Despite the stereotypes casual play, not major tournaments, is the home of WAAC players.
One of the persistent complaints levied against tournaments is that they are full of Win At All Cost (WAAC) players. In reality WAAC players are rare at major events. They are in fact far more likely to dominate local casual play and smaller events at an FLGS. Lets look at why this is.
Now its obviously not fair to say that there are no WAAC players at major events. Anyone who watched LVO saw one in action. However, they are actually pretty rare to find at major events. Yes, players are going to be good, and competitive, but the vast majority are nice people out to have a great time. It’s important to recognize the difference between a competitive player who is out to win, but still wanting a fun/fair game, and a WAAC player who will abuse rules and be a jerk to win. The truth is that most players who pay hundreds of dollars to fly around to an event just want to have fun. And there are other reasons WAAC players don’t fill up all the major events.
The biggest defense against WAAC players are the judges. A player is unlikely to try to really abuse the rules if his whole plan can be undone by a judge. Lets say a player finds some kind of loophole in the rules. It’s obviously a mistake, but they can abuse it. While they can risk using this strategy in a causal game, few players are going to risk going to a major event with a trick based off a questionable rules interpretation that a judge could rule against at the start. Moreover, major events build peoples reputations. If you go to a major event and are a jerk and a real WAAC, then people will know that. Heck – with the rise of Twitch the whole world will see you for what you are. You don’t want that. So WAAC players will stay at home and stalk casual games.
It’s the small local communities or the FLGS that are the real lairs of WAAC jerks. These are communities that rarely have some kind of policing force like judges. Its in these areas that a WAAC jerk can flourish. Heck, we’ve most likely all got a story about some local player who’ll do anything to win. The reason we are all so worried about WAAC players is because most of us have met one in our local group. And it makes perfect sense. It’s hard to weed such a player out of a local open game night.
One reason WAAC players do so well in local communities is that they tend to bully people. In a one on one casual game they can often bully the other player into going along with whatever wacky rules interpretations they want. Most players who are looking for laid back casual games just aren’t going to go in for a big fight against this WAAC player. Moreover casual games tend to let rules slip more than a tournament game, something an unscrupulous player can take advantage of. With out a good judge or local organizer around to make rules judgement the WAAC player has a much easier time getting away with stuff.
To be fair, if we had heard of this ‘New Guy’ would be also being picking on it.
Maybe the most damaging thing the WAAC players due is pick on newer players. While an established community veteran can/will become aware of a jerk player, new players are always at risk. In fact you may well have seen this happen. Some younger, newer players shows up to their first game night at the FLGS and there is the WAAC player, waiting to swoop on them. The WAAC player sweeps the new player up with an offer of a game and then are able to use their veteran player status to bully the other player and abuse the rules. Suddenly this bright new player is left with a really bad experiences and may never come back. This is something that can only really happen in casual play.
Like trolls the best way to fight a WAAC jerk is not too. Avoid playing them. Have your group ostracize them. Warn new players not to play them, or better yet offer to play the new player before the WAAC jerk can. I know it can sound harsh, but drive them out. If you are not able to do that the next best thing is a strong judge/event organizer. Having someone who keeps a tight reign on local tournaments and game nights and can make rules calls and help keep a WAAC player in check is a big help. Community leaders like this tend to be at the heart of all the best gaming communities. Lastly, and most importantly, don’t be a jerk yourself. That’s the most important thing.
(Editor’s Note: Alternatively, you could also speak directly to the WAAC player. Call them out, maybe in a one-on-one setting at first. Tell them to cut that nonsense out or hit the road. If they don’t change, speak to the store owner/TO at the FLGS. They have way more to lose (new customers from a bad gaming experience) than you do (as it’s not your literally livelihood at stake). If a store will ban a thief who gets caught stealing, wouldn’t they ban someone who is bad for business too? You don’t have to be rude to them. Or even go to the extreme of ostracizing them from your store right off the bat – try some grown-up communication first. Plus, the store owner would probably appreciate a heads-up as to why players aren’t coming back…)
Do you agree you are more likely to run into a WAAC Jerk at an FLGS? Let us know down in the comments!
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