The concept of "Pubstomping" in T9A

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  • The concept of "Pubstomping" in T9A

    So I enjoy discussions about game philosophy and game ethics, sue me.

    So the question I want to consider today is, is Pubstomping a legitimate concern in a game like T9A, and if so, whose responsibility should it be to keep that balance in check?

    Pubstomping, for those unfamiliar with the term, originates from Magic the Gathering, a game I am quite invested in as a player and a judge. It refers to bringing very competitive decks, tuned to win extremely quickly and consistently, to a "pub" environment (hence the name), which is assumed to be more casual and focused on player enjoyment rather than win/loss ratio. The term essentially is a borderline perjorative used to describe the type of players who show up to these types of events with no intention of creating an enjoyable experience, only racking up wins.

    So, is this an issue in T9A?

    Several players on the forums have expressed a view that might most accurately be rendered thus:

    "I don't care who wins, really, as long as me and my opponent both have fun."

    This is, to my mind, a harmless and even laudable sentiment - players who focus on the experience of their opponents and themselves over winning. But it forms an interesting counterpoint, as though nobody would express it in words so blunt, the nature of T9A as a competitive game would suggest that there are those players who value winning above all else - that to them, it is irrelevant if the opponent enjoys the stratagems or combats by which victory was achieved, so long as that victory were achieved.

    So what happens when these two players clash? In magic, this is where a pubstomp scenario would conventionally arise - the Waac player, to borrow the archaic term, defeating the more relaxed player by virtue of a finely tuned and effective list. But this also creates resentment, as can be seen by the genesis of a unique term. And this does happen in wargaming in general. Any who have read my thread on AoS have heard my experiences with players who played for narrative and criticised me for holding to rules, or using tuned lists designed to abuse combos.

    So firstly, does this happen in T9A, and if so, what are your experiences?

    Furthermore, if you do consider it an issue, whose responsibility is it to change and fix things? The relaxed player or the competitive player? Is the relaxed player in the wrong for suggesting that the game only has a legitimacy as long as it holds to some preconcieved notion of fairness? Or would you look to the competitive player whose focus on victory leads to neglect of the social aspect of the game and a notion of "good sportsmanship"?
    "I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right."
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    The post was edited 1 time, last by Yatagarasu ().

  • I feel there are two things here:
    (A) Players deliberately seeking out and beating players with a different approach to the game.
    (B) Genuinely well-meaning players who just have different approaches to the game.

    (B) Is easy to fix: just speak to your opponent before the game, and if you can't agree on playing a certain kind of game, each go play someone else instead.
    I do think it is less of a concern in 9th than similar games (see comment below about club lists vs tourney lists).


    Regarding (A), it can never be eliminated of course.

    However, the (historically speaking) great balance of t9a makes it much less of a concern than in similar games, e.g. WFB.
    This is because the gap between club and tournament lists is smaller than ever, and in most cases the game is decided by player skill rather than list mismatch.
    So these players have to actually be better at the game, and not just using a list that is deliberately skewed compared to the environment it is being used in. Historically my experience is that such players never were that good at actually playing the game.

    Of course if the a$$holes doing such things are genuinely quite good players, then they can of course go to clubs and ruin people's hobbies.
    If you see someone doing this, find out their address and send it to me :P
    (Joking of course...)



    Edit: beating unskilled pubstompers is literally my favourite part of the hobby. It is the only time I take massive pleasure in taking every single opposing model off the table.
    Taking an extended break; message or tag someone else if it's urgent :)

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    The post was edited 1 time, last by DanT ().

  • My quick and short addition, not being a competitive player, I'd rather have fun games than win at all cost, but of course I like winning, and try to play my cards the best I can in order to win. If that pubstomping thing exists in T9A? Yes, it does. In fact, it is common to find casual players, people that plays a game every several months, and the first thing they ask for is not the new rules, and what has changed lately, but which list won this or that tournament, so they can just pick that and play, expecting to win due to having a powerfull list

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  • I do not understand the issue - someone was better and won, it doesn't seem to be surprising. Imho what matters is that after a battle, or even during it, the better player could try to explain the mistakes to weaker one possibly with some proposals on how to fix their game or list.

    I would find it extremely patronizing if someone purposefuly wasn't playing well against me because I am weaker. Also doing it severely reduces the possibility for weaker players to learn.

    To sum up I think that the only place to do so is when you are playing with children or people just learning the game.
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  • I dislike skilled players who bring their "ETC-list" to casual game days and beginner friendly tournaments. We casual players come to these events to enjoy the game with our wacky lists, not be cannon fodder on someone’s road to Olympic gold. Try instead to help less experienced players to understand the game better.

    Very few beginners will feel inspired after getting thrashed for 10 hours straight.

    If the event is intended to be all about the competition I expect players to bring their A-game.
  • Yatagarasu wrote:

    So I enjoy discussions about game philosophy and game ethics, sue me.

    So the question I want to consider today is, is Pubstomping a legitimate concern in a game like T9A, and if so, whose responsibility should it be to keep that balance in check?

    Pubstomping, for those unfamiliar with the term, originates from Magic the Gathering, a game I am quite invested in as a player and a judge. It refers to bringing very competitive decks, tuned to win extremely quickly and consistently, to a "pub" environment (hence the name), which is assumed to be more casual and focused on player enjoyment rather than win/loss ratio. The term essentially is a borderline perjorative used to describe the type of players who show up to these types of events with no intention of creating an enjoyable experience, only racking up wins.

    So, is this an issue in T9A?

    Several players on the forums have expressed a view that might most accurately be rendered thus:

    "I don't care who wins, really, as long as me and my opponent both have fun."

    This is, to my mind, a harmless and even laudable sentiment - players who focus on the experience of their opponents and themselves over winning. But it forms an interesting counterpoint, as though nobody would express it in words so blunt, the nature of T9A as a competitive game would suggest that there are those players who value winning above all else - that to them, it is irrelevant if the opponent enjoys the stratagems or combats by which victory was achieved, so long as that victory were achieved.

    So what happens when these two players clash? In magic, this is where a pubstomp scenario would conventionally arise - the Waac player, to borrow the archaic term, defeating the more relaxed player by virtue of a finely tuned and effective list. But this also creates resentment, as can be seen by the genesis of a unique term. And this does happen in wargaming in general. Any who have read my thread on AoS have heard my experiences with players who played for narrative and criticised me for holding to rules, or using tuned lists designed to abuse combos.

    So firstly, does this happen in T9A, and if so, what are your experiences?

    Furthermore, if you do consider it an issue, whose responsibility is it to change and fix things? The relaxed player or the competitive player? Is the relaxed player in the wrong for suggesting that the game only has a legitimacy as long as it holds to some preconcieved notion of fairness? Or would you look to the competitive player whose focus on victory leads to neglect of the social aspect of the game and a notion of "good sportsmanship"?
    This incident that you describe happens in any tabletop game and is therefore not exclusive to 9th Age. Players who participate in these games can be loosely categorized by the terms Timmy, Johnny and Spike. Though these terms are not absolute and a person might display attributes of multiple personality traits each to a varying degree. I could go into detail about these player types but I am too lazy to do so and just post a link here for more info about this topic:

    magic.wizards.com/en/articles/…hnny-and-spike-2013-12-03

    What is the solution to the problem imo? Well, tabletop games are a social contract between players and in order to get the most enjoyment out of a game, you will have to play with a person who shares the same attitude towards the game like you. So are you first and foremost a cutthroat player who wants to win big at all cost (Spike or WAAC)? Fine, then play another Spike. But it would be foolish to believe that this occurs in real life.
    During my approx. 25 years in the hobby, I discovered that Spike players loath to play against another Spike player because there chances of an easy win are severely diminished. They like to bully new players and as such the term noob bashing was coined. The root of the problem with these unsavory types is that they have a very low self image of themselves and need to boost their ego with a win at a toy soldier´s game which is frankly put quite pathetic. So if you are the type of person who does pick-up games which entails the notion to have a lot of different opponents during a year, here is a word of advise: If something new challenges you to a game, gather info about this guy from other players of your locale.

    You might ask yourself now the following question: "Hey man, what´s your beef with Spike?"

    Here comes my response:
    About ten years ago, a buddy and me attended a 40K (5th) partner tournament. In one round we had to play against a former friend of my buddy. The relationship between them was at the moment toxic because my buddy was living with his former girl friend. But that was not the real reason why the game turned out to be the worst that I ever had. First, this guy was a jerk but the tip of the iceberg was the partner of the jerk. That guy was a full-blown sociopath that you usually see only in the movies. He tried to lecture us during the game about everything even about how you move a Rhino and made snide remarks at every opportunity. He got away with all of the crap he pulled because he was best friends with the judge. After the game he addressed me as "the enemy" and lectured me again that you had to show utter disrespect to your fellow human beings to get ahead in life. This was no pun, he was dead serious about it.
    Our relief was that in the next game because jerk and sociopath were paired against a duo that consisted of TWO sociopaths who upped the ante to be vile human beings. They won against us but had suffered a serious defeat against their new opponents.
    Another thing about this all is the fact that apparently karma really exists. During the next 40K partner tournament, jerk´s partner did not show up. Whoever that was had suddenly the brilliant idea to do something different without telling jerk about it. So he loaned a second army from another player and got his rectum kicked severely in the first match and left the tournament instantly with a frown on his face. I derived a lot of enjoyment out of this and told him that it was a foolish idea to only choose Genestealers for his Nids just to rile him up. Good riddance!

    What is my player personality? I am first and foremost a Johnny with minor percentages of Timmy & Spike. All my armies have a theme as follows:

    40K
    IG (Catachans): Only units which were present in 3rd & 4th.
    Eldar (Ulthwe): Only units which were present in 3rd.
    Orkz (Bad Moonz): Shoota boyz instead of slugga boyz.
    Space Marines: Custom chapters. Only units which were present in 4th.
    Renegade IG (Nurgle): Vrak list.
    Daemons (Nurgle): Doom boardgame models proxied as Plague Bearers and Daemon Princes.
    CSM (Nurgle & Night Lords): Every unit has either a Mark of Nurgle or no Mark / Always include Raptors; no affiliated daemons.

    9th Age
    Orks & Goblins (Night Goblins): Only units which were present for the Night Goblins WHFB army list.
    Vampires (Lahmia): Only units which were present for the Lahmia WHFB army list.
    Chaos Warriors (Nurgle): Every unit has either a Mark of Nurgle or no Mark.

    I had the luck during the golden age of my hobby time (3rd & 4th era 40K) that my two gaming buddies had the same sentiment as I had. Collect an army with a theme. When I read today posts on dakka dakka I could literally puke. Everybody and his dog talks about "soup" which means to get the most op units from the factions that share these cute keywords in order to eradicate your opponent in the shortest amount of time.
  • I don't think that kind of pubstomping is a major issue in T9A.

    Game balance is still a long way from perfect, but it is very good in many ways. The gap between optimized tournament lists and most casual lists is not enough to win alone.

    There IS a gap, but it's a gap which takes skill to utilize, and in games between average players, I don't think it conveys a noticeable advantage, and in fact many tournament lists are likely to perform worse in the hands of less skilled players than a casual list would.

    I think bad gaming experiences are more likely to occur simply from the few remaining major RPS matchups (eg KoE vs VS, BH vs avoidance SE, non-tree SE vs pyromancy), than from intentional pubstomping, and there are fewer extreme RPS matchups than there used to be too.

    Adam wrote:

    I do not understand the issue - someone was better and won, it doesn't seem to be surprising.
    You are talking about something totally different.

    What the OP is talking about is not skill-based. It's about average (or worse) skilled players bringing the latest net-list to stomp casual lists.
  • CariadocThorne wrote:

    What the OP is talking about is not skill-based. It's about average (or worse) skilled players bringing the latest net-list to stomp casual lists.
    Ahh, I think I didn't get that. Good thing that this doesn't work anymore. Mediocre player will fail hard with pro player list most of the time because you really have to know how to use lists.

    I have seen low skill players trying to use pro lists (like MSU DH which was list that best Polish player of 2018 used) and they failed miserably. I do not think that there are any "autopilot" types of lists anymore.
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  • There are certainly plenty of RPS match-UP’s still out there, and some books are more heavy with clauses and special rules, which can be frustrating to opponents unfamiliar against said army.

    The worst experience though is having an opponent misplay his own rules to his advantage. In this scenario, I believe that the onus should be heavily on the owning player to know the rules of their army and submit legal lists.

    This only applies to a tourney setting naturally, but still, the penalties should be harsh.

    For casual games, if an opponent wants to bring a competitive list, that’s fine by me, but a heads up is always appreciated.

    Going full salty and bringing an attitude is simple enough to deal with - just don’t play against them.
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  • Yeah im with above; 9th age isnt perfect but its a long way from 40k- 9th has put years into finding balance, GW just doesn’t- for years the newest armies were the best- there may have been exceptions but the trend is undeniable.

    Im not an ETC player but i do play a balance of tournaments and casual games, and i dont see a difference. This isnt because everyone always brings filthy/broken lists, but really there arent any in 9th.

    You do get unbalanced lists- lists that do really well vs some armies or secondarys, but badly against others. Eg Im thinking DH gunlines that do well vs HBE balanced lists, and in king of the hill secondary, but struggle vs VC hordes or break through.
  • Yatagarasu wrote:

    Furthermore, if you do consider it an issue, whose responsibility is it to change and fix things? The relaxed player or the competitive player? Is the relaxed player in the wrong for suggesting that the game only has a legitimacy as long as it holds to some preconcieved notion of fairness? Or would you look to the competitive player whose focus on victory leads to neglect of the social aspect of the game and a notion of "good sportsmanship"?
    There are two things here:

    1) The quality of your list and the amount of time you have spend on the battle plan. No player can be critizised for turning up with a well thought out list and plan - thats like half the fun! If a more relaxed player gets "pubstomped" as a result of turning up casually without a good list or coherent plan, thats his own fault...

    2) But the "spirit" of the game can be either competative or casual, and here its important that everyone agrees. Do you warn your opponent if he is doing a brain fart that will decide the game? Do you go overly rules-lawyer on small things like forgetting to say that you activate a flame banner at the right time? I always turn up with a competative list, but I play super losely with my "pub friends", letting them pull bad choices back and whatever they need.
  • i dont think it is a problem. I mean i know friends who likes to 20-0 weaker other friends without teaching them anything. Peace, not everyone has good intentions.
    I have friends who tailorlist and obv makes massacre of opponent.

    But imho the "conpetitive list in friendly tournament" is a silly excuse.
    This is not a martial art in which belt limit skill or sport in which weight limit access.

    If someone invite players to a tourney, u probably have also dedicated players joining in.

    Game is agonistic. It is just yourself that pretend to make more rules. Playing to win is the "only" smart decision because in any way game ends u earnt something. An hint, experience, something to change.
    Going to an event nerfing yourself by the "im a fluffy player i dont care" just to justify your performance is ... not good.
  • Bad games happen. Some people think that making the hardest list possible is the way to go, others don’t.
    There are so many ways to approach and enjoy this hobby, so you should make sure that both players are on the same page before playing.

    I would wager that the biggest contributor to bad games is that people would rather have a bad game, than no game at all.

    I think it is too easy to label competetive players as netlisters or waac’ers, they just primarially get their kicks from the braincontest part of the game.
  • Most realy goid players I know can make the opponent feel good while 20-0 ing them. Some of their lists dont work in my hands.

    In a game long forgotten I have 20-0ed the long time standard german ETC list of an army with some simularities to EoS several times. I did that with a listtype the original player 20-0ed several times on ETC.

    So was I a better player than his etc opponents? No, but the copyguys I played did not know how to use the list and I knew how to play my list. So basically not I won by spectacular traps but they lost by doing mistakes and wrong Assessments. Most time it was deployment.

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  • Of course this happens! I know people that shun tournaments if the WaaC boys enlist. Happens regularly. As long as there enough events to cater both there are no problems. It also helps if the TO clearly states the intentions of the tournament, like "play to have fun", or "play hard but play like a gentlemen". I usually mirror my playstyle to my opponent. That gives me the most fun. If a play a newbie, I go for the epic adventure; if I play a WaaC, I try to give him a run for his money.
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  • Pellegrim wrote:

    Of course this happens! I know people that shun tournaments if the WaaC boys enlist. Happens regularly. As long as there enough events to cater both there are no problems. It also helps if the TO clearly states the intentions of the tournament, like "play to have fun", or "play hard but play like a gentlemen". I usually mirror my playstyle to my opponent. That gives me the most fun. If a play a newbie, I go for the epic adventure; if I play a WaaC, I try to give him a run for his money.
    is this more their list or their play style?
  • Damo wrote:

    Back in 8th, the daemon prince was a problem between me and a friend. I felt it was broken (unbreakable, 1+, 4+, t6), he like his model and wanted to use it.

    I cant think of a single list that is equivalent- that if i saw in a tournament pack i would feel it was power gaming.

    If it was against a new player that’s different of course.
    you should have used unit of white lions with banner of 'screw you right back' with frosty support.

    Or a light council.

    Then you and your friend would have mutual feelings against each other's list...