David Sirlin believes that there are two definitions of the term “scrub”. The first describes a player who is learning a game. Sirlin does not believe that this usage is derogatory, since every is a new player at some point. The second definition of scrub is someone who is handicapped within a game by a self-imposed set of artificial limitations. A scrub does not play to win. Since the word “scrub” does not meaningfully add to the concepts discussed in this article, I will instead use the term “self restricted”. Warmachine has a great community of players and we do not need to refer to each other as scrubs.
Self restricted players are very common in Warmachine. If you are seeking to become a competitive Warmachine player, you must seek to eliminate any self restricting thought processes. Lets examine some common examples of self restricting behavior in Warmachine.
Self restricted players hate playing with power casters. They want to prove to the world that Goreshade 1 is just as strong as Skarre 1. They hate using net lists. Players that win with a power caster are dismissed as using a crutch. The reality is that few people will remember the player that came in fourth place at a tournament while playing a cool, but sub-par list.
Self restricted players love to make list decisions based on the story behind a model. A common example of this phenomena is the Cygnar purist. A Cygnar purist hates using mercenary models, even though Privateer Press obviously balanced Cygnar around the use of mercenaries. The limitations that these types of self restricted players place on themselves will prevent them from ever unlocking the full potential of the faction they play.
Self restricted players love to shame other players for playing with “broken models”. Casters like Haley 2 are labeled “unfun”. They try to create an environment where models that self restricted players view as too good are not played. It can sometimes be difficult to define exactly which models are too good. If a player starts winning too often with a particular model, it will likely receive a soft ban from the play group. Players in this type of environment limit growth by failing to practice strategies that counter powerful models or casters.
Many self restricted players believe that it is the duty of the players to create social contracts that discourage certain play styles or models for the fun or health of the game. They are wrong, these players are assuming the responsibility of a game designer rather than that of a player. If the game designer is not able to create a well balanced and fun game, then the player should find a better game instead of trying to apply band-aids to a broken product.
Is it bad to be a self restricted player? No. Sirlin is focused very sharply on high level competitive play. If you and your opponent are having fun, then you are playing the game in the correct manner for you. However, if you are trying to climb the mountain of competitive play, you need to rid yourself of any habits or biases that are self restricting. Warmachine is a complex game. It provides enough challenges without imposing your own internal limitations.