40K Op-ed: Best Sportsmanship is More Important than Best General

There’s been a lot of talk about what’s wrong with competitive play recently, lets talk about how we could fix them.

The past couple of weeks have seen a lot of talk about the nature, and the pros and cons, of tournaments.  In particular people have focused on issues such as sportsmanship, slow playing and the rise of cash prizes. These are all good topics and have serious implications for the competitive side of the game. Listening to and reading all this debate it can be easy to draw the conclusion that tournaments  are broken and no fun. While I disagree with this, most people have a lot of fun at them, but they do have some issues. After some thought I think I’ve come up with a pretty good way to fix a lot of the issues, lets take a look.

Right Now The Focus Is On Winning

The focus of large tournaments is on winning the event. Now most events offer a number of categories in which players can place. Best sportsman, best painted, most fluffy list, and many others. However pretty much all events place two categorizes at the top, Best General and Best Overall. These categories which prioritize winning games have the most prestige and the largest prizes. Of course this makes sense, these are competitive events, winning is a natural focus.

Lets Shift Our Priorities

While winning games will always and should always be a major focus of events, I think the best way to “fix” events is to focus more on sportsmanship. If we can refocus events to be more about sportsmanship, the environment of events will improve. Doing so would be pretty simple really.

Lets talk about the winners of best-sportsman more, lets honor them, and lets give them the biggest prizes.

If You Are Going To Give Cash Prizes, Give Them To The Best Sportman

A lot of people have been talking about cash prizes in 40K and the ITC in particular. Writing about LVO Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson even notes the the ITCs cash prize might have been a factor in Tony Groppando’s sportsmanship “incident” at the event. Now personally I agree with Larry that 40K should’t have large cash prizes at all. However if you are going to give out large prizes they shouldn’t be for winning games. What if instead of for best overall the ITC gave out a $3,500 prize for best sportsman? (Better yet have the winner only get to pick a charity the money is donated to.) Can you dream of an event where the players are all competing to be the nicest best opponent they can? Alex Fennel was awarded an impromptu cash sprotmanship prize, which he reportedly donated to charity in an amazing move. What if all events were like that, and all players strived for that level of, well, coolness?

Don’t Give Prize To The Best Players

In fact what if you applied that logic to all prizes? Don’t give any prizes, beyond trophies and bragging rights to Best General and Best Overall. Meanwhile give the large prizes, to the best sportsman or other similar categories. People will still want to win, to the be the best, it is a competition. They will still get the honor and renown of being amazing players, and winning events. But it won’t be about winning prizes or cash. That base instinct to win for personal greed will be removed. Instead people will compete, and be rewarded for, to be the best and nicest person than can be.

Events Would Have A Wider Draw

I also think more focus on sportsmanship would allow events to draw in more people. The fact is most players know they can’t win an event, and aren’t trying to. Maybe they don’t get to play enough to be top tier, maybe they can’t afford all the latest models to be really comparative. Maybe they just don’t care all that much. They still have fun in events, they set personal goals and its fine. However ANYONE can be a best sportsman. That’s a goal that literately every player can aspire to. Suddenly I have another reason to want to go to an event, I might actually win a big prize. Its a goal we can all shoot for.

Final Thoughts

Lance OP, plz nerf

I know this plan isn’t perfect. People will try and game any system, and it would need work put into it to work. However I do really think that refocusing tournaments to reward sportsmanship more and winning less would improve the community. Especially where cash prizes are concerned. With this simple reinforcing we could turn the whole idea of WAAC tournament players on its head.

How would you fix tournaments? Let us know down in the comments! 

  • Berman

    It not a matter of rewarding best sport. But rather everyone should be a best sport to play. Take a page from golf. They have a literal section on etiquette that includes using the rules of golf to gain an unfair advantage as being a disqualifying offense.

    • Koen Diepen Van

      That’s nice but that makes no logical sense. If you are following the rules is fair by definition. Because both players are restricted by the same rules. I am sure that it in good spirit.

      • HeadHunter

        Sounds like the justification people use for exploits in video games – “if the game allows it, it’s fair to do”; or the reason people treat each other poorly in public, because the law insulates them from the consequences of their behavior.
        Courteous, honorable people who believe in sportsmanship don’t lean on that crutch, sorry.

        • NNextremNN

          Stromraven spam was an exploit and it was used until it was fixed. That’s how video games work.

          Helping your opponent deep strike just to tell him afterwards he forfeited his movement phase is not an exploit. Complaining if the same happens to you in a later game is also not an exploit.

          Sportsmanship is shaking the hand of your opponent before or after the
          game and there have been a lot of discussions about this with many

          • Xodis

            Stormraven SPAM was less of an exploit and more of a side effect of poor rules implementation. Something GW desperately needs to stop doing if tournaments like the ones being discussed are to move forward.

          • ZeeLobby

            This. Most of the broken lists aren’t exploits. They’re usually just caused by poor restrictions, restrictions that would go against GW’s buy as much of everything mentality.

          • NNextremNN

            Exploits in videogames are the result of bad programming or not being able to think of anything (which is impossible). That’s pretty much exactly the same. And you can’t stop those things you can’t think of anything not if you want to keep that level of complexity in 40K.

          • Xodis

            It’s not nearly the same.

            Bad coding means more than just some one screwed up. With millions of lines of code something can always cause unforeseen problems.

            Saying that GW missed something with their introduction of new rules or units is clearly a failure of theirs to properly word their rules properly. It’s completely different in complexity and s ole.

          • Muninwing

            i honestly think that wargaming needs to take lessons from video games, not from CCGs.

            – play, not only listbuilding, should be the focus
            – exploits should be FAQed/patched as they become issues

            sure, people make mistakes in games. that’s part of play. trying to force people to make bad decisions is also part of play — that’s taking the momentum of the battle. that’s all within the scope of proper play.

            a large portion of the problems come from building a list to create a specific combo with a certain rule (and rule exploit) in mind. that’s not playing the game, that’s trying to redefine the game to play in a new context.

          • Charon

            Team comp is focus in a lot of team video games. From overwatch to League of Legends.
            The only games that do not have a team comp either have fixed characters that are the same for everyone or the currently strongest character is picked.
            I agree with the issues tho as GW has a very random approach in that direction (see daemon keyword – faction keyword contradicting their own designers intent and just made up this rule for daemons as no other army makes a difference in this regard)

            Everything you mntioned is also handled the same way in video games – strongest picks available are contested, comp building, win conditions,…
            It is exactly the same if you follow the competitive scene.
            And for that it is the same in classic sports. The way we jump today has evolved just because some people figured out how to gain a few extra inces just be jumping a bit different than before. Now it is standard – and guess what… people complained because it looked stupid to them and was like “cheating”.

          • NNextremNN

            GW already FAQs/patches stuff so we could say they already do this. We could argue about how good or bad they are with this but they are at least trying.

            In RTS games you have a limited amount of time to react. You can make a plan you can make a build order and try to execute them perfectly. But when you fail to adapt to the strategy of your opponent quickly you will loose. That’s why overrunning your opponent in early game with lots of cheap units works wonders especially when your opponent is inexperienced. It creates stress and pressure. In 40K you have an infinite amount of time to think about your actions (not literally but still). You can still lure you opponent into a rush and hope he is making mistakes. If you limit the amount of turn time I think we could achieve a little rush for both players and I think this could lead to more “playing” the game.

          • Muninwing

            GW recently started patching via FAQ. in this edition. before this, they’d let issues sit for months, or years.

            and even now, they’re not patching everything. nor are they patching effectively. they have about a 50/50 rate of success when changing rules to effect balance, ignoring years’ worth of time when it did not matter… but that could become the norm again.

          • NNextremNN

            Well I have seen developers patch bugs back into games that were fixed for months or rollbacks hours or minutes after patches … so at least GW is trying and has at least improved a little from the past in that part.

          • HeadHunter

            There’s a lot more to sportsmanship than a handshake or lip-service. Without honorable conduct throughout the match, those are meaningless gestures.

          • NNextremNN

            These gestures might seem meaningless but if you don’t do them you get a lot of hate from a lot of sides.

          • HeadHunter

            I’m just saying there’s more to sportsmanship than *just* those gestures – your response seemed to imply that this was all that was necessary.

          • Will Amadei

            “Sportsmanship is shaking the hand of your opponent before or after the
            game,” would be the bare minimum required of sportsmanship.

          • NNextremNN

            It was more of an example then a complete definition.

        • Koen Diepen Van

          Well Honor and logic are not related. Sorry. Logic is a set of (Verry verry verry hard ) rules of core reasoning. Honor is a social construct. Just like apparently the rules of golf. I am not saying its a bad idea. I am just saying that it is a logically impossible statement

          • HeadHunter

            Sportsmanship isn’t about “logic” – human conduct is not a logical construct except at the most fundamental, unconscious level. It’s about putting selfish behavior aside for the collective enjoyment of everyone. Someone who acts with disregard for the community can expect their disdain.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            I don´t care about what sportsmanship is . I am saying the rule is not logical. It´s purpose has no influence on it´s logic

          • Koen Diepen Van

            And rightly so. That still doesn’t mean the ruleset is logical.

      • Xodis

        It makes perfect sense when you understand that no collection of written rules can out think a human being. Ingenuity and a will to win/be the best drive most professional athletes, so there is no doubt that someone somewhere will find a way to exploit something in their favor. The rules assumes that people are smarter than the rules themselves hence its a catch all that gives power to the administration to balance fair play.

        • marxlives

          That is true, ability, even if it is something like list building is different than etiquette rules. 40k has been a list building exercise where most of the game is determined before it starts for a long time now.

          So someone being skilled in building a winning list is one thing, you could say it’s a big part of the game. To be fair it is the reason why that unless two people purposefully rig their lists to be sub par, 40k stream games are pretty boring to watch. And I watch a lot of streamed games from different systems on Ash’s channel.

          But etiquette rules are something that is set up by the OTs and enforced by the OTs and in the end it would be good for live streamed games. I watch Iron Gauntlet and Warmachine Weekend streams and what happened at LVO was pretty well shocking and those events have been streamed for a while now.

        • Koen Diepen Van

          Fair enough. That still does not make it a logical statement. Being illogical is not a problem perse a lot of things are.

          • Xodis

            I agree with a lot of things being illogical, but you dont believe that a “catch all rule” built to keep fairness when all the other rules fail is logical? We (USA) even have laws like that particularly in the Export control systems.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            No it´s not logical. As in it doesn´t follow the rules of logic.

          • Xodis

            So you claiming that some International Laws used by a majority of the planet are not logical because they actually plan on people trying to outsmart the law and therefor have a catch all to ensure that they are still punished…
            Logic: reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity.

            I guess we dont agree on what is actually considered Logic or logical, because that all seems VERY logical and well thought out.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            Ho ho Bold claims. Now I am just waiting for you to prove that most nations in the world have a law that rules that you can break the law by not breaking the law.

            But considering logic.

            A) rules describe what is allowed and disallowed in the game of golf.
            B) Using the rules of golf to find a way to advantage yourself is not allowed.
            C) gaining a advantage by using the rules of golf is breaking the rules

            The conclusion is not valid because A) can not be valid if b) is valid and vice versa. (if is advantageous it is within the rules of golf it as allowed according to A) but not according to B) they can not coexist. )

          • Xodis

            Simple, almost all nations have a disorderly conduct law which is exactly what a catchall law is. Claim proven.

            Also you’re now arguing a strawman, it isn’t “breaking the law even without breaking the law” it is very clearly “possibly breaking the law by being subject to the vague requirements of an actual law in place. This infringement will be judged by an authority to determine if any laws or rules were actually broken. “ which is how catch all laws and the gold rule work.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHa. You think disorderly conduct is a catch all term? That is to funny man. There is more to crime then being a dick in public.

          • Xodis

            I know there is, its why Disorderly conduct is a crime and has very wide interpretations, thanks for proving my point.

          • Xodis

            Also check out the Logical Rule known as Rule of Inference: If A then B…

            If People are going find ways to break the law that we dont have written, then we need a law that covers rules not written…aka a “catch all”.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            Really now. Read that again an think about it.

          • Xodis

            I did and it’s still correct

      • Muninwing

        see, there’s the issue. it is *technically* fair, while rewarding the craftiness that some people have to try to circumvent the rules.

        it also discourages other people who have a sense of honesty that makes them feel like they are cheating when they are exploiting the rules as written.

        so it is not in fact equal.

        • Koen Diepen Van

          It is in fact equal. Fact don’t care about feelings. They care about logic.

          • Muninwing

            equal does not mean fair. and that’s a fact too.

            you want logic? “equal” is not always logical. you’re on a lifeboat after your ship sinks. one person is diabetic. “equal” means that either (a) because they need insulin, they are using more of the medical supplies, so they can only have it if they give up access to the other supplies (like bandages, antibiotics, etc)… or (b) everyone on the boat gets the same amount of insulin (whether they need it or not).

            neither is a workable solution. but both are equal. neither is logical either.

            look at difference. some armies have access to better tricks, or cheaper points, or beefier SCs, or the like than others. many of the exploits used are rules that people have chosen to abuse. saying “well, everyone could abuse those so it’s fair” is woefully ignorant of a long list of mitigating factors.

            be careful when you throw around the word “logic” — often people use it to explain their thought processes, which seem logical to them. it’s actually a warning sign when analyzing rhetoric for that very reason. same with “common sense” — it’s not always as sensical as some people assume it is, and it can be easily distracted by personal bias.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            No i mean the definition of the word. Logic as in pure hard core philosofical logic. Btw in your insulin example neither of the solutions is equal. Because logicly you can´t up equal when there is a permanent difference. The only way to end up equal would be to cure the diabetic.

    • marxlives

      I was going to say the same thing. If an event has a cash prize, then it should have clear etiquette rules that participants have to agree to.

  • Haxor

    I don’t think it would be a good point to remove the competition from events. If sportsmanship would be what makes you win, there will be events full of snowflakes, claiming that there opponent didn’t gender them right or something and therefore isn’t a good sportsman. Also this is pretty subjective while winning isn’t. Take a step back and look at the game like a sports event. You should compete to win. You could punish dick-behavior by not inviting those players for some events or something. But don’t make 40K events hippy congresses

    • HeadHunter

      Funny that you should be calling out dickish behavior with a post like that.
      I’m not suggesting a love-in, but you don’t have to “approve” of someone to treat them like a gorram human being.

      • Haxor

        I totally agree with you. But I think you got me wrong. What I meant was that people would start to make those things up. Even if you behaved in a normal (or even good way) there will be people, that will say you didn’t just to prevent you from getting those points.

        • HeadHunter

          Understood – in that case, it’s just changing which player is being the dick, I guess.

    • Muninwing

      yeah… i can’t tell what’s worse… how honestly off-topic this (meaning that you just don’t understand what you read) or how deliberately off-topic this is, looking for a petty attempt to take a jab at people… while being as butthurt as possible, and being more “snowflake” than the actual people (not the strawmen) that you are trying to take potshots at.

      maybe you should go back to 4chan?

  • sniperjack

    Won’t work. When i give a waac 4 out of 5 points in sportsmanship, because he deserved it, for what ever. He will give everyone a zero, he plays to. Look who is winning 😉
    No, we had gentleman-tournaments in the past. And it was ruled everyone should give full point, like 5 of 5 per game. But if they notice something, they should talk to the other gentleman, in the case of 0-3 of 5 points. The tournament organizer should talk to them, what happened, like slow gaming. In special cases the orga gives a warning to the player, who played not like a gentleman. But when everyone gets full points, everyone is a winner in sportsmanship. That is why many disliked this softskills. Actually i liked it. Fun fact: In one big tournament they gave prices away for every best player of a single faction. I won with SoB, because i was the only player of this faction 😉

    • euansmith

      Maybe a “Niceguy” Tournament would need to judge the Sportmanship Scores according to who scored other player’s highest, rather than who got the highest score.

      Of course, people would game that; so you would have to randomly determine how you were going to score the competition after the last game had been played.

      That way, player’s wouldn’t know if they were being ranked according to the the scores they gave or received… but, of course, people would game that as well. 🙁

      Maybe, everyone scores 3/5 as a base line, with players having to give concrete examples of reasons why they feel their opponent should be given anything else. But that would be tricky.

      Possibly it is best to say that sportpersonship is its own reward, and go back to basing everything on the outcome of games. Just leave it to community opprobrium to try to keep “That Guy” in line.

      Of course, this would be less of an obvious issue if the game rules were more balanced. But, then GW doesn’t write rules for Matched Play, they really want everyone to do the narrative games and, please, just buy more models.

    • Muninwing

      maybe players don’t rate each other, considering their bias and all?

      maybe judges keep a scorecard of issues-to-results… players vote for their favorite opponent… lists get judged for cheez… and the like, with all sorts of pre-set rubrics and determiners to guide players.

  • Simon Chatterley

    GW did this with their Throne of Skulls events and I honestly stopped going to them at that point. The game dynamic changed so massively to the point where winning a game actually went against you and all people were doing was hunting best game votes in a very sycophantic manner.

    Then you genuinely had some folk who didn’t care and still took there 7th Ed power builds anyways.

    It’s hard to explain in a way that makes sense but if it was designed to remove WAAC players it didn’t work. The end result of people being over nice made the games somewhat pointless.

    I like a good close battle where tactics matter and a result could go either way. The first ToS I went to after this change was bemusing and it was quickly apparent it wasn’t for me. Just like proper hyper-competitive isn’t for me either.

    Old ToS was about winning but also gave points for best game votes and whilst imperfect as well was the closest events got to playing to both sides I thought.

    • euansmith

      “I like a good close battle where tactics matter and a result could go either way.”

      And yet you play 40k? 😉

      • Simon Chatterley

        It’s curious isn’t it?

        I like to think I’m an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

        But the truth is I’m just deluded….and not that interesting

        • euansmith

          Its that Emperor damned fluff. It just keeps on sucking you back in. Oh, and the minis, those stupid sexy minis.

        • ZeeLobby

          Haha. Hey, if your happy then it’s a pretty harmless delusion, as far as delusions go :D.

  • Alexander Barahona

    The real issue is subjectivity vs objectivity. It’s easy to add up Victory Points at the end of a game and calculate the winner, but who decides the best sportsman and is there likely to be similar agreement on veracity of their choice? I would love a world where sportsmanship is rewarded more importantly than winning as to me the game is played for fun, even when competitive (if something isn’t done for fun it feels like a job), however this will be VERY tricky to implement without the subjective nature causing more ill will and arguments.

    • Muninwing

      that’s what rubrics and bias-eliminators are for.

      voting on one best player instead of rating every player is inefficient. but voting on every player means being at the mercy of people who have a vested interest in undervoting you.

      having to provide a reason or source for a downvote or low score is part of it.

      really, the only “true” objective score for sportsmanship would be rated by the judges only maybe starting with a set score out of 20 based on the kind of list that you bring (dings for exploitation) with examples at each level… then a checklist for behavior seen during the event. maybe a final tally for “incident report” or the like at the end to catch what judges do not.

  • Alex Peña Sevillano

    Another day on: “how to destroy a competitive community”. A tournament is supposed to be fun for those who thrive in a challenging enviroment. You wanna have silly games? Go to a narrative event.

    If theres a problem it’s with lack of rules or their enforcement. In ETC theres a whole section of rules for sportmanship and how to act against slow play.

    • euansmith

      Maybe slow play could be managed by making it cost VP; so, for every x minutes over your y minute turn you take, your opponent could earn 1VP.

      I guess, ff course, this might only work in a game like Kings of War, where there is no interaction between the players, so an opponent couldn’t slow you down in your turn with questions and niggles, in order to earn VP off you.

      So, maybe, your score for a game could include the number of turns you completed, with “tabling” you opponent counting as x turns. There would, no doubt be ways of gaming this, but it could encourage people increasing their rate of play.

      • Alex Peña Sevillano

        In that sense there could be a modificartor on tournament points dependant on completed Battlerounds (not turns) with 4+ giving you 100%, 3 75% and 2 50%. You could game it bringing your opponent down with you but, in general both players are encouraged to play it fast

      • NNextremNN

        I would give each player a fixed amount of time. I read this game was set to 2h30min. So give each players 1h15min. So if one players takes 1h for deploying have fun splitting 15min into 4-5 turns. If he spends all 15 remaining minutes for one turn. Well good luck other player and enjoy 3 turns of free killing without any resistance. Maybe next time the tournament will lower the point limit. Or the player will optimize their time usage. Maybe playing a horde army was not the best idea … Being allowed to measure anything at any time to perfectly balance distances is nice but maybe a good eye, a rough measurement and a quick action in the heat of the battle makes it less mathematical and more strategic.

        • Alex Peña Sevillano

          Replying to both comments.

          Very interesting theory. But while thats bad, people timing before they start to lose feels worse to me. Both cases require judge intervention when it goes South.

          The problem with set time is that 40k is quite interactive. Basically to the point of needing a chess clock. And very strict rules for its use. Whose time is it if after a charge I must decide whether I doda heroic intervention or not?

          With that said I like the set time idea, if the rules are clear.

          • NNextremNN

            Yeah 40k is not an easy game attack rolls my time save rolls your time makes it hard to track and divide. Maybe let a judge do the dice rolling for final games.

          • Muninwing

            i’d say that this would be a great argument for a centralized number generator being used for the top ten matches. or one centralized batch of dice run through a dice tower on the next table over by a judge.

            but at the same time, i like my own interaction with the dice and with my partner. and i like my themed dice (even though mine tend to roll below statistical averages).

            again, clocked would have to get complicated… but having a set amount of time per unit could be calculated out by judges beforehand and timed later. you could even give point-changes for going under or over time.

            then, though, you’d need to get complicated. it would be taking into account move-shoot-assault per unit, as well as the psychic phase. smaller units (like MSU) would get an advantage because it takes less time to position and less time to count dice. vehicles are easy to move, but may have more firepower… so that’s a concern for transports vs tanks. and special rules (reanimation protocols, for instance) take time too. so you’d need a complex assessment tool just to keep it running, and even then there’s potential for abuse.

          • NNextremNN

            There is always potential for abuse in any system. When the official rules do not keep them in check tournaments organisers should add rules to do so.

            Like I said the more strict controls should be final games only. My idea with more strict timings was also to encourage a more diverse style of play. A large hoard army would have to play fast and maybe not as precise and thoughtful as an elite army.

            Still who knows if this would really work it’s just an idea.

        • HeadHunter

          In my opinion, that’s the best way and perfectly fair. Each player deserves access to an equal amount of time in the match.

          • Muninwing

            see, that’s not really fair depending on what is being played.

            a custodes (or Deathwing, or Knights, etc) player can finish a turn super fast.

            in comparison, what about a horde? someone could be a fast player who just needs the time to move all those units… and might run out of time or be rushed into a mistake.

            you want fair, look at a certain amount of time per unit. then, the actual turns would not necessarily be the same length, but everyone would get what they need.

      • Bigalmoney666

        Add a chess clock to the tournament circuit. Problem solved.
        Bonus: Conscript spam (or whatever the new hoard trend is these days) become less popular too.

  • Charon

    I also think the Superbowl should not be about winning but about sportsmanship and looks. The team with the best looking players, wardrobe take the price if they are also the nicest on the field.

    Sportsmanship is not an objective criteria. I would never call somebody out on abd sportsmanship if I violated a rule and he wont let me take it back. This is clearly my fault for not paying attention and not his fault for calling me out on it. If I violate a rule in sports I forfeit an advantage in most games – nobody would ever get the idea that it is bad sportsmanship if you are called out on the violation.
    Here in the comment section, a lot of people would take offense when asked to play strictly by the rules (which are equal for everyone).
    As long as some people somehow belive that sticking to the rules in a tournament makes you an unsportsmanlike player (while violating the rules is ok and your opponent has to give you the chance to get away with it), sportmanship scores are such a highly volatile criteria that it becomes useless.

    • euansmith

      Thought I’ve not followed it too closely, I think that the event that triggered all this hand-wringing, was more along the lines of Player One encouraging Player Two to make a mistake and then penalising them for it; and then throwing a hissy fit when something similar happened to them in a later game.

      I feel that bamboozling your opponent in to making a mistake is more Gamesmanship than Sportsmanship. That said, I agree that Sportsmanship is very subjective and difficult to “score”.

      I feel that the sporting quality of a player should be naturally rewarded by the way people react to them.

      Of course, there will be people at the opposite end of the spectrum who will happily buy a pint for the Alpha Male who crushes their opponents by any means necessary; using every trick from the book of Gamesmanship.


      • Charon

        While I agree that this incident (the 2nd one, complaining about the same situation when the tables were turned) was a showcase but a minor one. How often do we see a a clear foul in sports and the player who commited the rule violation still argues about the punishment. Or players trying to bait other players into fouling them.
        Interestingly this is exactly what makes sports enjoyable for a lot opf people. Teams/players/personalities they can love or hate. Nobody is chiming in to complain about the general sportsmanship in regular sports and that people should stick to spaortmanship ratings rather than wins.

        But if you read the comments on the article you mentioned, you will see a lot of people claiming “he should have left him take the turn back as nothing really happened”.
        He clearly violated the turn order and got called out on it – this is no “unfair” behavior.

        • Fergie0044

          In his defense, both players had agreed before the game started to try and play quickly to get the game finished. He also didn’t argue or complain, he accepted he violated the turn order and took it like a man.

          His opponent on the other hand, knew he was violating the turn order, but didn’t say anything or stop WHILE he was doing it and even (i believe) helped him measure out the deepstrike and then only called him out on it afterwards. Perfectly within the rules, but still a d*** move.

          • Charon

            “His opponent on the other hand, knew he was violating the turn order, but didn’t say anything or stop WHILE he was doing it”
            Why should he?
            The player has to remember his stuff.
            Even if he told him after the DS move “hey you violated the turn order” he would still have forfeit his movement.
            You can not compare a game at the top tables with a friendly basement game.
            “Hey you forgot your PSI pahse, wanna do it now?” is something I do allow in friendly games at 100%. In a tournament? Hell, no. He forgot – his problem.
            In a friendly game of pool you probably will also grant your buddy a new trie after he slipped and just touched the ball a bit.
            In a pool tournament? Never.
            I do not really see where the idea comes from that it is only good sportsmanship if you grant your opponent an advantage (and letting him get back from a disadvantage is also granting an advantage). Sticking to the rules and decent human behaviour is good sportmanship.
            Where he actually crossed the line into “bad” territory was when he complained about not beeing allowed to re-do his own move after the exact same mistake happened to him.

          • Apocryphus

            Allowing an opponent to make a mistake in a competative setting is completely fair. HELPING your opponent make a mistake is rude in every setting. It’s still “within the rules” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely inconsiderate or stink of sleazy tactics.

          • Charon

            Sorry but no. I give you that he did nothing to warn him. Not his duty.
            He helped him AFTER he already made the mistake. As it was already done when the first mini was placed. There is no harm in helping to set up the rest as it was already over anyways.
            If you are so eager to get into CC that you forget your shooting for example and we handle the first overwatch, there is no more harm in helping you to bring your pieces in contact as you already forfeit your shooting – no matter if I help you or just stand next to you watching.

          • Apocryphus

            Once a player gets involved in the process of aiding another player make a mistake, it’s an issue. Whether Alex made the mistake first or not (he did) doesn’t change the fact that Tony willingly stepped in to assist in the making of said mistake. It was pretty clear that Alex did not intend to forfeit his entire movement phase, and Tony exploited that by aiding Alex in following through with it. If he had not intervened, there’s a possiblity that Alex could have caught himself and not placed the assassin. In addition, Tony started the match by intentionally running the clock and putting pressure on Alex to speed play, increasing the possibilty of him making mistakes like the one he did. I know it isn’t fair to judge people based on these things, but it looks very much like an intentional exploit from the perspective of a large number of people, and that does say a lot about the situation.

          • Fergie0044

            “Why should he?”
            Oh yeah , totally agree. But it would be considered good sportsmanship to do so, which is what I thought we were discussing.

          • Charon

            No it is not. It is far beyond good sportsmanship in any competitive setting on this planet.
            Another competitor slips during a marathon run? Do you forfeit your first place now, turn around and pick him up? I mean it is basic human decency to help people if they dropped to the ground, right?
            40k has the basic problem of “I do not take it serious so nobody else should”.
            If somebody would actually suggest the same thing for any other competition, people would ask if that person is crazy.
            Some people in the community want to apply a relaxed basement mentality to a competitive setting. That is not gonna work. You won’t apply the same standards from a friendly backyard basketball game to an professional game either.

    • HeadHunter

      In the Superbowl, you get a 10-15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. That’ll generally result in a turnover.
      If people lost turns in 40K for being a dick, I’m sure that’d encourage more honorable play.

      • Charon

        Yes, but there is a definition of “unsportsmanlike conduct” not allowing your opponent to throw again after he slipped and misthrew is not unsportsmanlike.

        • Erich Schoenholtz

          The TO’s could make that a definition in their code of conduct, etc. Thus, it *would* be unsportsmanlike. Stop trying to compare real competitive events with 40k. It doesn’t work.

          • Charon

            Best proof of the actual problem with 40k. The entitled community.
            “I do not take it serious so nobody else should”

          • Muninwing

            inclined to agree, especially since there’s really about three different views that contradict each other as to what is acceptable during play.

            if i’m at a tournament, i expect that nobody will be “allowing” anything that is not strictly in the rules — because that’s the nature of competition.

            even if i’m playing a pickup game, i expect that maybe my first mistake will get a pass, but anything past that is my screwup.

            i personally am pretty laid back when i play, so i’m perfectly fine letting things go or allowing the redo… but even i don’t let it happen for a whole game unless the person is a new player figuring stuff out (which is discussed beforehand).

        • HeadHunter

          That’s called “declining the penalty”. It’s gracious to forgive an unintentional mistake (especially when the agreement was to play to intent, in order to save time), and it’s as equally a dick move to bait your opponent into screwing up because you already wasted half the match on your first turn.
          To use your metaphor, Alex slipped and misthrew due to Tony’s pass interference.

    • ZeeLobby

      Baseketball baby!

  • Fredddy

    Sportmanship is important, it should be encouraged and rewarded. But not with money. A reward as high as $3500 should only be awarded based on clear, objective considerations. You cannot make clear, objective considerations on subjective things like sportmanship.

  • Dalinair

    The #1 reason i don’t play in tournaments is because or poor sportsmanship and waac attitude from certain players. But ultimately you need balance, you cant make it the focus, but it has to feature strongly.

  • euansmith

    Behold, the rise of the “NAAC Player”, Nice At Any Costs; swivel-eyed psychopaths using all of their sociopathic wiles to fool opponents in to voting them, “Best Sportsman”.

    To paraphrase Bob Monkhouse, ““The secret of success in show business sportsmanship is sincerity…… Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made”

  • NNextremNN

    Join as a secret group be super nice to everyone but give bad votes to any other players and enjoy your prices …

  • The one major problem I see is that you still have to win in order to have a chance at best sportsman. If you play 4 games, let’s say, in a round robin format and then the highest ranks go to a knockout stage, all of those in the KO stage will have more games to gain sportsman points versus those that didn’t win.
    In a way this would still encourage winning. However, if you had a 3rd party scoring sportsmanship, then you’d have a fair level but need way more judges.

    • Haxor

      Just calculate average points

  • I just don’t know how I feel about such a large prize. I guess it just makes that event “all expenses paid ” for who ever wins that kind of money. I’ve never looked into going.

  • Angus MacKenzie

    My favorite part of this whole discussion is the argument that Sportsmanship scores will lead others to “game the system” and “chipmunk” each other. I don’t disagree. They likely will try simply because this is how individuals who value competitiveness over other qualities will behave.

    Tony’s behavior (and Nick’s vengeance) in the LVO are both examples of ‘gaming the system’ for the purpose of winning games. Neither broke the rules but both treated the other badly and abused sportsmanship for their advantage. This is true, even if you think Tony deserved it after his match with Alex. All competitive events (not just 40k) are rife with tiny examples of gaining an advantage at the cost of your opponent.

    The real problem is one of values. Winning games is valued because competitiveness is valued, and therefore ‘gaming the system’ for that purpose is valued. When it becomes too visible and egregious, it might make people uncomfortable and then they will tut-tut about problems of sportsmanship as we are all doing now. Most commonly though this behavior is celebrated as ‘skill’.

    Sportsmanship, on the other hand, is valued far less. Therefore people will argue endlessly against including even a mention of it at tournaments. They will fight endlessly to prevent it from being included in their final score. “Competitiveness” and all the problems it brings is accepted, self-evidently and without reflection, as the most important part of a tournament. Sportsmanship is accepted, self-evidently and without reflection, as unenforceable and hopelessly subjective.

  • Solvagon

    What? NO!

    Tournament play is for tournament players. It’s not a “most pleasant person in the room” pageant.

    You know how to solve the issues you are talking about? Start posting less whiny articles about how “insert X” is ruining the game, and make more posts about how to deploy properly. About target priority, list building. Movement. You know, the actual game than whining about the meta.

    • euansmith

      Harsh, but fair 😉

    • Erich Schoenholtz

      OR people can stop trying to make 40k into a quasi e-sport…which is laughable.

      • Solvagon

        You know, there were competitive board/card games long before “e-sports” ever was a thing.

        Why can’t people play however they want it? It works with MtG (and has worked for over 20 years), why shouldnt it work with 40k?

        Or to paraphrase you “OR people can stop trying to make 40k into an excuse to collect plastic soldiers..- which is laughable.”

      • Charon

        Especially the e-Sports line… because playing computer games is a lot less laughable.
        It is exactly the same phrase uttered by people watching card games (poker), some ball games (soccer) or hell even a disgusting eating contest when confronted with another form of competition.
        Stuffing food in your mouth for money is all fine but…. a strategy game?
        Killing each other on a monitor is fine but a strategy game? hell as long as it is not on a pc screen it cant be serious, right?

  • Senexis

    I was at a three-day, seven-round tournament two weeks ago, and everyone gave scores of 3, 2 and 1 to their three best opponents, those they found it most enjoyable to play against.

    I thought this was a pretty good system, and the bloke who won Sportsmanship got to choose from the prize table sixth (after 1st, 2nd, 3rd, most touchdowns, and most casualties – it was a Blood Bowl tourney), and Stunty King (top-placing stunty coach) chose seventh, then I think it was the best painted team, best single miniature, then 4th place on down.

    So while this still had winning games as the top three choices of the table, the next six selections were about things other than winning.

    • Haxor

      I like this system

  • Txabi Etxebarrieta

    This isn’t an either-or scenario. Both are important. The real heart of the issue is that “sportsmanship” can be subjective, so creating a standard and setting expectations or it is very difficult.

    Case and point, it was not long ago that a discussion was had about whether or not it was okay to quit a game on turn 1 on this site. There were a great many arguments on both sides as to whether or not it was acceptable, some compelling and some not at all compelling on either side.

    Back when I used to do tournaments (God, nearly a decade ago…), my experience was that instead of navigating the subjectivity I think a lot of tournament organizers simply made it a judgment call for each player. The standard was “rate how much you enjoyed playing your opponent” or something to that effect. With no guidance, the pure subjectivity made the sportsmanship reward something difficult to strive for. The end result was that no behavior changed; People who generally are pleasant to play against are pleasant to play against. People who come at the game from a purely tactical position played the same. And people with different views on what constitute “fair” or “friendly” or “pleasant” felt subjected to standards that didn’t match their own internal compass.

    I think if you’re going to be really serious about making sportsmanship a core part of the tournament experience, you have to do a better job of structuring it. TOs should have *some* idea of what good sportsmanship looks like and articulate why. Figure out what exactly it is you want to bring people together and ways to give people something to strive for. At the very least, it gives people an idea of what to expect, and expectation management is a big part of crafting a workable system.

    And I think more interesting is that it could foster important conversations going forward. Because if TOs can create more specific standards than “rate how much you enjoyed playing your opponent” then people have a better avenue of arguing for or against a particular standard. And those conversations could prove really insightful about what, in general, people can expect out of a game of 40k.

    In short, I fully realize it’s impossible to fully objective standard of sportsmanship. But if sportsmanship is a big enough issue that we feel TOs should actively play a part, we should recognize it as an ongoing struggle and structure it rather than shrugging our shoulders or doing a half-assed attempt at it.

  • Here’s why sportsmanship is a worthless award: it is subjective and fully chipmunkable.

    What is chipmunkable? It is the term given for tanking your opponent’s score to further your own rankings, and for giving your buddies top marks regardless of what they did. It is a social engineering score. I’ve seen WAAC artists WAAC their way through a game and still get decent sportsmanship scores because the opponent was their buddy (or afraid to give them low scores because they don’t like confrontation)

    It is not objective at all. It is a farce. The only way sportsmanship could possibly be worth anything is if a neutral 3rd party judged people and scored their sportsmanship.

    Additionally we live in the pro-sports era of gaming. Sportsmanship has no place in the pro-sports era of gaming. It truly is all about who wins the best and I think it should be kept that way.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Is ‘Tournaments’ and everything wrong and right with them the topic of the week or something? It’s like groundhog day in here…


    • Erich Schoenholtz


    • HeadHunter

      If it’s being constantly discussed, maybe that’s indicative of a chronic problem, not one that should be ignored.
      The reason for the many articles lately is because we had another shining example of the problem last week.

  • Timmy McMurderbug

    Alright, hold my banana, cause I think I get what the baseline concern here is. It’s not about the game. Never was. It’s about the atmosphere.
    As a general rule, 40k has always had a relatively positive culture: One that is friendly, creative and wants people to get involved and have fun. This is largely considered to be A Good Thing.
    The popularity (and increased coverage) of the ‘tournament scene’ is showing there is the kind of culture present in 40k that poisoned Magic the Gathering, Warmahordes and online gaming in general. A negative culture that wants to win. Full stop. This is A Bad Thing.
    Abe is right, prizes in general are going to attract the worst elements of humanity to big games like greasy manchildren to an anime MMO. We need to change the tournament culture to prevent that- buuuut let TO’s do it indivudually. Keeps things varied so gaming the system is a constant challenge.

  • HeadHunter

    You claim this will result in a bigger draw for events, but I’m willing to bet quite the opposite. People spend a lot of money to go to Adepticon or LVO or similar events – travel, lodging and other expenses add up.
    The most competitive players want to be able to offset those costs, by means of success in the event. Make that impossible, and many of them won’t bother to come. That won’t just remove the poor sportsmen – it will also affect a lot of otherwise honorable players who still want to win. Nobody, gentleman or not, wants to spend thousands to go 0-4.

  • Nimort

    Back in the days when I went to tournaments run by the 11th company in South Carolina (miss you guys), the largest prize was reserved for the person who came in last place. I liked the tournament for this gracious twist. Maybe this could lead be the best sportsmanship at tournaments? The last place person who did not drop out, and finished all their games to conclusion (they did not call it after turn one or two). After going through a grind like that, I’ll m sure we can agree that person could be the best sportsman for hanging in there

  • Erich Schoenholtz

    The best solution is to not play in these events until attendance drops. Once that happens, they will have to change things or lose more attendees. Sadly, that will never happen as I don’t see these types of events changing anytime soon. In fact, I expect events to double down on this trend. There are too many people trying to turn this into an e-sport…and it never will be. I follow the WOPR philosophy…the best move is not to play.

  • Elijah Herstal

    My typical philosophy when playing is, “It should be fun for both of us”. I’ve even done some self-destructive things, just so my opponent can do something cool (or something funny will happen, like using a Command Point to re-roll vehicle explosions).

  • Xodis

    Too many things need to change with GW and their games before Tournaments like this can really take off.

    -GW rulesets need to tighten up….like a lot. I enjoy my fun games of AoS, but other than Shadespire its not NEARLY balanced enough for something like cash prize tournaments. IMO I dont even think Xwing is balanced enough.
    -GW Armies need to be actually balanced, both internally and externally, all options need to be on the table. There are complaints already about certain armies owning the meta or whatever, what do you imagine will happen when the scene turns to cash prizes?
    -Sportsmanship will need to be judged by actual judges. Its too easy to get frustrated if you are getting your butt kicked and think your opponent is being condescending, rude, or just a bad person. Anyone who believes themselves above that is lying, its human nature. Sure, some have more control than others, but when money is on the line you see it more often.

  • vash1313

    At my shop, the owner discontinued prize support for tournament winners after several different people who didn’t even shop at the store would roll in with the latest net list, clean up, and then use the winnings to fund their next net list. He now hands out gold, silver, and bronze tokens, that can be assigned to any category and prize support is distributed via random drawing of names. At the last AoS tournament I ran for him, I gave out the gold for sportsmanship, the silver for painting, and the bronze for best general.

  • Raven Jax

    I’ve been to events that give out prizes for the person voted best sportsman. They usually turn into popularity contests where everyone votes for their friend.

    • ZeeLobby

      I mean usually events require you to vote for an opponent you played at the event. I guess if the event is small enough it could still be a problem. Most events I attend make sure you don’t play people you come with though.

  • Andrew O’Brien

    I don’t get why so many have a problem with competitive play being so competitive. I appreciate sportsmanship, and while I enjoy the competitive nature of the game I don’t let it get in the way of having fun, but it’s hard to measure sportsmanship equally across different situations. Personally, I liked the multiple prize categories (play, hobby, fun list). Rather than removing the energy from competitive play, raise the other aspects of the hobby to the level competitive is at right now.

    • HeadHunter

      Because there’s a difference in being a worthy opponent, or being a dick at his expense.
      Why do people think “competitive” means “license to act like a jerk”?

      • Andrew O’Brien

        I don’t believe people think competitive means it’s OK to be a jerk. I do think it means that they follow the shared set of rules. If people want additional rules, such as sportsmanship, I believe it’s up to organizers to specifically define those rules. Don’t be a jerk is to subjective to use as a rule.

        • HeadHunter

          It operates on the assumption that people already know how to be a decent human being and operate under a social contract that goes beyond the game.
          If we need TOs to regulate that, there’s a deeper problem.

          • Andrew O’Brien

            I agree. If we think that playing a table top game a certain way prevents people from being decent human beings, we indeed have a deeper problem. Why is the solution to fix the way people behave? Why isn’t it just to play with different people?

          • NNextremNN

            Because you can’t choose your opponent in a tournament?

          • Andrew O’Brien

            If I don’t like the people that play in tournaments, if they aren’t fun, then I won’t play in them. If tournaments are to have particular rules of conduct, we must define them. It’s a game. We always get to choose if we want to play someone or not. They shouldn’t have to conform to our standards. I don’t have much time to play, so I won’t play with a**hats. If a tournament has those, I wont play in that tournament.

          • NNextremNN

            Of course you can choose to enter or not to enter a tournament but when you decide to enter a tournament you can’t choose … or at least not without leaving the tournament.

  • fenrisful2

    I would stop removing constructive criticism here on BOLS.

    • HeadHunter

      When they find it, I’m sure they’ll let it stand. But most of what you call “constructive criticism” doesn’t offer anything “constructive” at all – just negativity with no solution.

  • ctFallen

    I believe in trophies for the top people in whatever categories you want but I think prize support(cash and other)should just be raffled at the end. So no matter your place as long as you stuck it out till the end you have a chance at walking away with something.

  • Vanders

    Really BoLS? This seems like the same kind of silly thought-process that goes along with giving everyone a participation award.

    • HeadHunter

      Are you really comparing “fair play” to a participation award?
      Folks like that are the same sort that whine when they get a taste of their own medicine (see Tony at LVO)

      • Vanders

        No, I’m not comparing the awards. I’m comparing the mindset. BoLS suggests removing rewards from winning to whoever is the nicest person. It’s silly.
        Also, what folks do you mean?

  • Seismic Ghost

    1. They should have a sportsmanship tournament, but you shouldn’t have to buy thousands of dollars worth of models and books to enter. Just stand around shaking everyones hand all day.

    2. It’s not a sport when one guy shows up to the race in running shoes and another guy shows up in a formula 1 car.