Growing Your Meta Part 2

In the last article on growing your meta, I talked about how to get the ball rolling and get newer players in the door, and rolling dice. That article ended with the idea of establishing a Warmachine night at a local store. This is one of the most critical things to growing your meta, because having a established time that people know they can get games will get people to show up, and keep them coming back. In this article I am going to go over what I think you should, and shouldn’t do with your game night.

Sometimes deciding how to play at a game night isn’t the easiest thing. Some people want to play standard 75 point steam roller games, some want to play smaller points games, some want to play battle box games, and so on. I had some issues with this at first, when the number of people was still small. Several local players only want to play standard steam roller games, and with a influx of newer players it was hard to play at that point level. To help with this, I decided that I would be available for whatever kind of game a newer player wanted to play, and I would ask one of the veterans to also do the same for one game night a month. That way the newer players were not just playing me all the time. This also works to help introduce the new players to the existing play group. It can be intimidating to get to know people sometimes, and playing together is a great way to get over that hump.

Pick up games are great, but sometimes they get old, and people look for something more out of their gaming night. There are several ways to make games mean more than just one off victories or defeats, you can hold tournaments (or as I like to call them, events) and campaigns depending on what your local players are interested in. I will go over events first, and give several examples of what I have been running.

Lets start by explaining why I call them “Events” instead of “Tournaments.” When I was new to running game night, I found that if I mentioned tournaments, newer players, and some older ones as well, immediately lost interest. They viewed it as too competitive, and thought that they weren’t experienced enough to play in it. When in reality, game night tournaments are usually extremely casual, and have all levels of player skill present. When I started calling them events, I rarely had the same objections. There are several issues with running events on a game night, one of the biggest ones is time, often I have around 4-5 hours of actual game time on a game night at my store. If everybody shows up on time and people are on point and try, you can get through a maximum of two 75 point games in that time space, which isn’t enough for a event. The easiest way to get around this it to hold small point events of 20-30 points instead. My local store already had a history of these kind of things, which they called “Flash Events,” which were held monthly. They also added a twist, each Flash Event had a different restriction. There were Highlander events, (you have to take one solo and one unit, no more or less, and no duplicates of any other models) battle group only events, and special formats like Thunderdome. This kept it fresh, and people had to come up with new lists for each one. These events had a low cost entry, usually around 5 dollars, and tickets were given to players for being fully painted, for each game they played, and for each win. Then at the end of the night prizes were drawn at random. Random prizes seems to be a big draw, and it also prevents people from dropping after their first loss. Events like this are great for taking away some of the monotony of pick up games, but some people want more of a story to go along with their games. For that, you need to run a campaign, and those are some of the hardest things to run in my opinion.

A Campaign is a extremely fun way of linking your games together with a story. It adds context to single games, makes wins sweeter, and takes some of the sting out of losses as well, since you will simply be back next week to take it to your opponent again. Campaigns can be very simple or extremely complex, it just all depends on how much work the organizer wants to do. I attempted to run a map based campaign, where each week players would move their armies around a map, and then games would be played based on which players armies engaged the other. Each player had several objectives they were trying to achieve, along with a secret one that only they knew about. This kind of thing can be incredibly fun, with players forming alliances, back stabbing each other and such, but it also causes issues. I am going to talk about some of the difficulties that I encountered, so that if you run a campaign, maybe you won’t struggle as much as I did.

The first, and biggest issue I had, was that often times, people only have one night a week that they can play Warmachine on. This becomes a problem when players would have 3-4 battles to fight each week. If you can’t get all the games in on game night, then you would have to come up with a time during the week that you and your opponent could meet and play the game. In reality that is a lot harder than it sounds when everyone has a job, and a family that places demands on their time. The other downside to this is I would often have someone that no one attacked, and they wouldn’t have anyone to play. So the player would drive to the store, move his armies around the map and maybe not get to play a game, which is the whole purpose of coming to the game store.

The second issue I ran into was people not showing up. Life happens, and sometimes people just can’t make it to the game store. When people don’t show, other players are now left without a opponent, and worse, the player that doesn’t show up, has to forfeit his armies movement for that week, and take a loss if he is attacked. This can lead to the player feeling like since he is behind now, that there isn’t a point in showing up next week since he doesn’t have a good chance of achieving his objectives anymore. This tends to snowball, if one player drops out, another will soon follow, and before you know it your campaign is reduced to just a hand full of players.

The third issue I ran into was the extraordinary amount of my time it took up. I completely underestimated how much effort and time this would take. At times I had to just make stuff up as I went on game night because issues I didn’t account for came up. It also made me almost dread game night, since I had to get all the campaign information updated, write secret objectives, and make sure everybody had a opponent in case they didn’t end up fighting anyone in the campaign. Even though it sounds like it, I am not trying to discourage people from playing campaigns, they are probably the most fun way to play this game, but they are hard to run, and need a lot of planning in order to work.

In closing, be sure to ask, and listen to what your local meta wants in terms of their game night. Try and encourage people to try playing the game in different ways to keep the game fresh, and remember that it is about having fun. I hope these articles were helpful, if you have any questions about how to get your local meta jump started, hit me up on the Facebook page. I am more than happy to help out.