I've been playing 40k for about 2 years now, I play pretty much once a week and I've attended about 12 tournaments over that period. I own well over 5000 points of Space Marines/Blood Angels, 2000 points of Orks and about 1750pts of Tyranids. I also read a large amount of blogs and listen daily to several excellent podcasts. I think it's fair to say that I'm fairly well immersed in the hobby, recently I think I've been able to put my finger on something that has been bothering me about the game.
I like to think of myself as a fairly relaxed gamer, I would certainly not consider myself WAAC or even that bothered about winning. But despite that I do tend to come away from some games (wins and losses) with a sour taste in my mouth and, I am sad to say, that these can be both tournament and friendly games.
I think there are a couple of reasons for this, firstly rules interpretation. Sometimes I come away from games feeling that the winner has been decided by whoever stood more firmly behind their interpretation of a rule (or rules) or who was more willing to be relaxed about a particular call on a grey-area of the rules. This can and has gone for and against me in the past and it sours both wins and losses equally. Cover saves for vehicles are a perfect example of this, in the current meta-game vehicles are king and keeping them alive is crucial to many a game-plan, so getting cover saves can make or break a strategy. Proving that a vehicle is 50% obscured has surely lead to more arguments and disgruntled losers than any other part of the 40K rule-set. Conversely I know I've felt awkward after sticking to my guns on denying a cover save to my opponent and then blowing up his vehicle.
The second thing that bothers me is bad match-ups. OK, this is a big boy game and part of it is list building, you don't need to tell me that I love list building. What I am starting to object to though is lists that are so powerful that I cannot play the game I want to play and expect to have any fun doing it. This has been sparked by a list I have played a couple of times over the last few months and perhaps I'm just not used to it yet, indeed I used to think the same think about tri-Long Fang Wolf lists, but at the moment I just would not accept a game against that list. If I was drawn against it in a Tournament I would grin a bear it but it would put a cloud over my day. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally against comp restrictions in Tournaments, you should be able to play a list any way you want to. As with the issue I have with rules interpretation, I have also been on the right side of a bad match up and it doesn't feel good either.
So I guess you're going to be thinking something like “all right then genius, what do you propose to do to solve these fundamental issues which spoil the game for you?”. Well short of GW writing a perfect set of rules with no room for interpretation supported by codices which are perfectly balanced across the myriad of army builds they make possible, there's nothing to do really. As I said before I fundamentally disagree with comp restrictions, they are just someone else's interpretation of what makes the game fun. In my opinion, the only fair way to play the game is with the rules as written and make the best of the vagaries and power variances, if that's just not good enough for you then get out of the game and stop whining about it.
For my part I will continue to play 40K, though I'm not going to be playing as regularly as I used to. Perversely I'll probably stick to playing tournaments rather than friendlies, this is because I can pick the ones whose rules packs/philosophies I agree with and I care slightly less about feeling bad after playing someone I just met than someone I'm friends with. Also I resolve to stop concerning myself with my final tournament placing and just do my best to enjoy the weekend playing a game that has got me by the gonads!
Feel free to post below if you agree, disagree or have identified other things which bother you about 40K and let the readers know what you're doing to make the game more enjoyable for you.