Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Gaming Philosophy: the competitive edge

Hey all

Medge back again, this time with my take on competitive gaming.

Competitive gaming is an interesting topic as, arguably, every single game we play against other players could be considered competitive. If there's a clear winner, and clear losers, then players will be thrown directly into competition for the title of 'winner', and all the associated bragging rights.

Even narrative games, which I talked about in my last two posts, have a competitive element motivated by everyone's desire to win. In my 10 years of playing tabletop games, board games and video games I think I've only had 3 or 4 games where I've been genuinely happy to lose to another player, and even that was because I was playing the miscellaneous bad guys in a narrative campaign.

For the purposes of this blog, however, I'm going to define competitive gaming as those games in which players come together having agreed to play to win, rather than play for a story/ to use a new model, etc. I would typically associate this style of game with tournament/ league games, but it could also include any game in which two players agree to play in this style. 

At this point I want to share my opinion on this style of competitive play; I don't like it. It's not because I think it's the 'wrong' way of hobbying, or against the spirit of the game, but for a far simpler, and slightly childish, reason. I am a very competitive person, I hate to lose, which is unfortunate because I'm truly woeful at competitive gaming!

I know a number of people in my gaming community who have this innate ability to look at a rules set for a game and go "Yep, that's got the best strength-to-points ratio, I'll take six of these" or go "hmm, nope. These are far too expensive in points for the return I'll get. Best leave them to the side", whilst I just stand there picking things that look cool, or planning an army that matches the fluff, or even just using the models I own because they came with the starter box and I somewhat naively think they'll work in my army. This inevitably leads to me getting my backside thoroughly beaten in the game, which turns me into a frustrated and stroppy 8-year old boy (incredibly embarrassing, believe me!)

Now, I'm going to stop this rant-in-the-making and give it a positive spin, because that's what this blog is all about!

In recent months I've taken strides to improve both my child-like attitude to competitive gaming, and also my general ineptness. As a newer game, with a fairly low model requirement, I've tried to make Warzone: Resurrection my competitive game of choice, with Brotherhood being my preferred army for anyone that's interested. 
I have found that when I sit down to play a competitive game knowing that the game will be just that, I get far greater enjoyment out of the game. I can definitely understand the thrill of playing a serious competitive game; that feeling of matching wits and skill with your opponent with only the strongest commander coming out on top.

I think the biggest factor deciding these games, and it's something I've learned the hard way, is knowledge and preparation.

Magic: The Gathering ( is a good example of of this. When I first started playing Magic I sucked. Magic it's a hyper-competitive game that requires not only a good understanding of the rules, but also a good knowledge of the cards and how they interact; I had none of the above. After a few months of gaming my knowledge pool expanded to the point that I could begin to compete, but only in the limited format that I knew.
I've moved away from Magic recently, but I have a few friends that are very interested, and their Magic knowledge is outstanding! They turn up to events knowing most, if not all, cards in the set and how they interact with one another, including the best synergy between cards game-winning combos. 

It's this level of preparation that's to be expected of top-tier competitive players, and it's what I believe separates not only the casual from the competitive, but also the narrative from the competitive. Preparation for a narrative campaign/ game still happens, but it's less about number-crunching and rule-memorising, and more about learning the story and identifying how the characters interact. In competitive play you need everything working in harmony to win, to the point that you've tested, played with and optimised your deck/ character/ army to the point that you know every quirk of the rules. 

If we consider the online game League of Legends (, another favourite game of mine, there are hundreds of web pages dedicated to "How To" guides for character builds (who they work well with, who they counter/ are countered by, item choices and so on and so forth) in order to help players who are less well versed in the competitive side and get them the information they need to quickly climb the ranks in the Rift.

Of course, preparation isn't everything. The nature of gaming means that a quirk of fate can undo the best of your plans and cost you the game. Magic: The Gathering players will tell you stories of that lucky top-deck that turned a game, and veteran war gamers will tell of you of that unbelievable dice rolling that saw them win their local derby. Even top tier League players will tell you about that poorly timed play that saw a summoners spell or ultimate come of cool-down at just the right moment, or the chance team-fight that opened up a game changing Baron/ Dragon kill. 

Beating all the odds to win is far easier with a little luck on your side and that what makes these games exciting, as well as insanely infuriating.

It takes a special kind of person to play these games competitively. Not just the kind of person that can mathematically dissect a game to calculate the perfect winning 'thing', but also the kind of person that can smile at a loss, shrug off that latest defeat and say "Hey, good game. Good luck in the next round". That is the hardest part of competitive gaming, and those players that can do it have my utmost respect! 

Maybe I'll be you one day, but till then I'll be that guy flipping tables and swearing in the corner.

That'll do for now. 

Next post I'll go back to my preferred format, Narrative gaming, and offer up some info on how to best craft your own Narrative Campaign. 
I'll also look at finishing off what I like to call the "Hobby-triad" and talk a little about the modelling aspect of the tabletop hobby.

Till then, happy hobby everybody.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Continuation on a Narrative; The Horus Heresy

Hey all

Medge back again. This evenings post is a follow up on my last one on narrative gaming.

Shortly after uploading the last one I realised I missed out probably THE largest on-going narrative campaign in table-top gaming; The Horus Heresy.

The Horus Heresy represents every narrative fan-boys dream. Forge World ( have committed themselves to making the Heresy in it's entirety. Let's put that into perspective; they're talking about putting together a series of source books chronicling eight years of fictional history spanning the galaxy.

We're only 2 years into their release schedule, the narrative is little more than 3 years into the story. and in that time we've seen the release of 99 brand new kits, not including all of the weapons and upgrade options allowing you to customise your models. We've seen three amazing books drop that allow players to run a campaign across the opening three years of War, the Istvaan Campaign, followed by a new fourth book which act's as the campaigns Epilogue, providing further back story and detailed rules for running your own campaign.

So that's models, rules, never-before-seen story, and everything you'll need to run a campaign!

What more could we ask for?

Well . . . we've not yet considered the Black Library's ( contribution yet.

The popularity of the Forge World Horus Heresy series is nothing compared to the novels. The Damnation of Pythos, the newest one on my shelf, was novel number 30 in a series rumored to be finishing at 50 novels (not including the Audio Dramas, the Limited Editions, the Short-Story compilations and the miniature Christmas releases) . . . yeah right!! This thing will be going till I die!

The novel series has introduction hundreds of characters, and killed off more than a fair few of them, providing Gamers like ourselves with an almost limitless pool of characters to try and model and get onto the tabletop. For those with a knack for detail, it also provides players with the resources for their own scenarios to play out on the tabletop. It will be a while before Forge World catch up with the Black Library (simply because BL have about 8 authors working on the novels, compared to the 2 FW have! Not very fair if you ask me!) and so for a long while a lot of the story elements will remain as Black Library stories only.

That's not to say a brave few haven't pushed against that restriction and made something really special!

I was lucky enough last year to play in the finale of a 3 year campaign hosted by TemplarsCrusade01 (, a fantastic modeler and a great inspiration. Over the campaign we house-made rules for scenarios, Primarchs, characters and squads for every Legion there was, and had immense fun doing it! Nothing was off limits, and we scoured every page of source material to try and make the campaign as true to the books as we could!

The key for us was to use as much material as we could, and to not be afraid of getting a little silly! What started out as 18 friends from Leamington Spa rapidly because 70+ people from across Europe and the US. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I was truly honored to be a part of it.

And it was definitely the best example I could give of a great Narrative campaign!

Right! That's all from me! Please like, share, subscribe and suggest - always looking for new things to ramble about.

Coming up in the next few posts, I'll continue talking about gaming philosophies, focused next time on competitive gaming, and based on a request I'll follow up on some details about how I try to create a good narrative campaign, using my Warzone and Batman campaigns as examples.

As always, happy hobby everybody!

Till next time


Friday, 12 December 2014

Gaming Philosophy; a narrative perspective

Hey all. 

Medge here with my week 1 blog.

Today I'm going to talk a little about gaming philosophy, specifically focusing on my own philosophy with regards to gaming.

Ultimately, when we talk about gaming, we're talk about hobbies and so there's no right or wrong way to do things (despite what anyone says). People tend to disagree quite strongly, and occasionally things can get pretty heated, when discussing the way to do you hobby and I think this reflects the passion we all have for our hobbies; we all believe we're doing things the 'right way' and want to encourage people to follow our direction.

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I'm a story-teller, full of little anecdotes taken from my life, or my friends, and this definitely influences my gaming philosophy. I love good narrative, and anything with a good story will have me hooked, with Final Fantasy IX and Mass Effect 2 being two of my all time favourite games,

Both of these games, whilst having a great story element, also have very strong individual characters, and spend a great deal of time exploring both the character back stories and the characters interactions with one another and this is the element I love. Strong characters get me emotionally invested, and it's why I continue to play these games. I feel for the characters, and I want to see what happens to them. I'm there, on the journey with them, I'm part of the team and fighting for same goals.

This influences my tabletop hobby too. In my gaming community I'm always looking to get little campaigns going with an on-going narrative element and, often, some form of character development.

In the last 12 months I've run a Mutant Chronicles: Warzone Resurrection, a tabletop game by Prodos Games (, campaign which saw players build a custom Character and follow their rise to power as they fought others across a campaign zone.
I'm starting 2015 by kicking off a Batman Miniatures game ( Campaign where players take control of one of the gangs of Gotham, fighting against the police and other gangs for control of the city.
I also hope to be taking part in a campaign run by a good friend using the X-Wing gaming system ( where we each take a basic ship and, over the campaign, build our own Squadron around our character.

All three of these examples really play into one of my preferred styles of gaming, and I'm lucky enough to have a group of like-minded individuals around me to play like this.

And there's obvious advantages to this style of gaming. If we look at Games Workshop at the moment (, there's a massive drive in both Warhammer: Fantasy and Warhammer: 40,000 towards the narrative style of gaming, with both ranges releasing narrative source books, like The End Times and Shield of Baal, full of additional rules, characters and scenarios to let you re-live the story.

The forging of a story, either repeating a great battle from the fiction or exploring a new story yourself, is one of the greatest joys of gaming. It brings people together and lets you get more from the game than simply rolling some dice. By adding a narrative to your games they become interactive stories where every player is a contributing author, which gives players more reason to play than a normal game could. This can lead to some amazing games, and I'll talk a little bit more about how I like to add some extra spice to these kind of games in a later blog.

If you've not tried it, then definitely go for it!

And if it's not your cup of tea, then not to worry! Maybe next week will pique your interest, as I flip the table and talk a little about the narrative-free arena of competitive gaming.

Till then, happy hobby everybody.


Look on the bright side!

Hey everyone.

Before I get too carried away, a little introduction is in order!

My names Medge. I'm in my mid-20's, and during my spare time I enjoy gaming. What kind of gaming? Every kind! I've got a cupboard full of board games, mountains of models for tabletop games, and I start new video games roughly every few weeks (rarely getting very far as my attention is drawn to whatever new shiny-thing has just come out).

I'm starting this blog to try and focus on the positive aspects of gaming; the fun and frivolity of playing with friends; the euphoria of winning, or the grudging respect you offer your opponent when you lose; the beauty of a new tabletop model; the excitement of opening a new game; and the anticipation of a new release.

The internet is a huge place, and unfortunately experience has taught me that there are a large number of individuals who like to be negative on the internet. Naysayers and cynics are everywhere, and I hope to be a little sliver of happiness in a dark and cynical interwebz. 

And if nobody reads this? Well I'll just sit here smiling on my own! ;-)

With introductions made and I'll sign off!

Happy hobby everybody!