ABSTRACT PRINCIPLES of 40k - Types of 40k player

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One of the main problems people have when discussing 40k is that different people are looking for different things from the game. After all, it's going to be difficult for two people to talk about some part of the game when one person considers it a "bug" and the other a "feature". For the sake of setting down a common communication platform, I divide 40k players into four main types:


For this group of players, success is a binary state, and that success is determined by exactly one thing - winning. The point of the game, possibly the ONLY point of the game is to win it. It is easy for the other player groups to revile this group because it produces behavior antithetical to their way of playing, but such behavior is perfectly congruent with the way the game is supposed to be played for these players. They will rules lawyer to advantage because it can help them win, and if you aren't able to argue well enough why my interpretation of the rules is wrong, then you SHOULD lose. Likewise, if I bring the strongest list in the game, and you don't, you should lose more often, and complaining about my list is just a cover-up for the fact that you brought a weaker list.

Winners have a strange relationship with dice - they don't want the game to be based on the luck of the dice, because they don't want to lose just because someone got lucky (or they got unlucky), but at the same time want to be able to come back from behind with a little luck if it means they can pull out a win. Also, this group doesn't want there to be serious game balance. Part of the fun is to come up with stronger and stronger combinations of units to give them that edge. If every army were roughly as powerful, then you wouldn't get to use your peak brainpower to come up with secret combinations that others didn't know about that would allow you to crush your opponents. List building is a skill, after all, and not everyone is as skilled as others.

It is, in a way, the purest, most black and white way to look at the game. People's complaints about pretty much anything tend to be irrelevant. Who cares if I use a spam list if it gets me the win? Why are you letting fluff get in the way of you winning? I'll take the victory, but I'll also likely think less of you for not being as clever as me, or not "wanting" it as much.


Success for Strategizers is also binary, and is also determined by who wins games, but the point of the game isn't the win - that's merely a means to an end. The end is to have a game that pits player skill against player skill, and shows who is best.

This group thinks that 40k should be like a sport, where everyone is started out with a completely equal playing field, and when all other variables are controlled for, it will be the best player that wins. The one with the most skill. These are the people who are most likely to show up to tournaments, and most likely to believe that the results of tournaments are infallible data.

Strategizers believe that luck is an insignificant factor in 40k, and that it doesn't have much to do with the result of any given game. After all, if I roll poorly, I can always use my player skill to mitigate the damage that the dice has done, and a game of 40k involves hundreds of die rolls, so really luck is a controlled variable anyways. Meanwhile, this group is driven insane by the fact that 40k is a very imbalanced game, because there will constantly be people (mostly Winners) who will keep on bringing more-powerful lists which makes it so that players don't start out with an even playing field (as such, the winner might not be the most skilled, but the one with the most overpowered list), or, almost as bad, people who show up with weaker lists, which undermines the ability to test player skill (they could always claim they lost only because they had a weaker list). List building should not be a skill, and players should be able to show up with more or less any combination of units and still have an equal chance of winning (providing they're as skilled as their opponent).


For Competers, success in 40k isn't a binary state, and who wins or loses a game isn't strictly relevant to who succeeds. What's important to Competers is the competition itself. It's playing a game with a serious chance of losing, but playing to the peak of your abilities to overcome that adversity. The game, in brief, should be a challenge.

This player type is likely to also be the same kind of person who, when they beat a video game, goes back and plays it again on a harder difficulty level, or when they finish a 1,000 piece puzzle, goes out and buys a 2,000 piece one with no edge pieces. They are the kind of person who would run a marathon with 100-pound weights attached to their legs and then, when they finished in the middle of the pack feel pretty good about themselves, because look how many people they beat who weren't running with weights. They are the kind of person who would think more highly of a person who tied a game who had the most disadvantages than they would the other player who was playing the game on "easy mode" even if they got the same result.

Like Winners, Competers have a love-hate relationship with dice. On the one hand, bad die rolls ratchet up the challenge level for whoever rolls them, and gives them an incentive to play harder. On the other a Competer may well have delicately balanced things to provide a specific level of challenge that may be ruined by how the dice roll. Competers also love that the game is imbalanced, as it gives them a deep, rich field of options to work with. I can't see how to make the strongest list of a weak army style or from a weak codex if all armies are roughly equal in strength. I'd be stuck with the brute, crass, and much more boring points handicap (likely a Strategizer invention), and the game would be much more shallow if what pieces I took didn't matter.

List building is a skill, except unlike Winners, the point isn't to make the strongest list, but to make the list that most accurately achieves your objectives, whatever those are. That said, they likely grow weary quickly of those people who bring strong lists and when they win, pass it off as player skill when it was the list, moreso than the skill, that was really responsible. The same is true for players who are lucky. Real skill is determined by how hard something was to achieve, not how many times you achieved it. It's why body-builders lift increasingly heavier weights.


In a way, this group is sort of a catch-all for the remainders. Like Competers, success in 40k is not a binary state, but it takes things even further by placing a low or non-emphasis on player skill. If winning and skill aren't what's important, then what is? Well, that's sort of up to the player.

Most likely, the way to determine if a game or a player has been successful is if they had fun. That can take many forms. For some, it could be zany things happening in a game, while for others it is a chance to display well-painted models in beautiful terrain and have the opportunity to actually do something with them. 40k could be purely a social call - something to do while chatting with friends, or it could be a sandbox for doing minor game design (coming up with interesting new missions, and seeing if they worked well or not). In a way, there are as many ways to determine who the best Player is as there are Players.

Unlike the above types, Players tend to outright embrace the fact that 40k is a dice game, as that random element is almost required to keep things interesting, or to come up with the best stories. Dice, in this case, are as necessary to 40k as they are to D&D or any other role-playing game. Meanwhile, they tend to be rather indifferent to list building and game balance, as neither of these things are required for the game to be fun, and problems can always be house-ruled away whenever they become inconvenient.

Players might roll their eyes at Strategizers for trying to debase such a rich and wonderful game into nothing more than chess with different miniatures, and are often outright hostile towards Winners, who tend to do things in a way that the Player would consider boring, and resent how they try and push their shallow, narrow interpretation of the game on others. "If it's not the strongest at something, it's not worth taking" is the antithesis of everything that the game should be about.