Be prepared and use the buddy system.
Last time I treated you to the fascinating story of my gaming life. I’m sorry . I did feel the need to set the stage so to speak. The main point was that I have grown to love the Warmachine and gaming hobbies, but I lived in an area that was not condusive to it. My town is nice, but it doesn’t have a population that would have any interest in supporting a gaming store. Even the educated, intelligent members of the community have no interest, or clue even, that a gaming culture exists. It was into this environment I wanted to develop a gaming group to play Warmachine and Hordes. I hope over the next few articles to layout how I’ve been able to do that, with the help of some great guys . Hopefully it can help you develop a gaming group or even just bring a new game you are interested in to your area.
Today we are going to delve into the world of your childhood, and look at two of the staple afterschool special messages, and how they can aid this process. There is not a little irony it that this is also the week of the release of the new G.I. Joe movie, for which I am pretty stoked. Those messages are be prepared and always use the buddy system. I consider both of these building blocks to getting a group going to play your chosen game.
This one is by far the most important building block of a gaming community. If you have the passion and desire to get a miniature game started in your area, then you’ve got to spend the money on it, knowing that you may never get anyone near you to play. You’ve got to be willing to make a certain outlay of cash and time if you are serious about getting a game to take off in your area. You can’t sell somebody on trying it, and then make him wait while you get the stuff. That ship will have already sailed. Nor can you expect a normal person to buy into something as massive as a miniatures game, having never played it.
So, you buy the rulebook and some models. That’s not too hard, since as a gamer there’s almost nothing we like more than making a purchase of whatever game has struck our fancy. Also, perhaps, you’ve moved from an area that did have a store/gaming group, and so you’ve already got a collection started. Either way, this step isn’t that big deal unless you’re really strapped for cash. Of course, it’s not enough just to purchase what you want for your faction, you’ve got to become a defacto press ganger. This means that, in addition to the rulebook and the starting models for your faction, you also need to have enough models for another person to play. This could mean that you simply buy enough of your faction to facilitate two starter boxes, or you consider buying another starter box of a different faction to give it a better feel .
Now, what I’ve said above is pretty obvious stuff. If you want to get someone in the game, you’ve got to allow them to try it. This is not an inconsequential task without a game store to back you up. What I think is more valuable advice though, is to do your very best to make their first experience AWESOME. If I really want to sell someone one Warmachine, I’m giving them the Cadillac game. That means I have practiced up on the rules so the game flows smoothly. It means both my battle box and their battle box are painted. I’ve got a tape measure, dice, focus markers, and a dry erase marker for them to use. We are playing on a flocked table, and using terrain that looks as good as I can make. I’m also going to give them a quick primer on what their models do and what they are trying to accomplish, while at the same time paring down some of the options they have. I am definitely not an expert demo guy, but I am going to do my best to give them the coolest experience I can. If I can do the really hard part which is getting them to the table with an open mind, then I want to deliver the best experience possible. That really isn’t too hard with a little preparation.
Use the buddy system
To me, you’ve got to have a buddy. Living in a gaming desert, you need an outlet to keep your fire stoked. Assuming you are buying models, reading rules, painting, construction terrain, and all the other work that goes into being prepared, it can be hard to stay excited about the game. This is especially true if you lack someone to play against, or at least someone to talk about the game with. Ideally, you would have a buddy who lives in town with you and you can work together on constructing a gaming group. In this way, you can keep each other motivated, as well as gain the motivation that comes from playing the game.
I did not have this luxury. What I did have though, were two great gaming buddies who I played Warhammer with over the years. This was my brother Joe and my buddy Jesse. My brother lived in Italy where he was studying to become a missionary priest, and my buddy Jesse took a job teaching in the Middle East. While playing with them regularly was clearly out, they do come back to visit at least once a year for a chunk of time, so if I could get them interested in Warmachine, I would be able to guarantee myself some good games at least a couple times a year. In addition, I think one of the best parts of the miniature gaming hobby is that it is so deep, robust, and complex that you can spend tons of time thinking and talking about it, even when you are not playing. I think this bears out pretty well given the high volume of traffic on forums and in podcast downloads. So with today’s modern technology, despite the distance, if I got them hooked on the game I’d have a couple guys to talk about the game with. That goes a long way for me. Had I not been able to get them interested, I would not have gotten very far in Warmachine. Luckily, I did.
So, my advice here is to find at least one buddy you have that is a gamer to play Warmachine. Ideally, they live near you, but they definitely don’t have to. I really think to have a good chance of getting into the game and getting a group going though, you’ve got to have someone to play with (at least a couple times a year) and someone to chew the fat with about the game. These things will keep you energized and enthused as you begin to build a gaming group. It is a slow process, and you need to keep yourself excited.
If you don’t have at least one gaming buddy from some point in your life, it’s going to be hard. If you are super committed I suppose you could supplement a “real friend” with forums and podcasts, but it’s not the same. Further, you could travel to tournaments and meet people. That might work, but has some pitfalls. If you really don’t have any gaming buddies, that means your brand new to the hobby of Warmachine and miniature games in general, and it really takes some brass ones to play your first game at a tournament. Also, you probably need to attend a few tourneys to really get to know some people and some of us just don’t have the ability to do that in a year.
If you don’t have a gaming buddy near or far, and you want to make this work, I suggest putting your interest in Warmachine on a slow burn for now. Two articles from now I’m going to discuss converting the skeptic, and I think there will be some tips in there that will help you develop that gaming buddy. I will save how to do that for later.
I hope this helped as a place to start. I look forward to your comments below, and I’ll be back in the few days with the next installment.