Opinion: Does Win-Loss Really Determine Who is the Best?

By |2017-02-03T09:00:42+00:00February 3rd, 2017|Categories: Editorial, Warhammer 40k|

female inquisitor sisters

In tournament after tournament we decide who is the best by a win-loss record. But is this the best way to decide? Well, let’s talk about it.

Sure, we give out awards to best painted but once you get to a three-color minimum your paint skill just doesn’t matter. Why?

I get it, we all hobby differently and I’m bringing a “beat face” to test your skill is certainly one-way to do that.

Conan, what is best in life? Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.

While, these may in fact be best in life, Conan knew also knew the secret of steel. What is best in life doesn’t mean that’s all there is in life. Painting and Converting is Warhammer’s secret of steel. We should be giving it more weight when we want to find out who is “best”

The take all comers list is dead.

There are so many factions and so many combinations that preparing for all potential combos isn’t possible. You’re really just trying to beat as many lists as possible.


Just because it’s numbers doesn’t mean it’s infallible

When it comes to a win-loss system there’s a good chance your list can’t actually beat all the lists that show up to the tournament. That simple fact means even if you win all your games you may not even be the best player there you just got lucky to not face the list that could crush you.

The game is luck based

Yes, there are always key points to a game that can determine a win or a loss. Sometimes you can bring your a-game, play your hand as best as possible but the dice betray you and turn the game around. Yes, part of list building is removing as much chance as possible but chance dominates this game.

It leads to a lack of diversity

When a book loses its points efficiency you stop seeing that army show up on the table. When a book becomes points efficient we start seeing a lot of the same types of lists. Of course, not everyone can play a death star, knight or elder list with the same murderous efficiency. Just bringing an efficient list doesn’t equal success. That’s true. But how great would it be to see all the units the game offers and not just the most efficient.

Dark-eldar-hor wal

So what can we do about it? Well, I don’t have all the answers and I’d like to hear some from the community and tournament organizers but here are a couple of ideas.

Difficulty ratings

We know certain books, Orks/Blood Angels, are less points efficient that others. I’d love to see a point’s modifier that rewards people for bringing sub-optimal lists.

Paint Scores

The secret of painting takes time and skill to master. Bringing a well-painted army should be just as important bringing a beat face list. Do I expect more people starting to bring armies painted by other people to “game the system?” Yes. But players are going to try and game the system no matter what. Guess what, bringing the latest killer combo is also gaming the system.

GuillimanThe Top 5 "Must See" Army of Ones From 2015

Our hobby isn’t about just win-loss. It’s about narrative, it’s about painting, and it’s about having fun. I have no qualms with giving a best general award and a best-painted army award but we need a best all-around because Warhammer is best and Warhammer isn’t just about wiping your opponent off the table.

Barclay Nurgle Wrapper

Want More Editorials?

About the Author:

Sailor, Solider, Pilot, Photojournalist, Paratrooper, Technician, and Jack of Most of Trades. I consider myself a Blood Angel player, playing Death Company heavy armies. Recently, I've decided all my Blood Angels will fall to the Black Rage.