More about sportsmanship: Are you being too good a sport?

Here is the scenario:

It is a major tournament. Here comes game one of round two. You find your self matched up against a surly looking, but not too unpleasent dude... but he definitely lacks personality. The game goes on, and you go about your good sportsmanship usual self, allowing shots that are short, allowing assaults that only reach 5.5 inches, not calling him on shooting his lascannon from 5" inside a terrain piece and not granting you a cover save... etc. Then it hits you. You go to shoot a big shot, and your tape may or may not clink against the treads of his tank. His answer? Nope, no shot, you are short...

If you are a sporty player, this has no doubt happened to you. I always try to be the best sport I can be in tournaments, with the intention of possibly taking Best Sportsman if nothing else. Plus it just makes the games more fun over all. But this did happen to me very recently! On at least 3 occasions, I allowed the guy to still shoot my models despite the fact that he was obviously short, explaining that the game is about fun and action and I don't get obsessed about an eighth of an inch. Only to have him deny me a shot the first time it was close... and I'm talking micrometer close... I measured the shot three times, and could even hear the clink of the metal on the end of my tape against his tred... he argued the range, measured it himself, and of course said short. To which, I hold no arguement because I want to be a Best Sportsman... The end result in this particular game was 3 or 4 short shots that hit me, and 2 short shots that did not hit him, probably turning the game into a draw rather then a win for me. Oh, and the guy did not give me full points on Sportsmanship.

The point of this? I think we sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot by trying to be an obvious good sport in tournaments. Allowing short shots to hit to try to win sportsmanship favor is a fail. Your opponent will probably NOT reciprocate when the game is on the line, or even if it is not in question at all. And getting upset if he does not is foolish! It is your own fault. 24" is 24", not 24.5". If his vindicator is 1/4" out of range, the shot is short. If he is a half an inch short on the assault, his guys are stuck. Period.

How do we deal with these things? Consistency. If a shot is short, simply say sorry bud... it is short, and offer some true understanding... "Crap man... unlucky... that was a big shot." Do this every time. Giving your opponent something he does not deserve gets you nothing.

If you are a good sport, you will get the votes any way. If the guy is a douche, you will not no matter what you do. At Bolscon, I got 5 top scores, and 2 good scores. That is a matter of me playing 5 cool dudes, and two douchebags. The 5 top score givers were all fantastic sports themselves. The two others were grumpy, surly and defensive players who could not diferentiate between asking for a rules explanation for ones own education, and contesting a rule. I did not change the way I play for 2 of my 7 games! In fact, one of the guys even rolled me off the table and I took it on the chin with a smile, congratulating him on his tactical briliance and even asking him for advince on what I should have done better! Still did not give me full points. Believe me, it is hard to get slaughtered with grace.

So there you go. Giving away shots does not a good sportsman make. Be fair, be consistent, but remember, 40k IS a game of inches, and if he is short, giving him the shot any way will only come back to bite you in the ass.


Mike and Jeanine said...

so, to be clear, what you're saying is that you're only a good sport to get an award, and since it's obvious that strategy never works, you should always NOT be a good sport?

I think you're missing your own point here. If you believe that it is 'sporting' or 'it's just a fun game', and therefore 1/4" doesn't make a difference, it doesn't matter whether you expect to win best sportsman or not. If you truly believe that's how the game should be played, regardless of any personal gain, then play it that way.
Instead, what you're suggesting is that it doesn't pay to be ncie, so always be strict to the rules.
Look--either you fundamentally believe, regardless of game situation, that you allow things like takebacks, forgotten movements, forgotten shots, short shots, short assaults, etc.--or you don't think you should allow those things. So yes--be consistent--but I think your proposal to be consistently a dick doesn't make much sense.
Basically, you've clearly stated "The only reason I'm a nice guy is to win best sportsman". I would argue that you will never win best sportsman, and don't deserve to win best sportsman, if this is your attitude.

Itkovian said...

"so, to be clear, what you're saying is that you're only a good sport to get an award, and since it's obvious that strategy never works, you should always NOT be a good sport?"

I think that's a bit of an over-reaction. He's entering a tournament, for which you pay for the privilege. By it's very nature, a tournament is a competition in which players agree to compete against each other following a certain set of rules. To apply that set of rules is not "un-sporty" or "being a dick", it's just applying the rules they have all agreed to when they entered the tournament.

Sure, in casual games, applying the letter of the law could be considered "being a dick", but this is not casual play - it's a tournament. If you're paying to go to a competition without "winning something" somewhere in your list of objectives, you're doing something wrong. You'd be better off going for a narrative campaign weekend or some such.

If anything, this article has shown that Jawa has reached a better understanding of what being a good sportsman (in a tournament setting) is.

*as a side note, I am not, and am not very likely to ever be a tournament player - the competitive aspect doesn't figure high on my priorities*

Darkwing said...

I think Jawa's saying that you just to apply the rules, and be good-natured about it. In other words, don't let your opponent take advantage of you by trying to be overly "laid back," but do so in a pleasant manner.

Sportsmanship isn't about giving the other guy a free pass, but rather giving him the benefit of the doubt when it's called for. It's also about taking the ups and downs of the game in stride: celebrate your victories, but don't gloat; curse your defeats, but not your opponent. (at least, not in front of him).

jawaballs said...

Mike, while your comment is sort of typical of annoyin internet argumentation, you do make a point which I will address in a second.

First of all, I went back and reread my post and am satisfied that I did not write any thing out of line and I stand by what I wrote. Your summary is inaccurate. I have a request. Please don't write completely made up quotes as some ones words. That just makes you look silly. Your error is understandable though, I did not fully explain in clear words.

The final point that I made is that there is a difference between being a good sportsman, and giving away the game. I found myself doing both, thinking that they were one in the same and had a problem when the guy did not reciprocate.

But I was wrong! Who am I to get annoyed when a guy does not grant me the same courtesy I grant him. I gave the guy shots he did not earn, he chose to not give them to me. He did nothing wrong! If you are trying to shoot something that is 24.5 inches away with a weapon that has a range of 24.0 inches, you are short. It is not being a dick to say, "Sorry, that is short." That is the game, and to say "ahh close enough, go ahead" in a competitive tournament is only shooting yourself in the foot since the guy will probably not say the same to you when the situation is reversed. You can do this, and NOT be a dick.

The confusion here is to imply that my only goal at a tournament is to win Best Sportsman. It is not. I go to win the whole thing. But often times, sportsmanship is tied in to that... so yes, I am extra special nice at tournaments, to try to get the highest possible sportsmanship, and also to make the games more enjoyable.

Up until last weekend, that included me allowing "short shots" because in a competitive setting, some guys will take take take, but not give and you can end up losing games and tournaments, because you felt you were being a good sport by allowing a dude to assault you despite being 1/4" short.

It is ok to politely tell a man his shot is just short of 2 feet. To give him the shot out of fear of him nailing your sportsmanship is misguided. If he is going to nail you, no matter how many inches you give him, he is going to nail you.

One thing that you say does make sense. If you are only playing nice in an effort to win a sportsman award, and normally play like a total ass hat, then forget it, it will never happen.

Flekkzo said...

I still don't see how your opponent gives out a sportsman score. Seems really random to me. Jawa, what score did you give to the others? Did you overscore them to be nice?

I feel that sportmansship is just a weapon to battle unwanted players. Just as there are people who try to battle 'cheese lists' with trying to score people's lists. Funny thing is, it never works. This is why professional sports have judges that interpret the rules as their way to battle douches. Works better, but not perfect.

That is why I like the idea of invite only tournaments, since it really is a hobby and not a sport.

Flekkzo said...

Jawa, if you find that you are short do you wait and see if you are allowed the shot anyways? Or do you call it as you are short? I usually don't care about being a little short in "base to base" situations, but feel that shooting should be a little tighter. If it's hard to be sure I allow it though.

But the important thing is that I call it the same both ways. Also try to talk to your opponent about this *before* any models hit the table. It is much easier to discuss things when there isn't a win-lose situation going on.

jawaballs said...

Flek, the scoring was pretty simple.

A. Bad. Did you hate playing the game and will you never want to play him again.

B. Good. The opponent was pleasent, the game was ok to good. Most games should fall into this category.

C. Outstanding. You had a fantastic time and would love to play against this guy again. He actively tried to make your experience better.

You circled one of the three choices.

5 of my opponents very honestly fell into category C. We had great games, and I truely felt a sort of friendship bond with the opponent after the game. We remained friendly the rest of the weekend, maintaining conversations and enjoying each others company. It should be mentioned here that in one of those games I blew the guy off the table. You can slaughter a guy and still be a good sport.

The other two guys I gave a good. One of them, the guy in my example, deserved a good. The game was not unpleasent and I would not mind playing him again.

The last, I gave a good out of fear of him tanking my sportsmanship. He slaughtered me, and was sort of a jerk about it. I was seeing things I had never seen before, and when I asked him to clarify what he was doing, he got defensive and sighed out of annoyance. After a few minutes I was afraid to ask him any questions about his army at all out of fear that he would think I was argueing. I truely never want to play him again. It was not an enjoyable game. Im glad he was from Oklahoma. I should have given him a Bad and despite my best efforts to show complete humility, and giving him a LOT of "short shots" as well, he still gave me only a "Good".

jawaballs said...

Flek, great point. I explained to him at the start of the game that I tend to not get nitpicky about eighths of inches. If you are that close, I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt, and went on to do that 3 or 4 times. The first chance he had to reciprocate, the tape was a fraction short. We are talking the width of the metal part on the end of the tape. I measuerd it a few times, said "what do you think man... its close..." he said then its short. I measured it again, this time clinking the metal on the tread of the tank... then he measured it, and said again... "No, it's short."

But this example is not as important as the point of the post.

zealot said...

I've never played in a tourney but recently did have a bit of an issue with a player I don't play with often. He turned 1" or 2" into about 4 whenever he pleased. I had to say something about 10x about it to the point where I just asked him 'how do you stretch an inch that far? do you really not know you're doing this?'

Anonymous said...

i am a tournament player myself. Everytime i am playing on tournaments i try to be best sport as possible - but(!) its important that 40k is a game about inches. If the Vindicator tries to shoot at 24.5 inches it fails. If i try to assault and my enemy is too far away, then so it is.

In those cases i am hard with myself and tend to be hard on my opponents. Thats just the game. I honestly dont see a problem with it. In casual games with friends on the other hand i'd grant such shots or movements, because its all about the fun.

Ben said...

This is my first comment on your blog Jawaballs, so first off I'd like to say I think its a good blog and you show some great stuff. As a fellow BA player I always enjoy seeing others' BA work.

To the point. Your commentary is completely correct I too have experienced this phenomenon and its not fun. I am impressed you still managed to be so nice after the game too. While its the best way to act one has to wonder if it makes your opponent think or he just doesn't register what happened.

Normally nice guys end last, life is just like that. Luckily it doesn't stop nice by nature people from being nice. One time it didn't result in me being last.

I once played a tourney (not a GW one) where all my opponents gave me 10s for sportsmanship except one "douche" who gave me a 0. The organiser asked me what happened. I replied I didn't know other. He saw this guy gave everyone low scores and so he decided to discount the 0 I had been given. Something I thought was pretty cool. In the end I won the tourney which was even cooler :o) Regrettably I havent been able to win a GW tourney yet though.

jawaballs said...

Thanks Ben, Once in a while I try to balance the substantial amount of self horn blowing I do with some equally substantial gaming insight. I have come back to this topic quite a few times, because there is a lot to say about it. I think my point of view is important because I consider myself a competitive gamer more then a casual... in fact, I rarely even get in casual games any more, and most of my games are at tournaments.

Akenseth said...

I have to say I agree completely. It is what it is, and nothing different when it comes to measuring ranges. The rulebook is pretty clear on how it all works. With my games it goes unspoken because my group is all used to measuring ranges like that. Maybe it's not sportsmanlike, but it certainly is fair. The tape measure doesn't lie!

jawaballs said...

The initial question was "Are you being too good a sport?" There is nothing unsporty about following the measurements to the letter, especially if you are polite and good natured about it. What I found myself doing was giving guys unfair advantages, in the spirit of sportsmanship, and not getting it back! You can play a game exactlly by the tape, and still get full sportsmanship points. There is being a good sport, and then there is being a suckafoo! :)

Anonymous said...

It's a tournament.

Your not there to teach them the rules.
Your not there to coach them.
Your not there to be nice and bend over.

If it's short it's short.
If it's against the rules then so be it.
They forget a move then shrug

Pacific said...

Well I wouldn't categorise being nice next to bending over but there you go... :)

Interesting points here, and (without sounding like I'm brown nosing too much!) its lovely to be able to read a discussion like this that hasn't degenerated into the almost inevitable 'casual vs. hardcore' argument which never ends.

I certainly think that you've hit the nail on the head concerning categorisation of your opponent - I'm sure everyone who plays regularly will know that their opponent will be of a certain type, and what kind of game you can expect with them. I have to be honest that 99% of my games are not in tournaments (they really aren't as prominent this side of the pond), but I have come up against gamers where their generosity with concerns to the rules have not been reciprocated and I end up feeling hard done by. In such situations, the kid gloves come off and while I'll always try and be well mannered and courteous in how I deal and speak with people, as far as the game is concerned then my opponent should expect no quarter.

But, in the majority of cases this isn't how I like to play. I enjoy games which are mild natured and with good atmosphere, and the most stressful thing is wondering whether or not the flight base of my metal landspeeder will survive the game for once!

I understand that sometimes within a tournament situation it might not always be possible to give concessions in a game, but as my ma always used to tell me 'manners make us man' and I always try and remember that I'm there playing because I want to be! :)

Laertes said...

I think the question boils down to why one does what one does in a tournament setting (or indeed in any setting). If you believe that being a good sport is the "right" thing to do, then that's what you do, and your expectation of what the other player may or may not do isn't a factor.

It's really the flip side of the argument about cheating. You don't cheat because it's the right thing to do, and not because if you got caught cheating you'd lose points or be disqualified from the tournament.

So I think you be polite, be helpful, and the like, not to get a sportsmanship score, but simply because it's good behavior. Now, giving the guy an extra half inch or so may go beyond that -- it's up to the individual to judge. I don't think sportmanship is about your opponent receiving some sort of advantage for playing against an opponent who IS well behaved.

And for those who'd prefer tournaments that are NOT so well behaved, I recommend more contact sports. :-)

Raptor1313 said...

I'm with you on the issue at a tournament.

If anything, I think you gave it away a bit much. You gave him several shots, and then he denied you one.

I had a similar experience, save that it was with a player who just kind of picked up and moved his assault troops instead of actually measuring it out.

When you get down to it, this IS a game of inches, and there are cases where these inches really matter.

In a fun game...I'm a little more forgiving; if we're both going to let the other guy fudge, then, well, it's part of the tone.

On the other hand, you won't make errors like that a second time, and honestly, you'll sharpen up if you're trying to eyeball 6/12/24/36/48 (or whatever other important increment) of inches.

Finally, I don't think there's a call for actually showing what you scored the other guy on in sportsmanship. If it's been a fun game and we've both been good sports, I don't mind marking it down.

On the other hand, if the other guy's been a tool? I feel no need to give them a sportsmanship score they didn't earn. If anything, I'm usually generous with the score, but...sometimes, well, you're just doing the rest of the tourney-goers a disservice.

Finally, I think when you get down to it, sportsmanship awards are highly subjective, and usually go to the lowest-scoring bloke with the best score.

And in terms of incentives? It's totally possible for the other guy to STILL screw you over if they just feel like it.

I think sportsmaship should definitely be enforced, but any kind of subjective rating is just...asking for abuse. I know it's difficult, but you'd probably get better sportsmanship with judges just walking the floor. (Of course, that gets problematic for larger events...)

pissclams said...

i simply squirt surly opponents in the eye with salt water.........what else would you expect... im a clam darn it !

suneokun said...

Bad sportsman give bad sportsmanship score 'cause they don't value it. Perhaps they're associating 'Sportsmanship' with lethal-efficiency and the ability to catch them in every cheat...


Jawaballs, you inspired me to write a follow-on blog about learning to be 'sporty', I think you'll enjoy it:

Brent said...

Man, I'm itching to know who you played... was it a Chaos player with long hair? He played next to me a few times and was pretty much a tool to his opponents.

I think you're conclusions are right on - be fair coming and going and let sportsmanship work itself out. In many ways I let my opponents behavior dictate mine; if he's aggressive, so am I, but I'd rather just be chill and have fun.

Frankly I'm surprised this was an issue for you. You were a really cool opponent and our game was a blast. I've got the first part of our game up now on my little blog if you're interested - I've got some great pics going up tomorrow.

Take care - Brent

BSK said...

Sorry for posting in such an old thread, but this article really caught my attention.
I play 10+ tournaments each year, and have won the "best sportsman" award many times. But I have never, ever allowed one single short shot or short assault move.

I would rather let my opponent re-roll an unfortunate save than allowing out-of-range stuff.

Why? my reasoning is that planning moves and eyeballing ranges are key skills in 40k. Things like baiting the death company to come out in the open by moving some models 18,5" away from them is skill. The intention of the move was to lure the DC to become stranded in the open, failing the assault by 0,5".

By allowing any "almost there" measures, you'll remove lots of the skill and fun aspects of the game.

To me, it's just as stupid as not allowing an assault when the distance is 5,5".

On the other way, I ALWAYS let my opponent roll a forgotten fortune in mid turn, or do pretty much anything that do not change the game mechanics.

I don't consider winning because my opponent has a bad memory to be comforting.
But in a game with so much dice as 40k, I think we shall be careful about removing any rules that demands skill.

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