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EDITORIAL: In Defense of Comp

5 Minute Read
Jul 28 2011

A Reader Editorial by Anthony Coutley

I don’t think that people play 40k to have fun anymore…

Don’t get me wrong they still play and have fun. However the mentality that I have to have the hardest list possible to go to a tournament has permeated throughout our entire community. It doesn’t matter so much how it happened, or why it happened. We do have to acknowledge that it’s there nowadays.

The competitive gamer will find fun in building out the nastiest meanest list he can think of. He’ll make spreadsheets to gauge if unit A can kill marginally better than unit B. All thought of “hey that’s a cool unit” or “those models are really sweet” go out the window when they aren’t the optimal choice for a list. He’ll find that going head to head with somebody who has a good list and plays the same way that he does to be a thrilling challenge.

The problem is that at a tournament you find a big cross section of people who enjoy the hobby. That’s right, not the game, but the hobby. It seems to me that we can almost divide this into two ways of looking at it. Someone who views this as a game will more often than not will associate it with winning and losing, because that’s how games work. Somebody who views it as a hobby will look at it in a more grey light, involving social considerations, painting and yes they also try to win. It’s not a fluff bunny vs. win at all costs mentality. Both camps like to go to tournaments, and both like to win games.

When you get interaction between the two at a tournament though…. Those games are typically lopsided affairs with one side having a super cooked list designed to punish everyone they play. So one person gets to sit there and pick up his models one by one while the other player rolls dice and kills all of them. I’ve even seen games where the two of them aren’t speaking, just pointing from one unit to another and rolling some dice. Both of them know exactly what’s going on and both have a firm grasp of the rules, but there’s one thing missing from this table. The fun.

It’s not fun to just sit there and pick up your models while your opponent rolls dice. It’s also not fun to just roll dice and roll your opponent. There needs to be some way to balance out these two play styles at a tournament. Let’s face it neither of these two types of players will stop going to tournaments altogether. We have to try and find some way to let the two co-exist.

Enter Comp, Stage Left

I’ll let you chew on that for a bit. Go ahead get all the raging out of your system now. Rage away at how nobody should have a right to tell you what you can and can’t play. Rage at how the concept of comp is going to force you to play 40k how somebody else does. Go ahead and quit reading and scroll directly to the bottom and start posting about how wrong this article is and how idiotic it is.


Are you done now? For those still reading, we have to look at this in a slightly different way. 40k is a social game for people who want to be social with each other. We all go to tournaments and we meet people. We don’t meet armies. The people are the driving force behind everything we do in our hobby/game. Everybody has gone to a tournament and made friends. I personally have made a bunch of great friends I wouldn’t trade the world for, all by playing with silly toy soldiers. Everybody has gone to a tournament and come back with stories about how they played the coolest person.

To balance out the social problems we have, with the different ways that people play 40k, I think comp is the answer. Comp isn’t about telling people what they can and can’t play. It’s about telling people hey this is the level of tournament we would like to have. It’s a tool like any other in a tournament organizers toolbox.

The competitive gamer can still try and be competitive and make the hardest list he possibly can, within the guidelines of course. He can still make spreadsheets, and shake his magic eight ball and anything else to his hearts desire. The hobbyist can still spend hours painting that one unit that really does suck just because it looks cool, and then tell you all about its back story. Both types of players get to go to a tournament and once again have fun. It just needs to be looked at a little differently by both sides.

Most of the competitive gamers play in tournaments how they do, because they want that challenge, they want the back and forth mental stimulation. They still get that in a system with comp. I would even say they get that more so. They now get to challenge themselves to come up with a list that fits into the tournament. They still get to take that list to the tournament and try to crush their enemies and hear their lamentations. A competitive game still gets everything they want in a tournament. Even better they now get fun competitive games against all the hobbyists who are there.

A hobbyist gets more out of a tournament with comp too. Since they will do the same things no matter the tournament, everything they get out of it is at the tourney itself. There won’t be as many times where they sit in silence wondering why they came. as their opponent forces them to pick up all their models one by one. They’ll actually get to interact with their opponent on the battlefield, and that makes the game way more fun for them.

Comp however isn’t limited to one right way of doing it. The beautiful thing about a comp system is that it can be tailored to how “hard” of an event you want to run. It all depends on what type of event the organizer wants to run. You can go super hard or you can ease back the throttle a little bit.

So love it or hate it. Comp can definitely help us find that middle ground in tournaments. That way we can all still do our own thing and have our own style of fun, but we get to do it as a community, and isn’t that the most important thing?

The floor is yours, my fellow gamers.


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