Tournament Mentality

So our group had a discussion a while back sparked by a ruling on the PP forums.

The ruling was that if a model voluntarily forfeits its movement, this does not trigger effects like Admonition and Counter Charge but moving zero inches does.

There was lengthy discussion about whether the rule should be this way in a perfect world and other such topics but the one part that interested me was that of how people would react to this in a tournament.

I made the statement, and I stick by it, that I would never call someone out on this ruling if they moved zero inches and I had the ability to trigger off of that 0″ movement.  I don’t expect this of others, but I will not do it myself.

A number of people disagreed with me.  People said that it’s a tournament and you have to play by every rule and that everyone is on the same ground, and it a fair move to call it out.

While I respect this opinion, I do not share it and it really made me think about why.

It’s also fair to say that a number of people also said that they wouldn’t call someone out on this, though many if not all of them are admittedly less competitive minded players.

I think that many people draw a line between tournament play, and non tournament play.  In tournaments, you have to know every rule, because you never know how other people have interpreted them.  You have to know exactly what’s going on to head off differences in interpretation, different house rules, and heaven forbid a straight up jerk.

I realized that I don’t necessarily draw my line in the same place.  I see competitive games, and non-competitive games and I rarely play the latter.

I realized I can deduce why I don’t want to call people out on silly things with a couple of questions

Does winning a game/tournament/prize make me happier?

While this may be the case for many, and I think is fairly common, I think that for me, it really doesn’t.  In a vacuum, I think winning would make me a little happier, but that amount pales in comparison the the happiness created by a good game.  This is where I get my philosophy:

Always try to win, never play to win.

You have to be trying to win.  If you don’t almost all games break down.  If your made up goal in a game of Warmachine is to get a model to get a model into each of the four corners of the table while your opponent is actually trying to win by the rules of the game, it is not going to be any fun for him.  You have to be trying to win or it will ruin the game.

This is totally different from playing to win.  If you are upset if you lose and do nothing wrong, then you might have some sort of problem.  Like they say,

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

If you could not have done anything better there is no point in getting upset about it, you’re just going to make yourself miserable.  If you are playing and the only thing you want is to win, I do not want to play you, in any game.

This all being said, I just want to have a fun, enjoyable game and winning isn’t primary, secondary or even tertiary.  Because of that, even in a tournament I just play my best and don’t worry about it too much.  But the key is that I am trying my best to win, because that’s the game.

Would you rather win because someone misspoke a technicality in the rules, or lose because you gave them the benefit of the doubt?

You can probably guess my answer to this one.  I don’t know if there’s anyone  out there who would actually rather win that way than beating their opponent with no questions but I believe that many people would rather win this way than lose.

In our example rule, calling someone out on not saying they’re forfeiting their movement might give me an advantage.  I might even win because of it.  But for the rest of the time I remember that game, I won’t know if I won because I actually would have beaten them, or because them made minute mistake in wording.  I don’t feel like I beat them.  They’re also at least slightly bitter I would guess and the rest of the game will be more tense that it otherwise would have been, and I’m less happy because of it.

My position is that if it ever comes up, I will ask the person if they moved 0 or forfeited their movement.  If they inquire about why I ask, I will explain the difference.  If they for some reason say they moved 0, I will assume that they now know the consequences and are choosing to move 0″ for a reason and play accordingly.

‘Take backs’

Some people will see this as a ‘take back’ and say that you can’t allow that in tournaments.  Again, I don’t care about reasonable ‘take backs’ in any competitive game.  I just draw the line when stuff becomes gray.  If you moved a model and want to take it back, I may not allow it because it becomes almost impossible to determine exactly where the model was before.  This starts to mess with the game itself.  What if you accidentally(or on purpose) don’t put it back far enough?  You’ve given yourself an advantage you shouldn’t have had, and that is unacceptable.  If we can’t determine something reasonable, we’ll have to determine a way to figure it out or just take the move as done.  Also, if other game actions have transpired since the ‘take back’ move, that also doesn’t work.  This game has a lot of moving pieces which all affect each other.  Once even a couple of other things happen, it becomes too difficult to figure out ‘what would have happened’ and that’s just too ambiguous.

This is how I play in tournaments and all games where we’re both trying to win.  Occasionally, I’ll be in a game where my opponent asks if he can rearrange something or try something and we start moving all the pieces around.  This becomes a different exercise, and not a competitive game.  Apart from things like this, I play all my games like they were a tournament, that’s just how I play.


I sounds as though I’m being pretty judgmental here.  That is not my intention.  It just came to my attention through some of these discussions with friends that we think a little differently.  I by no means think down on anyone who interprets differently than I have described above.  In fact many of my best gaming friends would call me out on things like this and I would totally understand.  Just because I may allow something, doesn’t mean I expect others to do the same for me.  In fact, most of the people I’m referring to wouldn’t take a piece back even if someone allowed it in a tournament, because they hold themselves to the same standards and they hold their opponents to.  That, I think, is one big thing that separates people you want to game with, from that guy and that is why I have no problem with people who have a different opinion on the subject, as long as they’re consistent.

One thought on “Tournament Mentality

  1. I think your way is a good way; identify and discuss potential contentions before they happen, rather than invite the dreaded backsie.

    Personally, I see some games as ‘training wheels’ games, where a few backsies are permitted in order to learn the mechanics of a faction/piece/scenario through actually getting to play it rather than losing it too fast to get a feel for it. Even then, though, I’d rather discuss possibilities before than attempt to correct errors after the fact.

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