As we commemorate the fallen heroes of Normandy, I’d like to offer a brief tribute to the heroes of COH: great players who have inspired countless noobs to improve their game and who have shaped game balance and the way each faction has been played for the last two years.
There’s a difference between great players and players who are merely talented at the game and rank in the top 10, 20, 30 or whatever metric you choose.
The great players are people who aren’t just good — they’re the guys who are in it for the game, who choose civility and modesty and avoid the temptation to roll around in their minor celebrity. They know COH is a game, just like any other game: not worth being an asshole over.
They find satisfaction and enjoyment from executing well-planned maneuvers, handling tough in-game situations and testing out new tactics. For them, it’s rarely about the number of wins or losses or their rank; it’s never about beating a specific person. It’s about playing and enjoying the game at a high level. Just like any hobby, COH is more enjoyable if you truly understand the game and can play at a high level.
Great players appreciate the subtleties lost on average or even good players; this is what gives them that special, almost undefinable edge in every game, in every battle, in every Engineer vs. Pioneer minigame when a match begins.
But it’s more than that, of course.
Because great players aren’t assholes, and offer a helping hand when they can — be it posting on the forums or talking to you in chat — they are seriously an inspiration.
I don’t want to make it seem like a lovefest or anything, but back in the day Surprise was the first great player I met and he honestly inspired me to try and get good at the game. He didn’t have to give a big speech, or become my mentor (by the way, the mentor/mentee program that’s run periodically at GR.org is a great way to get better at COH).
He just chatted briefly with me in a Ventrilo channel and explained in one sentence how he handles Wehrmacht MGs on Angoville (“I sort of try and do what Nystrom does — always keep my Rifles in this sort of circle, so all the squads can approach targets inside it from different directions”).
My reaction was of course, ZOMGBBQDAIRYQUEEN it’s SURPRISE GIVING ME ADVICE! It was advice that made awfully good sense once I took a minute and thought about it. It was a moment that instantly recalls those magical moments between the expert and the ordinary observer; just picture Watson marveling at Sherlock Holmes deducing the details of a man’s life from his pocket watch.
Anyway, that’s just one example of the epiphanies I often find myself having when talking to players like Surprise or Nystrom, usually as a result of them saying the simplest things. It’s humbling and produces an intense desire to want to know the things they do.
So it doesn’t take too much for a great player to inspire an average one. Great players also produce astonishingly good replays, and battles between titans like Aniketos and Sepha often tend to be case studies in outstanding gameplay and sportsmanship.
The bottom line is that great players contribute immeasurably to the community, often without having to do anything special (like say, start a blog called Rifles Ready!) or out of their way. And even if you’re an average player, there are many players worse than you, who look up to you. Take a moment and remind yourself COH isn’t worth being an asshole over, and offer the noob one good piece of advice about the game, just one little thing you know, but he doesn’t. It’s an act of greatness.