Peruse the interwebz and blogs relating to this hobby of ours, and you're bound to come across the great debate of whether or not you should concentrate on playing to win, or concentrate of the story, modeling and painting aspects of the game.
Are you a Hobbyist, or a Gamer? Do you play to win, or do you care more about how your army looks and the story behind it?
My answer to that is a question in and of itself; Why do I have to choose?
As an avid hobbyist, I love the story behind the game, I love the modeling and painting aspects and spend hours upon hours converting. I'm happy to admit I love these things more than playing the game itself at times
And yet, I love to win a game of 40K just like the next guy. In fact, I tweak lists, crunch numbers, and fit in units and upgrades that I know work from either playtesting them or reading gameplay articles from more experienced players. Heck, I love it when I'm on a top table in a local tournament, and would be thrilled to make it a top table at a national level or an invitational!
Does this dichotomy of interests make me weird? Am I at odds with myself? Should I just pick one side of the fence over the other and reconcile myself to the fact that I can never be good at both?
Take a look at the image below of one of the final tally sheets from this past 2011 Adepticon 40K Single Player Tournament.
See places 37 and 38? Brandon Palmer won Players Choice for that beautiful Ork army he brought and I came right after him with my Centurions. We both scored top Sportsmanship points and he got a 44 in Appearance, and I got a 43. Now look at our Battle Points and number of Objectives we scored… Not too impressive in those numbers. But even though we both came away from the games we played in the middle of the road, we both scored places in the top 25% of players in what is arguably the nation's largest independent GT.
Now here's some food for thought… what if we had kept those high Appearance and Sportsmanship scores… AND played well enough to score much better in the the Battles and Objectives? What if I had spent as much time honing our game play skills as much as I have my modeling and painting skills?
"But Tim, you've got to play an uber, interwebz win-at-all-costs list to be at the top tables. There's no room in a list like that for the mild-mannered hobbyist."
"But Tim, a true hobbyist is more concerned about the story and fluff than what unit performs best. There's no room for a competition list in a Hobbyist's collection"
I cry bull!@#$ on BOTH statements and mentalities. Because I want to put together a good, competitive list, I'm not paying enough attention to the story and spirit of the setting? Because I want to put together a great looking army, I'm limited to only what the IP/Canon lawyers say I can use? Again, I say bull!@#$. Use the same brain that you apply to either, for both! Don't limit yourself. This is a game of fantasy and imagination! There is no limit to the imagination!
Can you imagine what kind of contender for Best Overall awards a Hobbyist who pours his heart and soul into his Army's appearance, and knows how to throw down with a competitive list at the same time, would be? Take Brandon's or my Appearance and Sportsmanship scores, and then add on good Battle and Objective scores. Just how high could either of us have gone?
Be a player that YOU want to play against, laugh and have a beer with (age appropriately of course), work your tail off on an army you care about, and then put the same amount of effort into playing like you mean it, or visa-versa. Combine those soft scores and battle scores and you'll be a player that people fear in the standings.
I dare you.