1: Who came to the tournament, and why?

The first Death Before Dishonour tournament went off better than I honestly expected, and I could not have been happier with the group of 44 people who joined me for 2 days of wargaming at the Element Games North West Gaming Centre.

Immediately after the tournament I sent out a feedback survey to the players and although results are wildly positive (they are still coming in and will be shared here in future blogs) it’s really highlighted something that had been bothering me during and after the event.

There are many different types of 40k player - and they don’t all want to go to the same tournament.

I’m going to start this series of blogs by choosing 4 of the players who I think are very different, and in future posts try to answer some questions about them.

The two easier questions are:

  • Why did this person come to the tournament?

  • Did this person get what they expected from it?

The two harder questions are:

  • What effect did this person have on the tournament as a whole?

  • Do I actually want this type of person to attend future events?

That sounds terrible, right? Let me be clear: all four of the people I will discuss seemed like great guys and at first glance there’s no reason in the world to try not to appeal to them.

But companies do this all the time - not because they don’t like people but because you cannot appeal to everyone all the time. If you do, you’re beige. You’re generic. Everyone thinks you’re OK but you don’t inspire passion or loyalty. People queue up overnight outside the Apple store because they are aspirational, design-focused and experience-centric. They identified their goal and executed on it.

Nobody queues up outside the Dell store. Nobody even knows when they release anything. They’re generic and beige.

That’s not what I want from Death Before Dishonour… if that’s all I am going to achieve then I just won’t bother. I spent £250 of my own money and literally days of my time making it happen. I will do it all over again but only if I believe I can make it a prestigious event which people will pull up trees to come to.

So I need to know my audience.

Let’s start by introducing the cast of characters.

Firstly there’s Markus, the competitor.
The real Markus won Best General at the tournament. Remember, this is not about the actual Markus as a person - I do not know any of these people IRL well enough to make sweeping judgements about them… this is about the stereotype of the Warhammer player who isn’t super bothered about the lore, or how his models are painted - he’s there to win, and often does. However his style of player - the WAAC (“Win At All Costs”) gamer - is not really seen as the ideal. In fact many people would prefer to never play one again.

WHOA NELLY! Crossed a line here by mistake using the acronym “WAAC” as it has connotations of cheating/foul play. I’m 100% not saying the real Markus is like this. Read literally 2 lines above where I said “remember this is not about the actual Markus”!

I’m not editing what I wrote out as it would invalidate the comments and discussion but allegations of being WAAC is obviously something which raises the hackles of competitive players. Which I can understand. Tomorrow’s blog focuses on Markus-types and hopefully shows my respect for this kind of player

Then there’s Sam, the all-rounder.
The real Sam won Best Overall. He’s the kind of guy who is socially confident and likeable, plus seems to be able to get to the top tables even with an army that looks incredible. The more well known Sam-types are people like Tabletop Tactics’ Lawrence Baker. They are the kind of people you generally want to play with and engage with even while you are removing your own models from the battlefield by the handful. They’re generally cool, but there aren’t that many of them around.

The third type is Andy, the painter.
The real Andy came 2nd in Best Painted at DBD. I chose him over the winner because I spoke to the real Andy much more over the weekend. For the Andys, the actual game is of Warhammer is comparatively unimportant. It’s a fun thing you occasionally do with your mates to pass time but the real reward is at the end of a paint session where you look at what you did that evening and think “yeah that looks awesome”.

Finally, there’s Phil, the everyman
This is the one that seems harshest and least forgiving - the real Phil was a sound guy but he had a fairly weak army that he sort of knew how to use but wasn’t an expert at. He forgot rules, made mistakes and finished in the bottom half of the table. His army was painted to a reasonable tabletop standard but didn’t make anyone stop in their tracks. He was just a guy enjoying the chance to get away to a social event and play some plastic spaceman games with like-minded people.

At least half the people at the tournament were Phil. And I’m a Phil too.

In the next post we’re going to expand those definitions and start asking those questions again… who are we trying to attract? Can all these people coexist at one event? Do I even want them to?