Competitive vs Casual

With the release of the new Clash of Kings 2018 and the Kings of War Battlefield cards there has been a lot of discussion on competitive vs casual gaming.  I thought this would be a good time to weigh in with my opinion (hey - you in the back - enough with the fat jokes - don't make me pull this blog over!)

Kings of War Battlefield Cards
Now when most people think of competitive game play, tournaments come to mind.  Personally I've seen some WAAC (Win At All Cost) gamers that just come out for a Saturday afternoon, looking to crush any and everyone.  I've also seen people show up at tournament after tournament who aren't there to win a prize, but to meet new people, play against old friends they don't get to see, and just have fun rolling dice.

To me the difference isn't about being competitive or casual.  It is instead the difference between those who are ONLY looking for a little bit of fun, and those who are trying to hone their skills at the game and make themselves better.  This often has to do with frequency of gaming - but one of the biggest attributes is passion.

A passionate player (and this is of course, generalities,  there are always differences and exceptions any time you attempt to categorize anyone) is one who not only likes the game and getting a game in, but devotes time and energy into all aspects of the game and hobby.  They often have several armies, and these may be highly themed either within the game world, or with something else they enjoy.  The don't just read the rules, they devour them, and when they find the occasional issue with them, they attempt to get it resolved.  Passionate players in general are looking to improve the game itself, including promoting balance among the varies lists (though some are passionate instead about THEIR army, and just want it improved).  Many passionate players will write up new army lists constantly, trying to see how this combination works and what this artefact does for a unit.

Clash of Kings 2018
Casual players are not this.  They aren't looking to balance things week after week - and so may be upset when changes come out because they now have to get another book, or change their list.  They want things to remain the same, so they can just pick up and play the occasional game.

So who are these two new products aimed at then.  They are BOTH for passionate players - those who care deeply about the game.  The Clash of Kings annual update is about balancing the rules and armies.  It often has the fixes that players have been asking for.  It shakes up the 'meta' by making people think about if this existing  unit is better than another that got updated (or worse), and how to replace that artefact that is no longer available.

The battlefield cards are about breaking up the boredom that can come from playing the same scenarios (often with the same people) week after week.  Playing your elf army with four hordes of archers now becomes a real challenge when you get the "Reduced Visibility" card and your line of sight is reduced to 18", and you take a penalty for shooting over 9".  How do you deal with deploying 9" from the center line, or 15"  The objective cards change up the entire game plan, especially as each player is working toward different goals.  And the strategy cards can barely have an impact, or save that critical unit (or rout it!)

For casual players - none of these are necessary.  Play from your normal rule book.  If you only play every other month, then the scenarios will always be interesting and new.  Nothing is forcing you to buy or play with any new rules - in fact you could still be playing with the 1st edition rules (or even any of the alpha/beta/gamma rules (the xerox pages, the simple black and white booklet, the better color booklet) that came out before the actual 1st edition kickstarter.  I've seen people saying that they still love to play WFB 2nd edition with their brother in their basement.  Any of these are fine.

In the end, it is your miniatures, and your game.  You can use it as a means to meet and talk with people, or just hunker down with your friends.  You can drive changes and embrace the new tools, or sit back with what you enjoy.

If you are passionate about the game, then both of these are for you.  And honestly, if you aren't passionate about the game, then I'm surprised you are reading this anyway :-)

Because it is all fun and games . . .


  1. You are right that any way to play is equally valid, and people can do whatever makes them happy and is agreed with their opponents. I consider myself a casual player, I don't attend tournaments (I genuinely don't have the time, and there isn't much of a scene in Scotland) and only play once or twice a month. Having said that I like to keep up to date with rules as it keeps the opportunities open for playing new people that can play the game, whatever version they prefer. Currently within my club we have one group playing basic v2, and a couple of us who intend to use Clash of Kings 2018. Both are fine, although a little confusing. There is a tournament this weekend in Stirling that I would liked to have attended, mainly because it was billed as a casual event and I would have liked to meet some new players, but childcare beckons. That doesn't mean I wouldn't have wanted to do well, quite the opposite but I don't realistically expect that to happen.


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