This past weekend Lostie MortymerXT (Hi George!) and I dropped by the local GW to get a quick demo of 8th edition Warhammer 40K. I picked up the 8th edition starter box not long after it released, but it’s only been in recent weeks I’ve taken the time to assemble and prime the Primaris Marines within, and I threw the Plague Marine half of the starter at George because gaming with one of your best buds is just good times. When you’re discovering a new game (or discovering a new edition of a game you haven’t played for almost two decades), doing it with with someone you enjoy nerding with makes it all that much better.
So there was much pew pew, I overloaded my Hellblasters’ plasma rifles, his Pox Walkers evaporated under Bolt Rifle fire and Power Sword stabbery, and we at least got the gist of how it’s all supposed to play – at least enough that we’ve got a foundation to build on – and as we drove away we talked about gaming of years gone by, and how things have changed over the years.
To be honest, I don’t get to play anywhere near as much as I’d like, especially since the loss of our old FLGS, the Hobby Kingdom. There are a number of other excellent FLGSs in the area, but all requiring fighting with rush hour traffic to join in their Warmachine nights. Having a game store less than ten minutes drive away frankly spoiled me, and becoming a single dad and having a job that has me working every Sunday means that even lining up a game can be a challenge with other demands on my free Saturdays and most of my potential opponents working when I have my other day off on Mondays.
So playing a game frequently enough to be *good* at it, to keep whatever competitive hand I may have once had, just isn’t really an option. Thankfully, I have always emphasized playing for fun over playing to win. Yes, I’ll never bring home a Steamroller Champion pin or trophy, but there’s a certain freedom, a joie de vivre, in being perfectly okay with losing a game if you have fun playing it. While I’ve attended a number of amazing gaming conventions and tournaments over the years, I’ve deliberately avoided signing up for the competitive tournaments because, for me, it adds a level of stress and tension that just saps the fun of the game. I’m not advocating loose play, or intending to diminish competitive play or those who strive to be the best they can – that’s admirable for its own reasons – but it’s just not my speed in the end,
That brings us around to George and I playing 40K on the weekend (and my impending challenge match against Ninja Steve next month). 8th edition 40K – and from my initial observations the new edition of Age of Sigmar – are looking less and less like games that are intended for high stakes competitive play (though I’m sure people will still play them as such) and more and more like games that are suited for fun games. Play to win, sure, but have fun with it. The Power Level concept for 40K army building makes it so much simpler and sidesteps nickel-and-diming, the Endless Spells for AoS are very entertaining.
Warmachine and Hordes remain one of the very best games out there for competitive tournament play, and while I still love just about everything about the Iron Kingdoms it can be more and more challenging to find yourself in a game that is “just for fun” unless you deliberately curate your opponents. The ponderance of pros and cons of competitive vs casual play – and again, there’s nothing wrong with either end of the spectrum, it’s a very personal choice where each individual lands on the array – has me thinking that as least for now, 40K and AoS seem to be a good option for more casual play. Of course, Relic Knights 2.0 and Monsterpocalypse are about to drop, and Menoth knows I’m especially keen to see some of the new Monsterpocalypse sculpts…