Show Your Scars- Metallica, Broken, Beaten & Scarred
Tattoos have become more and more commonplace in society lately. With shows like Miami and LA Ink, we've been expose to the business of the trade and seen the many varied stripes of folks that pursue modification of their bodies. With Kat Von D and Jesse James appearing as top gossip fodder in tabloids, and style magazines devoting sections to celebrity skin, American culture has begun to see ink as common place.
It used to be that ink was reserved for felons and fighters (ie, soldiers of some type). Now markings and color have crossed into safe territory, and we're seeing things like this regularly:
I don't really mind a well done tramp stamp- it's kind of refreshing in comparison to the many ill-considered permanent additions to a person I've seen.
I take kind of a different tack with tattoos and use them as a barometer, if you will, of the sort of person wearing them. This becomes especially handy when standing across a table from a guy. It becomes a quick way to gather some information about my opponent. All of it's subjective, but I find it fun & useful. I use three criteria for my "fast & dirty" appraisal of my foes on the felt. They are:
What Kind of Tat-
This is actually the most telling, in my opinion. Paying attention to the type of tattoo can offer insights to the mentality of the person you're about to face off with, and can gain you a good knowledge of how to approach them.
Some tattoos are obviously one offs, a nod to an impulsive past. 'Flash' or 'standard pieces' (pre-drawn art that a shop just needs to copy) are good examples of this kind of ink. I can sometimes use that minor tell as an advantage to lure a guy into ill considered tactics. Even "retired" hotheads and thrill seekers still have the taste for it, and being smart can pay off big on the table.
There are the military tattoos, which usually give me an idea that the player is a serious minded guy, careful and calculated. He's more likely to understand his army and his tactics very well, and most of the guys like this have given me a run for my money. Knowing ahead of time that the guy you're playing against is going to be a tough game is just as important as knowing he's a cupcake.
The last 'type' that usually gives me some information is a very artistic piece. When a guy's got a sleeve of fabulous artwork that tells a story, it tells me the guy is committed, thoughtful and understands what he finds important. His army is most often a flat out love affair of a well crafted and well thought out thematic element, and is a blast to play against. The army is often deceptive in its competitive ability- it probably LOOKS like a breeze, but can kick you right where it hurts with a surprise element. I enjoy this the most, but I'm a little strange like that.
Where Is The Tattoo?
If I can see it, that says a whole lot over someone that has a piece that's hidden. Pieces on a forearm, neck, wrist, or other high visibility area says that the guy is something of a non-conformist. He's far less likely to care about perception, and much more likely to do whatever he pleases. This can mean a very chaotic game, which is nice to know in advance.
Art on a bicep, leg or upper chest usually means the guy cares about other people's opinions (or at least getting a job). I'm not above using that information to my advantage, often asking a lot of questions that could lead my opposition into another tactic or strategy consideration. This doesn't always work, because the guys that care about jobs and appearances are also the guys that are more aware of how they react, and it can be a little harder for game theory to be effective here.
Who Is Wearing the Ink?
This is a pretty important factor, too. A guy in a polo and pressed khakis, is a whole different kind of guy than the one in tattered jeans, band tee shirts or sports jerseys. Paying attention to dress and demeanor will give you some insights, and offer you some options for how to address the guy when putting minis on the table.
I thought I'd show a few examples of my system in action.
Up first- this is the first tat I see on the guy. It's obviously not a one off-it's a little more serious than that. It's not exactly an artistic piece, but it sure is saying something. It's on the neck,which means the guy is less likely to care about others' opinion of him. We'll get to the last factor in a minute, because he has more ink to consider. See below:
That's right, the guy has a Buddy Christ tattoo. It is on his leg, so he's paying attention to the fact that maybe BC isn't all that work friendly. However, this kind of tattoo screams "permanently 12" to me. Yet again, I'm reserving my final judgment and comments because there's yet more ink to check out.
Smiling Grim Reaper. Excellent color, located on the leg again. This guy does care a little about appearances, but he's got a young mentality, and has just a slightly irreverent sense of humor. What I gather from these three tattoos is the guy in question is laughing at death.
He's going to be fearless, aggressive, and probably more than a little reckless with little regard for consequence. I imagine this guy is going to be a tough game, but I might be able to get him to go left when I am going right- just by virtue of the impetuous nature I see in his skin.
Who's wearing all this ink? This is actually only a small amount of the collection worn by my younger brother. He's the ripped jeans and sports jersey guy (sometimes a band tee), usually holding a beer.
On to a couple other examples, just for fun.
This gorgeous piece was recently featured on 122nd Cadian, by L/AntiPope. His wife Leah did the skin work, and it went onto his buddy Nick's leg. First off, the tattoo is a spectacular artistic piece. Second, it's on the guy's leg. Third- he's wearing pretty nice dark jeans. I'm getting a serious, thoughtful, well considered vibe from this Greek guy. I'd be careful playing against him.
Next up on this expedition of educated guessing:
It's Chaos Daemons. It's obviously a work in progress (note the open space for more work and the lack of color), and it's well drawn. It's on the back of the arm (I THINK, based on the forward bend I see at the bottom of the pic). A guy that is that into the art or theme of an army to get inked up over it is likely to be VERY serious about playing it. His attention to detail will be high, and he's probably got an element of surprise I can't possibly anticipate, just based on the hide & seek location on his body. this will be a fun game, I'm guessing.
Just a couple more for ya.
This is so ugly it's beautiful! The coloring and shading are great, as is the attention to detail on the teeth. Again- a guy that takes his army this seriously will be a great challenge and I can't wait to play him. (But, I know I have my work cut out for me.)
Here's a fun one:
Who doesn't love PacMan? This ink is a great send up on a classic. Beyond great color, it captures the essence of th game while adding a fun twist. The location is also pretty easily concealed, so whimsy with caution is the feeling I get from this. That's a fun challenge, and one I'd enjoy a lot.
All of those pieces are worn by L/AntiPope, our Greek Guard guy. He also has Orks (and kicks out some serious tactics for them) and who knows what other shenanigans he's got up his multi-colored sleeve. I would definitely enjoy a game against this guy, but I know well in advance I am in for a challenge (regardless of my current new-ness) just based on the attitude I gather from his color.
One last one for ya. I wouldn't talk about this if it wasn't near & dear to my heart. I sport ink of my own, and it's not a flower, a bird, butterfly or "tribal" doodad of any kind. It's not on my hip, lower back, ankle, wrist or breast. It's something that has meaning to me- it's a serious statement, but visually attractive (at least to me).
I didn't get it lightly, and as soon as I got it, I knew I needed more.
here it is:
I need to get it touched up- the detail has faded a bit. It's an interpretation of a tesseract, on my right upper shoulder blade. It's not just a design I thought was cool- it's also the logo of TheDude's now defunct game design. I believed in his project and his vision so much, I wanted some reminder of his idea for the rest of my life. I permanently marked my body with an idea (a cool idea, too) to show my devotion to TheDude and games in general. That's what kind of wife I am.
I think I'd see myself as careful, but an idealist or devoted to a concept rather than a flexible, forward thinking opponent, using my own metric. I have more planned, but it's finding the right art that matters to me.
I thought you might enjoy a trip down a different path today. Check out some of the skin at your local club and see what you impressions you get and what you think.