Angry Nerds are the Worst Nerds: How to Not Get Salty at Wargaming
Sardonic Artery gets to the root of nerd game anger.
Rage quitting. Going on tilt. Getting salty. Playing any game against Haley2.
Whatever you call it, if you’ve played a wargame competitively, you’ve probably seen someone get angry. Until recently, I’d only gone on tilt twice:
- Back when I played MK2 Cygnar, I had a casual game with Nemo1 into Cryx (read: all the banes). My arc node was perfectly within 5” of several undead; Nemo had enough focus to cast chain lightning three times (with a reroll from the squire); all I needed to do was roll 4 on 2D6. I rolled 2, 3, 3, 2, missing the lot. Next turn, all those banes initiated old man Nemo into their undead club. Instead of grabbing another game, I grabbed my bag and hit the door.
- Some of the Colorado greats hit up the Intermountain Cup (IMC) in Ogden, Utah. Unlike a normal local event, you’ve got a long ride, a packed hotel room, and the cost of a weekend away. Even if the company is good, you want to do well; otherwise, the trip doesn’t seem worth it. Round two, I got paired with the only other Skorne player in the place—Fist on Fist. My Xerxis1 got to feat-alpha and it looked real good. Except I made a mistake and forgot to whip my beasts open for transfers. We’re talking rookie mistake 101, something that should long since be gone from muscle memory, but one loss later, I still had a full day of play, an eight-hour drive, and zero shot at the top table. Come round five, I set a personal record for rolling snake eyes in a single game—we’re talking 8-10 times, including triple 1s twice in a row (thanks, puppet strings!). I didn’t flip a table, but it was mad for me.
It’s silly though, isn’t it? Getting mad over bad dice or what should be a fun hobby. What do you really get if you’re good at Warmachine? You can’t pay the bills with the winnings and people appreciate your personality more than your play skill. Likewise, what do you lose out on if you’re bad? Granted, most prefer to spend their time on what they’re good at, so you’re likelier to play more if you win, but winning isn’t everything. Don’t believe me? There are national players that no one can stand, but you likely have some local scrub you enjoy slinging dice and insults with, win or lose.
Last tournament I went to I had the kind of game that makes you drop from the event and the community for a while. The match up looked favorable, but my opponent had fire dice while mine tanked (save for frenzy checks). The worst part was I kept it close and still lost. Every turn a chance for redemption and every turn it kept going wrong. This isn’t to say my opponent played poorly—he had a solid scenario play that sealed the deal with a few minutes left on his clock—but if only some (not all) things go wrong, it’s probably still a win for me.
I still had a shot at third, but instead dropped at 2-1, and put my stuff in the closet for a week. I figured no one needed to be around my lousy attitude but me. So, what happened? The first seven years of my Warmachine tenure I’d gone on tilt twice, but in the last year it felt like this was happening more often. Figured I better suss out why:
When I first started Warmachine, I did so because my last hobby became my job and I needed a new way to let loose. For me, using my brain in a way that doesn’t really matter is what makes for a fun hobby. And fun is key, as I’m often around the harder side of life. While I’m legally and morally obligated to not talk about much, I can tell you that I’m around some difficult people: Murderers, rapists, drug addicts, child molesters. Why? Because 12 years ago, I read Jesus talk about visiting Him in prison and then had a debate with God about why guys who are 5’5” and 120 pounds shouldn’t go to prison (spoiler alert: I lost). Since then, a good chunk of the people in my life come with felonies—mostly those trying to go straight. It can be challenging. For example, can you figure out how to remove a hooker who lives at your friend’s place when he or she refuses to leave? Hint: you can’t use money, the police, or threats/violence.
In the early days, recidivism took its toll, but I’ve long since learned that some the people who are going to make it still need to go to jail or prison one more time to be done with that old life. After a while, you know another large chunk will never make it, but you do see people get better. Now instead of court dates I’ve got hospital visits—reminding tough fellas to kill that confession when the sedatives kick in. Their challenges have not gone away, but they have improved. Overall, I’m around less dire situations, and with it, my perspective has shifted.
Throw in recovering from a divorce* and I must acknowledge that my life has gotten better and I’m surrounded by less heartache. Silly as it may sound, sometimes it’s a lack of perspective that can get you angry at the little things in life. I think that’s part of why I’ve been more annoyed at wargaming lately: it’s easy to lose track of what matters. (Another part is when your ego says you should beat your opponent.) Regardless, it’s time to get back to saving my anger for the real problems in the world.
So the next time you’re raging at an assassination run gone sideways, remember how you’ve got it good, and treat your opponent well.
Unless they play Haley2 Heavy Metal. There are limits, man.
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*Not my choice, but if you’ve got a way to stop someone from pulling the parachute on their current life, you let me know.
You can find Colin McKay Miller (AKA Sardonic Artery) on his Twitter or at Colorado Warmachine events in his tiniest of short shorts.