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'Playing to Win'


intrizic

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I play League of Legends a lot, used to be more but then I got into the HotS alpha  :cool:.  I don't play LoL well, but I really enjoy playing the game.  I like the competition and teamwork aspect of the game, also Riot does an amazing job of keeping the game patched.

 

I ran across this article and I was curious what the table top war gaming community would think about it:

 

http://www.sirlin.net/articles/playing-to-win 

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I read the link and I think the critical part is the part about the game itself having poor rules.  

 

 

Some games don't hold up to high-level play. That's sloppy design in my opinion. A solid game holds up to experts playing it as hard as they can against each other. That way, the game can be fun for beginners and experts.

When a game doesn't hold up to expert play, it's degenerate in some way. There's only one good move or one good character, or one good strategy, or something like that. The game offers what appears to be a lot of fun options, but you don't actually get to do those fun options against experts, even if you are an expert too. So for this type of game, playing to win really will make it less fun, but that's not a problem with the players who are doing their best; it's a problem with the game. I wouldn't fault players here or complain to them that they are playing in a boring way. I'd complain to the game developer or play a different game.

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I find it interesting to look at different venues of competitive gaming and compare them to each other. The pricing structure of a MOBA doesn't really allow for an old 'mandrake' type character. To keep the revenue streams flowing the best bet is to keep all champions viable, a difficult task to be sure. As Mack Martin has stated time and again, one thing video games have over table top is the # of test games and the amount of game data available to the developers, but I feel both can be 'patched' with equal ease.

 

This article speaks to me from the perspective of 'cheese' units. This section:

Consider two groups of players who play a non-degenerate game: a group of good players and a group of scrubs. The scrubs will play "for fun" and not explore the extremities of the game. They won't find the most effective tactics and abuse them mercilessly. The good players will. The good players will find incredibly overpowering tactics and patterns. As they play the game more, they'll be forced to find counters to those tactics. The majority of tactics that at first appear unbeatable end up having counters, though they are often difficult to discover. The counter tactic prevents the first player from doing the tactic, but the first player can then use a counter to the counter. The second player is now afraid to use the counter and they're again vulnerable to the original overpowering tactic.

TL:DR Cheese units have counters, but it takes work to find them

 

And to that I present this list that won the 11th Company GT:

http://www.torrentoffire.com/6249/enter-the-lictor

 

Wasn't it fluger that was championing the lictors?

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I've actually thought Lictors had some pretty serious potential since that Assassin Brood Formation dropped. Didn't have a chance to try it until after that 11th Company victory, but it worked about like I thought. The issue with them before that was the limits on the Elites slots, either keeping you to three for insufficient saturation, or taking larger Broods, which starts breaking down the way the MSU structure forces overkill and waste. I'm still not a big fan of them without the Formation, but with it, they're definitely solid.

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I played about 10 games with a 9 lictor list in 5th edition.  It won all but one game that I tied.  Note that this was when Lictors were 65 pts a pop and it was considered a handicap that they couldn't assault the turn they showed up.  

 

The 50 pt lictor with the advent of the formation and also being able to take multiple CADs (not both usually though) means getting lots of lictors is really possible.

 

Honestly, that list up there is the kind of lictor-centric list I would run as well.  LOVE IT.  

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TL:DR Cheese units have counters, but it takes work to find them

 

And that's about the crux of it.  The best players are the ones that can put in the most time against the best lists and get  better at beating those lists.  To be good at 40k, like everything, takes practice and repetition.  The issue with 40k is that it is a laborious game to set up and play and getting those reps in when you start adding in other aspects of one's life makes it difficult to devote the time and energy towards mastering the game.  

 

This is why the distinction between "scrubs/hobbyists" and "experts/WAAC!" players is so stark in hobby games.  

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I'd also point some of this as barrier to entry.  LoL and a lot of, if not all other MOBA's are free.  Therefore, anyone can come in and play them, and there's actually no required investment for them, as long as you're willing to put in the time and effort to get their in-game currency.  The things that are usually requiring money are things to cut corners or skins.  Since there is no barrier to entry on these games you not only get the game data, but you open it up for people who have little vested interest in the community and therefore only play to find the cheesiest things and try to abuse the system, and therefore it's best to keep things level.

 

With 40k, you at the very least have to borrow an army from a friend to play and read the rules, its not like there's an online tutorial you can go through. But, the rules system hasn't made significant leaps and bounds in a long time, it's been a slight adjustment, but in the case of a game like 40k or Fantasy, it actually benefits you to be constantly tweaking rules and doing adjustments, because it keeps people buying your game.

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And that's about the crux of it.  The best players are the ones that can put in the most time against the best lists and get  better at beating those lists.  To be good at 40k, like everything, takes practice and repetition.  The issue with 40k is that it is a laborious game to set up and play and getting those reps in when you start adding in other aspects of one's life makes it difficult to devote the time and energy towards mastering the game.  

 

This is why the distinction between "scrubs/hobbyists" and "experts/WAAC!" players is so stark in hobby games.  

This is one, just one,of the reasons that I like the MOBAs so much the time commitment is more forgiving on all levels, less time commitment tends to be the big one though.  A game of LoL runs between 20 - 45 minutes.  On this note, one of the biggest draws for HotS is that matches take 15 -25 minutes, which, imo, is pretty significant.  When you can cycle matches that quickly it really allows for more of the player base to reach that next level, if they choose to.

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I ran across this article and I was curious what the table top war gaming community would think about it:

 

http://www.sirlin.net/articles/playing-to-win 

Gotta admit, I disagree strongly with the article, mostly in how it relates to 40k. I feel they are describing players that "need" to win in order to enjoy a game. This is a sad existence and the sort of player that rage quits 40k.

 

For one, it is specifically directed at fighting games, where the two sides are mostly balanced against each other by the game manufacturer and begin each game equal. In 40k, the level of winning attitude can be irrelevant if player is too poor or otherwise unable to bring a competitive army to the table. Players whose army begins unequal are not able to evaluate their skills as players very well.

 

Second, 40k is much more emotionally invested than a fighting game that ends in a brief 2-3 rounds. A player that cannot scale down his/her winning "attitude" is a jerk, in 40k.  Playing a losing battle for several hours is kindness on behalf of the opponent. They don't have to continue in letting you win, they can quit. It is much more emotionally sound to forfeit a game early that you are certain of loss. That said, players that need to win really despise this approach. You can win and be a nice/good person that even a bad opponent enjoys facing.

 

Third, 40k really doesn't have rules that scale to competitive play very well. Most notably is that you only have to follow the rules if the opponent notices that you are not follow them. You also have rules that change depending on the store or strongest "personality" in the store. In particular, very competitive players often get very upset when the key rule their army exploits turns out to function differently than they understood. This mentality really doesn't work in 40k

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Third, 40k really doesn't have rules that scale to competitive play very well. Most notably is that you only have to follow the rules if the opponent notices that you are not follow them. You also have rules that change depending on the store or strongest "personality" in the store. In particular, very competitive players often get very upset when the key rule their army exploits turns out to function differently than they understood. This mentality really doesn't work in 40k

Almost every game has the problem of cheating if your opponent doesn't know the rules. That isn't unique to 40k. 

 

Regional variation is why I'm such a RAW hawk during discussions as well.

 

As for that last bit, I think that is incorrect. I don't think I've ever run into an exploiter of that kind.

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@pax

I respectfully disagree with you.  I think it pertains.  From my experience I have seen 40k players intentionally not take 'power units' in their armies, because they are/were considered 'cheesy'.  I believe this is the scrub mentality that the article describes, in a general sense.  I understand there are many reasons not to take a power unit.

 

to your points:

1. For game balance and costs place all your complaints to the GW help desk :)

2. This one I'm just going to call you out on not knowing the community around these games.  Trust me when i say that the emotional investment is there and in a teamwork environment it gets toxic.

3. Fluger nailed this one.  This is also why the major gaming events/tournaments set up a FAQ.

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As for that last bit, I think that is incorrect. I don't think I've ever run into an exploiter of that kind.

Until I found the Warhamsters, this was very much my 40k experience, for casual and competitive, so I understand where Pax is coming from and this is why I can be such a rules jerk when I play, but I'm working on that.  

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Until I found the Warhamsters, this was very much my 40k experience, for casual and competitive, so I understand where Pax is coming from and this is why I can be such a rules jerk when I play, but I'm working on that.  

Maybe we're using a different definition of exploit. What kinds of things were you seeing people do?

 

Exploits are (to me) people taking holes in the rules and building lists around them. I've just never seen someone do that. (That I can think of. Someone will probably correct me.)

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Maybe we're using a different definition of exploit. What kinds of things were you seeing people do?

 

Exploits are (to me) people taking holes in the rules and building lists around them. I've just never seen someone do that. (That I can think of. Someone will probably correct me.)

I was talking about this comment 'Most notably is that you only have to follow the rules if the opponent notices that you are not follow them.'  But on the exploits...most notable ones were the old Eldar spirit stones (?) the ones that affected psychic powers table wide, I had guys trying to stack those.  Mostly it was the loose worded rules from codexes past, some stuff early in the necron codex.  Some stuff in the Space wolves codex.  Some stuff in the old Tyranid Codex, I'm sorry the specifics are lost to the warp at this point

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I was talking about this comment 'Most notably is that you only have to follow the rules if the opponent notices that you are not follow them.'  But on the exploits...most notable ones were the old Eldar spirit stones (?) the ones that affected psychic powers table wide, I had guys trying to stack those.  Mostly it was the loose worded rules from codexes past, some stuff early in the necron codex.  Some stuff in the Space wolves codex.  Some stuff in the old Tyranid Codex, I'm sorry the specifics are lost to the warp at this point

People not knowing/following rules unless you're watching is the same with everywhere. People are douches.

 

As for the Eldar spirit stones, that's not an exploit that's an unclear rule. Even if you stack them, I don't see how that's central to a list.

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People not knowing/following rules unless you're watching is the same with everywhere. People are douches.

 

As for the Eldar spirit stones, that's not an exploit that's an unclear rule. Even if you stack them, I don't see how that's central to a list.

yes

 

you say unclear rule, i say exploiting unclear rule /shrug

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The line between theme and gimmick/spam is fine and based on personal preference.  

 

Knocking people for taking the best units is a scrub move that I do all too often.  I think it's lazy list writing.  Then again, lots of the lists I make, people think are gimicky too, so who knows?  

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