Sunday, 19 August 2012

General Ramblings: The Soft Scene

You'll know by now that I'm not a fan of the 'competitive' scene. I've said enough on that score to dispel any doubt, I feel, about my attitude towards the notion that 40k is suited to competition.

So let's not do that.

Let's talk about the Soft Scene, instead.

Obviously, by the Soft Scene, I mean the opposite of the competitive scene. As with anything, it's more of a sliding scale, but I think most of us will have some notion of which end we're closer to. And if you're a fluffbunny, a painter-not-a-gamer or a lover-not-a-fighter, you're at the Soft end.

And before we get into that, I do not mean anything bad by the word Soft. It's a game, for Dhunia's sake! It's not supposed to be rock-hard. It's supposed to be fluffy and comfortable. So, just like I use the word 'fluff' with no ill-meaning, 'Soft' is just a label, a word to mark a certain attitude towards our beloved games.

So, what's the point of the Soft Scene? If we ignore the fact that it's often more accessible (I feel, as I think there are more Softies than Hardies...) and the slightly lower cost (no need to buy a new army every time a 'better' one's released... no need, that is...), what makes Soft better than Competitive?

Well, for starters, it's more forgiving. If your purpose for playing that one game is to try out that new, beautifully painted, incredibly overcosted Fun-type unit, you'll be far from devestated when it blows itself up turn two. You'll have done what you set out to do: try a new unit.

Anyone who's ever used one of these knows what I mean.
If, however, your reason for playing was winning, losing means you will have failed at achieving your primary goal for the game. Obviously, you might have a wonderful time anyway ('cause most gamers realize that winning isn't everything) but you'll go home with a mission unfulfilled.

And this isn't just about tournaments. It's about any game where winning matters.

I love Blood Bowl. It's an impressively well-made game, with a perfect blend of balance and insanity, and a race to cater for every taste. But fun as the game is, there's something about play-offs that sits badly with me. It might be the tighter time restrictions our club places on these games, but mostly, I feel it's the added pressure of the win-or-get-out clause. I quite simply cannot enjoy those games the same way as I do the less important matches leading up to them.

Also, the Soft scene is less anger-prone. There might be heated discussions about what Primarch is cooler, or what brand paint is better, or why Necrons shouldn't be allowed to ally with Plague Marines. But my feeling is that these arguments are generally friendly. I've never seen anyone start a shouting match over the exact nature of (Warhammer) Chaos. I have, however, seen people get genuinely upset over a mid-game rules disagreement.

Lastly (for now, at least), a Soft environment is much more likely to attract new players. I don't know what your first game was against. But I'd wager it's more likely that someone stays with a game if their first game is against a Soft opponent than a competitive one (generally speaking, obviously, tastes vary). Being gently introduced to the coolness of an Ork horde (with all the insane ut crappy goodness included) must beat being asskicked by a Draigowing or a Necron flyer list. Having a close game against pDoomy beats being tied in Crippling Grasped knots by pDeneghra, inspite of (or maybe because of) the fact that the first might be a ramshackle pile of everything coolish, and the latter might be the pinnacle of the list builder's art.

And I'm going to leave it at that.


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