How to make friends and influence people ,whilst crushing them…
Presenting an article by guest writer Jonny Corps, tournament gamer and all round nice guy- just don’t make him angry…(pics by ManOfMonkey)
Like many, I’ve never really mastered the art of losing gracefully. There are even photos of me flipping the bird to opponents who refused to roll anything but the best evade dice followed by all the critical hits they needed (I am sure some actual Jedis play this game!). I always bring my A-game for X-Wing tournaments, but I do try to lose with most of my dignity still intact. I seem to have gotten myself a reputation, for both good and bad reasons, and I thought I would share my thoughts on gaming conduct with you.
First off, I am a tournament player. I’m not the best but I strive to be better. I win a few games and lose a ton more. I play a lot of people who are better than I am so that I can learn their tricks and tips and this puts me in some really hard, challenging games against, more often than not, quite serious players. Those “no quarter given” games are when your etiquette is invariably put to the test.
To my mind there is a really important unwritten rule of gaming that somehow becomes less important once we learn that there are trophies and shiny participation goodies up for grabs. It’s the very first thing we learnt about X-Wing on the day we discovered it and the main reason we still play to this very day.
The game is supposed to be bloody good fun.
At a club or family game night, fun games are easily achieved as we are familiar with our opponents and have years worth of banter and experience to throw into a game. It’s easier to relax into a game with old comrades when there is no pressure to win. But at events, once the familiarity ebbs away, so too does our sportsmanship and etiquette.
At events it’s even more important to keep your good gaming graces up. I am writing this article one day after a Store Championship where I watched people raging out over dice rolls and, when filling in their opponents’ score cards, having to ask their opponent what their name was! Seriously guys, c’mon, how rude is that? You bent a guy over the table, didn’t buy him drink, took your win and didn’t even bother to find out their name first? If you are reading this worried about whether you are a good opponent and you fall into this category, then you are as much fun to play as a Wookie is to arm wrestle!
My philosophy is simple. I don’t want to be “That Guy”. The one who no one wants to play because they devolve into a 13 year-old stroppy rapper when they hit the games table, or turn into The Hobby Reaper that makes people go home and eBay their models rather than play another game against them. They are out there and I am ashamed to say that I think I’ve been that guy in the past. I bet you are thinking of someone right now that fits this description. How we conduct ourselves at the gaming table is how we are perceived by our own gaming community. Whether we like it or not, perception is reality.
I see it as part of my job as your opponent to make sure you at least have the opportunity to enjoy your game against me. You may disagree, but I guarantee there are people you know in your gaming groups who you are reluctant to play, or actively avoid. If you are honest it’s because their games are not enough fun to waste a valuable evening’s gaming on. Am I right?
So bear with me here.
I don’t mean I have to rock up to the table with Jelly Babies, a hot chocolate and a hug for my opponent. It’s absolutely possible to bring your tournament attitude while both you and your opponent still enjoy a cracking but challenging game.
I’m talking about the basics. Most of those can be laid out before the game even begins and will set a great tone for the game to come. With a good introduction, a firm handshake and a chat about the game to follow, it’s easy to get the game off to a good start. It’s at this point that we might ask questions which will iron out the potential creases that threaten to stop the flow of battle. And for goodness’ sake, always remember your opponent’s name.
Once into the meat of the game, personally, I like to throw out a bit of banter across the table, have a laugh, make the noises of the ships (I know, I know, but I like it) and as the game gets more serious this can fade away a little as things spice up on the board. All the while, I remember that this is a shared experience. I chat about the events that are unfolding, the narrow misses, the terrible flying (usually on my part) and the all-round “killiness” of certain ships that are performing incredibly.
Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I trying to preach to you guys – you can play however you want. But I would change my tact quickly when up against difficult types of players (we all know a few) and if you are that guy who likes to be contentious or pushy and hide behind a roster that flatters your lack of skill while bragging about how great your imaginative TLT Y-Wing list is, then it’s Go Time, brother! At this point I unleash the sharper end of my wit and the atmosphere no longer stays a PG 13 environment. When in this situation I totally believe you are within your rights to tell your opponent (albeit constructively) how much fun they are to play against and why.
And that might be where the worse half of my reputation comes in.
I am the first to congratulate or commiserate a battle brother over a hard fought game. I’m also the first to tell someone they are not playing in an acceptable way, either during a game or after. I have taken team mates and friends to one side after a game and told them in no uncertain terms that the way they played was not cool. It’s okay to have a tough game and make your opponent work for it. But it’s not cool to play in an aggressive or unsporting way. It’s not just the person opposite you that is infected by this negativity but the people either side of your table as well.
If you are on a team or with friends and one of them is bringing down the gaming experience of those around them, then you have to tell them! There is no place for rage quitters, whiners, wussies or any selfish behaviour that detracts from the games of others. Its okay to lose and sit back in shock of the thing that brutally tore you apart, learn from the experience and move on to talking about the experience with your opponent. They will know if they rolled Jedi-like dice all game long and you can call them on that too.
So until next time my fellow wingmen, play hard, play fair or play something else…