I have to admit that I am a bit of a fan of the 11th Company Podcast.
The latest episode was a series of interviews with people around the world which mainly centred around the issue of comp in tournaments.
Now being a tournament player - and not being particularly hard core, it's not an issue that greatly troubles me, but I did find it a rather interesting discussion.
Being American the hosts of the show found it difficult to understand why comp works - or doesn't. Heck! they are the land of the free, they should be able to field what they like, appeared to be their attitude - yet they were forced to admit that the logic of this arguement ends in a situation in which one or two builds of an army are all they ever see - which is fine, but you have to admit that it is very boring.
They also found it difficult to understand how at the Austrailian Masters players were taking Necrons - which in the American WAAC style is a dud army. They then took this as a some kind of proof that comp doesn't work, on the basis that the players involved were playing the comp to get an advanatge for taking a 'weak' army. Without realising that there is an element of playing the comp involved in no comp - for instance the leaf-blower is apparently the latest vogue, and by taking it you are gaining the exact same advatage as the player taking Necrons in a comped competition.
If I had to make a preference I would say that I am in favour of comp, for this exact reason. In a no comp situation, the only way to get around the inherent advantages in certain builds is the release of a new book. Whereas in the comped tournament the situation has far more flexibility, and the power balance changes from tournament to tournament.
I also found myself questioning the logic of their arguement that the comp vs no comp would be settled by the arrival of the American team at the ETC. The arguement runs that non comp builds stronger players - in some weird Darwinian sense presumably - whereas comp encourages slackers and pandering to the underdog - and that because the Americans play in this red in tooth and claw enviroment that they will sweep all before them.
The problem is that the ETC is in fact a comped tournament, due to the way the team and pairings system works.
And it also ignores the fact that just because you play in a comped tournament, doesn't mean that you are unaware of what the strongest build is. Indeed it encourages the exact opposite. If you are denied the strongest elements of an army, devious minds will then spend their time scouring the books for ways to find comparable levels of power without being cuqaght out and suffering further comp penalties - not to mention that in most touranments it is possible to play the maxed out builds, just not possible to win first place, becaus eof the comp hit.
Though the feeling I was left with was that I am glad that I am not a gamer in America. And it also explained to me why Americans on forums are so narrow in their veiws.
I am not so niave as to suggest that any army can beat any army - but I also know that an army is not a point and click device. It takes time to learn the game, it takes an awful lot of time and money to build the army, and it is only when you ahve gone through that process and taken your share of wins and losses can you really be in a position to know what is good and bad. But the WAAC, cookie cutter, fashionable lists etc seems to me to go against the major element of the hobby which is that it should be a) fun, b) a personal experience and c) open ended and down to what you want to do and what you want to play.
I guess it's each to their own, but if no comp means that if people never play certain armies, then something is very wrong with the hobby.