Do you want a heapin’ helpin’ of grimdark opinions? Well then buckle in, ’cause that’s what you’re about to get.
A guest editorial by Abusepuppy
In case it wasn’t entirely clear from the above: this is a list of things that I dislike in the hobby currently. If you’re not here to read a list of those things, you’re in the wrong place.
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way now- netlist, although nominally a term with some meaning, is almost always used in a derogatory fashion by people who think they are King Warham the Strategic and look down on everyone else for not being as original and creative as them. Guess what, asswipe- you didn’t do anything special to make your army list, you picked it out of a codex just like the rest of us. You didn’t invent any of those units nor make up new ways to equip them (unless you were cheating)- you picked from a pre-defined list just like every other Warhammer player on the planet. Nothing you did with those units is groundbreaking or fantastical; that Leman Russ Demolisher you’re so proud of is used in your army for exactly the same thing every other person uses it in their army, a way to bring a S10 AP2 pie plate.
You are, in short, a pretentious hack.
2) “_____ is just a point-and-click army/unit.”
This is another big favorite of internet commentators and the bottom-tier tournament competitors that complain about everyone’s army but their own. The argument here is that some (armies, units, strategies) are so simplistic that literally anyone could win with them because there are no real decisions to be made; it practically plays itself! However, actual tournaments inevitably put this claim to the lie, as not only do the random scrubs that try to bring such armies not win tournaments, but the players who do win tournaments are consistently the same people again and again. If skill was irrelevant to tournament performance with these “overpowered” lists, you wouldn’t see repeated wins from the same players because there is no way to repeatedly insure good luck; the fact that we do see such performances is a major indicator.
Now, it’s certainly true that some strategies and setups are more obvious that others- Wraithknights, for example, are a pretty no-brainer choice for Eldar. But how the unit is equipped and how they are used on the tabletop are both extremely relevant to how an army functions, and good players can make far better use of these units than bad. No one ever calls weak-but-simplistic units like Vindicators or Seraphim “point-and-click”, even though they arguably have a lot fewer options than a Wraithknight or some Grav Centurions do.
3) “My list is very skill-based/anti-meta.”
Here’s another classic example of people trying to set themselves up as tactical geniuses while subtly calling everyone else an idiot. No, I’m sorry, your army does not take more skill to play with than anyone else’s- you just chose a bad army and are trying to justify that. And you know what? There’s no shame in playing a suboptimal army; it can be fun to mess around with things that aren’t usually seen on the tabletop and to pull unexpected tricks. Sometimes you just want to buck the trend and do something different, and that’s fine- but don’t try to set yourself up as some kind of Napoleonic mastermind just because you didn’t want to spend $200 to buy a bunch of Windriders in order to make your army good. Be honest about what you’re doing and why and people will respect you for it a lot more than if you try and tout your supreme tactical mastery over a game you claim to despise (because these players are inevitably also ones who speak poorly of the competitive community as well.)
And along the same lines, just because you brought something unusual to the table doesn’t make your list “anti-meta.” Howling Banshees are not anti-meta, no matter how badly you want them to work. Tauroxes are not anti-meta, they’re just garbage versions of a Razorback. An all-foot Tyranid list is not anti-meta, it’s just a joke. There do exist lists that try to split the meta open, but they are very rare and require immense amounts of research and understanding of the game- and even so they usually fail, because the 40K community is not strongly unified enough in most places for there to be a truly consistent meta. When anti-meta lists do work, it is because they are in the hands of strong players who already knows the game and know where the weak points in armies are; Sean Nayden ran such a list at last year’s LVO because he know that Wave Serpents were sufficiently dominant that he could take advantage of their vulnerability to melee. But his list still had three Flyrants and three Mawlocs in it, which meant that it largely cleaved to the standard pattern for Tyranid armies at the time- just that his unique inclusions (the Lictors) were enough to shift the functionality of the army.
Let’s be clear here- there are meaningful ways to use both of these terms, but there are also stupid ways to use them. The stupid way is the much more common one, unfortunately. They are two sides of the same coin- ways for people to disparage the “other” type of player in the game. Hobby players look at competitive players and assume they are interested only in winning games, no matter the cost and no matter the means- jerks who are out to ruin Warhammer for everyone, in short. Competitive players look at hobby players and see a bunch of known-nothing scrubs who couldn’t find the Movement section of the BRB if their life depended on it. Both sides needlessly demonize the other and in doing so create a divide between player types that doesn’t actually exist- most players of 40K like to enjoy both halves of things, not just playing the game as a game (and in doing so mastering the rules so as to be good at it) but also as a hobby and creative outlet (and thus to learn a set of artistic skills while interacting with other players.)
The wargaming community just isn’t that large; subdividing it into sections will only hurt players of all types, not help them. And telling players to “go play _____ instead” when they express a preference you don’t share only makes things worse- it shows that our own community is intolerant and unwilling to accept people who show even the slightest deviation from the nominal standard of behavior and interests.
5) “If _________ happens, I’m gonna quit this game forever.”
Good. Get the hell out of here. Negativity and constantly complaining are nothing but a poison to the community, and if all you have to share is how much you dislike every single thing that happens and every single new release and all of it is just the absolute worst thing ever and the sky is falling, then maybe the game really is better off without you. Once you’ve put on your big boy pants and are willing to come have a rational discussion with the rest of us about the positives and negatives of various things and how they balance out and how they affect the game and the way we play it, you can come back and sit at the adults’ table; until then, you can cry in your corner.
(Incidentally, this also applies to the relentless Pollyannas who take any kind of statement of non-positivity about anything in the game to be deadly criticism and the “sure am glad I don’t play this game anymore” folks, who I question why they are even reading articles about 40K.)
6) “If you don’t rule on/play _____ the way I think it should be, you’re an idiot and you’re playing the gamewrong, against GW’s intentions.”
Let’s unpack this one part at a time. First off, we have the entitlement- MY way is the only way anything can ever be and anything else is an insult to me. Secondly, we have the personal attacks- people who play things “wrong” are not just doing something different and against his beliefs, but actually harming the speaker with their mystical vibrations of gaming wrongness. Third, the person in question is the One True Oracular Speaker of Wisdom and they (and only they) are the ones able to divine the true intentions of every rule GW has ever written- such things are as blindingly obvious to them as they are impenetrably hidden from everyone else.
7) Implying that everyone else is trying to cheat on purpose
We’ve seen a lot of this recently with the issues with list errors, but it certainly extends well beyond that- more often than not this is couched in some slightly less blatant language, but the implication is the same: anyone who doesn’t play the rules 100% to the letter (at least as interpreted by the speaker) is doing so purely for personal gain as an underhanded way of circumventing the system. In this person’s view, there is no such thing as an honest mistake or a disagreement in which both sides have a legitimate interpretation of something- as in Hollywood films and most popular culture, you are either absolutely and pristinely good and pure or abjectly and despicably evil with no middle ground whatsoever. If there is contention over a rule or a mistake being made, one side must be Right and the other Wrong, because there is no such thing as a grey area.
8) Raping, bitches, and any of the dozen or so other misogynistic slurs
This isn’t about “political correctness” (i.e. the code word for “someone called me out on being a jerk and I’m gonna be pissy about it”) nor is it about policing language or censoring people or any of that garbage- if you haven’t noticed, I am more than happy to throw a few “f*#ks” and “g’damns” into my articles where I think they warrant it. But let’s be honest with ourselves – the wargaming community as a whole has a huge problem with women and how we treat them. In most games they are, at best, sex toys to be put on display for pubescent boys to ogle and giggle over. At worst, they are simply nonpresent- as is usually the norm for GW’s games, where you can count the number of female characters on a single hand.
So to add to that culture of objectification and disinterest, we now add the creepy basement gamer-level casual misogyny by way of vocabulary. I have no doubt plenty of folks will spring up in the comments to talk about how “well, actually, I don’t mean them as-“, to which I reply: no one cares what you meant. Whether you really did mean it or not, the words still carry the same connotations and the same message. That’s the truth of systems of prejudice- even individuals who do not themselves want to enforce the system, who bear the group in question no ill will at all, can still do so by virtue of ignorance of what they are doing and what it ends up accomplishing. And, in this case, using slang that demeans women does in fact send a very clear message- that they are not welcome in “our” hobby. It’s not that people shouldn’t be allowed to say these things, it’s that people should choose not to say them because doing so is being a respectful and decent human being. There’s lots of things you shouldn’t say in polite (or even impolite) company- that’s not censorship, that’s just behaving well.
Abusepuppy is a guest editorial writer and 40k enthusiast. The views and opinions in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Frontlinegaming or PeteyPab.