How I Learned to Love the Game and Hate the Leafblower
Right before Adepticon I was excited about getting a chance to see all my old friends such as Hod and Steve from the Wrecking Crew, Allen Hernandez, Chester, Alex (Redbeard), Sparks and many others. I had no idea what I was walking into...
What I wasn’t expecting was to have people come up to me and give me a big high five and go "Thanks man, you ruined it for us!" At first I was genuinely confused. Then someone took the time to take guide me around the hall and point to all these tables. What did I see? Leafblower 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, okay I stoped counting after 5 but was still a lot. This didn't even take into account the heavy Mech Guard lists out there. I thought to myself okay, this could have just been one of my friends who said this and it will be out of the norm. Nope, six other people came up and wanted to say either “thank you” or “you ruined it for us”. So it got me thinking and after playing 10 games over the weekend and the long drive back home I decided to write this article.
I am sorry for having helped to popularize the Leafblower.
Now some people are going to ask “what the heck is the Leafblower?” and some others are going to scream bloody murder on this article but this has to be said. The IG Mech list I designed was meant to min-max everything to the fullest extent and exploit the IG codex for what it could do. It included a large amount of Chimeras, Veterans and platoon squads for more scoring units. Multiple Heavy Support options on the Chimera chassis easily used the front line of Chimera's for cover and mitigated most concerns that other codex’s could bring to the table.
The problem with this list is no other codex could truly compete with it in the right hands and abit of first turn luck. From dropping gobs of strength 10 templates to the sheer volume of firepower it would dismantle your opponents army turn by turn. It had a psychological effect on a lot of opponents by crushing them so early, many just gave up. In the sense playing a Leafblower opens the thought of "why am I playing this game?" The owner is just rolling some dice and I'm pulling models off the table.
Therein lay the problem.
Remember the first time you truly got into this hobby? Did you get in it just to say to yourself “awesome I can kick my friends butts while they are curled up on the floor”? Was it instead because you thought the fluff of a certain chapter was so cool? I have heard hundreds of stories of people thinking that Grey Knights in the novels were the biggest and toughness guys in the whole universe. Now for the people who have played with Grey Knights on the table usually have another story of course to tell but that is another time.
My point is you picked this game to have fun and one big factor of having fun is your opponent has to fun also. No one likes to pick up half of their army off in the first turn. I totally felt like a douche in some games of mine at the tournament for example, I played a person named Tim Tollin. He was one the nicest guys I have ever played with and just a great person all around. (http://timsminis.blogspot.com/) Now, when I played him I felt bad the whole time. He had such a pretty army it made me feel bad to let them get removed off the table. He couldn’t even get out of his deployment zone because of the firepower in my list. Now he was fully meched up, had Space wolf Calvary and the whole nine yards but the list just carries too much fire power andit takes the fun out of the game. Once you take the fun out of your opponent how much fun is left for you to enjoy the hobby?
Now some people are going to say, “Well it’s a tournament, who cares? Your there to win!” Okay fine, if you want to bring it to the tournament sure, but doesn’t it make you a better general if you win with a balanced list? Hyper-competitive armies detract from the hobby in my view. Sorry I said it, might be taboo for the week, or month but sorry it s true. Players are moving away from the fun of the game into list escalations of I need to bring XYZ bags of melta to handle ABC of land raiders.
Why not - people who feel that they need to win or compete will do it. Blood Angels are out and what question did a lot of people in the community flock to? How is this going to stand up and beat IG? Even our group started to talk about it and missed the point of the game. What happened to let’s have fun with toy soldiers?
In our local area we have hobby tournaments which some people have a hard time understanding the point of it. I know one person who tries to make his rendition of hobby list and fails every time coming back with yet another "no hold bars version 2.0 list". Now I can see people saying “omg, Comp throw it out the door”, but don't forget that tournaments also have aresponsibility to bring people into the game and offer even new players something fulfilling for their entry fee. Its great to see events where players beaming with pride show off armies with real heart and soul, and massive amounts of details such as every gem done with every shiny spark. It also creates the atmosphere that people just want to play and have fun.
When an outsider or newcomer looks in and sees two grown men yelling over two armies of toys about list optimization and how someone will get owned in this xyz tournament, how does that help bring in new people? I had a friend who I have been trying to get into the game for awhile and he said point blank. Why? I don’t want to get my butt kicked in for months at another game especially where I have to spend 200-300 dollars at.
Where is this going?
This is my call to action to people out there who read this, as I am doing it myself. Build a balance army if you are going to take it to a tournament, build it around the love you have for the hobby and be proud of it. I am starting up my Soul Drinkers again and creating it around the Blood Angels. I am going to run a list that I have fun with and play to have a good time. If I come out on top awesome, if I don’t oh well no big deal.
Now, if you still want to take that Mech IG variant list to a tournament to super inflated your ego sure go ahead, but promise me this when you take it to the game store for the weekend you don’t bring that army to play new guy or random people. Because when you win and they didn’t even get a chance to move their guys on the table, it’s not good for you, it's not good for them, and its not good for the hobby. Instead, even if only for one game, build what you thing will be the most FUN list you can think of, and play for the love of the army, background, and the game.
~I will be playing the Leafblower one last time for the European Championship in Germany representing Team America. I was invited after having two high scores from Gladiator and Championship at Adepticon. Afterwards I will be retiring the Leafblower - never to be played again.