Deathbridge Warhammer

Deathbridge Warhammer

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Think of the Children (or the N00bs)

A problem is popping up in Fantasy, now that we are 2 months in to the new edition.  That being the enthusiasm that was drawing new players to the hobby is driving those new players away.  Let me explain:  New players, for those of you who might not know, usually don't know how to play the game.  If they did, they wouldn't be new players.  The vets of this game, on the other hand, are getting a little carried away with the new 'relaxing' of army composition.  And creating some decidedly terrible lists, just because they can.  I don't mean terrible in the 'why would you show up with that?' sense, I mean terrible in the 'Mwa ha ha ha!  I can take 3 grudge throwers, 3 cannons, 6 bolt throwers, 2 organ guns and have great weapons on all my units!'.

Now, before you neck feathers get all poofy, let me clarify something.  There is nothing wrong with playing something like the above... as long as the other guy knows what's going on.  But springing something like that against a guy playing his first or second game?  Seriously?  What's wrong with you?

8th edition Fantasy has the most new-player-friendly rules of all of Games Workshop's products to date.  HOWEVER, that does not automatically mean there will be a bunch of new players.  A lot of them are getting turned off the hobby entirely by shenanigans just like the above (and if you are saying to yourself right now, 'Well I don't field that many artillery pieces' while painting your third Hydra, take a step back and give your head a shake.  I used Dwarves as an example.  EVERY army can be built to be ridiculous.)

Put yourself in the new player's shoes for a second.  You have no idea what to buy, or how the game plays.  So you buy stuff purely on the cool factor.  This guy barely knows how to field these units, let alone how to stop a Bloodthirster with them.  He sits down for his first game at a club... and across the table, the Skaven player smiles as he drops 2 Hellpit Abominations, and a Screaming Bell in a unit of 100 plague monks.  This is over before it began.  So the vet player (the Skaven guy) gets a cheap easy win.  Yay, good for him.  He's also just turned someone new to the game completely off the hobby.

And this is why our community doesn't grow.  I'll admit, I almost never play out in public anymore, for this exact reason.  I built my own games room, in my own house, where games are by appointment only.  Just so I can weed out all the douchebaggery of winning at all costs.  I'm sure any of you who have read my Warhammer articles know that I don't play to win.  I play to have a good time and to tell a story.  Guess I've just played D&D too long, but I find no joy in destroying my opponent, nor in him destroying me.  But my point is, I'm a veteran of over ten years in these games, and I don't want to play in public anymore... how do you think a new player feels after being railroaded by a gooby Daemon list?

Now I've had this conversation with Wallshammer several times.  I strongly believe that every club should have a 'pro' whose sole duty is to shield the new players from the mouth-breathers.  You know the guys I'm talking about.  The one the wrecks everyone else's good time because he just HAS TO win.  The sad thing is, instead of getting shunned by the club for being a drain on good times, most club members will stoop to his level, usually 'to teach him a lesson' or to 'fight fire with fire'.  This inevitably leads to an arms race within the club that has 2 very negative factors: First, it makes the place even less new-player friendly, and second, it turns off a lot of the casual vets who just want a place to put down the minis they spent a lot of time painting and converting, so they can have a fun time with like-minded individuals.  But this isn't anything new coming from me.

Getting back to the idea of a 'pro' at the club... the theory is sound.  However, this requires someone who is willing to be there ALL THE TIME, which pretty much no one can do.  Also, the problem then also becomes, 'What if more than 2 new players show up?'  Well here's the thing: no one would be able to do this full-time.  Not without getting paid.  You are essentially asking them to do an impossible job at the same time as giving up all sense of regular gaming.  Is this fair to them?  On a volunteer basis, absolutely not.

And some of you might say that this is exactly what the Games Workshop red shirts are for.  But I can tell you flat out that the red shirts are worse for this hobby than the goobs.  I know several ex-GW employees.  And in addition to being some of the WORST power-gamers I've ever had the displeasure of gaming with, they are only introducing new players to the game to the point of sale.  Once the cash has been handed over, they could care less.  New players become part of the unwashed masses like the rest of us.  Of course there are going to be exceptions, but by and large, a GW staffer cares no more for this hobby than that guy who wants to crush his enemies, have them driven before him and hear the lamentations of their women.  Sadly, a lot of the time, they are the same guy.

So how do we solve this problem?  GW staffers aren't the solution, and no one is going to volunteer to sit at the club everyday and cater to only new players.  So is it hopeless?  Of course not.

The simple solution in all this is that we ALL must become 'pros'.  We ALL must be ambassadors of the hobby if we want the community to grow.  If winning is more important to you than anything, the best thing you could ever do for the community is to stay away from the new guys (of course, most of the vets probably won't play you either, so new players might be the only 'suckers' you can get a game in with, in which case, maybe, and I'm just throwing this out here, maybe there is something wrong with how you approach the game.).  Let them get their feet wet before you throw them overboard.  And if you are a hobbyist, find these new players, warm them of the mouth-breathers, and keep them safe.  If we don't protect the new players, the club will just keep getting smaller and smaller until there is no one left.  Think about it: Isn't that worth a little bit of effort and kindness?


sonsoftaurus said...

I love new players. They're usually full of excitement that can be infectious. Give me a new guy who's psyched about how cool his new Space Marines are to some guy who spends half the time griping about release schedules or KP vs VP any day.

Wallshammer said...

Waaaaaaaaaaaait a second... this article sounds familiar!

Also, where did you get that picture of me pre dental surgery! Bastard!

On a scale of 1-10 I gives this article an awesome! Couldn't agree more with what was said.

Anonymous said...

Hi there , despite being on the other side of the Atlantic (Italy) I have to admit the situations tends to replicate . Older gamers are very "aggressive" towards younger ones, their "knowledge" of the rules sometimes can put off newbies to the game and in general to the hobby. without newbies the hobby will have a limited chance to survive . PLaying for fun has to be the perfect situation for everybody sometimes you win sometimes you loose who cares...does it really makes you feel better discharging your frustrations on a new player...
just stumbled upon your blog, keep it up plenty of nice articles

Wallshammer said...

Thanks man! Keep coming!

Green Feevah! said...

Glad to see everyone in agreement! Now, get out there and be pros!