Thursday, 3 September 2009

Learning to be Sporty 1 ... 2 ... 3

Ever feel like this??

I thoroughly enjoyed Jawaballs exposition on sportsmanship ... but it got me thinking. Was I always sporting? In my most recent game, my Tau were mightily tabled by ... another Tau army.

Despite using the blog for a bit of a whinge (making a mockery of my skyray indeed!), I feel that I did play the game with a certain 'C'est la Vie!' attitude, and fully recognised that I didn't turn up with a coherent battle plan, 'boxed' myself in, and reserved my best unit - doh! I am also the first to point out that my opponent is an experienced and very good Tau player and has 'seen it before', he knows his tactics well - so it was an important learning experience.

But I haven't always been able to play like that...

To explain, I'm one of a pair of twins. Twins are generally of two sorts. Either the wear the same clothes, finish eachother sentences, marry to same woman kind - or the other kind. The competitive sort.

Take sibling rivalry, start at birth, times ten to the power of age - you get the idea.

As a child, my 'successes' were always based around winning ... something (just playing and creating stuff played huge parts as well, but we're focusing on Sportsmanship here peeps!). As such, individual sports became preferable to team ones, and board games (and Warhammer at the age of 12) became to Loci of some serious rules bashing.

Needless to say, all the 'bad behaviour' exampled above, of 'accidentally' mismeasuring, over moving, making the 'impossible' charge and being 'unsportsmanshiplike' for your opponent all happened. It led to a lot of fights and arguments between me and the bro. And I'm embaressed to say, not just when we were 12 ... but when we were 30 too!

You've all been there. You come to the table with the best of intentions. This battle will be different. Then he starts 'misjudging' distance, you get frustrated because your 'battle plan' and his 'cheating' are screwing you over. You start 'tightening up' on movement, measurement and rules. He gets irritated by your lack of trust and then you're having an argument over you 'watching him' ...

Been there? Many times...

So what changed. Well, firstly I learnt a lot through teaching my other half, Kim, how to play. She learnt W40k, and it was such a joy to play with her, I actually forgot to win - repeatedly. However, I loved every game. I then went on to teach her whole family (Mother, Father, Brother, Danish Sister-in-Law) and the responsibility taught me a little of how playing the game was more important than winning.

In a small way, I adopted a playing style from Dustin at GiftsforGeeks which is that every 'bad' roll you make, or bad bit of luck that's going against you is simply adding to the Karma pot for later in the game. This Jedi-mind-trick is very helpful in distancing you from the losses, and helped me focus on the objectives. And you know what, the number of times I've rolled say 6 hits from 24 dice on a 4+ to hit, only to have every single dice wound on a 5+ ... needless to say - watch for the Karma.

On a personal side, my game was actually improving dramatically as I focused more on playing well and less on 'HAVING TO WIN'. Meanwhile, I was frustrated that my now 'occassional' games with the bro were still degenerating into anarchy and snappingly snide recriminations. It seemed like we were locked in, despite my changes. I felt a bit like he still wanted to engage me in a 'head-to-head' and despite my desire not to, there were too many buttons to push, too many mismeasurements. And despite (or maybe because of) all this, I was winning, which didn't help matters. So instead of having enjoyable games, I was getting shouted at for tabling him.

Needless to say, my helpful advice on relaxing, sportsmanship and gameplay wasn't appreciated ... at all.

The next stage of the development was Apocalypse. 8 players fielding 2000 pts was total confusion, total carnage. In my first game, I lost many men through dice rolls I never witnessed and movement was really an irrelevance (as the board was over a mile long ... no really!) - something snapped inside me, my desire to control the game... Needless to say I love the game, and thoroughly enjoyed being a small part in the calamity that followed.

It took 3 such APOC games to actually get a decent game and win something... but I was having so much fun.

So I'm playing 'friends' mostly now, not family (although Kim and I still kick out a game sometimes) and I am 'converting' other mates to the 'small plastic men' sport.

I'm a bigger fan of W40k than ever now - I thoroughly enjoy it, it is my major hobby - and importantly, its taught me a lot.

A lot about being a sportsman.

What's next? I'd like to try a tournament. Since I've now improved my ability to take a spanking well, I'd like to get spanked 6 times in a day! Ohh ... kinky!