Tuesday, April 27, 2010


So I played two games at the Glen Burnie Battle Bunker on Saturday, and as is always the case, we had a few spectators to watch each game.

During the first game, one of the random guys hanging around stood in the middle of Frans' side of the board, made a few comments about his army composition, picked up and read (silently) Frans' army list, and was actually enough in the way that he disrupted Frans' game.

During the second game, we had between 2 and 5 different people standing around at all times, commenting, chatting, occasionally correcting rules (which is totally fine, since my 40K rules knowledge sucks), and so on.

Now, both my opponents, Frans, and Matt, found this extremely frustrating. Matt almost snapped at a couple of them. I just don't get it.

When I started playing GW games, we ended up playing in a guy's basement or one of the college lounges, anywhere between 2 and 6 of us playing huge games, drinking liquor (not in the lounge ;)), and generally goofing off. Other friends would come and go, strangers would walk by and learn about the hobby, etc. In other words, our games were all about being social. We were hanging with friends, occasionally meeting new ones, and we enjoyed the game.

What's different? I know it's not just my two opponents, because I see the aggravation in other people's eyes from time to time. Even in non-competitive games, I see it happen. In a public place, like the Bunker, I expect people to interact with you, and indeed, I still have friends I met at public gaming venues. Do other people find themselves frustrated with strangers when gaming?

Also, what is wrong with the people who ARE spectators. Again, I don't mind- but generally speaking, why are you critiquing army composition, tactics, and talking about how you think the game is going when unasked, and to people who you don't know? I believe people should be social during these things, but at some point people actually can kind of cross the line, and really bring the enjoyment down for other people.

Ah well. Small rant, primarily to see how other people feel. Personally, I enjoy just hanging out with people, doing things I have fun doing. That's all games are to me. It just makes me sad that it's not always the way other gamers see things :(.



  1. I'll assume that since you didn't directly mention me that I wasn't causing too much trouble ;).

    On a serious note though, I think it is just a matter of personal space for some people. Just in general being uncomfortable with someone hovering around you (particularly someone you don't know).

    I think everyone just has a different line and sometimes that gets crossed. In general, I like to think that we are all relatively mature and can just politely get people back to what we are each more comfortable with. I totally agree though that it is a public place so I think patience and politeness is the key. Obviously, there could be exceptions to this but I think most people will leave you alone if you ask politely. And in fact it might just be a simple matter of making an introduction with the person and just maybe letting them know how you feel (like for instance telling them it's ok to watch but don't touch).

    As for being a spectator, I think it takes practice and just being mindful. Most people are probably more used to playing than watching. Generally, my goal is watching to to get better at the game to see how other people treat certain situations (and to just hang out with friends). In doing so, I try to have a baseline set of rules that I try to follow (obviously not always perfectly though):
    * Don't touch without asking.
    * Try not to affect the pace of the game
    * Try not to affect the game unless it is to point out a mistake in the rules.
    And even that last one can be a bit fuzzy as you don't know what sorts of agreements the two players have regarding how they choose to play the game.

    I think in general, it comes down to just being respectful (even more so if you don't really know the people who are actually playing all that well).

    Just my two cents on the topic. Man, I guess I should consider finally starting a blog given the length of this comment =). Maybe in 3 weeks.

  2. No, definitely not you. I know you, if Frans was having an issue, I'd have just said something.

    That's very insightful though. Perhaps I just need to have Matt/Frans talk to them, lol.

    I think not interrupting the pace of the game is important, I feel like a lot of people really just forget about that part. If people look intent on playing a game, let them play!

    And you should start one man, this way we can see that Empire progress :)

  3. My thoughts:

    1. Do not touch my shit without asking me.

    2. I'm fine with people watching my game but if I'm in the middle of a game, I probably don't want to engage you in conversation.

    The big thing for me is that I go to the battle bunker because they have big tables and lots of terrain. I don't go there to meet new people or socialize with strangers. I go there to play a game and hang out with my friends that I already know.

    As far as talking to people while they're playing a game, I personally don't talk to people I don't know. I don't even watch their games for the most part even. I may look around to see who has cool stuff but that's pretty much it.

    If you are going to talk to someone you don't know who is in the middle of the game, acceptable things to discuss are things like the following:

    1. Oh, that's a really cool model.
    2. What is that model counting as?

    Things you should not do.

    1. Offer tactical advice to either side.
    2. Criticize anyone's tactical decisions midgame or even after game unless asked.
    3. Tell people how to play unless they are having difficulty locating the rule themselves.

  4. While I have never played at a place like the Battle Bunker, I have played lots of games around people at the Mill or at a convention. There is a certain gaming culture that takes some guys a lot longer to grasp than others. One aspect of that culture is to know when to keep your trap shut. In an effort to be helpful, or sometimes the effort is to show how much they know, some people will go on and on like rules lawyers. All this does is piss people off. The worst advice is unsolicited advice.. even if we got a rule wrong. Then there is the issue of space... gamers need space. If your losing a game, and you tend to be competitive, you need a LOT of space. And sometimes it is just the attention. Not everyone likes attention to be focused on them. I get this way if I am losing. Cause I am competitive that way. I would rather a spectator just look and move on.

    Anyhow... my 2 cents.

  5. I see all your guy's comments, and no Nathan, you were not inconvient at all. In fact, if that other d. bag was doing a similar thing as you, i would not have minded him. But once he got into my deployment zone, and I said to him politely, "excuse me" and then he only moves2 inches out of the way so that i can reach for my dice, or my army list sheet that he had in his hands, I get very anoid. Im not thinking about the game anymore, im thinking about this guy in my deployment zone. WTH.

    Ya I was steemed, and wasn't paying much attention to the game, until it was already over.

    I would love to do a rematch Steve, My basement will be finished by next end of next week. And anyone is invited there from our group.


  6. I have to agree with the fine line on the spectator front. It's great to have people watching, chatting about your models or even asking how it is going (to a degree) but some will get very close and physically interrupt the game. That's the point where I usually ask them to step back while we're playing, so we can actually play y'know?

    I make an exception for younger gamers in general though. The last time I played Old Shatter Hands a 10-12 year old kid was hanging around the table and really interested in our game. He didn't talk much and basically stayed out of the way, though did jump in to hand us dice/tape measures etc. While a bit of me wanted him not to be involved in our game at all, I remember being that age when I first got into GW and the other gamers were cool and let me watch/interact a bit. It was a really big boost. I even remember one game where I was given control of a regiment to move and attack with. It didn't do much but boy did I feel cool in that game.

    Unfortunately my hope for him fell when I asked him if he played (yes) and what army he played. 'Marines' was his response, 'Though I'm changing them to Blood Angels because the new codex is going to be really powerful.'

    But then I'm just someone who gets suckered in by models and then has to learn how to use them on the field in my mish-mash forces :-)

  7. See, I would say the same at you Pete- younger people I'd be significantly more lenient about (although this one sounds like he's on the wrong path already ;)), but how do I tell people that they're crowding us? 'Sorry sir, could you give us a little bit of room?'. Actually, reading that, it's not too bad... hmm...

    I think, as mentioned, talking about models seems to be okay. The game itself not so much. I can't remember even Matt (a generally cranky guy) ever getting irritated from someone commenting on a paint job or a model of his. That's a good (though kind of sad) meter, haha.

    "or sometimes the effort is to show how much they know". I suspect sometimes that's right, Rob. I remember playing a game vs Ben (Dark Elves vs Ogres, one of our first games), and a guy was talking about everything I was doing wrong (not that I paid all that much attention). It wasn't to be helpful, I think it was to try to impress me.

    So true about the space issue also. Hmm...

    And Frans, we will get our rematch. Nathan said, and I agreed, the game definitely could turn out differently- the army was definitely a scary one for me to face!

  8. I think it's the place you are playing. I find that the bunker is a great place to talk to people about the game in general, when you are over at the counter. When people are playing though, they seem less willing to engage with others. I think this is a little of what was mentioned before, people being shy, but I also think it is the fact of where you are playing. When you are doing something in public, you tend to focus on getting things as close to perfect as you can, for most people, thats more distraction than they can deal with already. Adding the distraction of a more intrusive type of spectator is the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back. I don't mind answering questions about the game, or my army, but I'm more at ease in public than most people. If the person is clearly in need of game info, just send them to talk to Tom, Larry or Jessi, as they get paid to answer questions about the game. That way your opponent doesn't have to worry about the added stress of an outside distraction while trying to do thier best. If they have half a clue, they will understand, and it should keep problems to a minimum.

  9. That's a good point! I find myself working extra hard during games to not make mistakes when other people are watching (rules mistakes, in this case). I can see how that would get people a little more annoyed. I had actually not even thought about it that way.

  10. I've played a couple of games at a local GW. They kept it open late on Tuesdays for people who had to finish work first. So no minors and a relatively OK atmosphere.

    I took a trip up to Nottingham (my wife was meeting a friend of hers) so I arranged to meet a friend of mine at "Warhammer World". Possibly great if you're a teenager. A little bit scary for an adult (unless they were dressed in a leather trenchcoat...)

    So. Atmosphere and the likelihood of one's army being knocked on to the floor, being able to hear yourself think, having to dodge the hygenically challenged and so on all have an effect on one's day/peace of mind.

    I now only play people I know.

    For me the one of the worst sins at the table is someone who spots a carefully crafted plan or trap and then proceeds to tell everyone. Especially when one has a 'glass hammer' army, it can really spoil one's day.

  11. I can only imagine how that would be. The Battle Bunker here is not too crowded usually. Definitely hygiene problems some (rare) days though.

    Pretty sure if someone actually ruined a trap/plan I was working on during a game, I would actually have to give them a pretty harsh talk. Has that actually happened to you? Or anyone? I've not seen it... yet.

  12. Sort of getting off the original topic here for a moment.

    While I agree that a good trap can be fun to plan out out play, you have to becareful that you just aren't relying on a losing strategy.

    I think my feelings about "traps" just kind of goes back to how I learned chess. I think that in general it is sort of a losing strategy to rely on some sort of "trap" that you plan to spring on your opponent. I mean specifically if you just plain lose if the trap is noticed early. The whole situation is even further complicated by the fact that a few dices rolls can make it all go sour fast.

    Just stick to winning strageties and noone can ruin your game ;).

    Seriously though, I totally agree that someone shouldn't just blurt out some situation they have noticed on the table top that might be seriously advantagous to one player or the other if one of them hasn't noticed it yet.

    While we hopefully all play these games for the fun factor and not just the excitement from winning, having someone point out these things doesn't just ruin the advantage one player thought they had. Look at it front the perspective of the guy who was going to be "trapped". The spectator just essentially went from watching the game to then suddenly trying to play one of the armies basically (or atleast telling one of the 'generals' what they should be doing). Spectators should definitely stick to activities that fall well in the range of spectating.

    Just thought of something sort of funny. Maybe we all should consider bringing note cards to games with the defination of "spectating" printed on them to hand to people who cross the line =)