On Competitiveness

Since this is a gaming blog, I thought I would talk a little bit about competitiveness and how it strikes a weird chord with me.

I don’t feel competitive most of the time, but when I do feel competitive, it annoys me and I become a bad loser. So I mostly don’t play competitive games. I like cooperative games, and never do I feel bad when losing if I’m losing with a team. So Arkham Horror and Castle Ravenloft are my favorite board games, and I love PvE World of Warcraft and I love team PvP World of Warcraft (if the team is my friends).

I don’t like playing Dungeons & Dragons as much if I feel like it’s “Us versus the Adventure” instead of “The players and the DM crafting a story,” although a tough Dungeon Master is often better than a pushover Dungeon Master. I prefer competitive games that evoke the idea of a story or fiction, or games where I can feel like a story is being told. Obviously, chess and poker don’t interest me very much.

Further, I don’t really want to play Magic or Warhammer 40k or Warmachine/Hordes against someone who’s crafted a deck or army to win games rather than a deck or army that is themed. Back when the Mechwarrior Clix game was… still existent… I used to play tournaments on weekends, and my armies were always based around the given theme for that week. I usually played against people whose armies only thinly followed the theme for that week – people who followed the theme just enough to be legal. That annoyed me.

I would rather both my opponent and I have well-crafted miniatures who we’ve named, who have little stories and fun customizations to suit the personalities we’ve made up, or who follow some comical or dramatic theme. Even if the armies aren’t well-crafted or storied, if we tell a story as we play the game, making up personalities and proclivities as we go along, giving little descriptions to go along with our die rolls, I’m much happier. Perhaps, in a way, I am just playing with Barbie dolls when I play miniatures, but my Barbie dolls have plasma cannons and they are blast weapons. Ken’s hair could not survive that.

In all of this, Magic: the Gathering deserves a lot of credit. Magic is actually set up mostly to win by playing themes. Your cards will have complementary abilities if you choose, for instance, a vampire deck or a rat deck or a goblin deck. Thus, I can easily be competitive (in the sense that my decks can win games) by indulging my urge to tell a story or set a scene with my choice of cards.

It’s important for me to talk about this, I realized, because I build my miniatures and play my games with this always at the forefront of my mind. If you read this blog, then you are going to come face to face with the fact that I’d rather have a sweet tank with poor stats than a powerhouse unit with boring models. Now, if I can achieve the best of both worlds through the art of conversion, more power to me.

More to come!

One thought on “On Competitiveness”

  1. Oh, I wanted to add the the whole idea is to have fun, obviously. “Fun” for me often entails miniatures or art that I really like, or it entails ridiculous outcomes. I like a Magic deck that has a silly gimmick, whether it’s the old “infinite combo” gimmick or something much more complex. I like a miniatures army that makes big explosions or has high speed or a big horde of little guys even if those things aren’t tactically effective. It’s fun to watch that stuff unfold once you’re at the gaming table.

    And it’s worth mentioning I love playing the single player campaign mode of Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War or similar games while I cannot be bothered to play multi-player. This is why I only buy those games years later when they are dirt cheap.

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