Well I have been following discussions revolving around tournies the past few weeks and it seems like there is a growing consensus amongst a certain element that 40k is no longer a competitive game. I ponderded on this reflecting back over the past two years of tourney play to see if this might actually be the case based upon my own experience. Those who are saying 40k is no longer a competitive game cite the following reasons for this general decline:
•Prevalance of soft score versus pure battlepoints;
Let's look at the results from the last three Ard Boyz finals. The first year Kirby won with Necrons versus mech eldar. Kirby had to pass a lot of leadership tests the last two turns to fend off tank shocking eldar skimmers (4th edition). The second year Gareth Hunt won with Daemons taking down a dark eldar army in the last round for a massacre. Finally Nick Rose won with mech IG versus orks. The second year victory was very controversial but GW stood behind the champion with public support. Still today you will occassionally see tournament missions that spell out how daemonic assault works as fallout from the Ard Boyz finals. It's interesting to note that the majority of people that wanted the daemon player stripped of his title were working under the false premise that he started the game with some of his units deployed when in fact what actually happened was that an unequal split was made between the preferred wave and secondary wave. So in fact all daemons came in from reserve via deepstrike but you rarely if ever hear about that.
Now fast forward ahead to the present. We are all playing 5th edition and most anyone will tell you that mech is king. In fact I would go so far as to day most people will tell you that mech IG is currently the top army. What does this have to do with soft scores? Ard Boyz is solely decided by battlepoints but in the wake of the 2nd Ard Boyz finals the same people saying that the game should be all about battlepoints publicly requested that Gareth be stripped of his title because of cheating. A judge was produced who made the ruling in favor of the daemon player but that was glossed over for the most part. This tells me explicitly that pure battlepoints is not a solution. In fact there are very few national tournaments that eschew the use of soft scores here in the US. Only the gladiator and Ard Boyz come to mind. So why are soft scores so popular and why do events that only use use battlepoints fall short in the eyes of those who claim 40k is no longer competitive?
•Missions and FAQs
If the tournaments that use only battlepoints still fail to produce a truly competitive envirnoment then we need to look even deeper to find the source of the problem. Some are saying it's due to the missions themselves. Some are saying it's due to non GW sanctioned FAQs. If you decide to play in a tournament then you have agreed to abide by the rules as set forth by the tournament organizers (TOs). That's the way it is. Let's take a look at the NW Conquest that was held earlier this year. The overall winner was later stripped of his title after the event due to public outcry. Basically the TOs caved in reversing the results afterwards. It's important to note that the ex champion had earned high marks for sportsmanship and not once was a judge called to his tables. I personally watched all of the video footage released to the public and did not observe any cheating. The missions for this event were never called into question. Why were no actions taken during the event by the TOs? A lot of people that did not play got involved via the Internet just like the second Ard Boyz finals. A lot of speculation was bantered back and forth over the Internet.
Now lets consider the impact of non sanctioned FAQs created by bodies independent from GW. I'm talking specifically about the INAT FAQ. Adepticon is just one event of many and if you take a good look around youll discover that most other events don't use the INAT FAQ. Last year the Ard Boyz finals was held in Chicago and the GW Battle Bunker there decided to use the INAT FAQ. I don't remember anyone stating that the INAT FAQ decided the outcome based upon a rule that had been changed. I've played at Adepticon the past three years and not once over the course of 20+ games did I ever have to crack open their FAQ and that includes playing on a top table at least twice. Adepticon has stated they created their FAQ so that people coming from all over the country and outside the US will have one set of rule clarifications to address every conceivable question that might arise. It's a lot of work on their part, I'm not saying it's perfect but you do hear people on the Internet claim that Adepticon is not truly 40k as intended by GW. They also say the same thing about soft scores and some go even further stating that GW FAQs are not official either. It just seems like wherever you go there's plenty of perceived problems ruining the game we all love.
There are three groups - the winners, the losers and those who have decided not to participate. Those who don't participate seem to be the most vocal element.