Thursday, June 30, 2011

Deep Thoughts: What makes a great game?

What makes a great game? It really is a simple question; however, the answers will be as diverse and complex as the individuals who play the game. Some people enjoy playing the game above all other considerations and whether or not a single mini is painted doesn’t bother them in the least. Other people want to have a detailed battlefield with a well painted army on both sides. Other people simply want to get away from their everyday life for a bit and share some stories with a friend while playing a game on the side. Whatever your idea of a great game is, odds are you have found at least a few people who share your views of what a fun Warhammer game entails and you naturally play more games with those people more often than not.

While there is always the occasional pickup game or tournament game where you will face off against people you don’t know or who don’t share your same ideas of what makes a good game, you will always end up gravitating back to players with a play style similar to your own. Figuring out my own preferences for a good game as increased my enjoyment of the hobby tenfold in the last few months and finding people who play similar to myself has really gotten me back into the hobby after a long hiatus. So here are my preferences, in no particular order.

Paint your army. It sounds like such a big deal to get stuff painted but it really isn’t, I don’t care if you paint to table top standard or a golden daemon, I just like seeing something other than a grey wall of guys glued to bases backup up by equally grey vehicles. I understand if you are just starting out with an army and only a couple things are painted, but there should be progress at some point.

Great terrain. I guess I’m a sucker for seeing painted armies on a table that has a story to tell. I enjoy playing on painted and functional terrain. I remember years ago playing on a kitchen table with books for hills. However, with the number of quality products out there for quick and easy terrain it is not all that hard to put together a quality set anymore. Besides, most of us play at game stores that have sets of terrain already.

Friendly and witty banter. Great conversation during the game is important; this is a hobby and a stress reliever first and foremost. Did you ever go fishing and just sit in the boat staring at the other guy waiting to catch a fish, hoping that your fish would beat his fish? Or did you go fishing to relax and have a good time, swapping stories and cracking jokes?

Relaxed atmosphere. Reminding your opponent to shoot their lootaz, in the assault phase, or roll for reserves, in the shooting phase, are examples of things that I do on a consistent basis. I have even allowed someone to move a unit in the assault phase because they forgot to make their move in the movement phase. I don’t sit on my side of the table hoping that my opponent will make a mistake that will be beneficial to me and then shaking my head and saying, ‘no, you can’t do that now – you forgot to do that in the right phase.’ Now if it’s my turn then it’s too late, but while it’s the other players turn I don’t have a problem with some things out of sequence, it’s really not that big of a deal. Besides, if you need someone to make a mistake so that you can win…

Wins and losses. I don’t care about this anymore. I used to care, I really really really used to care, but I learned to have fun in the game – not the result. Every game I learn more about my army, how to play it and what works best for me, some I win and some I loose. But whatever the result I have fun while doing it and I get the much needed break from reality that a hobby like this is supposed to provide.

Win at all costs players. So you figured out a way to bend three rules together to make a perfectly legal method for cheating, congratulations. This kind of person has no room at my table. I have picked up my army from a table before and I am sure I will do it again. I am sorry but it is just not fun to play against this type of player. I would rather spend time at home removing dog feces from my yard with a set of small tweezers than waste my time paying an excruciating game against someone with no respect for the game who just wants to win at all costs.

My gaming preferences are going to be personalized to me and different and from the preferences of others. Once you figure out what is important to you and your gaming, you can look for like minded people (if you haven’t already found them) with which to play. Finding like minded people really increased my appreciation and enjoyment of the game; giving me back a hobby that had lost itself somewhere in the hustle and bustle of too much playing to win and not enough playing to have fun.

still practicing_



  1. Bingo! You nailed it my friend. You've just contributed an article to The Basement Gamers Cookbook (if you don't mind): .

  2. Excellent post, when I play I hope people have the same out look as you to the game but I know they won't. Great job.

  3. Awesome post and nice pic. I think I even painted one of those terrain pieces (the red building on top) :)

  4. what you don't see in the picture is the twin battle wagons of death rolling towards my poor demolisher.

    However, as we learned that day: Veteran with melta and kilt > deffrolla.

  5. ...and Wrathchild learned that one terminator with hammer and shield > entire veteran squad from valkerie.


    I'll be in the corner hiding...