Hey everyone! Adam S. here to help you navigate the waters of playing with “The Spirit of the Game” while still being competitive.
As you, or may not know, 40K was not originally seen as a competitive rule set. Other companies have developed games with more focus on the competitive side, but 40K, at least, was always developed as a “Beer & Pretzels” game in which you are just hanging out with your friends rather than competing for some grand prize with 0ver a hundred other players. As a result of this, there are many time issues with the way rules are interpreted. Different areas of the world, country, or even city, can read a rule many different way. When players from around the world gather at some of the larger events. then language further muddies the waters as the translations could mean something completely different to those players. Because of this, it brings up an aspect of the game that many people talk about but usually do not name: The Spirit of the Game.
What Is That?
What is the “Spirit of the Game”? It’s not something that can be easily explained. It’s like the famous quote ” I don’t know how to define it, but I’ll know it when I see it”. I first encountered it when I was a referee for Football(Soccer in the USA). Due the nebulous nature of the Laws of the Game, many rule decisions are left up to the referee and in many cases the Spirit of the Game is a factor in making those decisions. To my surprise, the 40K rule books in the past made mention of the Spirit of the Game, and my mind made the connection, since Football is such a huge part of British culture. Most players call it “Rules as Intended”. This is often the reason that people read rules a certain way. It helps when the designers make commentary about it, especially. However, Spirit of the Game involves more than that. It also involves one’s conduct before, during, and after a game. It encompasses all aspects of the hobby whether playing in an 800+ player tournament or with your brother at home. Playing with fully painted models, playing by the correct rules, being honest, and a good sport are many aspects that embody the Spirit of the Game, in addition to interpreting the rules.
A Fine Balance
There are, however, a few times where it can be difficult to keep to the Spirit of the Game while still being a competitive player. Before we begin, know that not everyone that plays in a tournament is out to win the top spot, about 90% of the players that attend events do so for much different reasons. Some just use these multiple day tournaments to get out of the house and play a few games of 40K. Others go to the same event every year because that is when they meet friends that thy only see at these events. With all that said, many people do have to make that hard decision whether to follow the spirit of the game, or to hold their opponent to the letter of the rules. This usually happens when your opponent forgets to cast a power, move a unit, or shoot a unit. There is that slight pause when time seems to freeze and you have to make the decision of letting them take that action(or non action) back, or continue on with the game. Many times the opposing player will even try to use the Spirit of the game as a reason to let them get the take back, but that is a discussion for another time.
Don’t Forget the Hobby
One of the best examples of the spirit of the game is the hobby side of the game. As I mentioned earlier, the Spirit of the Game just doesn’t cover the games in tournaments, it also covers the hobby aspect of the game in general. How many times have to seen a beautiful army lined up against an army that is all grey plastic. How insulting is that to a player, and to the event? There are other game systems that did not focus on that part of the game and have suffered for it. Their was a time when the hobby aspect wasn’t as important and you did see a lot of grey plastic armies on the tabletop at tournaments. Luckily, in recent years, there has been a big push to have a painting standard for tournaments. The same can be said of proxies and counts-as models. Where, before, you saw people using toys as cheap alternatives, you are starting to see many tournaments crack down on those types of conversions, especially if Games Workshop will be streaming the games.
~ Let me know what you think and how you either have seen, or what you have done, to keep the Spirit of the Game alive!