A commentary on the state of Warhammer Underworlds’ competitive scene.
Greetings everyone and welcome to a different article from my usual repertoire. This subject has been brewing on my mind for awhile now but my most recent tournament event I played this Saturday in Bournemouth has pushed things to the forefront. I played at LVL Up Gaming and I ended up walking out near the end of the event just because it was becoming such a negative experience. I was annoyed, not having fun and my later opponents would not have had a good time against me. As I side note I apparently finished 4th or 3rd at that event but I declined getting any prizes upon leaving.
Now before you go on thinking this is an article dedicated to whining, that is not my aim. The event just bubbled up core issues I’m having with Warhammer Underworlds and tournament games in general. There are 3 key issues I’m having with the game at the moment, these are:
- Tournament Organisers (TOs) changing event rules and structure on the day of the event.
- Players feeling bad about running toxic/hyper competitive decks.
- Players constantly complaining about dice, even while winning.
I’ll expand on the 3 above points but I think it’s fair to add that I’ve been hitting the tournament scene pretty hard. While I don’t feel burned out this could all be an issue of over-playing the game and maybe I just need a break. It’s a fair point, however I’ve been burned out before on Underworlds and this is not the same feeling. Could it be just me bitching? Possibly. I’d like to think this article is only 10% bitching haha. At the end of the day I still feel this is my subjective view based off of the many tournaments I’ve attended.
TOs Changing Tournament Format and Rules on the Day
TO’s. I love ya all. You do a great job of taking time out of the day to run events for people like me to play at while you deal with the struggle of pairings and rules questions. But I’m getting really tired of turning up at an event only to either have the format change, number of rounds change, or even have prize support pulled.
Back in the old days of Warhammer Underworlds you had the risk of a tournament only getting 4 to 6 players and the TO deciding to hold on giving out the full prize support. This improved with time as TOs generally began stating an event needs X number of players for it to get full trophy support. That’s fine. You are usually the person running the store/event. What I’m sick of is tournaments having their round numbers changed on the day or the tournament going from best of 3 (Bo3) to best of 1 (Bo1).
In 2 out of the last 3 tournaments I’ve attended 1 had changed the rounds from 5 Bo1 games to 3 Bo1 games after round 3. The tournament I last attended changed the event from Bo3 to 9 games of Bo1, even when the majority of the players wanted it to be Bo3. I do not enjoy checking in advance for the format and prize support, paying £35 for a 2 hour train journey (excluding the 1 hour journey to get the train), then £5 for the tournament only to find out the event I’ve been practicing for now has a brand new format.
Such changes drive away potential customers and players. It even forced me to stop doing a tournament round-up and instead cover this. What made it worse was that generally everyone was a joy to play at the store plus the staff were fine. I just have no idea why a TO would change the format of a tournament on the day of the event.
A main defence of this is because Games Workshop (GW) advises in the Organised Play (OP) kit that Bo1 games are the preferred format, even though Grand Clashes are all played in Bo3 format and that’s what everyone generally plays. The game was even designed for Bo3 format. It’s such a confusing situation where GW will not tell stores to run tournaments in fixed Bo3 formats or even mention Bo3 format in the OP kit store guides. This point is exasperated when companies like FFG and other card game companies force a fixed tournament structure on all stores using their OP kits to run events.
Now I’m in a really rough spot for tournaments. What’s the point of even checking ahead what the tournament format will be when a TO will just change it on the day? Before I had to worry about prize support and how the TO was doing rankings either based off of who had the most glory instead of wins and glory differential. Now I need to worry about whether a store will even stick to their advertised format. I still recommend that players go to tournaments as they’re a great place to socialise and learn the game but from now on I’ll only be attending stores I’ve been to that have reliable TOs.
So how could all this be alleviated? I’d just hope GW in the next OP kit tells store to either run Bo1 or Bo3 events, clearly stating that Bo3 events are the norm for tournament play. At the end of the day stores are still buying OP kits from GW but if events continue to be so inconsistent it will only hurt future attendance.
Players Feeling Bad About Running Toxic/Hype Competitive Decks
Now this is more of a bugbear of mine but it’s becoming increasingly common to see. Bottom line is this is a competitive game. In a tournament it’s your prerogative to run such decks if you just want to win. However you should own such decks and not continually apologise after winning then feeling bad when you’ve designed such a deck to play that way and your opponent doesn’t have a great time.
For example at my last event the second-last opponent of mine was running a Mollog deck that sat back and killed you via passive ploy damage such as Shardgale, Encroaching Shadow and Lethal Ward. My opponent told me he built this deck to troll try hards and counter the meta when in reality it just destroyed horde warbands like my Godsworn Hunt and Zarbag’s Gitz. He was now feeling bad he was not playing against the opponents he intended and felt terrible that no one was having a great time against him (Bo1 format does not help playing against such a gimmicky deck). After apologising to me I asked him why. He paused in confusion. I stated that he came here to win and was running a very efficient deck in Bo1 format that was just boring to play against. He did not disagree.
While I’ve chatted on endlessly about the example above it’s not to shame the guy, not at all. As I stated earlier if your goal is to win then you shouldn’t feel guilty because your deck is doing what it’s designed to do even if it is very toxic to play against. Own it. I was more annoyed that he continued to apologise over it. I’ve had the same experience back in the past when Katophrane Relics were alive and people kept apologising for abusing them. Once again I find it more insulting to the opponent to apologise for winning. I’ll just say this. Did you expect to go to the tournament with your highly honed competitive/toxic deck and lose?
At the end of the day I personally try to run stuff that is competitive and fun to play against. Yet at tournaments I know the main aim of the game to win. I paid for it and I knew what I was getting myself into. Just please don’t apologise for winning. Unless you’re actually cheating of course.
Players Constantly Complaining About Dice, Even While Winning
Dice. Oh dice. How I love and hate thee at the same time. Now this is something I’ve noticed getting worse for a looooong time now. Heck even I’m guilty of bitching about dice. But after really bad comments by myself I thought back to an article I wrote about analysing your losses and competitive etiquette. Dice happen dude (or dudette). Just accept it. Playing the Godsworn Hunt has truly allowed me to appreciate the mystery of rolling dice. Did you know rolling more dice makes you less accurate?
Seriously though I find it really bad when everywhere I hear “I lost because he rolled better”, “He got all his attacks off”, “
I think that John guy rigged his dice as all he rolls is crits My opponent just rolled crits”. Unless playing against Mollog I feel none of this is really justified. Yeah bad dice rolls suck but they’re a core part of the game. Mollog gets a pass because he skews the game into this weird aggro plane of existence were the entire match comes down to dice.
Once again think what got you into doing those attacks instead of that they failed. You made a risky charge but now it has failed you’re in a bad position that your opponent can capitalise on. It’s all about gauging whether the rewards outweigh the risks.
A bigger gripe is when people complain about bad dice rolls while winning. My last 2 opponents both did this. It is not fun playing against someone who is loudly complaining about your dice rolls while they are in the lead or have won the previous game. For example my last opponent was upset I rolled a crit for defence while the score was 7 glory to 1 for him at the bottom of action phase 1. Even while he was miles ahead he continued to complain when rolls such as Last Chance saved my fighter (score was 5/15 at that point).
I’ve encountered this occurance so regularly now that I feel it does need to be addressed. If people are that upset about crits and dice rolls, there are other games that don’t used dice. Like chess. Just imagine being in that position you’re putting your opponent in. Yeah dice rolls can suck but a) dice are random and b) it makes you come across like a dick. The most important rule is don’t be a dick. Heck I named the blog about how important dice rolls are. Embrace the dice. Love the crits.
Once again I’m not trying to focus on that guy solely, it’s just an example. I spoke to him after the game. It’s just I’ve seen this happen so regularly and I know the community is better than this. Dice are dice. Good rolls come with the bad. You’ve just got to accept them
unless you play magic and get innates where you’re just rigging the game technically and always ask yourself; Can you roll a crit?
So what to do in the end? I hope GW improves OP kit guides so TOs run standardised events so no one gets confused over formats. For the last 2 points that’s more down to the community. While the above points are not hugely commonplace occurrences, they are becoming far more frequently seen. Warhammer Underworlds has the best gaming community and we should strive to keep it that way. Never have I met a more welcoming or friendly gaming scene. It’s such a boon that I’ve made many a great friend from. Let’s just keep striving to be better than we already are, don’t be a dick (as my club HATE emboldens) and most importantly keep rolling crits!