A large part of wargaming is having respect for the concept of sportsmanship. Being a good sport is more than just having poise in the face of defeat, or victory for that matter! Every game, no matter how big or small, should be fun and enjoyable while promoting enthusiasm about the hobby. Sportsmanship probably seems like a no-brainer to most of us when it comes to tournament play. After all, we’re grown-ups pushing little toy soldiers across a table, right? However, in the heat of competition, our zealotry can sometimes get the best of us – so let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the finer points of being a good sport!
Rule #1 – Be Prepared
Good sportsmanship starts with being prepared for your game. When you walk up to a table, you should have all the supplies that you need: dice, tape measures, codices, rules books, etc. While opponents usually don’t mind loaning the occasional scatter die or auspex, it’s always better to have what you need on hand. It’s also good form to have extra copies of your army list available for your opponent to look at throughout the game, if applicable. Most of us have been preparing for AdeptiCon 2011 for several months – so do yourself a favor, double check your bags before heading down to Chicago and make sure all of your essentials are packed and ready to go.
Rule #2 – Know the Game
Not all of us are walking encyclopedias of gaming knowledge -- with all the different game systems out there and all of the rules to go with them, there will always be parts of a game we do not know or are not overly familiar with. However, you should have a rudimentary understanding of the game, and you should also know where to find answers if you have questions. This all goes back to being prepared for play. Even if you don’t know exactly how your opponent’s army works, you should know your own. Spend some time reviewing your army before the big day. This will help cut down on frustration over rules disputes during play, and it could help you avoid being labeled as a dishonest player.
Rule #3 – WYSIWYG: Not Just For Terrain
Let’s chat a little bit about lists. Many of the tournaments at AdeptiCon require players to provide a list of what they are playing with. I cannot stress this next sentence enough – I’ll even highlight: MAKE SURE YOUR LIST IS ACCURATE!
Your list should match your army down to the last knife or grenade. If your list says that Space Marine model has a lascannon he’d better not have a plasma gun in his hand. When armies and lists do not match it causes confusion, frustration and distrust among players. Once a list is submitted, it is what it is; you don’t get to change it halfway through the tournament. Point values should also be accurate. In an attempt to be professional and to ensure clarity, using t a program like Army Builder and printing off a list is always better than handwriting it.
Rule #4 – Don’t Be a Jackwagon [Part I]
Everyone has a little swagger when it comes to AdeptiCon. People literally come from all over the world to participate in the various melees that are hosted here. Verbal sparring is a fun part of competition, and to some extent, expected. The spirit of competition lends itself to moments of braggart and arrogance, usually in a congenial and friendly manner. Unfortunately, there are people out there who have a tendency to take themselves a little too seriously and let negative emotions override the true spirit of gaming, which should be having fun and being social, while maintaining a competitive arena.
Take this as your friendly reminder to NOT to be a jerk or a bully. Having a better grasp of the intricacies of the game does not give you the right to be rude or mean-spirited. You may not personally care if people like or dislike you, but you should care what kind of reputation you foster. Gaming communities are like small towns – bad word travels fast. You don’t have to become your opponent’s best friend, but don’t be a jackwagon either!
Rule #5 – Don’t Be a Jackwagon [Part II]
So you just lost your game…wait, scratch that…you just got tabled…in the 3rd turn! Feeling angry, right? No one likes to lose, especially when you’ve just spent months preparing for a convention. Losing to an opponent doesn’t necessarily make that person a jerk. Sometimes when people lose a hard fought game they like to take it out on their opponents by purposely giving low sportsmanship marks or scores. Being a poor loser is no better than being a poor winner. While these games are bound to happen, low marks or scores should be reserved for the worst of the worst. You should only ‘award’ low marks or scores in the direst of circumstances and they should be an evaluative negative on your opponent’s sportsmanship only, not a reflection on the final results of the game. Unless your opponent was a complete and total jerk throughout the entire game, giving out negative marks or low scores is simply not appropriate. Players need to separate their disappointment at losing from how they feel about their opponent’s behavior during the game.
Rules disputes are bound to occur at an event this large and varied in attendance. Rules judges are available to help arbitrate misunderstandings and answer questions about rules – that’s what they are there for! Rules judges are a resource you shouldn’t be afraid to use if needed.
Most of these nuggets should seem pretty obvious. After all, sportsmanship basically follows the Golden Rule…which we all learned in 1st grade! Being a good sport means having character, integrity and dignity. So let the games commence! The blood, sweat and tears will soon fall – just remember to shake hands and congratulate your opponent on a well-played game when it’s all said and done!
- Jennifer Mehrstedt, AdeptiCon Veteran and Volunteer