Sexism and Swordmasters

Swordsman in a dress?

Swordsman in a dress?

I am so tired of hearing everyone tell me that our Swordmasters are girlish. It drives me nuts.

Apparently some people have difficulty with the idea of a slender swordsman with long hair who wears a robe. Do they think martial arts Kendo practitioners look like girls too? I guess they’ve never seen pictures of Norman warriors at Hastings in their long mail coats. For a footman, the long body cover is not at all a bad design. It’s when combat moved to mounted knights that it was more important to keep the legs separately armoured. The idea of seeing a man in full plate armour wading through the mud is basically daft, it would be too heavy.

Truth is, it’s an elf in a fantasy setting. It isn’t girly, it’s an ELF. Sorry if that’s too complicated for some people.

But there is more to it than that. The ire directed on forums towards people who asked for female Chaos Chosen, the general sexism towards Swordmasters and put downs on dwarf tanks for their height. I’m sick of the attitude from the player base that tanks must be uber-macho, and the refusal to accept that a slender looking character can do the job. No one complains about their healers, casters, or melee dps not looking macho enough, so it isn’t just players who can’t handle having a non-bulky alter ego. People aren’t whining about Disciples of Kaine wearing long robes when they fight or goblins not looking sufficiently badass. What is this particular issue with tanks?

It makes me so very glad that most of the haters will have rolled destruction so I don’t need to deal with them other than via a swift eye-laser to the goolies. From behind a sold shieldwall of Swordmasters.

20 Responses

  1. You missed this conversation on guild chat yesterday, well.. something approximating it anyway.

  2. I don’t care much for their look or the dwarves

    i don’t like playing short characters since the bigger characters always look grander (to me)

    The elves well yeah they are feminine and to say otherwise is to not even look at them

    If you want to debate practicality how is it that a supposed front line unit looks so prim proper and groomed? if you are on the front lines you’d have at least 1 or 2 scars to show for it

    i’m not basing this on a pure criticism of the robe esque kilt thingie but rather the overall appearance but i don’t like the elves look at all

    Call me sexist or whatever but i know what i like and i don’t like them it’s my preference and (clearly since you wrote this article) others also share a similar view.

    People like different looks

    Get over it

  3. While I essentially agree with you, as a practical matter from someone with a vested interest in Order succeeding, it sucks that we don’t have a choice of a tank that fits the masculine stereotype of tankiness, and thereby suffer from a lack of tanks. We really, really need a human tank, because a LOT of people who would otherwise be playing a tank are not going to play a midget or a ballerina.

    How many scenarios have you joined only to be confronted with a Destruction force half comprised of tanks?! If your experience has been anything like mine, A LOT.

  4. Oh, we see lots and lots of destruction tanks. I’d love to see Empire Knights back in the game, but at the same time, I know that even when we were doing class surveys in beta before it was announced that they were cut, the black orc and chosen were two most popular classes and Knight of the Blazing Sun was one of the least popular.

  5. I agree with what your saying, however most people wiching to play a tank want a large armoured hunk of terror and Order tanks just are not cutting it, they therefore go to Destruction. The sheer amount of BO’s and chosen is scary at times as we always just get Melee charge straight through to us casters at the back everytime and are unable to do the same ourselves.

    KoTBS would help, I have seen the NPC models and they look like they would be a great addition to order tank/melee numbers.

  6. High Elves are cool. Their subtlety and grace indicate intelligence, culture and refinement. Swordmasters are awesome because they not only tank as well as the Chosen and Black Orcs, but they take the p*ss out of their opponents by doing it with flamboyant style.

    Heck, Ironbreakers are half the size of the Destruction tanks, and yet they still kick as much ass. That’s got to be embarrassing!

    Knights of the Blazing Sun would have been the cherry on top of the Order tanking cake. They wear feathers in their helmets for Sigmar’s sake!

    We would have had a trio of fabulousness pitched against a couple of dull, one-dimensional brutes, and the Blackguard, which was the only slightly interesting tanking option in the Destruction ranks.

  7. Wotcha everyone,

    Gosh, I must have a different version of the game to everyone else, because the Hawley Edition has an elf face that just screams; “You are the dirt on my boot, and I’m just about to scrap what’s left of you off it”. It’s not effeminate. It’s one shade off harsh.

    I think Spinks has it right. Real Men! play tanks, and want their tanks to look like Real Men! Ack, get over it. Just because you don’t like the look of the Swordmaster doesn’t mean the people playing them should be insulted.

    I like the look of the Swordmaster. Unlike a fantasy version of the European Knight, lumbering about the battlefield, it has the look of a warrior who uses skill rather than brute force. It’s a Jedi Knight, a Samurai.

    And if that means that Real Men! can’t see past that, and go off to play Black Orcs and Chosen? Well, I can live with that. Because maybe some players who don’t want to play a brutish looking character will try out tanking with a dwarf or an elf, and that’s a good thing.

    Prim and proper and groomed? Are you being serious? Whilst “The Patriot” is a pantomime of a movie, there is one moment that is fantastic. As our American rebel heroes are advancing onto the field of battle, they notice their French compatriot in all his dress parade finery, and take the piss out of him for it. “If I’m going to die today, I’m going to look bloody good doing it” he says, or somesuch.

    Personally speaking, I’d be wearing all my finery and medals as well. I’d want to look fabulous.


  8. I’m not noticing a lack of tanks on order – at least in the first tier – then again I have been mostly playing the high elf vs dark elf scenario..

  9. Soon enough there will be enough Real Women playing MMOs that Real Men whining about not having enough testosterone and roid rage on their chars won’t be an issue.

    Eh, one can dream, no?

    We play these fantasy games partly to recreate ourselves, idealised or otherwise. I like to play elves because I’m short and round, so playing a dwarf is a little too close to reality. On the other hand, I always play female chars if I can because I’m *so* tired of male stereotyping in fantasy gaming. Given that the industry has been dominated by pubescent and barely post-pubescent males for the last several decades, it’s not surprising that gender judgements (“Elves are girly”) are so basic.

    Not much point getting mad about it. Some people can’t look beyond the end of their own… nose, and others eventually grow up.

  10. MY bud and I have some alts that just broke into tier 2. He plays a Swordmaster, and plays up the pansy-elf angle; always worrying whether his armor matches his eyes, asks where the nicest flowers grow, worries about his manicure, etc. He’s a good counterpart for my grumpy Engineer, both from the in-game mechanics point of view, and from a RP perspective.

    Fun aside, though, Order absolutely NEEDS more Swordmasters. As stated by others, Order is critically short on tanks. People who would have played a Knight (which was one of the removed classes) simply rolled up a Warrior Priest, for the most part.. Warrior Priests can deal with a champion on their own and can tank a hero with additional healing, but they have no prayer against a keep lord. To be able to compete in RvR, we need more Swordmasters and Ironbreakers (and Engineers, but that’s a topic for another time).

  11. To me, elves as a whole are feminine, even the males. It’s a feminine fantasy race — tall, willowy, slender, curved lines everywhere, etc etc. Other than the High Elves penchant for tall phallic-looking structures, there’s not a lot about them that does scream “masculine!”

    And that’s not good or bad, it’s merely an observation. It is a shame that Destruction can’t yet play a female tank, or that Order suffers from people reacting negatively to the looks of the two tank classes, but that’s how the cookie is crumbling, here. There was a great post I read lately that talked about how people are attracted to classes that “look cool” to them, as a bottom line. If a Swordmaster looks cool to you, you’ll play it, but it does seem like its looks + class purpose aren’t synching up in a lot of peoples’ minds.

  12. Us Stunty Ironbreakers can hold any line with support, I particularly enjoyed smashing a Chosen in the RVR region on saturday 2 levels my better (19 vs 17 at the time ;)) Added Insult to Injury coming from a short arse!!!! (hehe glad I got that in!!).

    And frankly I’d be proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with a Girly Swooshmaster. But perhaps this post highlights a group psychology? Perhaps we short/girlish tanky types are not attracting the right amount of healer attention? (hehe … cat… pidgeons!!!)

    I can see a few IB’s using ‘Hold the line’ on a ramp with the swooshmasters adding a bit of height smashing all in sundry that come up against them.

    But in all honest, in a tight jam the odds will always favour the defenders, be they large impressive chosen and angry snarling black orcs, or Girly swooshmasters and stunty IB’s as long as the support… well supports 😛

  13. They shouldn’t be insulted for playing their class of choice

    I merely stated that i didn’t like their look and why it’s fine if you have a different opinion to me

    it’s just the thrust of this article to me seemed like
    “If you don’t like swordmasters then obviously you’re not thinking hard enough”

    Sorry no i don’t like them it’s fine if you do but i don’t

  14. Barishnikov with a huge sword. Dear God, is there anything sexier? I vote no.

  15. I don’t really think elves are feminine, I think they’re androgynous. If you look at the female high elves, they’re also tall and slender and don’t have exaggerated curves. That’s the other reason that the genders look more similar.

  16. […] up on a bit of a feed backlog, I came across an interesting piece from Spinks on Book of Grudges: “Sexism and Swordmasters”. Making a mental note to wander over and post a stiumulating and intellectual comment (or possibly […]

  17. […] character has a good look. Order tanks are short or feminine, while Destruction gets the big piles of meat and metal. Sometimes you just want […]

  18. […] of Village People and Destruction as the A-Team. Well, I still think Swordmaster is a big sissy (sorry Spinks), but there is something really rewarding in seeing that little dwarf with the axe kick the ass of […]

  19. Dunno how many people have actually played the tabletop game, but far as background fluff goes, the High Elves are anything but effeminate. Keep in mind this is a race whose ENTIRE population has dedicated themselves to the study and mastery of war for centuries. Plus I’m fairly certain no one would ever call Aenarion the Defender a sissy, especially when he was carrying the Sword of Khaine.

  20. […] Greenskin and High Elf classes tend to mirror each other, but no one is mistaking a Swordmaster for a Black Orc, a White Lion for a Squig Herder, or an Archmage for a Shaman. Well, until the last […]

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