In this article I want to touch on the problem of WAAC (Win at All Costs) players in the tabletop community. These so called “gamers” will do anything and everything they can to win a game to the point of making the game not fun for the other player… Yes, the point of a game is to win but also to have fun doing so, why else play? Some of you may be wondering where I am going with this because of course we are all WAAC players to some extent? The answer is no and I’ll explain…
The Joy of the Game
Whenever gamers finally sit down (or stand for some) to play to play a game we like to immerse ourselves completely into it. This can be a video game, board game, tabletop strategy, etc… Some aspect of the game has caught our attention and we have made the conscious decision to spend our time playing it vs. taking care of other life responsibilities. You want to play the game, figure it out, get good at it and ultimately beat it or become the best at it in some online instances (looking at call of duty players). Winning or having the best stats in a game brings a certain satisfaction to each and every gamer out there to different degrees. Tabletop games however have some glaring differences…
Tabletop games suffer from the major weakness of unbalance. This stems from the open design of the game itself. Several different armies/factions each with their own warriors/equipment/playstyle. It is virtually impossible to have so many varied options in a game and still maintain balance across the board. Some games introduce a points system to determine a cost of each model but even then it is just humans assigning a cost based on what they think is right. They are unable to take into account EVERY single combination/scenario that model may find itself in to give someone an advantage. A games design company can try all they want to balance the game out but too much of that will remove the different “flavors” of each army or faction someone wants to use. You will quickly find yourself just playing a more colorful version of chess.
Gamers like a challenge, especially us more experienced gamers. We play story/campaign mode on Hard mode, we play online matches to challenge ourselves against other similarly skilled players, or play the humble game of chess to outwit the other player. Why then do the tabletop WAAC players choose to play the game on Easy?
That’s right I said it they are playing the game on Easy. They take min/maxed options of the most overpowered selections to create overpowered combinations and completely sweep the other player off the table. Win? Yes. Was it a challenge using all your skill, strategy, or cunning to win? No. Anyone can use the all mighty Google search to find these combinations so no skill used there, they are called netlists. They even give them names: Cronair, Flying Circus, Psyflemen Dreadnaughts. To the person who first discovered and posted the netlist yay you just killed the fun of the game for many players that were on the receiving end. My four-year-old daughter could play the list and win with it. Credit given where credit is due there though, she can be devilishly smart when she wants to be… my gamer life will get a lot harder in the coming years… But where is the satisfaction in winning the game like that? Why not use seldom used armies or units, the underdog and win with that? Show your true skill in the game, have something to brag about to your mates/homies/bros. Play the game on Hard like some of us or use models you find visually appealing and try to win with that.
The Real Problem
Maybe this whole article is just me complaining from a past experience or listening to other players in the tabletop games community. Maybe that person using the leaf blower army is how they enjoy the game and I just can’t wrap my head around how that would be fun. I don’t understand a lot of things people think are fun like arguing in a court room for example so take this with a grain of salt. However, if you are one of those reading this thinking that WAAC is fun, you are part of my real problem. Gamers like that tend to kill of the joy of the game for gamers like me, who can only play once in a great while (dad life). More importantly however is they chase off the new gamers. Someone just getting into the hobby, or a generally unskilled kid playing the game will be put off instantly and not want to play again. They leave the hobby or game and find somewhere else they can play and actually have fun. The player base shrinks, game company loses money, and they start going to extreme measures to try and bring in new players and eliminate the WAAC player plague.
This is why games like Warhammer Fantasy have been dragged under and turned into Age of Sigmar…
Warhammer 8th Edition Rules