A couple of days ago I wrote the first blog in the series and then posted it up today, then shared it on Competitive 40k on Facebook.
I wrote one paragraph, which I will repeat here in full...
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.
I quickly found that almost everyone in the competitive community saw this as an insult. As an attack. The only people who didn't are the people who know me personally and thought "he probably doesn't mean that"... But even then they rapidly said "you should delete that".
I think they were right - the phrase WAAC is an attack because some in the competitive community do show genuine "at all costs" behaviours. I don't care to repeat them or call anyone out but there have been well-documented issues.
I can imagine them reading it and thinking "who's this jumped up tit who's run one small tournament and now thinks he can slag us off?"
The thing I did not say is that I've been pretty lucky to play against some proper Markus-type players. I have played Tom Higginbottom a few times, as well as Sam Bocock, Ash Loftus and Dan Bates. I was even pretty lucky to play Mike Porter on table 1 of an RTT. And from this small set of games I am confident enough to say that the reputation of the ultra-competitive player... Is entirely true.
It's all true.
They are genuinely the most fun games of 40k you can get.
Of all the games against all the people above, I have won ONE. One single game against Tom, who was testing a list that didn't work out as he hoped.
But in each game I find myself learning something.
The games I play against less competent opponents can sometimes be a bit of a slog.
You watch them deploy and think "Don't put that there! What are you doing? Well, I guess I won this game already"
You see them stick a character too close to a unit, allowing me to take the character hostage and consolidate across the board.
You see them forget to use basic abilities of their units, or core stratagems.
And this is exactly what the Markus has going on in his head when he plays me. Or you, probably. We are Phils. Phils make mistakes and forget their stats and forget to consolidate and take bloody ages to make a simple decision.
In my game against Mike Porter I screened my tanks with infantry, thinking I'd get a turn of shooting before his chaos horde got to me. I forgot that damn chaos relic that allows you to redeploy Tzaangors 9" away before turn 1. As soon as he did that and made his (rerollable) charge - the game was over. Done.
Mike even said to me he hoped he wasn't going to that 9" charge, because he wanted to see how he could come back from the full volley of Imperial Guard shooting. It would have helped him more in prep for LVO for his army to fail than to succeed.
In a game against the real Sam, I went first and advanced infantry onto an objective, forgetting that his Fulgurite Electro-Priests WHICH I HAVE AND PLAY could infiltrate, pile in/fight/consolidate/pile in again/fight again/consolidate again... then get a 2++ invulnerable save by being near the objective that I handed him. Middle of turn 1... game over. 20 dudes who hand out mortal wounds like a old perv outside a school hands out candy sat in the middle of my army wrecking my face.
I try to learn these lessons and try desperately not to do them again, but I think for the Markus players... This what is a 40k tournament looks like. Seeing your opponent mess it up badly, then just not doing it yourself for a while until you win.
I sometimes play the worst kind of Phil. The kind that doesn't learn from his mistakes or get good. The kind who gets angsty when his models start dying and talks about calling the game already. The kind you can see is moving his dudes 7" instead of 6" - desperate for an edge.
The kind where he messages you to set up a game and you think "hmmm... I wonder if Tom fancies playing instead?"
And for Tom, I am a bit like that guy!
I'm lucky I am so devastatingly handsome and funny or they would just stop playing me.
So don't think I feel tournament vets are cheats or scumbags.
What I do feel very strongly is that these Markus players know they (mostly) aren't cheats and scumbags but the people who aren't in their group don't. When they rock up to a tournament in Team England shirts with meta lists they can make less confident people feel anxious and worried and negative. And this is a hobby where we have our fair share of people who are anxious and insecure by nature.
At my tournament a guy who I won't name said to my face "This tournament has restored my faith in 40k as a game. In my area it's just people trying to smash your face with the toughest lists".
It’s hard for me to think “yeah whatever I want the Sams and Andys not you”. This is why I am writing.
But I should make it clear those guys with the smash lists who destroy the noobs at their local store are NOT Markus. And this is the character I have missed from my lineup. I don't have a name for him yet but he's the one who makes you feel like you just drove half an hour to have no fun at all.
So, I'm sorry for mixing the two up.
The good thing is - I didn't have any of those players at my tournament, as far as I can tell. So I need to make sure they stay away.
Comments always welcome.