Cheating is more common than you would think in competitive 40K – but WHY?
Over the last weekend, there was a rather blatant incident on a top table at the London Grand Tournament. You can go read all about it, but today I want to address a more significant issue.
Why on earth to individuals try to win major events with hundreds of attendees by cheating in the first place?
The Elephant In the Room
First some not entirely anecdotal incidents.
I’ve been following the competitive 40K scene for over a decade. I have seen big events grow into monsters, while others rise and fall quickly and others become steady crowd favorites around the world. We all know the names of the big important events across the globe, but almost all have had high visibility incidents of cheating at a top table in the last five years or so. Almost all of these events dealt with the incidents swiftly and robustly and moved on with their reputations intact. Some didn’t and suffered damage to their event’s brand. Some never recovered and are only memories.
But what all of this says is that in aggregate – this ISN’T an issue with the events. Believe me when I say that TO’s hate cheating. It’s an issue with individual behavior. I’ve been talking to some long-term competitive players over the last 48 hours and almost to the last one the story is the same. Cheating at top tables in 40K may not be rampant, – but it’s not uncommon. They report that many many “top players” have wide-ranging reputations for “leaning forward” with the rules, to badgering their opponent for advantage, to “forgetting rules” at key moments, to slow playing, to extra fast dice rolling and pickup, and so on.
Now the 40K top-shelf community globally isn’t nearly as large as you would think. We are talking about hundreds of people tops who regularly compete and travel around the country/world to attend the major events and place highly.
So again my question is WHY?
Games like Magic The Gathering do have highly regulated codes of conduct, vetted judges and endorsement-supervision from the manufacturers.
40K has none of those things. There isn’t even major cash on the line (which is a whole other issue).
In recent years major events usually stream top tables live – so cheating is HIGHLY LIKELY to be caught. This is a solid choice for events as it both promotes their brand while discouraging negative behavior on top tables.
So again – What is the motivation for cheating at competitive 40K?
One tournament player compared it to trying to rob a bank lobby of all its pens – naked.
“You’re going to get caught, the repercussions can be severe and the pens are worthless!”
I just don’t understand the mindset.
- Is being the best player at toy soldiers so key to some individual’s mindset that cheating is permissible to them?
- Corollary: do people who cheat think that winning by cheating makes them superior players to those who play legally?
- Are some of these people even aware they are cheating? Is their competitive drive so strong it blinds them to their actions? Is that an excuse?
- Is there a factor in the 40K competitive community’s culture that encourages this behavior, compared to other games?
But from all the honest players and every TO and judge out there – IT HAS TO STOP.
~I’d love to hear your thoughts because I just don’t get it.