Monday, January 26, 2015

Building a Community Part 2

Hi Malifolks!

Our group meets several times a week to play various role-playing games and over the years we've managed to try just about every system on the market. In a recent horror one-shot using the Dread mechanics, we found ourselves groaning in frustration when several blocks were taken from the bottom of the Jenga tower and stacked neatly on top. Even though the tower was mostly intact, there were key pieces missing from the foundation and the fear that it would topple over at any moment was a very real possibility.

(Dread is an RPG that uses a Jenga tower to dictate the outcome of your actions in the game. Check it out! Dread RPG)

When building a foundation for a gaming community there are several important things you must consider. Many of these seem like common sense, but I find it surprising how often players can't seem to figure out why they don't have reliable and quality opponents on the other side of the table. Most of the time it is due to the lack of a healthy gaming community and poor communication.

1. Finding a Place to Call Home

For some people this is easier said than done. Not all players have the luxury of a decent local gaming store in their area while others are forced to drive considerable distances to meet up for a game night. While not every city boasts a LGS, most will have places where a gaming club could meet on a regular basis.

If you are fortunate enough to have a game store in your area, do your best to become a regular. Get to know the owners, the employees and your fellow gamers while striving to build a reputation of friendliness and integrity. It is important to have an open and working relationship with the place in which you want to build your gaming community. With the support and resources of your LGS, you will find it is much easier to promote your hobby of choice while generally drawing in the initial players you'll need to get a solid group started.

2. Play the Game

This one seems pretty self explanatory, but you'd be surprised how difficult it can be. Jobs, school, families and the general responsibilities of adulthood can keep you wrapped up and you may only see the tabletop once a month or worse. Hey, bad things happen!

See! Says it right there on the box

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying ignore real life to play games, but a crucial part of any successful community is commitment. Gather your players together and strive to meet up once a week or every other week. This will not only keep the momentum going, but nothing draws in new players like actually seeing the game in motion. Let the miniatures and terrain do the talking while you play and make sure to be approachable and friendly to curious onlookers who are drawn to the action. They might just be your next eager opponent.

3. Promote and Network

I find that this is the step that oftentimes gets brushed over and it is crucial to building a quality community. Promoting your game takes effort and it means you may be initially spending more time helping other people learn to play than actually playing yourself. Once you have a small player base it is important to keep the community engaged and excited for the next big thing. Work with your local Henchman (or become one!) to organize tournaments, events, boot camps, painting and terrain building sessions and free play nights. Try to read your community to find out how competitive or casual they want to be and plan accordingly.

Do your best to keep your community connected. With the advent of social media, you can generally communicate with a large group of people by using email, facebook and even the occasional blog post. At the very least, make sure you have a calendar available online or in your LGS to help players keep track of all those awesome events you've been organizing!

4. Have Fun and be a Good Sport

I won't spend too much time on this, but it is astonishing how many people play games and don't actually enjoy doing it. It is either the stress of losing, being overly competitive or simply coming across as a passive aggressive jerk, but if these players aren't having fun themselves you can be certain their opponent is having a miserable time as well. Play games. Have fun. Nuff said!

In that same vein, be a good sport. When you win, do so humbly and when you lose (and you will lose), shake your opponent's hand and discuss the game in an optimistic way. Every defeat is a new opportunity to learn something, or so the fortune cookies tell me, and the more you play the better you'll get. People don't often remember the individual games, but they always remember a good sport or a bad one. Be that player with integrity and a good attitude and you will soon become a local legend in your community and the person other player's look up to.

In Conclusion

Thank you for reading this wall of text. I certainly hope it sheds some light on the basics of building your own gaming community. In truth, these steps are only the foundation to a thriving group of players. However, like that swaying Jenga tower mentioned earlier, without a proper foundation the whole enterprise will come tumbling down. Until next time, keep reading and we'll keep posting!



  1. Good basics.

    One thing worth adding is this: Try to fit in 30 minutes to an hour on game days to "off-topic" discussions. It helps everyone to better understand each other, and can make for some strong bonds. Especially if you can turn someone on to something cool. Music in general, and metal in particular, I can ramble on for hours if you don't stop me, and I've turned people onto bands they never heard of, and that's a +1 for my "cool factor". And people have turned me on to bands that I hadn't really listened to, so it goes both ways. That's just one "off-topic" subject. Apply it to other things, and you can build a true rapport.

  2. You'd like our friend Matty D! He is a Convergence of Cyriss/Neverborn player who is pure metal and generally turns every gaming day into a series of music references and general hijinks. He also has a metal themed Menoth army in black and red, maybe I'll see if he'll post a blog with pics on here.

    Also, I couldn't agree with you more. "Off-topic" time is really important to a gaming community and to be honest, nearly all of my friends were met in a game store. Having cool people to play Malifaux with you is awesome, but finding people that become good friends in the process is even better.

    Learning about a sweet new band in the process is just icing.

  3. CoC? I guess LoE would have been too perfect. Black and red menoth sounds pretty cool though. I did mine in the classic Tampa Bay Buccaneers "creamsicle" colors... and I was able to get a pretty penny due to the "cool color scheme."