Stephen Henry IV

          Agreed, people seem to only use those terms (“rules lawyer”, “powergamer”) to belittle and try and invalidate people justified stances of tactics and knowing their rules.

          I’m constantly called a rule lawyer by one guy when I ask to see his rules, just to see them. He’s not a very good gamer and will constantly get rules wrong (sometimes this benefits him sometimes it benefits his opponent) so I help clarify rules even if it gives him an advantage over me.

          There seems to be this disconnect people have with “if you’re not doing it my way you must be a cheating, power gaming, rules lawyer” instead of it being strong knowledge of the game, which it is.

  • timon meijer

    No. I build armies based on the models I like and or to an ideal theme or sometimes (though less these days) if the name or rule seems quite funny. I try to win, but I don’t build armies to do it.

  • DoctorBored

    How many times do I have to say this. There is a single point that defeats all of these types of articles:


    We are not playing Warhammer 40k in a vacuum here. Talk to your opponent, talk about the kind of games you both like, and the kind of game you want to have right now. Want a fluffy game? Want a tournament-style game? Want to bring all the cheesiest things to see what’s better? Have that kind of game.

    Powergaming is only a problem if one or both players are not communicating their definition of Fun to the other. If you get beat down by a spammy, cheesy list, you can cry about powergaming, or you can talk to your opponent and tell them you wanted to play something ‘friendlier’. On the other hand, if someone is accusing you of powergaming, maybe that’s a sign that they didn’t want you to bring 200 conscripts with a detachment of 3 imperial knights.

    • EmperorOfMankind

      yeah I always enjoy saying “hey man could you go easy on me”

      • Drpx

        “Hey man, my Codex is ten years older than yours.” Nobody would fault that.

        • EmperorOfMankind

          Not a problem anymore.

          • Drpx

            No, now it’s still having an Index.

      • DoctorBored

        If you don’t enjoy saying that, then don’t do it. Play to the meta and be competitive and whether you win or lose is down to your skill on the table. That said, if you’re not having fun losing a lot because you’re up against tough opponents who are doing the same thing, maybe a change is in order.

        Either way, communication is going to get you a long way.

    • I_am_Alpharius

      Talk to people? Communicate? Have a dialogue? Reach amicable agreement………Are you mad, MAN! I will not hear such heresy! Thats how “they” win…..

  • If you don’t understand the subject people are objecting to, maybe consider not writing an article with a holier-than-thou attitude and instead explore what people consider “powergaming” and what their issues actually are. This is the second time this week that there’s an article like this that tries to deflect a problem while practicing willful ignorance.

    • Drpx

      BOLS must have been asked by GW to help with the PR campaign now that everyone realizes that 40k boils down to who gets first turn and shoots the other guy off the table by turn three.

      • DoctorBored

        More LOS blocking terrain and more skill in deployment will help this problem immensely. If your opponent doesn’t want to use LOS blocking terrain, that pretty much explains the kind of game he’s after.

  • Mike Forrey

    If Army composition and player rating were 50% of a tournaments scoring you wouldn’t see stuff like this. Unfortunately they don’t see things like that as important enough to include in the scoring system.

  • namegiver

    George Carlin cut to the heart of this (as he did with most things): “Have you ever noticed, when you’re driving, that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a *maniac*?”

    • I_am_Alpharius

      Not entirely. Mostly it is drivers not applying common sense or following the rules and laws of the road that does my nut in. That goes double for motorcyclist and goes tenfold for cyclist!

    • Drpx

      The ones going faster are idiots too. *Sees the daily speedtrap coming up.* “Time to slow down for a few miles.” Everyone zooms by and the cops make their quota for the week.

    • DoctorBored

      I’m frustrated by people who don’t use their blinkers.

  • Jabberwokk

    I agree with most of this article.

    As for the comments well….

    ‘When throwing stones at a pack of dogs it’s the hit ones that bark.’

    • Drpx

      All dogs start barking the moment they hear one start though.

      • JJ

        “holds hands out wide”…….. AKA most of the comments on Internet message boards!

      • lmn118

        Most dogs bark before any stones are anywhere near being thrown.

  • EmperorOfMankind

    No not everyone is a power gamer. It’s just that the closer you are to being one the better your odds are at winning.

  • Wyatt Q Alvis

    There’s a big difference between someone playing the game and trying to win because its fun and playing the game to win so frequently and thoroughly that rules need to be updated and erratad because what youre doing was beyond the intent of the rules of the game. Maybe that’s ultimately beneficial, maybe not, I don’t follow meta. But I suspect that it does mean that a whole community is contended with the parameters of a small set of that community that doesn’t represent their interests

  • DutchLion

    Powergaming is a playstyle. Period. Powergaming is taking the best out of your choices, cherry picking them, and never using anything that is “sub optimal”.It is not bad, it is not good, it is a playstyle that some enjoy and others do not.I know a ton of people that are NOT powergamers. They got out of the hobby because they don’t enjoy playing with powergamers (in wargames or RPGs)

    • Xodis


      • lol

      • I_am_Alpharius


  • nope none

    Build “Mean” Lists – Again if you’re a bad player this is generally fine. If you are a good player this wears people down. You don’t want to play people that are constantly bring the best of the best.

    Are “Tough” Opponents – This can be bad and lends itself to the 4th factor mentioned. If you are just a better player than your opponent, do what Miniwargaming Matt does. Make it so that the game IS close. Unless you have a personality disorder, you shouldn’t still be having fun if all you do is stomp people.

    Run The Numbers – any player should do this and probably does do this. You will weigh units against each other and should pick the one that has the best bang for your buck.

    Are No “Fun” To Play – this is the biggest part of it. Really it comes down to personalities. In a regular gaming night scenario, for me, this is a person that plays and acts like they are in a tournament they have a chance of winning. These people, for me, exhibit the following: Not talking, trying to hard, no joking around, overly aggressive behavior, jockular behavior when they kill a unit, not friendly, nothing is “light”

    This game is riddled with people that lack introspection.

  • tylran

    1) Since when did we start using Google as a dictionary?
    2) You re-define words to suit your own argument. This whole article is one big straw-man.
    3) While most people might indeed play to win (I know a guy who uses 40K games as a story line for his own amusement, playing for “cool moments” even if he’d lose the game), there is a distinction between playing to win and power gaming.

    I had a hard core tournament player explain me his ultimate list and game. He said that the best possible game for him would be a game where his opponent had as little influence on his army as possible, whereas he had as much influence on his opponents army as possible.

    So basically, a great list would be something like a gunline that outranged and outclassed the opponents army, or that had key elements that his opponent couldn’t do anything about.

    To me, games are about doing stuff together with friends. Playing a match where I do nothing else than deploy, roll some saves and pack my miniatures isn’t gaming. At least not fun gaming.

    Powergaming also has a pay-to-win aspect to it as well. Or at least in many cases it is so. MtG is one good example. 40K definitely has that aspect as well, though not quite as extreme. But you all know what I talk about, right? Flavor of the month, the best codex and the best models. As soon as one comes out, powergamers flock to it like carrion birds. I prefer cool models, cool armies and fun games where both players can have an impact on the game.

    So yeah, we’re not all powergamers.

    • NNextremNN

      I think that hard core tournament player is a power gamer and his description sounds like a good plan if he can manage to build such a list. Also he is aware of his goal and If he seeks even minded players everything is fine. Like others already said such a list should not be played against new, inexperienced or “casual” players.

  • Xodis

    I agree Cheaters are Cheaters and not Powergamers, but the rest is hit or miss. Honestly it depends on your local meta, ask around and see what everyone thinks of your play style. Its like being called a jerk, you dont get to decide if you are or not, everyone around you does because its subjective.

  • Stephen Henry IV

    You are not entitled to have your opponent dumb down there list for you. They don’t have to change there list for you and you don’t have to play against them.

    If someone’s list bothers you either talk to them about it or don’t play against them. Complaining about a problem doesn’t solve it, only discussing it with the people will change it.

    ‘Powergamer’ is a term some people use when they’re angry and upset. I’ve been called a powergamer for using certain units that that person uses aswell. I’ve been called a powergamer for going after objectives during a tournament and not worrying about killing a unit. I’ve been called a powergamer when I asked to look up the wording on a rule I thought they were using wrong and it turned out they were.

    All I’m saying is it’s also used as a defense for a lack of skill and or hypocritical people.

  • tfkimmortal

    I typically avoid playing with these people. That guy/gal that goes to tourneys, crunch all the numbers, spend rediculous amounts of time net decking and trying to put Thier own spin on it. They never play for fun and only bring the cheese. It almost always seems that they have brought exactly what they need to shut you down and out. I dealt with it a bit in 40k but it got really bad in warmahordes. The NE community doesn’t seem to be able to get out of competitive mode.

    • Stephen Henry IV

      I play for fun and I spend time cruchint numbers, finding strengths and optimizing units. You’re the one assuming people don’t want to have fun that run optimized lists.

      If it annoys you then talk to them, you might be suprised when they change there lists.

      • tfkimmortal

        I didn’t say they didn’t…

        • Stephen Henry IV

          “They never play for fun and only bring the cheese.” Also my auto correct on this dumb phone sucks, I don’t think “crunchint” is a word. Thanks phone.

  • marxlives

    Everyone nowadays is so weak that anyone who plays a game to…win is a power gamer.

    • nope none

      I think that many people just get burnt out trying to compete every week.

    • GreyPanthers

      I tend to play to my opponent’s skill level. If they are an experienced player with a firm grasp of their army and the rules ill try and being a balanced TAC list. If they’re new to the hobby/game ill bring a punching bag list. Something easy for them to shoot off loads of models and a uphill battle for me resulting in a close game either way. Winning in a game of plastic soldiers doesn’t really make or break my day. Having an bad and boring game will even if I win. No one’s saying you shouldn’t play to win, but it gets a bit tedious for both you and your opponent if you run them into the ground by turn 2.

  • DrunkCorgi

    Wow. That’s an awful lot of butthurt.

  • Heinz Fiction

    In my region a powergamer does whatever is necessary to win a game (within the rules framework). In a fair and competitive game this is usually not a problem. I’d even say it’s a good thing.

    However there are games that aren’t competitive and/or fair. Powergaming in a cooperative game like a P&P RPG are annoying as “winning” is really not the purpose here, and the other players are not your enemies (not even the DM).

    And there are those games that aren’t fair because the players don’t start on even footing. Be it due to a lack of experience or proper equipment. 40k is one of those games as success is heavily dependant on which and how many models you own. And while I won’t deny that I enjoy winnig, I enoy having an exciting game even more.

  • Raven Jax

    Powergamers don’t just play to win the game. They play to win the game to the exclusion of everything else. Often their enjoyment of the game is based solely on how badly they can crush their opponent.

    Your one good point here is that you need to talk with your opponents and group to see how you all feel. But there are times and places where things are appropriate. In 7th, at 1,000 points I could build an overpowered Necron Decurion. My GW store runs beginner battles for new players at 1,000 points. Should I power game with my Necrons and crush the little kid? Would that be appropriate?

    Playing 40K, AoS, MTG, Pokemon TCG, and other games has taught me this: most people don’t consider winning to be their number one priority. Most people consider having fun to be their number one priority. What people get sick of is powergamers complaining no one will play with them. Or telling casual players they’re not fully embracing the game. Or don’t understand the rules. Most people are just sick of powergamers complaining that not everyone is a powergamer.

    • Stephen Henry IV

      No, bringing your powerful Necrons to beginers tournament for the sole purpose of beating the new players is not being a power gamer nor is the point of this article.

      The point was more along the lines of playing strong stuff, knowing your rules, playing to win don’t make you a bad person even if you are a powergamer. It was more eluding to people throwing around the terms willy nilly just to try and invalidate people’s reasonable stances. An example, I’m constantly accused of being a power gaming rules lawyer by one guy when I ask to see his rules. He is notorious for not knowing his rules and often when we look it up we find his implementation to be incorrect, somtimes this benifits him and sometimes it benifits me, but I’d rather he understand the rules on something rather than me win. Still am called it nonetheles.

      There’s a strong difference between power gaming and being a jerk.

  • Rob brown

    The defining attributes of Power Gamers in my experience is their lack of self restraint. If there is a powerful combination that is unfun to play against over and over again they can’t help but use it, and use it to the exclusion of all other things. They plan devastating turn 1 alpha strikes despite how tedious it makes the rest of game and they use unit combinations/special characters/relics etc to create combinations that are almost impossible to defeat without using similar tricks.

    I’ve seen power gamers play against brand new players and table them at the end of turn two, simply because they couldn’t help themselves and temper their desire to win. Power gamers should only play with other power gamers. Unless of course you want to see playing them as a challenge. Generally if you aren’t a power gamer they’ll just get you down as they suck the sportsmanship out of the game.

    It’s not a lack of respect for the fluff that defines a power gamer. It’s a lack of empathy for the people they play with. Incidentally the same attribute applies to power gamers in Tabletop RPGs, and MMORGs. Playing alongside a power gamer is as depressing in those situations as it is playing against one in a war game.

  • Jordan Thomas

    Not a problem anymore.

  • Alex Temple

    That’s a lot of semantic waffle to get through in one sitting. Kudos.

  • lmn118

    Hmm pretty sure you don’t actual know what a power gamer is, in most situations it is someone who wants to, and values winning more than everything else usually to the detriment of others.

    A non wargaming example (in a way) is playing an RTS and your opponent wiping you out with basic infantry in a couple of minutes. One of the reasons I dont play RTS games online any more.

    Sure winning is nice, I like to win. I like to succeed. I like playing the game more. Time is precious, and I’d rather not waste it with someone seeking external validation.

    So no, I am not a power gamer.

  • Tyler French

    I’m Angron about how unbalanced the game i. Thanks GW for your favoritism of certain factions(DG) being the latest. While other factions are limited, have no voice and their rules suck. Rant over. Unbalanced.

    • cm023

      Death Guard is ridiculously broken. About as bad as 7th edition Craftworlds/Ynnari.

      • Stephen Henry IV

        How are DG broken? “Oh god look at that one grenade tactic that requires you to spend hundreds of points to use effectively, several command points, and be in a very short range, very specific set up, and against specific units.” Broken does not mean powerful, broken means something that changes a fundamental part of the game.

        E.G. summoning demons that added more psychic dice to allow it to be easier to summon more, being charged firing overwatch with four units then retreating back several inches before charge rolls are made.

  • Nyyppä


  • cm023

    Why do I still visit this page and click those articles…

  • Alyson Cruise

    Don’t be a berk, the people who dislike powergamers are saying that they have no interest and find no entertainment value in “running the numbers” or any of the other things on this list that are necessary to keep up with people willing to invest large amounts of time and money optimising a list.

  • Muninwing

    i feel like i could use this article as an example of bad logic or outright logical fallacies…

    if you need to pull a “technically…” to prove your point, then you are not proving your point. similarly, if you need to redefine the terms and words used, you’re not proving your point

  • Wayne Molina

    I think there’s a difference and a sweet spot. For example, if you theorycraft/mathhammer/min-max immediately to find the “most optimal” loadout for a squad, then you’re definitely a powergamer. If you kinda build it with an idea, but don’t go overboard (e.g. not immediately figure out that 5 plasma is the best option, and never take anything else because it’s not as good), then you aren’t necessarily a powegamer.

    My viewpoint is that the “sweet spot” of 40k is when you do that. It’s perfectly possible to build a decent, even strong, army list that isn’t going full balls-to-the-wall min/maxing everything and only taking the “best” choices. You might lose against straight powergaming, tournament-type filth lists, but you’ll likely hold your own against the majority of lists and be more enjoyable to play against if you aren’t simply taking the best choices just because.