Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mechanical Hamster blog

For those who haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend reading Mechanical Hamster, Gav Thorpe's weblog. He has a lot of great posts with insightful comments on gaming and on writing. A recent post, entitled The Gaming Contract, has some well-reasoned thoughts on the spectrum of gaming styles, from competitive to casual. It's a good read, and I agree with a lot of his comments, especially that people need to be open with themselves and others about what kind of gaming experience they are after.

For me personally, I think I mostly enjoy the hobby for the great narrative aspects, and the chance to tell a story that unfolds as you play the game, or between games even. I like building on the background of my armies and adding to the storylines of the armies or characters I'm playing. On the other hand, during a game, I definitely enjoy the tactical challenge of trying to defeat the enemy or achieve the objectives in different situations.

However, I could never treat wargaming as being completely competitive. First of all, because it mostly comes down to luck anyway. Second, I wouldn't be interested in always playing a "standard" mission where both sides set up exactly the same to make it "fair", and have the same objectives. I also have no interest in using the same exact army list with all the "optimal" units every game. I'd get bored with those games pretty quickly, which is part of the reason I think Warhammer Fantasy doesn't hold my interest as well as 40K does.

I also am perfectly happy to make up missions, special rules, etc, if I think it will make for a fun game. Some people don't want to do anything that deviates from the official rules, as if they're afraid the rules police will come after them for not playing the game correctly. Certainly different people have a different definitely of what they think is fun. For me, when it comes right down to it, I've never had a fun game that was a complete blowout. Even the competitive part of me that enjoys the tactical challenge doesn't find anything fun about a game that wasn't close. The very best games are those that come right down to the wire, where you don't know who is going to win until the very end of the game. I also don't have much fun when there is no story behind the battle taking place. When there is a background story, or the characters in the game have a background story, I have much more fun, even when losing.

I'd be interested in hearing from other people where they fall in that gaming style spectrum. Are you in it for the tactical challenge, and treat it as a competitive hobby? Are you more interested in a narrative and want you battle to tell a fun story? Do you just care about the spectacle of really nicely painted miniatures doing battle on a table full of great terrain? Something in between?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Craig, just randomly arrived here on your blog, kudos for the nice posts!

    I've addressed the same issue on my blog, and what can I say, great minds think alike.

    Here's what I wrote about a year ago:

    Oh, and I subscribed to your feed. Keep up the quality work!

    all the best,