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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sometimes Reputation Matters More Than Skill

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Back in the 1980s I was just a staffer for ADB. I did not think much of that in terms of it having any real meaning at all. I did things for ADB that my playing group helped me with.

Within my playing group at Fort Benning, however, I was the proverbial "big fish in the small pond." I was the guy to beat, the best player.

Someone decided to throw a local gaming convention in Columbus, GA, which is the big town outside of Fort Benning. I decided to attend, but of course could not get there on the first day (Friday) until after the end of duty. Consequently I did not arrive until well after 1800 hrs.

Suffice to say, my first game did not go well. The player opposing me (it was a Klingon "civil war" with D7CTs fighting it out) managed some pretty good damage, and it was very plain to me that I had lost. My ship was too far behind the "power curve" to overcome my opponent. However, I did not want to just roll over, and adopted a pursuit course that soon saw my opponent running up against the tournament barrier.

At that point, something strange happened.

My opponent conceded.

Dumbstruck, I asked him if he was serious and really meant to concede, and he confirmed it.

I did not know it right then, I only found out about it a little later that night (after winning my second game), but my gaming group had arrived at the convention at about 1400 hrs, and had pretty much spent the intervening period between then and my arrival "warning" the other players who had never met me that I was coming. Showing them my name published in Captain's Log and my "best of issue" term paper in Nexus.

It turned out that the first kid who drew me as an opponent could literally not make himself believe that a ship that was charging in, "forcing him into the map edge," could possibly be so badly damaged as to not be able to destroy him. I was "attacking," "moving aggressively to engage," so I had to have some plan to destroy his ship, and he was out of room to maneuver because I had driven him into the map edge in my hot pursuit. He could not seem to correlate the damage he had already done to my ship with my aggressive behavior, but he knew I was this "great player who worked for ADB."

I remember the game more as a cautionary tale than one I take pride in. I won on an (in my own words) "undeserved reputation." I like to think that if I had known what was happening (as noted, I did not know what my gaming group had done until after I had won my second game of the evening) I would have encouraged him to keep playing rather than concede. As I did not understand his motivation for conceding, I accepted it at the time, and I do regret that.

It does, however, make the point of this post's title: "Sometimes reputation matters more than skill."