Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Unfriendly Army vs The Unfriendly Player.

After reading some thoughts by others on what makes for a “friendly” army and what doesn’t, I came to the conclusion that most people have the wrong idea. In my many years of experience in this hobby, the only unfriendly armies I have ever seen are ones that are not legal per the rules. Any other definition of a friendly army is purely subjective and therefore is only valid at the individual level. The problem with these individual definitions is that many like to assume that their definition is the only one held by the community and therefore is the true one. This is simply not the case.

One of the greatest things about this hobby is that it is flexible enough to accommodate many different tastes. If someone likes to play narrative games, the setting and background of the game allow for this style of play to thrive. On the other hand, if someone prefers to forgo the background and simply embrace the game aspect of the hobby, it allows for them to create a personalized form of pseudo-chess. The thing about this flexibility is that it means that everyone’s approach to the hobby will be different to some degree.

It is my opinion that this aspect of the hobby, its ability to allow each participant to approach it differently, is what has created the community that we share today. It means the artist can share a common ground with the gamer, but still be unique in their approach to the hobby. More so, it means that the artist can become the gamer if they so choose and the gamers are not limited to their first label. In order for this harmony to exist and continue, there must be tolerance.

This is where the problem of the friendly army mentality becomes a problem, as it is a form of intolerance. It’s the bashing of a player’s army under the guise of balance or “friendliness” without actually knowing the player. Like I stated before, I’ve never seen a valid army that was unfriendly. I cannot say the same about some hobbyist. For every outstanding individual in this hobby, there is another that shifts the curve the other way. The thing that these types of individuals don’t understand is that they have the right to complain, but not the right to bully or pressure others to their way of thinking.

To provide an example of this behavior, let me discuss one term used to describe what some players would consider an unfriendly army, the Herohammer army. For those that don’t know, a herohammer army is one that has the majority of its point invested in characters. This is a completely valid army per the rules, and one that I personally like and support. It’s a great army style for getting started if you enjoy painting and modeling, as it allows for an army to quickly reach higher point sizes. There are hobbyist though that will bash and verbal assault players who like this style. These hobbyists will complain for a host of reasons about the army, but cannot provide a single valid reason for their complaints that are not support by anything more than their personal preferences to how they approach the hobby.

Again, the great thing about this hobby is that it allows each of us to approach it differently and yet still have common ground. We as individuals also have the right to choose who we play and associate with, so it falls upon us to decide those conditions. If someone chooses to play in a public event, they need to understand and expect to play others who approach the hobby differently from them. When they find themselves in this situation, they shouldn’t judge the army, but the person playing the army.

As I write those last words I can already hear the responses about fun and balance. Personally, my measure of whether or not a game was fun is not based on the army, but the behavior of the person playing that army. I’ve been to tournaments where I have lost horribly to “super’ armies, but had a blast getting beaten. On the other hand, I have played supposed “balanced” armies that were being used by guys that I wish I would never have wasted my time on. Just because someone placed a bloodthirster on the board doesn’t mean they are a bad guy or out to win at any cost. In my experience, the guys that typically complain the most about big red are the ones that are the most concerned about winning.

In conclusion, they hobby is like the ocean, diverse and colorful. A player’s choice in models is a reflection of themselves, but it is important to understand what they truly are reflecting. Don’t assume that everyone sees the hobby the same way as you and be tolerant of the fact that people can be different and still enjoy the same thing. Most important, have fun in what you do and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


  1. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts and always appreciate your perspective, Equi! I agree wholeheartedly with the thrust of your comments.

  2. Nice post, it's always interesting to see others take on the "hobby" and aspects outside of rules or best units discussions.